Elementary: Turn It Upside Down Review

A circle of murderous hit jobs leads Joan and Sherlock back to one terrifyingly memorable villain in this week’s Elementary.

This Elementary review contains spoilers.

Elementary: Season 4, Episode 22

“Turn It Upside Down” may have only been a set-up for a larger plot twist — one that was ominously hinted at throughout much of the week’s main story arc — but it served its purpose, and it did it well. Despite likely losing out on viewership to Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley (it was undoubtedly a big night for HBO… let’s leave it at that), the little CBS procedural-that-could chugged along nicely, even throwing viewers a few impressive emotional grabs to keep their attention.

“Turn It Upside Down” starts off where last week’s cliffhanger left off: A diner full of shooting victims, the most prominent of which happens to be Emil Kurtz, one of Morland’s associates who had been playing spy games for Joan. When Sherlock connects the dots, Joan’s plan to keep Emil’s involvement out of the brownstone begins to crumble, dropping both of the consulting detectives into a heated spat.

Sherlock is naturally upset that Joan failed to key him into the plan — to use Emil as a double agent so that the two would be able to gain information on Morland’s behind the scenes scheming — and Joan, equally frustrated with her partner, is slowly losing her footing and her confidence in the same go: Was Morland behind Emil’s death, and if so, why? Should Joan have foreseen this?

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The uncertainty seems to be a central crux for much of this week’s episode. Deciphering Morland seems to be the only way to unlock the valuable information sitting just beyond their reach, but for every morsel of understanding they’re able to dig up, Joan and Sherlock seem to take two steps back. In the end (somewhat disappointingly), it turns out that Morland was not behind the murder — nor was he behind the killing of three other people who seemingly share a strange link with Emil: a mutual hitman.

So who hired the hitman? If it wasn’t Morland, that means there’s yet another whirlwind of a case slowly building in the background that Joan and Sherlock have missed — uncharacteristic, but still compelling. When it’s confirmed that the mastermind behind each of the three killings has clandestinely been recruiting psychopaths to do their dirty work from afar, the other shoe drops: One of the unwitting participants in the so-called psychopath screening (done using a survey called the Dante test) has been contact by a “CIA operative” whose alias sounds curiously familiar to Sherlock. And it should be — it belongs to the network of none other than Jamie Moriarty.

The moment of revelation itself isn’t what makes this episode so spectacularly disconcerting — it’s the build up of anticipatory unease — the emotional outbursts, the tense arguments between Joan and Sherlock. By the end, it’s almost as if the two have only just realized they’re in a sinking ship, knee-deep in water, with no lifelines in sight.

Bringing Moriarty back to the show in some grand fashion wasn’t totally unexpected — Natalie Dormer as Jamie was undeniably a high point in the show, and from the original canon (and so many other adaptations) it’s not hard to suss out that Moriarty is still either somehow wandering the streets of London, having escaped prison, or conducting her affairs through associates meant to carry on her work with minimal supervision. Putting Moriarty behind bars won’t stop her chaotic reign for long.

What’s so freakishly enjoyable about this episode is that it lends itself to being bizarrely voyeuristic — like you, the viewer, shouldn’t know what’s going to happen, but you already do and are painfully waiting for the consulting duo to get there too.

All of Elementary’s past season and a half has been leading up to this moment. Morland Holmes is a big bad, but he’s tangible in a way that most movie-villains naturally are — his suit, his manner of threatening his inferiors, his arrogance and uncanny omniscience have become a bit exhausting of late, tearing fans back and forth between his dark side and his light. That makes for good, meaty plotlines, but little in terms of spine-tingling. Moriarty, in contrast, serves as almost an ethereal terror capable of much more than a simple hit job; She’s powerful and intellectual in a boastful way, and in some senses, that makes her much more dangerous.

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Conan Doyle’s Moriarty was always the monster that clung to Sherlock Holmes like a stain — and CBS’ terrifyingly enjoyable manifestation is no different. Mark your calendars for next week, when the curtains part for what will likely be either this season’s penultimate showdown, or the build-up to one terribly disappointing red-herring. Here’s hoping it won’t be the latter.

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5 out of 5