This Elementary review contains spoilers.
Elementary: Season 4, Episode 15
Talk about weaving a tangled web. Elementary took fans on a bit of a wild ride this week, launching into a bewildering mash-up of random killings and bizarre exchanges in the first 15 minutes. From the start, it was clear that the episode would be a strangely endearing installment of the CBS procedural, with the initial scene opening up on Joan and Sherlock, sitting in a public park, watching a raw steak infused with methamphetamines. For science, of course.
The moment only serves as a brief lead-in to the major subplot of the day: After Joan leaves to retrieve dinner, she runs into Captain Gregson, who’s on a date — and who subsequently introduces Joan to the woman he’s with as “a doctor”, leaving Joan obviously flummoxed. As it later turns out, the woman, Paige, was a former cop who was kicked off the force years earlier for allegedly taking money from a crime scene (although she was never indicted for the deed).
Gregson insists that the only reason he refused to introduce Joan as a colleague was to avoid making Paige uncomfortable. For her part, Paige worries that if Gregson is seen with her, it could put a stain on his image with the rest of the department — so naturally, she breaks up with him. (Ah yes, the answer to everything.)
Joan, being the softie she is, can’t stand by and let this happen. But after an unsuccessful attempt at talking Paige back into reuniting with Gregson, it’s discovered that Paige left him because she had multiple sclerosis and didn’t want to make him suffer through it with her. Defiant, Gregson confides in Joan, who, with her medical background, gives Gregson advice on how to best approach a relationship with Paige. By the end of the episode, the two are seen cautiously reuniting outside Paige’s bookshop.
In the interim scenes — as with recent episodes, the main story took a backseat to the subplot this week — Sherlock and Joan are left to solve a jumbled case of murder, accidental murder, and (yup, you guessed it), more murder. After a random citizen is killed when an elderly woman falls from the 10th story window of the apartment building she owns, Sherlock begins to suspect that things may not be as simple as they seem.
After working his way through the suspect list — first, the woman’s son, who was cut out of her will weeks earlier; the contractor for the building next door, who needs to purchase the woman’s building to finish his own, garish skyscraper; and the architect of the skyscraper himself — he discovers that the only one with motive to kill was the architect, a man by the name of Basquet, who wanted to shorten the skyscraper to hide a major flaw in the design that would have made it structurally unsound.
Lost? So was everyone else by this point. Don’t feel bad. Essentially, the only important thing to know about this week’s main plotline is that Basquet killed a slightly unhinged old lady to mess up the talks between the two building owners, then murdered a local activist when he walked in on Basquet getting rid of any evidence that would have revealed the flaw in the design. (All this for a pretentious skyscraper.)
Elementary is best when it’s a bit flawed and untidy, but “Up to Heaven and Down to Hell” really tested that theory, pushing viewers a bit too hard at times to follow along with the complex web that was the architect/environmental activist/elderly woman angle. At certain points, the strangeness that is usually so compelling was almost exhausting — yet showrunner Robert Doherty and crew managed to tack things down with a smattering of heartwarming exchanges between Joan and Gregson.
In one particularly moving scene, just after his break-up with Paige, Gregson tells Joan in confidence, “It was nice — having someone again.” By the end of the episode, Joan tells Gregson that things were bound to “get bad” (speaking of Paige’s MS), but that he might be able to make it work with Paige regardless. “I doubt there’s anything I can tell you that you haven’t already read,” Joan counseled. “MS is cruel — the progression is gonna be tough on her and you. It could take years, or months. Once the disease really takes hold, she’s gonna need a lot of help.”
“Well — she’s worth it,” Gregson replies, tearfully. Seeing his determination Joan reminds Gregson he won’t be alone in the struggle. “You’re friends are going to be there for you,” she smiles.
The curiously underplayed relationship between Joan and Gregson has taken some time to reach this point — a point at which viewers can actually believe that Gregson enjoys having an amateur sleuth and her erratic consulting partner working side by side with him every day — but the writers finally went there in “Up to Heaven and Down to Hell,” and for that we should all be grateful.