In a procedural cop drama, there is nothing more grave than a crime committed against an officer. So how does Elementary bid its viewership farewell until January? By killing off not one, but two officers. Happy holidays everyone (…she nervously tittered)!
This week’s crime was bold, brazen, and upsetting. Initially, I chalked up the entire sense of unease permeating the story itself to the closeness of the crime. Nobody likes seeing Aidan Quinn choked up, and that uber-touching ritual of the last call was practically more than I (or Aidan Quinn) could handle. And that was just minutes into the episode.
Rather than take the easy route, the show did what it does so deftly: It flirted with the lines of what’s acceptable in terms of theme and content on a non-cable network. Any other major affiliate would have kept the story nice and easy. A cop’s murder would be solved, wrongs righted, justice prevailing, and a sense of self-congratulatory ease would be the order of the day. But leave it to Sherlock and company to immediately smell a rat and start examining the institution for signs of corruption. I mean, I’m not saying it’s the Wire (because David Simon would find me and kill me and I like my life AND I like not being night-stalked by David Simon), but most shows on network TV would avoid painting dead cops in a bad light, especially if it was just a one-off episode designed to showcase that even in times of great personal and private stress Sherlock can easily detect a rat.
While the threat of a traitor inside the ranks of the officers is supposed to be alarming, fans of the show probably viewed the crime of the week with dispassion and disinterest in light of the secondary crime Sherlock was busy trying to solve on the down-low. It will never not be strange and incongruous to hear the classical figure of Sherlock Holmes opening up at an AA-type meeting. If it were anyone other than Jonny Lee Miller attempting it, the speeches he gives when he shares might seem grandiose at best and comic at worst. But Miller’s layered intensity and earnestness made the reveal tonight — that a fellow meeting attendee had been sharing his thoughts from the meeting on a website — completely captivating. We haven’t seen a lot of Sherlock-the-addict this season, but the pure venom that came bubbling to the surface when reason and an appeal to his devoted fan’s humanity failed to convince him to remove the website and its content were met with a rebuff.
It’s easy to forget in this incarnation of the super sleuth that if tested Sherlock can and will use reason, logic, and deduction to cut a person into ribbons. What’s brilliant about CBS’s Sherlock, as we saw tonight, is that he associates such uses of his, for lack of a better phrase, superpowers, with his ‘bad’ side, his addictive side, his mean streak, his own internal traitor. While the parade of police officers standing silently on the block as the cop killer was paraded to justice was meant to be the most powerful moment of the episode, it wasn’t my a long shot. Sherlock’s look of bewildered, hurt, and sorrowful contemplation as he sat in silence at his meeting stole the show. Does this mean a relapse in character if not in drug use is in store for our main dude? Something is cooking.