Elementary episode 11 review: Dirty Laundry

Elementary returns from the festive break with an underwhelming case but all its usual charisma...

This review contains spoilers.

1.11 Dirty Laundry

Invisible ink? Russian spies? This week’s Elementary was a nostalgic throwback to crime shows past, a tune whistled from The Big Book of Detective Standards. Unfortunately, the premise didn’t serve the episode well, and instead of the sixties spy tropes adding up to a kitschy fun caper, the viewers were presented with just another underwhelming, slightly tired case.

Luckily for Elementary, the charismatic presence of Miller, Liu and Quinn is enough to carry us over the inevitable bumps that come along in twenty-two episode, case-of-the-week series – even if the personal stories of all three were frustratingly side-lined in favour of the investigation in Dirty Laundry.

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The episode’s murder plot unravelled with the clockwork regularity of a bored organ grinder. An initial flurry of suspects were met, dismissed, and one-by-one returned to the spotlight, from the victim’s husband Oliver and ex-addict daughter Carly (Melissa Farman, whom you may recognise as the younger Danielle Rousseau in Lost, acting up a storm), to colleague and potential fancy man Geoffrey. It turned out that oily Geoffrey was the culprit, as proved by a stain revealed by ultraviolet light (invisible ink surely the most salubrious substance shown up by UV in hotel laundry).

Don’t misunderstand me, Dirty Laundry was not a predictable episode. The revelation that Westchester murder victim Terri Purcell and husband Oliver were in fact deep-cover Russian spies came like a slap to the side of the head. Spies? Really? And Russian? How… retro. Surprising it may have been, but a satisfying twist it wasn’t. Not having signalled the clues to the couple’s Slavic heritage beforehand, Holmes’ deduction felt tenuous at best and wedged in at worst. Overall, the episode came together like one of those cut and shut cars, the two halves welded together with little integrity.

The story thread of Watson’s imminent departure continued this week, with supposedly just hours until the end of her professional relationship with Holmes. With at least another eleven episodes to go in this series, there’s little jeopardy in the Watson-leaving storyline, though it’ll be interesting to see which solution the writers plump for to manoeuvre her into being a permanent fixture in the brownstone.

Will she return as Holmes’ pupil-cum-housemaid (very unlikely), his associate (more likely, especially following her investigative success this week), or… will our detective find himself once more in need of a sober companion? As Holmes stated this week, he’s almost as good at recovery as he is at deducing stuff, and there’s barely been a relapse wobble since he sniffed that spoon of freshly roasted heroin in Rat Race. A genuine recurrence of his addiction brought about by say, the arrival of someone from his past, would surely keep Watson at Holmes’ side without losing the characters’ push-pull dynamic.

Speaking of which – anyone wanting to stay entirely spoiler-free for next week’s episode look away now – a little jaunt on IMDb reveals that episode twelve stars none other than ex-soccer hard man Vinnie Jones (X-Men: The Last Stand’s Juggernaut) as ‘M’, a British criminal who’s followed Sherlock to New York. They wouldn’t have cast Jones as…, I mean, they couldn’t, could they?

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The Leviathan, here.

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