This review contains spoilers.
1.3 Child Predator
Episode three of any new series is third date time. It’s the point at which you know whether or not to make your excuses and get out of there, or whether dates four, five, six, a mini-break and a ‘where shall we spend Christmas?’ conversation are in the offing. On the basis of Child Predator, Elementary’s welcome to leave a spare toothbrush at mine from hereon in.
You have to ignore the pleased-with-itself wordplay in this week’s title, yes (he’s a child and a predator and a child predator!), but compromise is part and parcel and a penchant for punning is no deal-breaker. Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu’s rapport continues to engross, Holmes’ sharp tongue continues to entertain, and were Elementary to go away at this point, I’d miss it – the acid test for any new relationship.
More than each of the previous two episodes, Child Predator showed Holmes to be a right-thinking hero, the kind of character you can admire for more than intellectual bon-mots and a hunky torso. He wasn’t just logically deductive, but emotionally intuitive and empathetic. In short, he still isn’t a Sherlock Holmes most Conan Doyle fans would recognise, but it has to be time to move on from that debate (until at least episode seven, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, airs). The bottom line is that Holmesian or no, Miller’s character is a decent, entertaining series lead and Elementary is a decent, entertaining detective show.
The twists and swerves of this episode’s case – previously Elementary’s weakest link – were a significant improvement on the clunkily-resolved inheritance-murders of preceding weeks. The content took a much darker turn with its story of psychopaths, child abuse and serial abduction, and while at times that made for an uneasy contrast with Elementary’s clowning (those stay-awake squats), it was a well-conceived scenario with a genuine sense of peril and surprise in its resolution.
Written by House’s Peter Blake – a fitting marriage of writer and show if ever there was one – Child Predator kept the established Holmes/Watson interplay sparky whilst developing the relationship. Holmes allowed once again that Watson is of use on cases (more so than inanimate Angus at any rate), and the pair’s antagonism is shifting satisfyingly towards a position of mutual respect and by the end, familial affection.
Holmes’ character is developing emotionally too, though with a pleasingly light touch. In that interrogation room, his insistence that Adam would never rid himself of the blood on his hands hinted – though not too heavily – that ‘what happened in London’ left Holmes with guilt he’s attempting to expunge. We also learnt a little more about the shadowy father whom Holmes would happily trade for a Tic Tac, though there’s been no mention of a Mycroft as yet.
Not that our Holmes has become a bleeding heart; there was still plenty of enjoyable egotism and intellectual snobbery in the episode, not least his priceless distaste when confronted with the ugly painting in the victim’s house, and the waspish ee cummings reference early on.
As kidnap victim Adam, Johnny Simmons proved himself an adaptable actor, and capable of sinister menace in the revelation and park scenes. Pitting Holmes against a foe with comparable, if psychopathic, wits is essentially what made the case a success. Instead of just following an ever-unwinding spool of plot, Holmes was presented with a satisfying ticking-clock challenge and an antagonist who almost bested him. Bring on episode four.
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