This Elementary review contains spoilers
Elementary Season 4 Episode 7
Between chasing down a mysterious murderer and solving a bizarre case of mistaken identity, the seventh episode in Elementary’s fourth season, “Miss Taken”, is anything but dull. Where other shows struggle to reinvent themselves following a mid-winter hiatus, the show-runners at CBS seem to have wildly succeeded — and then some. At least part of that is due to the show’s seeming return to its roots.
“Miss Taken” starts off procedurally enough with a bloody crime scene and shocking discovery (which in hindsight isn’t all that shocking). Any channel surfer unaware of the episode’s premise might easily write it off as another re-run of NCIS or Law & Order. That’s where the similarities end.
Taking a page from Arthur Conan Doyle’s own books, “Miss Taken” largely spends most of its time dissecting one particularly confusing dilemma: How do you prove that someone isn’t who they say they are when they’ve passed a DNA test — and if all else fails, do you accept the impossible as, well… possible?
Perhaps the original Holmes himself had a point when he taught readers to “eliminate the impossible” to get to the truth. But modern-day Holmes isn’t quite as direct in his methods, leaving room for plenty of impressive storytelling before bringing the case to its conclusion. The long route, in this case, takes Sherlock along a twisted and unsettling path before eventually leading him to the doorstep of one especially clever young killer.
However, it’s not just “Miss Taken’s” criminal case that makes the episode so perfect — the banter between Joan and Sherlock too should have any dedicated Holmes fan drooling. After discovering that her stepfather has written a short series of detective novels based on both her and partner Sherlock’s consulting work, Joan angrily buys up as many copies as possible, hoping to destroy the evidence (and perhaps punish her stepfather, whose past affair is still a subject of contention). Unsurprisingly, before she can set a match to the books, Sherlock confronts her, having discovered the series on his own months earlier.
“You’re not mad?” Joan asks warily.
“It’s hardly the first time I’ve inspired a writer, Watson,” Sherlock scoffs. “I am actually the basis for several fictional characters across various media — it’s one of the byproducts of my success as a detective. I fascinate. This cannot be helped.”
Aside from what one can only assume is a dig at their rivals across the Atlantic (sorry, BBC’s Sherlock), the dialogue in this scene is particularly reminiscent of the original canon: Sharp observations free of any 21st century clutter and blunt truths delivered in a no-frill fashion. Sherlock isn’t humble here, but he certainly isn’t arrogant either — he’s exactly what he’s supposed to be. Much of the credit for this goes to actor Jonny Lee Miller’s excellent delivery. Anyone can pretend to be Sherlock Holmes; Miller doesn’t even have to try.
While some might argue that Liu’s performance isn’t quite impressive enough to hearken back to her original Conan Doyle counterpart in the same way, the actress more than makes up for it in chemistry. Playing off of Miller’s expertise in this week’s episode, the two work seamlessly together to concoct a plotline that would cause even the best Conan Doyle imitators to become jealous.
Elementary had a lot to live up to this time around, namely because its mid-season premier followed so closely on the heels of its BBC counterpart’s big holiday debut. Unfortunately for the British cast, it seems they may have some serious competition in the scrappy U.S. edition.