Elementary season 2 episode 17 review: Ears To You

Sean Pertwee steals the show in this week's Elementary. Here's Frances' review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.17 Ears To You

Combining the macabre and the bizarre is something Elementary does very well. Remember Holmes’ repeatedly thwarted attempts to trepan a human skull a few weeks ago? The de-eyeballed Oriental Studies professor last season? This year’s ballerina Julienne? Weird and gross are a speciality of Elementary’s cases, and the solution to this week’s really took the biscuit.

It wasn’t the severed human ears in a box that really got me – crime TV viewers have seen appendages aplenty sliced, iced and delivered by FedEx in our time – but the ones growing out of a woman’s back. That, even for a seasoned detective drama fan, was a first. (Why Sarah Cushing decided to grow two ears when surely one would do is anybody’s guess. Perhaps she’s a fan of even numbers.)

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Plastic surgery and ear cultivation not being mainstays of Victorian fiction, those elements were the writers’ updates to an otherwise fairly tight adaptation of Conan Doyle’s The Adventure Of The Cardboard Box. Elementary rarely dips into the Doyle toy box these days, so the appearance of some ears, a Jim Browner and a Sarah Cushing  came as a fun surprise to Doyle readers. Next week’s episode, from the very safe hands of writer/producer Bob Goodman, is punning-ly entitled The Hound Of The Cancer Cells, so also appears, excitingly, to be borrowing from canon.

Ick-factor aside, Ears To You was a rollicking good instalment, even if it was another that placed Holmes’ character on the back burner, confining him to bomb disposal practice and the odd corpse fingernail scrape. Lestrade, still resident in the Brownstone after last week’s shenanigans and in something of a slump, was the focus this week and Sean Pertwee capably carried the episode.

Pertwee is another in a growing list of British guest actors that make Elementary more watchable with every appearance, a list including Rhys Ifans, Roger Rees, John Hannah, Natalie Dormer, and – why not? Let’s be charitable – Vinnie Jones. Pertwee built upon the preening egotist of last week’s episode to develop Lestrade’s crisis of confidence and make the character a smidge sympathetic. It can’t be easy comparing yourself to The Great Detective when deep down, you know you’re only The Competent Detective.

As established, Lestrade isn’t in possession of the greatest detective mind, hence his failure to recognise that Watson isn’t merely the latest in a long line of Holmes’ partners, but Holmes’ only true partner, and first real friend. Lestrade viewed Watson and Holmes’ partnership as soluble, crowing to her that one day she might come to match his own understanding of Holmes’ genius. Kindly, Watson said nothing to deflate the man’s ego, but we could all see he was talking rubbish. Watson lazily preparing a salad while Holmes defused a viable explosive showed the trust and respect they share. Of course Watson has faith in him. She knows him better than anyone.

Overall then, the episode gave us more cheap puns, one truly unsettling image, and a great deal of fun. To end on a frivolous note, I’m glad Romulus and Remus are off to a petting zoo. Poor Clyde must have been terrified.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The One Percent Solution, here.

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