This review contains spoilers.
2.22 Paint It Black
Elementary’s viewers will either have been surprised or proven right by this week’s Mycroft revelation, rewarding experiences both. If you saw the MI6 connection coming (as those familiar with the original character or the BBC’s Sherlock are likely to have done) then the arrival of that black ops team was a pat on the back. If you didn’t, then it was a twist, and who doesn’t enjoy one of those?
Paint It Black shunted Mycroft’s story a distance along the tracks and allowed us plenty of time with the always-good-value Holmes siblings. After Mycroft spent the episode clumsily blundering his way through the Pierce Norman investigation while his brother made deductions from Ficus trees and fly larvae, it was a relief to find out that the character wasn’t the lumpen buffoon Sherlock saw him as. Nor, it seems, is Mycroft quite as criminal and shady as Elementary would have had us believe.
Underneath that bridge, Rhys Ifans disintegrated the louche and out of his depth Mycroft, reassembling him as stately and Bond-like in the space of the episode’s three titular words. Few actors could manage such a seamless transition, proving that, as Jonny Lee Miller and Aidan Quinn were, Ifans is another casting triumph for Elementary.
Tantalisingly, we’re now left with a post-revelation Mycroft for the season’s remaining episodes. His restaurateur cover dropped, we’re promised the chance to see Mycroft’s character unveiled, something likely to test Sherlock’s previous lament about being without peer. If his older brother has managed to fool Sherlock all this time and keep a secret of his a career in British intelligence, then the likelihood in fact is that Mycroft isn’t only Sherlock’s intellectual equal, but his superior. Because rare as it is to see Sherlock outwitted, that’s what Paint It Black showed us. Last season Irene’s secret identity was revealed at this point in the run, and now comes this. Sherlock’s deductive genius in this show appears to have a blind spot when it comes to those closest to him.
Less successful than the Holmes brothers pairing this week was Watson’s kidnapping plot, which ultimately amounted to very little. With a third season on the way, the danger to Joan’s life was non-existent for the viewer no matter how many heavily accented Corsicans threatened it. Granted, the whole thing allowed Elementary to restate Watson’s importance to Sherlock as “the person [he] loves most in the world” and to show her implicit trust of him, but that’s hardly news to the audience. Paint It Black was Lucy Liu’s directorial debut on Elementary, explaining her reduced screen time, but even taking that into consideration her story was a damp squib.
Overall, it was an entertaining, if not exactly rollicking instalment of Elementary. There’s plenty of meat left on the bones of the Holmes brothers’ relationship to be picked over in the remaining episodes, not to mention the ever more imminent arrival of “Lovecraftian monster” Holmes Sr. in season three. We’re left, just as we should be, wanting more.
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