This review contains spoilers.
2.8 Blood Is Thicker
Last week’s episode left me wondering how the relationship between Mycroft and Watson, following their one-night stand in London, was going to play out. Blood Is Thicker provided the answer: it wasn’t, at least not this week. That particular plot development was left dawdling at the wayside while Holmes and Watson chased down the road after an inconsequential, and it has to be said, fairly tasteless case.
Tasteless because inventor Ian Gale seemed so closely modelled on Steve Jobs that positioning the fictional widow as his avaricious murderer was a bit disrespectful to the real-life counterparts. The iconic inventor of a smartphone that had changed the world as we know it, one with a well-read biography, a rock star developer in the eighties, dying before his time… The Jobs parallels were all there. To wrap a tawdry fiction around a very public real life then, one involving one-night-stands, illegitimate children, pay-offs and double homicide just felt crass. Murder by immune-system poison was a new one on me though, I’ll grant them that.
Ploughing that same furrow, while Miller’s tics, posture and delivery were the Holmes of old, some of his dialogue this week felt out of step with the character. The excellent moose-cheese discussion aside (more of that, please), when Holmes contemplated leaving his “support network” and justified the decision to his brother, he seemed to have wholesale adopted the therapeutic lexis we saw him deride and mock throughout season one. Perhaps I’ve a tin ear and it’s just more proof of his character growth, but it felt like unfamiliar territory for this version of Sherlock.
While we’re complaining (and believe me, that’s not the goal of these reviews. I have a great deal of time and affection for Elementary even if that’s not coming across here), does every episode have to end with the opening bars of an indie rock tune accompanying a slow dolly out? Stylistically, it’s an ending that’s neither here nor there, the equivalent of fading out at the end of a song. With nothing monumental in the script to signify that things are wrapping up, these last few episodes have pressed play on the iPod and used the camera move to imitate significance where there is none.
Even in Elementary’s most lacklustre cases though, there’s almost always something to keep you wanting to return next week. Most often, it’s something that comes out of Miller’s mouth, but this week that honour went to Rhys Ifans, courtesy of that teasing last scene.
It was perhaps unfair to say that the Mycroft/Watson romance went unremarked upon this week, because that short phone call led us to infer his motivation for the dalliance (aside from the obvious of course). Mycroft is attempting to manipulate Holmes, though for what purpose, we don’t yet know. Forging a relationship with Watson, Holmes’ closest confidante, would be a route to that end.
Is Mycroft on the side of the angels? Working, as one canny commenter suggested, for the British secret service (if ‘angels’ is the right term for them…)? Or are his plans for Holmes nefarious? Could it have been Moriarty on the other side of that phone? Another question presents itself (though it’s merely speculative hot air): is Mycroft playing the pair of them, or does Watson suspect more than she’s letting on? It was she who saw through Moriarty, remember. Just a thought.
Returning to the case, the real kicker was how inessential Holmes was to it being solved. He pushed things along with his analysis of fallen paint chips and access to forbidden floors in posh hotels, yes, but there was no real need for his genius. Watson had the perp fingered from the off, she went to the morgue, and it was she who followed the trail of Hayley’s sickness to its conclusion. I’ve been vocal in my praise for Watson’s development as a co-consulting detective this season, but by making Holmes a negligable part of the team, it’s difficult not to think that Elementary is painting itself into a corner.
If Watson is as good as Holmes, then what’s the point of Sherlock? We may as well be watching CSI.
Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The Marchioness, here.
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