This review contains spoilers.
3.1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around
“You don’t need me anymore”. By inference, those were the five words with which Holmes took abrupt leave of Watson at the end of Elementary season two. She might not, Sherlock, but as this episode showed, we sorely do.
Proving that the arrival of Jonny Lee Miller wearing a ridiculous helmet will improve any TV show tenfold, Elementary’s season three opener only kicked into gear when Sherlock popped up dressed like a thrift store Cyberman. Before that, the episode had got off to a brisk start with a classic locked-room mystery, but lacked Elementary’s vital ingredient: Miller.
It was a muted Sherlock we were given to begin with, a repentant, soul-bearing version of the usually imperious character. His confession to Watson that he didn’t want to fail “right in front of her” was uncharacteristically candid, or perhaps proof that Elementary isn’t as short-memoried as some of last season’s more amnesiac moments would suggest (three cheers, incidentally, for the return of Clyde!). Thanks to Joan, Sherlock has become a different man. Only when he was barking orders and disappointment at his recently acquired English protégée, Kitty, was he anything like the Holmes of old.
Speaking of whom, Kitty Winter looks set to become this season’s ongoing mystery, following Mycroft last year and Irene the year before that. What possessed Kitty to give up on her old life and follow Sherlock Holmes across the Atlantic only to be tied to chairs and bullied via the medium of filing? What, exactly, is she “moving towards”? (It can’t be a coincidence that You & Me’s Monsters started playing as the camera lingered on Kitty at the end of the episode, providing viewers with the warning, “There are monsters here”…) Could she be a relative even? Who knows? Perhaps Mycroft – whom the NSA obviously did a good job of hiding seeing as he wasn’t even mentioned this week – had a lovechild, and taking her into his care is Sherlock’s way of repaying his brother’s sibling sacrifice. What’s her story, we wonder, playing exactly into the creators’ hands.
Delving into the Doyle stories of course, the name Kitty Winter takes us to The Adventure Of The Illustrious Client, in which said young lady was once in thrall to a dangerous and manipulative older man. Will Sherlock be Kitty’s victim, saviour or tormentor? Or does she have demons of her own to exorcise?
Enough questions. Whatever Kitty’s game is, actress Ophelia Lovibond looks reassuringly like she’ll be able to deliver it in style. Following Elementary’s bad luck at casting the wonderful Natalie Dormer in season one, only to have Game Of Thrones snaffle her away for most of the year, the show’s been lacking a decent recurring mysterious femme, and now we’ve got one (even if the whole thing does smack a bit of that old TV habit of getting a younger, cuter kid in when the original one starts sprouting armpit hair – no disrespect to Lucy Liu intended).
With any luck, we’ll be revisiting those eight lost London months, and Holmes and Kitty’s first meeting in flashback later in the season. The season two finale promise of enjoying some of Holmes’ MI6 adventures – and those “creative differences” – proved too good to be true, as his trip back to Blighty was swept largely under the carpet in Elementary’s haste to reunite the old gang. Bringing Sherlock back to New York was obviously expedient for the show, but it’s difficult not to feel that an opportunity to see him rub up against some new characters in a new context has been wasted.
Because it was back to business as usual with Gregson and Watson, if slightly frostier business with both. We viewers were the only ones welcoming Sherlock back with open arms.
Six months after he’d run away, we caught up with Lucy Liu’s character in what at first sight looked like a girly lunch between Joan and new gal pal Elana (played by Gina Gershon), but was revealed to be the final round in a Watson V. Drug Cartel Boss fight. At least Joan thought it was the final round. It took the rest of the episode, and a begrudging reunion with Sherlock, for her to deliver the real coup de grace that would put Gershon’s country club crim in cuffs.
In Sherlock’s absence, Watson had been taking care of business in her chic new pad, solving crimes and hooking up with a cute-definitely-not-an-assassin-plant-Bearded-Dragon-guy she met in her hallway. (Holmes is right to be worried about Watson’s lapse in observation when it came to spotting Kitty’s tail on her, that guy has ‘I secretly work for your nemesis, Elana March’ stamped all over him.)
The episode’s detective stalwart of a locked-elevator mystery was – surprisingly – pleasantly able to surprise. A one ton Tesla murder magnet certainly wasn’t my first guess at how the killings were committed (nor my second, third or fourth for that matter). A combination of all three investigators – Watson, Holmes and Winter – finally solved the case, and it will be interesting to watch how the trio develops. For my money, I’d rather watch Joan and Kitty work together than squabble over Sherlock territory and have any further single-stick encounters.
A subdued opening then, but one full of potential and questions, which is just what’s required of a new season opener. Let’s see what next week’s episode, written by the always reliable Bob Goodman, brings to the table.
Read Frances’ review of the season two finale, The Grand Experiment, here.
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