Elementary season 3 episode 12 review: The One That Got Away

Elementary delivers its best episode of the season, a fitting pay-off to the arrival of Ophelia Lovibond’s Kitty Winter…

This review contains spoilers.

3.12 The One That Got Away

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If those ‘previously on’ scenes alone didn’t have you leaning forward and gripping your seat cushion in giddy anticipation, then fair warning that this may not be the review for you. I’m about to gush.

The heroin! The nutmeg! London flashbacks! Finally! The opening minutes of The One That Got Away were catnip to Elementary fans, as if we weren’t already looking forward to the conclusion of last week’s Kitty-centric story.

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The Kitty arc has arguably been Elementary’s strongest treatment of its character source material. Yes, we immediately loved Sherlock, quickly came around to Watson, enjoyed Moriarty (before Game Of Thrones snaffled her away at least), and thought Mycroft was a blast, but those characters all came ready stuffed with dramatic potential. With Kitty Winter, Elementary’s writers have made something from nothing. Out of a bit player in a single Doyle story, a literary footnote, they’ve created a meaningful, poignant companion who revealed new sides of Sherlock, and won us over in her own right.

The mourning period starts now, because a dozen episodes spent with Kitty simply wasn’t enough. We want her back. (And not just popping up with the odd question for her former teacher. The original story saw Gruner’s cruelty being taken into account when Kitty was sentenced for throwing acid in his face. Can’t the same dispensation be made here, Gregson?)

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As Kitty-focused as this episode was, the real spotlight was shone on her relationship with Sherlock, and what the two have meant to each other. Her tuition, it’s revealed, was as much about saving him as it was her. Elementary’s writers hadn’t forgotten about that wrap of heroin pocketed all that time ago last season, they were just waiting for the right moment to bring it back into play.

That moment arrived months into Sherlock’s stay in London, when he was jobless, brotherless, Watsonless, and – after a spat – Kittyless. Sherlock hit rock bottom and his protégée was the one who gave him something to stay sober for. Kitty rescued him and Sherlock rescued her. Jonny Lee Miller and Ophelia Lovibond played those scenes with such feeling that you’d have been made of stone not to be moved. Ending things with a genuine, platonic “I love you” was a fitting emotional pay-off to the relationship.

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The One That Got Away was such a good conclusion to Kitty’s story, it might well warrant going back to rewatch the run-up to it. All those frustrating early weeks when it felt as though her character was leading nowhere can now be soothed by the knowledge that not only was she leading somewhere, but that somewhere made for brilliant TV.

Cleverly, the episode included a strand of good old-fashioned detection alongside the character development. In Adelbert Gruner (“small wonder the man is a sadist”, quipped Sherlock, a rare moment of levity in an otherwise sombre episode) there was a serial killer to be caught, perhaps the show’s worst specimen yet.

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Gruner could well be the perfect Elementary villain, the epitome of the one percent monster who thinks his privilege protects him from culpability. Had Kitty gone through with her original plan, I doubt there’s a viewer who wouldn’t think that justice hadn’t been served, though at the cost of her innocence, of course. Burning someone’s face off doesn’t exactly leave Kitty’s copy book unblemished, but at least it’s not murder.

(It strikes me that were Elementary more of a comic book world, Gruner’s facial disfigurement might be the starting point for a new stage in his villainy, but as it isn’t, we can now consider him out of action.)

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Most impressive about the episode – which was fit to bursting with dramatic moments and strong performances – was how it drew together disparate threads into one neat central narrative rope. It called back to countless past episodes, from Sherlock’s season one adventure with Sebastian Moran, the London hiatus, the previously explored notion of Kitty’s blind spots, the nutmeg concoction, the rubber band technique and more, making it a real reward for long-time viewers. (It even explained the purpose of all that clunky talk about Watson’s work phone in last week’s episode. Bugged, Gruner was spying on them through it).

Thematically, the episode was about finishing things that had been started. Gruner’s obsession with finishing ‘the one that got away’ led neatly to his downfall. By asking Sherlock to finish what he’d started with her training, Kitty unwittingly steered him away from his. And finally, by putting a stop to the man who hurt her, Kitty put a full stop to her victim narrative.

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What’s next for her character? Healing, helping people, and with any luck, a return to New York. Don’t leave it too long now, Kitty.

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