Elementary season 3 episode 13 review: Hemlock

Having perfected the art of the the cliff-hanger, Elementary delivers a doozy to spice up this week’s workaday, if entertaining episode…

This review contains spoilers.

3.13 Hemlock

At the end of an episode that represented a return to the status quo following Kitty’s eventful departure last week, Elementary surprised us with yet another thrilling cliff-hanger – the third in four episodes, if I’m counting right.

Somebody is trying to poison Watson.

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Unwittingly taking the blow for the attempted assassination was Andrew, Watson’s soon-to-be-ex (in more ways than one, depending on the efficacy of that toxin). Getting dumped is bad enough, but getting your latte spiked with poison at the same time? That’s tough.

It’s a good job the writers hadn’t wasted any time imbuing Andrew with anything resembling a personality over the past three months. Had we cared a jot about Programmer McTechy, his poisoning might have pushed those of us affected by last week’s high-running tensions right over the edge.

Gladly though, Clyde has more character in his paint harness than Andrew had in his whole body. Who’s going to grieve a character who couldn’t even put enough effort in to be a secret Moriarty plant (unless they’ve kept this one geologically buried)? Good riddance, I say. Now onto the much more intriguing matter of who might be trying to off Joan…

But before we get there, there’s the matter of this week’s case to deal with.

It was a pacey investigation, with a new gallery of suspects turned up then ruled out before each ad break. Suspects in the murder of Stephen Horowitz came and went in a flash, and the eventual culprit, in true Elementary style, was put right in front of our nose from the very beginning. No, not the burly nurse, nor the high-maintenance wife, but a classic Elementary villain: a corporate lawyer who resorted to murder to protect his considerable assets. (We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this show does not like the One Percent).

Once again, the case was peppered with rewarding nods to continuity for loyal fans, something season three has been consistently good at doing. Andrew, of course, returned, as did hacker group Everyone and that running Phil Simms gag, while Mason, Miss Hudson, and “The Nose” all received a name-check and Clyde was gifted with not just a whole scene but a nascent art career. The chief hangover from previous episodes though, was seeing Sherlock flounder in the absence of Kitty.

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A witty opening collection of scenes established Holmes’ loneliness, including a post-coital moment that, with its roaring fire and bearskin rug, would almost have been romantic were it not for the third person and all that talk of murdered women. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Sherlock put his functional attitude to sex into practice (that season two ballerina is the most recent partner of his who comes to mind), and this was very much the behaviour of Sherlock of old, trying unsuccessfully to scratch an unreachable itch.

The itch, of course, was his need for a companion in the Brownstone, and not just any old companion. Kitty and Watson, as he reminded the latter this week, aren’t ‘people’. With one gone, and an assassin apparently after the other, Sherlock needs to find another remarkable someone pronto lest he spend the rest of his days conversing with his single-stick dummy.

Bored Sherlock in need of distraction is very much canon Sherlock of course, and that wasn’t the only nod to Doyle in Hemlock. The Man With The Twisted Lip provided the basic premise of the wealthy city worker’s disappearance, before it veered off into its spiralling story about debt, greed and forgiveness.

First-time Elementary writer Arika Lisanne Mittman’s script was enjoyably packed with wit, from Sherlock and Joan’s “on-again, off-again relationship with the NYPD” to his reassurance that Watson could indeed brain a man with a metal tube if she put her mind to it. Better still were the comedy reaction shots, from that chatty admin assistant’s disgusted face when handed back her pay envelope covered in Sherlock’s saliva, to his own awkward pause and Gregson’s “Well, we’ll sort that out in a bit” after learning of his unconventional consultants’ art theft the previous day. Between all that, the buttock implants and jet skis speech, and Sherlock’s expert knowledge of sauces from world cuisine, there was a great deal to enjoy in Hemlock.

Which brings us to that cliff-hanger. Who’s behind it? Will Watson’s attacker turn out to be a victim of their previous investigations? An exposed villain seeking revenge on those pesky kids for spoiling his plans? There’s another entirely facetious option of course. Perhaps Joan just couldn’t be bothered to go through that whole “It’s not you, it’s me” speech and tipped the poison into that latte herself. It wouldn’t be the first time one of Sherlock’s crew stepped outside of the law…

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The One That Got Away, here.

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