Elementary season 3 episode 15 review: When Your Number’s Up

Elementary serves up a whydunit this week, which takes some of the fun out of things for the viewer…

This review contains spoilers.

3.15 When Your Number’s Up

This week’s whydunit made a change from Elementary’s usual whodunit mysteries, though not necessarily a welcome one. Spending the episode steps ahead of the Great Detective and waiting for him to catch up rather spoils the point of a Sherlock Holmes story, wouldn’t you say?

We’re here to marvel at Holmes’ deductive genius and be stunned by his final revelation, not to drum our fingertips while he laboriously inches towards the same knowledge we’ve had since the opening scene. Arguably, the most satisfying part of any Sherlock story is the point at which he swoops on the culprit, police ready and waiting, and simultaneously explains the game to Watson and the readers.

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Instead, When Your Number’s Up revealed Dana Powell (Alicia Witt) to be the baddie from the off, and kept us sitting around while the loop eventually closed around her. In any other detective show, that would be fair game, but here? If Sherlock Holmes isn’t ten steps ahead of me, I may as well be watching CSI. (Well, if Jonny Lee Miller was in CSI. His performance remains the greatest thing about this show, which, on its best days, also has plenty more besides going for it.)

Gripe over. It was satisfying to see Elementary once again take up its banner and ride out against the evils of both callous corporations and personal greed. Elementary has made no secret of Sherlock’s political views on the accumulation of wealth. If you’re motivated by moolah in this show, then you’re a baddie. If your office has vertiginous views over the city skyline and an antique walnut desk, you likely murdered someone to get it. (Having money doesn’t automatically make you a bad person in Elementary’s morality, but chasing after it at the expense of others certainly does.)

Dana was exactly Elementary’s kind of villain, a rich bitch whose sense of entitlement weighed over any sense of personal responsibility or morality. She killed people to fund her expensive lifestyle and exhibited no remorse in the act. That she exposed the cold-blooded indifference to human life exhibited by the airline’s compensation lawyers while she enacted her plan was entirely superfluous to her mercenary goal. It did, however, allow Elementary to strike at two targets who essentially shared the same heartlessness.

In other news, Sherlock and Watson worked out the terms of her return to the Brownstone, including the discovery of a heretofore unseen sub-basement now to be used by Watson as a granny flat of sorts. It’s good to see her get over her season three huff and return fully to the role of Sherlock’s partner. Lord knows he needs her – how many other people could diagnose glioblastoma from a two-second Google Image search?

It was also neat to note the reversal in the pair’s relationship roles since season one. This week saw Sherlock empathising and analysing with Joan, who bad-temperedly shrugged off his attempts to make her face up to the reasons behind her behaviour. Who’s the companion now, Watson?

Speaking of season one, When Your Number’s Up felt very much like an early episode of the show. The case was diverting, if not exactly gripping, the political claws were enjoyably out in full force, and the heart of the thing – Sherlock and Watson’s relationship, was the main attraction.

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Elementary takes a short break now, returning to CBS on Thursday the 5th of March with a new episode from writer Peter Ocko, who gave us the batty, witty Adventure Of The Nutmeg Concoction. Until then.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The Female Of The Species, here.

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