Look. I understand that if any procedural on modern television can get away with dedicating a full hour to a convoluted forgery slash murder case involving a 18th century map of Virginia, it is Elementary. That said, as my sister once said to me when I attempted to leave the house wearing white spandex capris, just because you CAN do something, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. While Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller were as delightful to watch as ever and Aidan Quinn continues to side-eye his way sexily into his twilight years, this episode felt slow and dull. Frankly, when you’ve got Mamie Gummer cameoing as a preppy murderer hell bent on bolstering her family’s wealth with casino dollars, that shouldn’t happen. Let’s look at why this episode fell apart.
About twenty minutes into the episode, as Sherlock was further expounding on cartographer, my roommate who was casually sauntering through the room muttered the following: “Boy, someone on the writing staff fell into a Wikipedia hole, huh?” That’s exactly what all the hoopla with the maps felt like: Enthusiastic amateur research. That’s all well and good. Amateur research has its place, but I think we can all agree that it’s not on a TV drama airing on primetime network television. That is, not if you are worried about things like “ratings” or “storytelling.”
It’s not that the case wasn’t compelling – the show has managed to make dull rocks sparkle like fat old diamonds in the past with no problem. The issue here? They hoisted themselves by their own pitards. Which is infinitely less sexy than it sounds. The writing of the crime itself was too caught up in a quagmire of trivia that, while interesting to somebody, wasn’t interesting or at least wasn’t easily conveyed to those of us watching at home. Well, the show managed to make me believe even in the final moments that Mamie Gummer didn’t do it – because she seemed as absolutely confused as I felt by the entire ordeal. To be even slightly more brutal, the motive didn’t seem solid. Sure, there are people who kill over money, but from what little we saw, the impetus wasn’t there for Gummer’s guest role as a shady heiress. When a flashback showed her shooting a forger, I shouldn’t have been cackling. But I was cackling. Gummer deserves better. We all do.
Instead of giving the episode one star, I’m opting for two. That isn’t because I’m feeling particularly gracious, or anything. It’s because of the work this week between Kitty and Sherlock. Miller, with a deft hand, managed his parental feelings towards Kitty with greater success each week. While it felt a bit heavy-handed for Watson to offer to come back and help out so that Kitty could have a life, it felt real when Watson’s advice forced Sherlock to have a serious conversation with his new protege. So, two stars. Because any episode of television that ends with Jonny Lee Miller earnestly inviting a young woman to ask her new boyfriend out on a triple date to go look at bugs deserves it.