It will never not be strange to watch Lucy Liu take a backseat as Joan Watson on Elementary, but on tonight’s stellar episode it made sense, in more ways than one. Liu has already directed one episode of the series in which she also stars and is slated to do another this season.
To whit, it would make sense that she would step back when possible in order to get the opportunity to reacquaint herself with the more complete universe of the show. I maybe over thought this, but that is only because I love Lucy Liu and believe that she takes everything she does very seriously.
It is, directorial aspirations aside, the secondary reason for Liu’s tertiary role in tonight’s episode that is the one we should truly be focusing on. Do you like how I kind of just chastised you even though there was actually only me to blame? I am a literary god. Bow to my whims, minions. I mean…moving on.
Tonight’s episode sought to resolve the case of the murdering raping sadist responsible for Kitty Winter’s dark past. I was mildly surprised that they chose to tie things up with Kitty midseason, but it makes a certain amount of sense. Also, I would very much like for her to get a spin-off. If this happens, the writers should hire me. I am excellent at making coffee and carrying things. Additionally, I excel at theorizing as to what Lucy Liu is doing at any given time, which could indeed make me a valuable asset to the team.
Tonight, Kitty and Sherlock both realized that her assailant was still on the loose, and they both sought to bring him to justice in very different ways. Sherlock and Kitty’s relationship is vastly different from the one between Sherlock and Watson. Whatever her faults, Joan is a very strong person, stolid and grounded. But Kitty, strong though she might be, is also deeply damaged — just like Sherlock himself. In the glimpses we are given into their first meeting and growing partnership we understand just how much of a saving grace their bond was for each other. Sadly, it was a sort of emotional propping up that could not exist in the long term without terrible repercussions. This is why Kitty’s leaving once the deed was done made so much sense.
It was an interesting end (or pause) to the Sherlock and Kitty arc. In fact, I was reminded of the season of Dexter when Jonny Lee Miller played a character very much like the murderer he and Watson and Kitty apprehended tonight. Ultimately, Dexter and the rape survivor Lumen cannot be together in the long term because their damage, while initially being the thing that brought them together, will eventually drive them apart. I think it was smart of the writers to have Kitty allow her assailant to live, but to remove his face that way she did – it was literal and poetic justice and revealed just how much dangerous anger she has (and will always have) bubbling just beneath the surface.
One of the episode’s final moments, Sherlock and Kitty making nice and he pitching his drugs, was a striking reminder of how, in spite of the artifice and presentation, Miller’s Sherlock is a fragile man something that ultimately makes him intensely easy to empathize with.