If you’ve ever watched the seminal 1980s hit Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton and thought, man, they should really remake this movie and cast Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes the dad, then the latest episode of Elementary was probably the closest you will ever get to that mashup becoming reality. No, no, we didn’t get montages of Sherlock frantically baby-proofing the house or bungling the simple application of a fresh diaper, but we did see the debonair and exceptionally sensitive eccentric consider fatherhood and it made a totally gut-wrenching episode.
Harboring hopes that Joan and Sherlock will one day fall into each other’s arms and produce brilliant, beautiful offspring? Maybe go find another show. Elementary is exceptionally good about presenting their characters realistically and honestly. They shy away from the trap of easy sentiment or manipulative choices (UNLIKE SOME OTHER SHOWS ABOUT THE SAME CHARACTERS WHICH I COULD MENTION COUGH COUGH MOFFAT COUGH COUGH). Elementary is smart enough to know that if they foist Sherlock into the arms of Joan (or vice versa) they lose what makes their show special: That nuanced friendship and partnership. But this doesn’t mean we get cheated out of seeing how either party would behave when thrown into romantic entanglements. We know what Joan’s like as a girlfriend, distant and wary, and we know what Sherlock is like a boyfriend — he is not a boyfriend, but he will pleasure you sexually and be totally honest about what you are to each other.
This week we saw a vulnerability in Sherlock when it comes to how he relates to women. Not since Moriarty has a female of the species left him so atwitter as his sexy, blond irregular who is visiting from overseas and plans to uh, enjoy Sherlock’s company while she’s in town. Sherlock’s got feelings — of a sort — for her. It’s touching and sweet. Which, in turn, makes it all the more of a gut punch when she eventually reveals that Sherlock’s father has convinced her to ask Sherlock to be a sperm donor so that she can conceive a child.
Sherlock approaches the request with the kind of gravitas that only proves what a good — if unconventional — father he would make. His decision not to offer up his genetic material is a sad one and perfectly underlines what makes this iteration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective so compelling: He is so thoroughly broken, sad, and aware of both of these all at once. Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye…that is a lie. Actually I am just crying because I want Sherlock Holmes to find happiness! I am taking this show maybe waaaaay too seriously. Until next week!