Sunday, June 16, 2024

Elementary: 4.1 The Past Is Parent Review

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The last time we saw Sherlock and Joan, Sherlock had finally fallen off the wagon. His father was on his way, too, after three seasons of his shadow looming over their lives.

The episode opens with something a little less heavy, though. Sherlock is found in an apartment filled with dead women, only for one of their phones to ring. He’s recreating a crime scene to try and solve an old murder case. “Justice is like an orgasm; it can never come too late,” he says.

It’s his only outlet at the moment, because his beating of his former drug dealer last season has put him on probation with the district attorney. Captain Gregson comes to visit Holmes, but only Watson is home… and Sherlock’s father never shows.

Our cold open ends with a certain Mister Bloom, whom Sherlock accused last season of murdering three women including his wife, committing suicide on a public street outside of one of Sherlock’s support meetings. Bloom asks to hire Sherlock, claiming he only accidentally killed two women but his wife was either murdered or left him. Sherlock, of course, seems skeptical… until the moment of suicide. It’s a disturbing opening.

But what’s nice about this episode is the way the relationships are portrayed. It’s something that I’ve always admired about Elementary: the relationships in the show are constantly evolving. It’s not a typical procedural where the characters are largely static save for a few development episodes each season; the first season of the show alone features dynamic characters changing throughout the span of each of the 22 episodes. That’s no exception here; it’s only days after Sherlock relapsed, and you can feel the tension between him and Watson, between him and Gregson—the people important to him are there to support him, but he feels that he’s messed up.

Unfortunately, so does the Chief of Detectives, who never liked consultants in the first place. Sherlock’s relapse causes the Chief to cut ties with both Sherlock and Joan Watson. Sherlock, obviously, is displeased—his relapse should have nothing to do with Joan losing her job.

She doesn’t know about it, though. Sherlock insists on investigating the disappearance of Bloom’s wife, believing it the work of a serial killer, and adamantly insists he and Gregson did not talk. Perhaps it’s a way to keep Joan happy; perhaps it’s one last hurrah. Either way, it gives us the fuel for the case of the week.

And Sherlock’s father’s shadow looms above them; his assistant calls Joan to let her know that he’ll be in New York within the week. It leads to a great scene, though, where Joan tracks down the assistant, and once he’s insulted Sherlock, asks him what the hardest he’s been hit is. It baffles him, and he leaves with a message for the esteemed Mister Holmes: come or not, but quit telling them he will and never showing.

Have I mentioned how much I love Sherlock and Joan’s friendship?

The case of the week ends up with Bloom’s wife Alicia being connected to a woman named Maribel, and both survived a massacre in Honduras. In Sherlock’s quest to find them, he uses a source at the NSA for help and also for a job, and in that interaction we get more of the consequences of Sherlock’s actions: “You’re liabilities,” the NSA’s Agent McNally says.

The good news, though? Sherlock figures out that Alicia and Maribel were planning a murder. Alicia searched for how to dispose of a body… which was later used to claim that Bloom killed her, instead of Alicia and Maribel’s supposed victim: a member of the cartel responsible for their childhood slaughter.

Did we mention Sherlock is still in contact with Moriarty? It’s almost a throwaway line, but Elementary is good at that: the small, humanizing moments between plot-of-the-week scenes.

It’s also good at having Sherlock and Joan drinking from empty coffee cups, which for some reason I find really jarring in this, of all series. The show’s avoided it in this season premiere, but I’m beginning to think I’m going to keep count of how many times it happens.

And once Sherlock finally finds out he’s not going to be arrested for his relapse or beating of his old drug lord, he comes clean with Watson: they’re no longer consultants with the NYPD. Joan takes it well, but Sherlock insists that taking such a high-profile case as Alicia Bloom’s disappearance will help Joan get back into the good graces of the NYPD. She doesn’t like it, though: she wants to work with Sherlock, not the department. She’s his partner, not a consultant.

The case of the week wraps up: Maribel and Alicia went to a Honduran restaurant separately to confront the owner, who turns out to be a member of the cartel from their childhood.

It’s something that’s always irked me about Elementary. It’s a diverse show, with people of varying races and sexualities being featured throughout… but consistently, Latinos are shown as people with drug problems, part of cartels and petty crimes. It’s a little odd for such a progressive show; sure, it’s on CBS and therefore network television, but it’s still jarring. The show usually falls away from stereotypes… save for Latinos. I really hope the writers improve.

But you know what’s almost enough to make me forget about that for a moment?

Sherlock’s father, played by John Noble.

Uh oh.

Image courtesy of CBS

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