Enter: Morland Holmes.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this week’s Elementary episode, to be honest. We open almost immediately where we left off, with Sherlock facing his father, and an interesting offer is put on the table: the restoration of Sherlock and Joan to the NYPD.
Naturally, Sherlock decides to tell Joan, and allow her to arrive at her own conclusion.
John Noble as the elder Holmes makes for an imposing figure. He’s regal in stature, and the etched lines in his skin, as well as his dour countenance, makes him formidable, even dangerous-seeming. Yet much of the episode is spent with Holmes trying to convince Sherlock and Joan that his offer is simply for Sherlock’s well-being, to the point where Joan becomes suspicious.
It’s worthwhile, too, and we get to see it dovetail with the case of the week. Fired from the NYPD, Joan reaches out to her contacts in the FBI, and she and Sherlock become involved with a case in which two researchers and one student were murdered while researching propaganda techniques. To be honest, it’s rather forgettable; we get some thoughts of China as a threatening world power, but the case is solved rather easily once Sherlock gets his hands on the information he needs.
That’s where the episode’s conflict lies in the case of the week. The FBI isn’t as forthcoming with information nor as freedom-allowing as the police were. Sherlock and Joan are stuck at Agent Gary Burke’s hip and almost immediately dismissed from the case not out of a sense of malice but of distrust and having exhausted their usefulness. With some quick thinking (and illegal acts) on Sherlock’s part, he manages to come up with suspects that aren’t China and eventually track down who committed the murders using technologies that were being experimented with.
It’s in the research that we see the case of the week meet up with the bigger conflict: as Joan researches potential suspects, she also checks into Sherlock’s father and his offer. Sherlock, in typical fashion, isn’t forthcoming about the details of his father’s business; he does admit that he “greases the tracks” of international communication, and makes it a point to note that while some of his father’s ventures are upstanding, most are less moral.
And that’s what we get to see here. Joan deduces that the offered restatement with the NYPD was due to bribery: Holmes undersold a house to the District Attorney that charged Sherlock with the assault on Rankin, his former drug dealer. Naturally, it means the charges go away. It doesn’t seem like the elder Holmes has much more of an ulterior motive, which is surprising given all that we’ve heard of him; Sherlock isn’t being used as a bargaining chip, nor is he going to be forced to eventually utilize his father’s influence.
But Joan knows what’s up. Sherlock can’t change things— no matter how much he tries, going so far as to recap the theme of the past few seasons as making amends— but he’s going to try, even if it means accepting something from his father. His father, however, seems to find the entire idea distasteful, particularly the thought that Sherlock would dislike the use of bribery for his reinstatement: “My son was born with a malignant sense of self-righteousness.” While Sherlock wanting to do things on his own terms is fine, he has an attitude even when accepting help, and that strikes his father as frustrating at best; he judges his father, yet has found himself once again falling from grace due to his immoral actions.
It doesn’t matter to Joan, though. She cuts straight through Noble’s imposing portrayal of Holmes and leaves the episode’s conclusion with a promise: she won’t let him hurt Sherlock, no matter what he might have in store.
Perhaps Morland Holmes will be the big bad of the season. This interplay of the twisted relationship he has with Sherlock, as well as the friendship and partnership between Sherlock and Joan, is intriguing to see, and it’s giving Season Four of Elementary a much-needed lynchpin that the previous season lacked.
Image courtesy of CBS