Content Warning: this review discusses a suicide that appears offscreen, as per the show.
My wish last week came true! No ooey gooey romance this week, all murder. After months of patiently waiting, Michael is back, baby! Of course, they actually revealed that three weeks ago, but this time he’s actually back.
Joan and Sherlock are working on some weird case in the brownstone. Inside an upstairs bedroom is the wreckage of a helicopter, but don’t worry about that case because Sherlock has already solved it. Something about a Nazi communist double murder.
It might just be an excuse to avoid cleaning up, but from there Sherlock heads to a meeting. Outside St. Olaf’s, there’s a crowd of people. A police vehicle pulls up. There’s the body of a dead woman in the NA meeting space. She was strangled to death with rubber tubing. I already told you that Michael was back so I won’t bother with the dramatic reveal that…it must be him!
All stops are pulled out for Michael’s return. Not only does Major Crimes come to the crime scene, but the FBI shows up to party too. Michael has killed across state lines, making this a federal case. An Agent Mallick is running point.
The victim is Rachel Garner. She worked for a hedge fund. Michael usually takes trophy from his victims’ bodies, a piece of jewelry or clothing, but nothing is missing. From the cleanness of the scene, the police believe the killer murdered Garner elsewhere and brought her here. St. Olaf’s is where Sherlock and Michael first met, so the message is clear. Sherlock smells swimming pool chemicals on her hair.
The police and FBI don’t have enough proof to arrest Michael or even search his home yet, but the FBI have been watching Michael’s home and place of business for the past several months. Sherlock has been watching Michael too, using the help of hacker collective Everyone. Never mind that’s not usable evidence in a court of law! But it leads to some interesting news. Joan receives a message from Everyone (in the form of a creepy singing telegram) that an old friend of Michael’s, William Bazemore, recently made a large withdrawal from his bank. The timing is suspicious. Joan and Bell decide to check it out.
Bazemore is another fellow addict in recovery. He believes that Michael is innocent and that Joan and Bell are simply prejudiced against people in recovery. Despite that, the money wasn’t for Michael, but to help his maid with her sick mother. Awkward.
Predictably enough, Sherlock is feeling guilty that Michael is killing to get his attention. He blames himself for Garner’s death. But he’s mad too. He’s not going to let Michael get away with this. At that moment, Joan gets a call from Bell telling her and Sherlock to come to the precinct. Michael has turned himself in and will only speak to Sherlock.
He hasn’t come to confess, instead, he wants to play more mind games. Michael admitted to his crimes to Sherlock in the past, but now he insists Sherlock was imagining it all as some side-effect of his PCS. That’s cruel. Sherlock shows him the pictures of Rachel Garner and Michael acts like he’s never seen any of it. Unfortunately, they still have no concrete proof on Michael. He can just walk out when he wants.
The police and FBI ponder where to go from there. Mallick doesn’t see the relevance of Garner smelling like a swimming pool, but guess who has a jacuzzi? William Bazemore. Joan and Bell decide to canvas his neighborhood, talk to the neighbors, see if anything turns up. Unfortunately, nobody saw Rachel Garner around Bazemore’s house. But a neighbor does recognize Michael as being a close friend. Bazemore, Michael, and Bazemore’s husband Ray were all in recovery together. But then Ray, who was struggling to stay sober, abruptly died a few years ago. Intriguing.
Sherlock corners Michael in a parking structure. Just Sherlock Things #57: Talking alone to a serial killer that’s obsessed with you in a dark, empty building. Anyway, the conversation doesn’t hold much of interest. Sherlock warns Michael he’s coming for him, etc. Michael no longer denies killing the other women but still insists he didn’t kill Garner. But he says that based on the photos, whoever did was angry. This scene and the scene with Michael in the precinct don’t really reveal a lot of information and tread some of the same ground, so I’m not sure why the writers didn’t condense the two scenes into one.
Joan and Sherlock return home to compare notes. Ray supposedly killed himself but Joan is skeptical. She suspects that Michael murdered him, perhaps out of some warped concern for Bazemore. Ray was having a hard time staying sober and maybe Michael feared he’d drag his husband down with him.
Speaking of sobriety, Sherlock noticed a fancy five year sobriety chip on Michael’s keychain. The chip is only sold on one specific website. Michael’s five year anniversary happened while he was in hiding. If they can find out where the keychain was shipped too, they’ll know where he was all this time. With the help of Everyone, Sherlock has done exactly that and found a place in Albany. Since Everyone gathers information illegally, they can’t use that data to get a warrant. Sherlock sidesteps the problem by calling in an anonymous tip.
Last time the police tried to get a warrant against Michael, they were turned down. Gregson goes to the same judge, Marilyn Whitfield. She’s dubious about the authenticity of the anonymous tip and gives them a warrant to search the apartment in Albany but not to electronically surveil Michael.
There’s nobody in the apartment when they search it but there’s signs someone left in a hurry. There’s also a darkroom filled with stalker shots of women. Creepy! One photo stands out to Sherlock. The picture is shot from a car window and Michael’s face is visible in the side view mirror. A bank in the background has a sign showing the date and time, proving exactly when the photo is from.
It’s the night of Rachel Garner’s murder. Michael was telling the truth. He can’t have killed her, because he was too busy stalking some other poor woman.
So who did kill her? The MO exactly matches Michael’s style. It could be an accomplice, but thus far Michael has worked very much alone. The other option is a copycat. That’s bad news, because there are details that the public never knew about. Whoever killed Garner is familiar with the case and thus is surely either a police officer or FBI agent.
As Sherlock combs through the list of possible suspects in law enforcement, Joan meets with William Bazemore again. She proposes her theory that Michael killed Ray and even shows him pictures of Ray’s corpse. Bazemore is visibly upset, because, I mean, wouldn’t you be? But for the first time, he seems willing to help. He tells Joan that he needs time to himself first.
Sherlock can’t find any promising leads among the police or the FBI. Gregson proposes that they try coming at the case from a different angle. Maybe there was a reason the copycat killed Garner and not someone else. The two visit the office she worked at to try and find more clues, and boy howdy, do they find them. Sherlock notices that the lock on her desk has been tampered with. Only people in the office would have access. Gregson asks Garner’s coworker for a list of people she worked with and immediately finds a name he recognizes. The man is no one that has showed up in the episode so far. His spouse, however…
I won’t spoil who the killer is, but I wasn’t expecting it.
But the episode is far from over. Joan is alone at home in the basement, cleaning up from the Garner case. Except she’s not alone; there’s an unexpected guest. Michael.
He creeps up behind her and hits her brutally in the face, knocking her down. Michael did kill Ray in order to protect Bazemore, his friend. When Bazemore found out, the shock lead him to OD after years of sobriety. Michael is furious and blames Joan. He hits her several times before letting her escape the basement.
The back door to the brownstone is shut with rubber tubing. Joan runs upstairs instead and shuts herself in the room with the helicopter wreckage. When Michael breaks the door down, she stabs him with a propeller. That helicopter may have been the death of a Nazi and a communist, but it saves Joan’s life. Michael runs away, bleeding.
Joan is hurt but she’ll recover. At least now they have something solid to hold against Michael when they find him again. Joan and Sherlock decide that she’ll go to stay with her parents for a few days to recover. They share an emotional moment and Sherlock promises to get Michael. But he never gets the chance. A short time later, he gets a call from Gregson. They found Michael…beaten to death and abandoned in a pile of trash. The primary suspect? Joan.
- At one point the FBI ask the police if they had any idea that Michael was back and they’re all like “Nope!’ But Sherlock totally did know that, he figured that out three episodes ago! Why did they bother to have that reveal if they were going to completely ignore it for the next two episodes and then forget about it this week? Bad continuity.
- I was actually expecting the copycat to be Bazemore. My theory was that Michael confessed his crimes to him and Bazemore thought murder would help with his sobriety too. I still lowkey think that would be a better twist. Elementary writers, please leave a comment if you want to hire me and I will get back to you pronto.
- It’s obviously not Joan’s fault that Bazemore ODed but I did think it was inappropriate to show him pictures of his murdered husband’s body.
- In my notes on the episodes I often refer to major characters by initials to save time. But it gets very annoying when it comes to the letter “M.” We’ve got Michael, Marcus, Mason, Mycroft, Morland, and Moriarty. That’s too many “M”s!
- Oh, and while I’m on the topic of Moriarty…Michael is dead. There’s one episode left in the season. The finale is presumably going to be about proving Joan’s innocence and finding the real killer. I predicted two months ago that Moriarty was going to kill Michael for playing with her toys. Now Michael is dead about five seconds after he put hands on Joan. HMMM interesting.