Monday, May 27, 2024

Elementary Gets Topical On All the Topics

Share This Post

“Get Rekt in Real Life” probably wins an award for most cringe inducing episode title. Putting that aside, this episode examines gaming, seal hunting, prostitution, and global warming in an attempt to be the most topical episode ever. It also brings us back to the Shinwell subplot, opening with Shinwell and Joan meeting in a coffee shop to discuss Shinwell’s estranged teen daughter, Chivonne, who has asked to meet with him.

Meanwhile, a man is shown live streaming as he plays an online role playing game that is totally definitely not Warcraft. Two teen girls are watching, and so they see it when someone sneaks up behind the man streaming and hits him in the head. This is obviously concerning.

The police deal with multiple incoming calls about the assault on the gamer, and Bell discovers that he was a celebrity letsplayer, called OGPwnzr. No one knows his real identity or location, leaving them with a crime but no crime scene, which left me skeptical. I am the definition of a “casual” when it comes to games, but I could still tell you the real identity of more than one letsplayer. Considering the modern celebrity culture surrounding famous youtubers and the downright glee that certain parts of internet culture take in doxxing people, I find it hard to believe that a famous gamer could conceal his real identity for an extended amount of time.

Also, do people other than twelve year olds still say “rekt” and “pwn”? I honestly don’t know, but god, I hope not.

One of the girls from before turns out to be Gregson’s niece, and she comes to debrief Gregson and Joan on OG and the glamorous world of eSports. For those not in the know, that’s competitive game playing, which can often net rewards of a million dollars or more. OG was a successful pro gamer in his youth, and now made his money by streaming games and working as an agent for upcoming pro gamers. Joan wonders if OG’s death had anything to do with the lucrative and mostly unregulated world of eSports.

At this point, I would like to note, we are about seven minutes into the episode and have not seen Sherlock yet, which is obviously a cruel play on my desperate desire to see buzzcut Sherlock. Joan calls him to update him on the case, only to find that he’s already been working on it and has found the crime scene. OG is confirmed to be not merely assaulted but murdered. More importantly, at last we see Sherlock in all his buzzed glory. I am happy to confirm he looks ridiculous. His head is so pointy. I love him.

Joan, Sherlock, and Bell investigate the scene, discovering that OG was beaten, left alive long enough for bruises to form, and only then murdered with a pointed blunt instrument, leading them to guess that someone tortured him for information and then killed him. They also uncover his phone, leading them to find his real name (Owen Tuckman) and a conversation in which he aggressively argued with and was threatened by a man named Joey.

Shinwell meets up with his daughter outside of her school. She is obviously wary of him, but asks him to help her with something.

Joan, Sherlock, and Bell (is there a way I can abbreviate that? Jolockbell?) go to meet up with Joey. To be honest, I was totally distracted here because Joey was played by James Kyson, the actor for Ando from Heroes. Remember Ando? Remember when Heroes was still good? Remember all that potential…that they wasted…

Anyway, Ando, I mean Joey, turns out to be a coach/manager for a team of eSport competitors called “Team ProFine.” Joey and OG were fighting about whether one of OG’s clients, an indigenous Canadian boy nicknamed “Tendu,” should join ProFine. But Joey argues that he had no reason to attack OG, because in the end, Tendu did join ProFine. Then Joey realizes that Tendu is late for a meeting and worries that he may have been attacked too. As they talk to Joey, a team of models, one with a thick Czech accent, pass by on their way to take photos with the team of gamers.

Jolockbell head back to the hotel to investigate Tendu’s room. They find it abandoned, with signs that Tendu and an unidentified girl fled through the window. They also find an Inuit seal hunting pick that matches OG’s wounds. But rather than assuming this means Tendu is the killer, Sherlock thinks Tendu is being framed. He explains that although the weapon matches the one used to kill OG, the method of killing does not match traditional Inuit hunting methods. Sherlock thinks that instead, the killer was targeting Tendu and tortured OG to find his location. When Tendu fled before the killer could get to him, the killer then murdered OG and attempted to frame Tendu. Joan and Sherlock trawl through Tendu’s social media for clues, and find that some of his selfies went viral before he gained fame through eSports, giving Sherlock and idea. Joan makes arrangements to meet with Shinwell.

At the station again, Sherlock, Bell, and the captain (Sherbellson?) interrogate a possible suspect: an animal rights activist and her lawyer. The animal rights activist was against seal hunting and had engaged in an internet feud with Tendu when he argued in favor of indigenous seal hunting. This was a topical twist I was honestly not expecting, but they handled it with surprising nuance, pointing out that indigenous people use seal hunting for survival and cultural resources, whereas corporate, organized seal hunting is unnecessary and kills more seals anyway. I think it was pretty great of Elementary to use their platform to make this argument both for and against a complex issue. The animal rights activist eliminates herself as a suspect by telling them that she met with Tendu to discuss the issue with him, and agreed that she would stop condemning indigenous seal hunting if he would use his fame as a gamer to condemn corporate seal hunts. However, she gives them a piece of useful information when she identifies Tendu’s mysterious girlfriend as a Czech girl named Libena. Sherlock and Bell remember that they have already encountered beautiful girls with Czech accents and head back to ProFine.

It’s not a selfie, it’s a SEALfie

Shinwell and Joan meet up again and he tells her that Chivonne asked him for help with a young gangbanger that has been stalking her. Obviously she was hoping her own criminal father would “take care of him.” He asks Joan to help him find a way resolve the situation that doesn’t involve violence.

Sherlock and Bell talk to Joey again. It turns out that the aforementioned “models” are actually sex workers that he hires to keep the gamers happy. Libena was one of these girls, but she fell in love with Tendu and told him the truth about herself. The escort agency she worked for, unsurprisingly, was shady and was exploiting immigrant girls by keeping them in debt (another topic for a topical episode). Tendu wanted to buy her freedom from the agency and was willing to threaten them if they didn’t cooperate. Sherlock and Bell go to the agency, only to find it was recently…arsoned? Arsonated? It burned down. Sherlock sniffs a stain on the ground, as he is wont to do.

Shinwell meets up with his daughter’s stalker. Rather than beating him up, he offers him a deal: back off Chivonne, and Shinwell will use his gang connections to ensure that the banger gets more territory to push his drugs. The young man wisely accepts.

The Sherlock Method of Sniffing Puddles pays off, and they find a woman involved in the management of the escort agency. But she insists she had no reason to have Tendu killed. He made good on his promise to buy out Libena’s contract and gave her a hundred thousand dollars, so she happily let him and Libena go, then arsonated the agency to make sure that no one else could track her down the way Tendu did.

The money is a lead, and Joan figures out that Tendu has entered into an expensive sponsorship deal with a tech company. The hundred thou was his advance; but as it turns out, he is also receiving monthly payments that he directed back to his home village in Canada, under the condition that the people who receive the payment fulfill certain requests. Sherlock is sure this is why OG was killed and Tendu targeted, and further certain that the whole thing has to do with topic number five…global warming.

This train of logic leads Sherlock and Bell to follow a man who leads them to Tendu and Libena at last. The man was sent to kill them, and Sherlock and Bell arrest him before he can. Phew!

So, okay, here is the twisty train of logic laid out: Global warming leads to melting arctic ice. This opens up a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific (the Northwest passage IS real!). That’s a cheaper and quicker route for shipping companies, so they are obviously invested in it, but in order to make the trip, they need land rights for ports along the route. First Nations, such as Tendu’s people, own much of this land and are reluctant to give it up. Tendu’s payments to his village were to give his elders extra motivation not to sell. Thus, certain influential people wanted Tendu dead and sent a “fixer” to do the work, leading to OG’s death and Tendu fleeing. Even for Elementary, this one was pretty twisty! There’s still a small surprise waiting in terms of who actually ordered the hit, but I’ll leave that one a surprise.

Tying up our final loose thread, Shinwell meets with his daughter again. But no warm fuzzy moments await us. He tells her he took care of her stalker, then offers to walk her home again. She refuses, and tells him that she’s grateful for her help but it doesn’t fix everything between them and make them family. Shinwell accepts this, and the episode closes with them walking in opposite directions. It was a nicely conflicting moment; I thought it was a little cold of her to use Shinwell for theoretically violent means and then reject him for that same violence, but at the same time, I respected her right to do what’s best for her life at present. Chivonne has the opportunity to make something of her life, and a criminal father could complicate that. Sometimes you have to be cold. And I admired that Shinwell accepted this and made no effort to change her mind or make her feel guilty. Elementary is good at these sort of difficult, emotionally charged decisions that have no easy way out.

Overall thoughts on this episode: In general, I’m not a big fan of topical episodes in murder mysteries. I feel like they’re often used as a cheap ratings grab, and a lot of the time it seems like writers only do minimal research, particularly when it comes to fandom and geekery. If you know anything about the topical topic they are discussing, you often catch inaccuracies, outdated information, and general misunderstanding (example: that Castle episode about fandom and shipping that completely failed to understand shipping). The gaming part of this episode felt like that to me, even with my inexperience in the field.

No real gamer would use periods in their username

I also think that sometimes Elementary has a tendency to get distracted and cram a lot of ideas into one episode. Usually that’s a weakness and I wish they’d focus on just one. But even though this episode jumped around a lot, I thought that the latter half was stronger and more compelling. The focus shifted from OG to the more intriguing Tendu, who was an appealing character: cute, socially active, and romantic. The gaming topic was replaced with, in my opinion, more interesting ones, such as the seal hunting angle. I also think the global warming angle worked rather than feeling like a distraction because they only really gave you the details you needed to understand the murder. Elementary and Sherlock are not exactly fans of big corporations, so this could have been an opportunity for a classic Sherlock rant, but they resisted that temptation. It felt like they trusted the audience to understand that global warming is bad and that corporations taking advantage of it is just super evil.

And maybe I’m not a fan of Elementary’s tendency to jump from topic to topic, but seriously, what other show could take you from gaming to seal hunting to global warming?

The Shinwell subplot was a little too short. There was only a handful of brief scenes with him, and the conflict was resolved relatively easily. I feel like they could have removed it without altering the episode at all, although I will be intrigued to see if they are setting up to have Chivonne be an important character later. Nor do I think the episode really established anything new about Shinwell’s character…but on the other hand, I do think it made me like him more, so it was successful in that.

Sherlock’s head is so pointy. But I miss his hair.

Images courtesy of CBS

Latest Posts

Better Role Models for the Superhero Genre: Wuxia and Yojimbo

With the recent anime, C-Drama and K-Pop-fueled interest in Pacific Asian cultures, it's time for superhero comics from American companies to capitalize on current trends and feature more stories about, for, and by Asians.

Official Planet Of The Apes TTRPG Announced From Carbon Grey Publisher, Will Use Classic West End Games D6 System

Magnetic Press Reveals Official PLANET OF THE APES Role-Playing Game Coming to Kickstarter

Faeforge Academy: Episode 165 – Definitely Not Our Friends

Rain, Beskey, and Alejo (@lonzogonzo) have made their way...

Begin Your Journey Into the Unbeing with Dark Horse’s New Title

Into the Unbeing Part One is a new miniseries...

Skybound Tabletop Teams Up With Dire Wolf For Invincible: The Hero-Building Game

Invincible: The Hero-Building Game swoops into action this summer

The X-Men Face Off With Aliens, The Government And Family Reunions In The Next Phase Of From The Ashes Era

Check out the covers and story details for NYX #2, PHOENIX #2, X-FORCE #2, X-MEN #2, and X-MEN #3, all on sale this August!