Keep an eye open this week on Elementary. We’re going to see something I don’t think we’ve ever seen before on the show. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This week’s case is brought to us by a wealthy real estate agent who knows Lin. His name is Derek and he has an unusual story for Joan. He hasn’t heard from a friend, Maria Rodriguez, in four days. But he can’t tell Joan where she lives or who her family is, because Ms. Rodriguez is an internet friend. Derek has never met her in real life. He doesn’t think her current radio silence is just a case of her not logging in for a few days. Last he heard from her, she mentioned she was in some trouble irl. Joan is skeptical of the whole thing, but she agrees to take the case.
At the police precinct, Bell finds a man waiting to meet him. He has the fantastic name of Strider Lincoln. Yes, Strider like Lord of the Rings. Strider Lincoln is a U.S. Marshal and he has an unexpected proposition: the Marshals want to hire Bell. It’s a big deal to be headhunted by such an elite organization.
As Bell thinks it over, Joan calls. She identified Maria Rodriguez and found her apartment. There’s no one there, but there is blood and the place is a mess. It looks like Rodriguez may have been kidnapped.
A sweep of the apartment reveals that nothing was stolen. There are several clever little mechanical toys that Rodriguez made, but nothing to indicate what her full time job is. Oddly, they find a lot of gift cards.
Joan is assuming the kidnapping is for money, but when the detectives contact her sister and brother-in-law, it turns out there has been no ransom demands. Nor does Rodriguez have a history of any violent exes, so far as her family knows. But it turns out she wasn’t very close to her family and could be quite mysterious. Her sister mentions she always paid for everything with gift cards. What’s up with that?
Sherlock has a theory. They also found expensive camera equipment in Rodriguez’s apartment. With a bit more digging, they’re able to confirm that Rodriguez had the unique job of a “Financial Dominatrix,” or Fin Dom. A Fin Dom is a dominatrix, but not your usual one. Instead, they specifically cater to clients who find satisfaction in being dominated and coerced into giving the dominatrix money and gifts. Rodriguez would meet with her clients over video chat, do her thing, and then they would pay her, often through gift cards. (This, by the way, is once again totally a real thing!)
With that knowledge in mind, it’s time to speak to Derek the Real Estate Guy again. He hadn’t been entirely honest about his relationship with Rodriguez. He was, in fact, one of her clients. The police now suspect that one of Rodriguez’s clients kidnapped her. Since Derek brought the case to their attention, they’re inclined to think he’s not the guilty party, but they still have some questions. Derek has an alibi for the kidnapping. He also mentions that Rodriguez had another client who had been trashing her on a message board online called “Black Pill 4 U.” Anyone familiar with the internet should know that name can’t mean anything good.
Meanwhile, Bell is still contemplating the offer from the Marshals and discusses it with Chantal. I was happy to see her alive and thriving! Bell would have to leave the state to work with the Marshals and says he couldn’t ask that of Chantal. But Chantal seems perfectly willing to make that work. Shel also mentions that there’s no way an offer like the one Bell received came unprompted. Someone must have recommended him to the Marshals. But who?
Joan and Sherlock track down the man who runs the Black Pill 4 U message board. It turns out the board is a place for, yikes, incels to hang out. Incel, if you aren’t familiar, means “involuntary celibate.” Incels are individuals, usually young men, who blame and hate women and feminism for their single-hood. In the past, incels have been responsible for a few real life violent incidents, including a college shooting.
As such, Joan and Sherlock are not particularly kind to the man running the page. They threaten to turn him and his page into Homeland Security if he doesn’t give them the identity of the man threatening Rodriguez on the message boards. His name is Kyle Spikowski. He was a client of Rodriguez, but claims she drained him dry of money. Now he’s making threats on the board to kidnap her. He’s from Iowa, but his latest tracked IP address is within the city. Information in hand, Sherlock turns the Black Pill 4 U webmaster into Homeland Security anyway. Ha.
The police are able to track Spikowski down quickly. It’s a good thing too, because his truck is full of guns. He was planning to shoot up a women’s gym only a few blocks away from where they pull him over. Sherlock and Joan may have prevented another deadly shooting spree.
Spikowski freely confesses to all this but is taken aback when they bring up Rodriguez. He had no idea she was missing and denies that he took her. He wanted to shoot up the gym “for” her, to prove his love. In the course of the questioning, he mentions that he knew from spyware he’d planted on her phone that she recently went on a trip visiting several major cities around the country. She’d gone on the exact same trip the previous year.
After the interrogation, Bell asks to speak to Sherlock alone. Surprise surprise, Sherlock was the one to recommend Bell to the Marshals. Sherlock worries that Bell hasn’t been ambitious enough in trying to advance himself through the ranks. At this rank, he’ll be an NYPD detective forever. Bell deserves bigger and better things, like the Marshals. But Bell insists he’s happy in his current position.
According to Derek the Real Estate Guy, Rodriguez never met with her clients in person, so that can’t have been why she was traveling around the country. Joan instead thinks she was following a tour of some sort, and a little internet search finds the perfect match.
It’s a festival, called the “Maker Magic” Fest, and it seems to be a sort of Steampunk Renaissance Faire. In other words, totally awesome. Rodriguez worked as a vendor there, selling her cool mechanical toys. A festival organizer mentions that he’d noticed another vendor, Roman Livingston, who had worked as a blacksmith, hanging around Rodriguez a lot. Livingston can be a pushy dude. Maybe he got too pushy.
But when Bell checks Livingston’s house, Livingston isn’t there. It actually looks like he’s been kidnapped too. Based on pictures in the house and Livingston’s cell phone, he and Rodriguez were a couple. There are cryptic texts on the phone in which she apologizes for getting them into some sort of trouble and promises to get them out of it. Judging from the scene of the crime, several men took Livingston, suggesting that some sort of criminal organization is behind the two kidnappings.
Behind Livingston’s house, Sherlock finds a secret blacksmith workshop. From scrap metal left behind there, he and Bell are able to figure out what it was that Livingston and Rodriguez were making. Guns. They were making untraceable “ghost” guns.”
The detectives suspect that Livingston and Rodriguez were being forced to make the guns by some shady group. When they tried to get out of it, the criminals took them. But who is behind the guns?
The ATF has been tracking down “ghost” guns like Livingston’s and Rodrigeuz’s for the past few years, so that’s a lead. But should we really trust the ATF after the last episode? Sherlock and Bell are able to, shall we say, “convince” a convict who bought one of the guns to snitch on who sold it to him, an Enrique Moncada.
Bell tells Sherlock he’s going to turn down the offer from the Marshals. He has plenty of reasons for it, such as not uprooting Chantal, but Sherlock knows the real reason. Bell feels that to leave the precinct would be to abandon Gregson, his mentor.
The police track down Moncada, but when they try to arrest him, unfortunately it turns into a shootout and Moncada ends up dead. Fortunately, when Sherlock examines the body, he finds tattoos that identify Muncada as a member of a biker gang. They must be the group behind the kidnappings. Even better, Sherlock realizes that in the course of their investigation, they’ve met another member of that gang.
For the sake of not spoiling things, I won’t reveal who that is, although honestly, it was a relatively small twist. Applying some pressure to this individual at last leads to Livingston and Rodriguez, who are rescued, wait for it, alive! I really expected at least one of them to die, so that was very exciting for me.
After the successful rescue, Gregson pulls Bell aside. He knows about the offer from the Marshals and he thinks Bell should take it. He says it would make him feel very proud. What, I’m not crying, you’re crying. Shut up! In the end, Bell decides to take the Marshals up after all. He’ll be leaving in six months. Okay, maybe I’m crying a little.
- Remember when I said at the beginning that this episode contains something never seen before? You guys, nobody got murdered this week! Whoa!! So far as I remember, this is the first episode ever where Joan and Sherlock aren’t solving a murder. Sure, there’s been a few episodes that start with non-fatal crimes like a theft, but Sherlock and Joan usually quickly stumble across a body. Just this once, everybody lives! Nobody dies! (Other than Moncada, but they didn’t need to solve his death, so I’m still counting it.)
- On the other hand, I feel like the resolution of the crime this week was a little lackluster. I literally checked to make sure the episode was over because I thought there would be more than that. To be clear, though, I don’t think that was because there was no murder. The eventual rescue and resolution of the crime just felt too easy.
- Sherlock tells Bell, “You have to take risks to be the best version of yourself.” I don’t know about Bell, but I needed to hear that today.
- I’ve been saying I wanted a Bell-centric episode, and here it is! I’m glad to see him getting the attention he deserves as a great detective, but I worry this is a precursor to him being written out of the show. That would be sad. Also, Bell and Sherlock’s friendship was super sweet this week, but I do wish the show would stop suggesting it’s okay for Sherlock to meddle in other people’s lives so long as it works out in the end. He still needs to respect people’s boundaries, darn it.
- Considering that I easily found several incel message boards just by searching on the internet, I’m not altogether sure why the writers thought these sites were being hunted down by the government? Not everything bad is hidden away on the D A R K N E T. Sometimes it’s just right out there in the open even though you really, really, really wish it wasn’t.