This week’s installment of Elementary, “The Rat Race” opens with a little En Medias Res, meaning that we come in partway through the story, and then find out how our heroes got in such a pickle. Case in point, Watson approaches Gregson about Holmes’ whereabouts, as he’s been missing for a while, and Watson believes he’s relapsed into drug abuse. It turns out, however, that Holmes has been bound and kidnapped! Goodness! Let’s go back in time, back when this situational pickle was still a cucumber, and find out how we got here.
Here’s what happened:
Joan Watson and her BFF galpal are hanging out, drinking coffee, when her galpal brings up Ms. Watson’s long period of datelessness, right before she ambushes her with a blind date and runs away. Watson bonds with her date over the mutual awkwardness of the situation, and the two exchange some polite banter. It was at this point that I checked my TV to make sure I was watching a show about Sherlock Holmes, and not a gentle spin-off of Sex and the City.
To put my fears to rest, the show quickly focuses in on Holmes, who has been enlisted by some bankers to find a missing colleague, which he agrees to do, but not before doing a little deducto-magico to show off how much he can deduce about the gang of bankers based on their appearances.
When he locates the missing banker, he’s all kinds of dead, with a needle in his arm and a song in his heart. Watson tries to keep Holmes focused and away from the drugs, and Holmes tries to convince the police that the missing banker didn’t OD, but rather, was a victim of a murder most foul. Of course, it’s murder. Holmes then follows a trail of clues to find that several members of that company have died under mysterious circumstances over the last few years, leading him to believe that the man who hired him is the murderer.
Holmes’ employer is, understandably, a bit moffed, and provides alibis for where he was at the time of the previous murders. Buried in the evidence of the alibis, Holmes finds the truth: it was… the secretary! She had everything to gain from making sure her long-time boss moved up the corporate ladder— prestige, fortune, access to better bathrooms. When Holmes confronts her with this, she stun-guns the bajeezus out of him and takes him to an isolated cabin to murder him. Watson, worried over Holmes’ disappearance, sends him a slew of texts. When the answer she gets is written plainly, and not in the usual illegible shorthand Holmes uses, she knows something is up and calls the cops, who arrive just in time to prevent Sherlock from having to dig his own grave.
During all this, Watson has a mini-rom-com episode where she goes on another date with blind date guy, but senses that he’s lying about being married. Holmes, naturally, pokes his nose in and finds that the guy is married, which righteously ticks off Watson. She and blind date guy meet up again and he spins a complicated tale about how he helps political refugees stay in the country by giving them a legal, but not romantic, marriage, which Watson accepts as the truth, but blind date guy gets spooked by her detecting his lie and avoids her. Holmes and Watson then hang out and he gives her a speech that is simultaneously complimentary and cautionary— he’s impressed at her growing powers of logic and deduction, but warns that other people find it intimidating and will keep their distance.
Overall, this was a decent enough episode, but when compared against Sherlock, the unbelievably good BBC rendition of Sherlock Holmes, one point comes to mind: in Elementary, they’ve created a Sherlock who is more relatable, which is good, but not as impressive of a detective, which seems akin to making a show about Superman but only making him surprisingly strong for his size, rather than able to catch cars and whatnot. Still, the human element of the show continues to shine through, so here’s hoping that they continue keeping the characters, rather than the murderer-of-the-week, as the focus.
Go deeper with Sherlock Holmes vs Elementary.