New Show Recap: Elementary, 2.06, “An Unnatural Arrangement”

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Last week’s episode lacked the emotional depth some of us have come to really enjoy. This week’s episode makes up for it in spades. We get a bit more of a glimpse into Sherlock Holmes’ inner thoughts and emotions. We also see glimpses of the relationship dynamics between regular characters that are not Holmes and Watson, which was refreshing.

The episode begins on a Friday night in the precinct’s holding cells. Holmes is challenging Watson to identify the reason why each man is in jail. The best use of a Friday night in NYC is to sharpen one’s deductive skills. Needing a caffeine boost, Watson runs into a detective, Craig Baskin, who asks for her help with a minor case. Someone has been robbing food vendors in the neighborhood and it’s not a complicated murder investigation, but he’s stuck. Watson agrees to help. We also learn, not surprisingly, that Holmes’ social skills and tact leave something to be desired, especially when it comes to people who are not Watson (or Bell or Gregson).

Meanwhile, a woman arrives at her home to find a masked man sitting on her couch with a gun and demanding to know where her husband is at that moment. The woman distracts the intruder long enough to get upstairs, grab her gun and injure him before he flees. On the call to 911, we find out that she’s Captain Gregson’s wife. The badass captain has a badass wife. Cool.

Gregson arrives at the house to see his wife, Cheryl, who is shaken up, but fine. Detective Bell is outside questioning the neighbor, James Monroe (yes, like the president). Watson and Holmes arrive. There is an interesting little moment in this scene where Bell tells Holmes to give the captain a minute with his wife. Holmes ignores him and starts to move inside when Bell snaps at him and repeats his order. Holmes looks surprised like, “Why are you shouting?” This serves as a reminder that while he may be more empathetic than his BBC counterpart, this Holmes can still be a bit of an ass.

Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Mrs. Cheryl Gregson (Talia Balsam) revealing their troubled marriage in CBS's Elementary 2.06 "An Unnatural Arrangement"

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting

Monroe didn’t see enough to give a good description. Holmes notices there is blood on Cheryl’s car, probably from when the bullet winged the suspect. The trio move inside to question Cheryl, who apparently didn’t turn on the alarm. Even though the guy was wearing a mask, she gives a pretty detailed description. This must be part of the informal training one gets if they are the wife of a captain of the NYPD. The most shocking revelation to anyone, except Holmes, is the fact that Gregson and his wife are separated. Because of this, he is no longer living in the house.

The case is going to require that Holmes and Watson dig through Gregson’s private life, which they do back at the brownstone. Watson realizes that she knows surprisingly little about Gregson (he apparently is a LOLcats fan). Of course, Holmes has insight given his masterful reasoning skills. He figured out that Gregson was going through a separation by the slight change in his habits. Because Gregson’s work never suffered, and even got better, Holmes felt no need to mention the separation. He’s surprised the captain’s marriage didn’t fall apart sooner given that the life of a detective is a calling, not a job. It gives little time to sustain a marriage, an institution Holmes has a great disdain for, calling it “an unnatural arrangement.” I know many people who have an aversion to the idea of marriage, but the venom with which Holmes denounces it is very telling.

At the precinct, Bell updates Gregson on the case (no prints on the car and there is no match of the guy’s DNA in the system). This scene is significant because it’s one of the few times we see Bell and Gregson interact without Holmes and Watson present. They have a nice little heart-to-heart and I want more. Can I just get a scene or two later in the season where Gregson and Bell are just sitting and bitching about Holmes and their lives in general? I need this like air.

The first red herring in this case is a guy named Dustin Bishop who has been stalking Gregson for some time. Holmes and Watson arrive at his apartment to question him, but find him dead. Of course, the evidence at first suggests he was the intruder, but it turns out his obsession with Gregson led him to fake the gunshot wound by shooting himself and almost bleeding out. The next scene involves a man coming home and getting shot and killed by the masked man. The man’s name is Sam Clennon, on furlough between tours in Afghanistan as evidenced by shrapnel wounds and more curiously, a stab wound. Gregson has no idea who he is, but security cameras capture a guy matching the description Cheryl gave leaving the scene. An interview with Clennon’s mother reveals that his commanding officer was none other than James Monroe (like the president), which provides the link between Clennon and Gregson.

When Holmes calls Gregson to tell of his discovery, Gregson is at his home, confronting his wife about her activities during their separation. Apparently, she’s been spending time with an old friend and Gregson is pissed. I generally like Gregson, but I have no time for the jilted husband routine, especially if it’s an agreed separation. He’s leaving when he gets the call from Holmes telling him to check out Monroe’s house. Monroe, of course, was the actual target of the break in at Gregson’s house. A mistake by Google Maps showed the Gregson home as belonging to Monroe. Gregson heads next door only to find Monroe dead.

The next probable suspect in the shootings is a Jacob Esparza, a fellow soldier in Clennon and Monroe’s company who had a run-in with the pair, ending with a knife to Clennon’s gut. When they bring Esparza in for questioning, he states that he started the fight with Clennon because Clennon was having an affair with an archaeologist on a dig in the area. He confronted him after his own wife cheats on him. Since he has no bullet wound, he’s not the killer, just another red herring.

They head to the house of the archaeologist, Elizabeth Rony, who was excavating a Buddhist settlement in Afghanistan. Clennon’s company provided security. The two were involved, but it wasn’t an affair as Rony was in the middle of divorce proceedings. The case actually wraps up pretty quickly from here. Rony, Clennon, and Monroe were smuggling valuable pieces of pottery from the dig and instead of splitting the profits, Rony and her husband killed their co-conspirators to keep all the profits. At this point, she and her husband have reconciled. The key piece of  evidence that he was plotting with his wife at her home was the lack of barking from Rony’s man-hating dog. Mr. Rony is one of the only males that the dog, Gotham, actually likes and doesn’t bark at incessantly [Ed. Note: I love a classic Doyle reference to the dog that didn’t bark!]

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) stand beside each other in CBS's Elementary 2.06 "An Unnatural Arrangement"

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting

What’s more fascinating about this episode is the idea of relationships, more specifically partnerships. While Holmes abhors the idea of marriage, he is becoming more and more invested in the idea of a partnership with Watson (though they sometimes argue like an old married couple). Watson brings out the best in Holmes and smooths over his rough edges, including his lack of tact and sometimes poor social skills. Holmes acts as a mentor in her new career, helping her to see the world in new ways. It’s been an interesting push and pull to watch. Remember the food vendor case from the beginning of the episode? Holmes solves the case for her while in the middle of the Gregson investigation. Watson is pissed because it was HER case. Holmes sees it as an instance of what’s hers is his. Watson points out that a partnership is all about equality and she can’t become his equal without practice.

To that end, Holmes makes what is perhaps his most significant gesture to date and one that shows how much he’s grown emotionally since he and Watson first met: He gives her a trunk containing all his cold cases. These are cases that even a great mind like his could not solve. It’s a really beautiful gesture and one that signals Holmes’ increasing willingness to show his vulnerability to Watson. He’s telling Watson in not so many words, “I trust you.” The last shot of the episode is Watson, opening the trunk, with Holmes watching in the background as his student hones her skills on cases he could not solve.

Holmes later talks with Gregson about the idea of partnership. He hates the idea of marriage, but he points out that Gregson and his wife have a partnership and that may be worth salvaging. Gregson takes this advice to heart and goes to visit his wife with Rony’s dog as a peace offering. The conversation is heartfelt and leaves the viewer with the hope the pair can work it out in the end.

So what was your favorite part of the episode? Any funny moments you want to share?

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Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.
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StephensNew Show Recap: Elementary, 2.06, “An Unnatural Arrangement”

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