New Show Recap: Elementary 2×15, “Corpse De Ballet”

So it does happen to even the best show. There is always an episode, usually right before the sweeps, that just falls a little flat. Well, this is one of those episodes and it’s a shame, really; because this is an episode where we see Joan Watson handle a case almost entirely on her own with little help from Sherlock. It’s also an episode where we see a more sleazy side of Sherlock and I don’t really like it. 

I will say that the opening scene where Joan encounters the sign on Sherlock’s door is priceless. Can we get someone to make a needlepoint and sell these on Etsy? I would buy.

Coitus in progress or recently concluded.

Watson gamely offers Sherlock’s one-night stand some coffee… in a to-go cup. Sherlock feels a bit judged; he and his partners have mutual understandings. Besides, Sherlock views sex as exercise, nothing more. Watson just remarks that they’re going to need more to-go cups.

The Murder

At a rehearsal for a ballet company, the body of a prima ballerina drops from above; both parts of her, as she’s been cut in two. This whole thing has shades of Black Swan all over it. The victim was Nell Solange, and judging by the lack of blood, she was cut in two after she was killed. It increases the dramatic effect. The killer was also familiar with the building because the hard drive with the security footage was stolen. All the other pertinent info comes from the company manager Vincent, who adored Nell, but had to cast another more established dancer in the lead role as Nell wasn’t quite up to snuff.

The murder weapon, a box cutter, was found backstage near the body, and overseeing the scene was Detective Bell! My sweet prince! Watson seemed just as happy to see him as I was and I’m betting the Elementary fandom writers already have thousands of words of fanfiction written on this already. Bell is off desk duty, even though he still can’t use his gun and must always have backup, but it’s so nice to see him back in his element.

Bell, Gregson, Watson and Holmes examining the crime scene
The gang is back together! Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

The box cutter has a stamp of an iris, which indicates that it belongs to the prima ballerina of this company, Iris Lanser. The box cutter is a part of the tool kit she uses to prepare her pointe shoes to her particular specifications, as Holmes gleefully points out. He’s a big fan (so much for objectivity). The box cutter has been missing for a week and though Vincent indicated he wanted Nell for the part, Iris didn’t consider her a rival; she just wasn’t on her level. She has an alibi (her housekeeper can vouch for her) and she gave the name of Nell’s ex-boyfriend who has a “temper” (how convenient). Watson’s not convinced she’s innocent; she has the reputation of your standard diva, but as Holmes points out, it doesn’t make her a murderer. She’s the best at what she does; there is no need to kill someone who is nowhere near her level. Watson gets a call about a homeless man involved in a charity she works for (odd that this is the first time hearing about this).  The man has stopped taking his medication and was arrested after taking a swing at a police officer. The consulting detectives head their separate ways.

Nell’s ex-boyfriend is your classic stereotype of a hot-headed guy who thinks Nell broke up with him because she was seeing someone else. He’s an asshole, but he has a rock-solid alibi. Iris, on the other hand, doesn’t have an alibi; her housekeeper was off last night after changing her schedule. Iris insists she’s innocent and is DONE with the whole thing. She needs to catch a flight to Montreal where she’s teaching a Master Class. The look on Gregson’s face when she insists she has to leave is priceless and I think he has her arrested just out of spite. Holmes is sitting off to the side with a look of adoration, though he admits his belief in her innocence is wavering. The whole fanboy thing really bugs me and is really out of character.

Given his fannish behavior, it’s not surprising that when Watson offers coffee to Holmes’ latest dalliance, it’s Iris (who prefers cappuccino). Holmes spins it as a mutual intelligence gathering exercise where he determined that an injury in Iris’ shoulder would prevent her from lifting the body above the stage. Watson calls bullshit on the entire scenario and is furious, as well she should be. I can’t help but think the tone and implications would be different if this were Watson and not Holmes having multiple liaisons. We see Holmes engaging in an active sex life because that’s what men do and one of the few times Watson has had an affair (with Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft), Sherlock has had a less than mature reaction. To dismiss Watson’s concern over him sleeping with a suspect is hypocritical.

Holmes questioning Nolan in Nolan's office.
Gotta be honest. The motive was weak. Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

Nolan, Iris’s lawyer is helpful in that he offers to let Holmes look over all his case files pertaining to any stalkers and other legal matters that have come up. None of the stalkers pan out, but a paparazzo who Iris shoved in an altercation could pan out, so in between Watson working on the missing homeless man case, she accompanies Holmes to Jacob Pacado’s apartment. He’s a creepy asshole and could be a suspect, but they’re called away by Detective Bell before they get much further. Someone dropped off a voicemail recording at the precinct featuring Iris leaving a message for Nell. It’s a voicemail that’s left by a jealous lover. Nell didn’t have a new boyfriend, she was having an affair with Iris.

Turns out, Iris wasn’t as secure in her place as lead after all. She seduced Nell to convince her to step aside while she took the lead. However, Iris began to develop feelings for Nell. Nell deleted the voicemail in front of Iris, but it still ended up in a reporter’s hands. Holmes remembered that Iris’ phone was hot to the touch as he was taking “commemorative photos.” The heat is a symptom of her phone being cloned and the man responsible is the creepy paparazzo, Jacob Pacado. His alibi for the night of the murder involves setting up spy cameras in Iris’ apartment in hopes of catching the two women having sex. I’m certain that’s every female celebrity’s worse nightmare.

Holmes is convinced Iris is being framed. He believes the killer had access to Iris’ phone and made a recording of the voicemail and then sent it to the police. As he listens to the recording he is able to isolate the sound of a door closing, the same sound that Nolan’s door makes when it closes. His motive for killing Nell? He wanted to frame Iris and then become famous when he successfully defended her against a murder charge. With the help of a judge, they get a search warrant and find the stolen hard drive in Nolan’s office safe. He was going to use it as the nuclear bomb to exonerate Iris.

Watson’s Case

When she finds him at the hospital, the homeless man, Morris Gilroy, is upset and asking if someone can help find his friend, Freebo. The officers who arrested him are your typical upstanding cops who treat a mentally ill homeless man so very well and takes what he says seriously (in case you were wondering, that is sarcasm). Morris is restrained and struggling, but asks Watson to please find Freebo.

Watson finds out he’s a real person and not a figment of Morris’s delusions. She enlists Detective Bell’s help in trying to track him down (can you two just get married already?). Freebo is a former army officer and Bell says he’ll distribute his picture to patrol cars and other personnel. The picture provides a hit in what Holmes calls “Hobo Hunt 2014” that Freebo was seen arguing with the witness’s neighbor the other week. Holmes clearly thinks she’s wasting her time, but she heads to Queens to question Rachel Brown, the woman who was arguing with Freebo. She is Freebo’s sister who has been trying to help him, but he keeps refusing. Watson comforts Rachel and promises she’ll keep looking, which surprises Rachel. Obviously looking for a homeless veteran with PTSD is not high on the police’s list of priorities.

Holmes and Watson together for one of the few times in the episode.
The few times that Watson and Holmes were together. Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

It’s when Holmes asks why Watson cares so much that she reveals that her father, her birth father, is schizophrenic and homeless. She volunteers with the homeless as a way of keeping track of him, though she hasn’t seen him in two years. The revelation of this struck me as odd. We have never seen Watson’s concern for the homeless before this episode, nor have we seen Holmes deduce something of Watson’s family history in this regard. It feels like the writers just needed an emotional moment for Watson and this was it. It feels like a bit of a manipulation and I wonder if this will be part of a larger arc, or if they will just drop it.

Watson meets with Morris, who is stable and out of the hospital. Morris describes seeing Freebo being forced into a van, leaving his bag behind. In it, there’s a diary containing pictures of his family, including his sister, except it’s not the same woman Joan met the other day. Watson brings some officers to Rachel’s home with a search warrant, when it’s discovered she’s been cashing Freebo’s veteran’s checks. Rachel and her husband were keeping three homeless men chained in their basement, cashing their various benefit checks. It’s the perfect scheme, really, since no one cares when one more homeless man disappears. The three men will be fine and hopefully, Freebo’s family can convince him to stay with them. As a sign of solidarity, after both their cases have wrapped up, Holmes gathers old blankets from the flat and suggests they head to the park to hand them out, since it’s going to be a cold night.

This was a pretty mediocre episode. There was no punch and despite Joan’s big reveal, there were no emotional stakes either. I’d like to see Joan get some action, preferably with Detective Bell, but that’s just me. I think the show needs to reintroduce some real emotional stakes and a bigger myth-arc. The case of the week format is beginning to wear a little thin.

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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.

4 thoughts on “New Show Recap: Elementary 2×15, “Corpse De Ballet””

  1. Possible trigger warning about Sexual Abuse in addition to the stuff in the epsiode:
    I think Watson’s case is based loosely on a string of real cases in the Philly area- people were taking in PwD, mostly people with intellectual disabilities but some with MH ones, chaining or caging them in their basements, and collecting their SSI/SSDI. In at least one case, the people holding them was prostituting the women they held against their will. Really horrible cases.

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