New Show Recap: Elementary 2×21 “The Man with the Twisted Lip”

So, we’ve arrived at the penultimate episode of the season and we are finally getting some action on the mystery that began at the start of the season; what the hell is Mycroft up to? 

It’s a good episode and a good start to the end of the season; however, it all feels a bit rushed. Instead of building up to something all season, like the Moriarty arc in season 1, we’ve gotten a season of “ripped from the headlines” episodes, à la Law & Order. I really think that the writers missed an opportunity to build more tension throughout the season instead of handing us everything at the end and expecting us as viewers to feel something. I’m also getting more and more angry about the way the showrunners have handled Joan this season. I keep seeing bits of her agency chipped away. I mean for fuck’s sake, this is the woman who outsmarted Moriarty.

One of the highlights of the episode was seeing Mrs. Hudson again! The downside is she only makes a brief appearance at the beginning when she agrees to stay for dinner at Mycroft’s insistence. Yes, Sherlock’s enigmatic brother is back in the city. His NYC branch of Diogenes needs some attention and he wants to spend sometime with Sherlock. Of course, Sherlock takes the news like he just drank very off wine, but nothing compares to the look on his face when he learns that Joan and Mycroft had kept up a correspondence via email. Now if they had shown an email from Mycroft on Joan’s computer or even a phone conversation, that would have kept the narrative arc going, but no.

It does seem that in certain areas, Holmes has not made much growth. In the scene at the NA meeting at the top of the episode, Holmes confesses that he doesn’t have any peers. No one who is his equal (well, no one sane). He still feels that his continued sobriety is contingent on Watson. With so many areas of growth, this is the one where he still lacks. He still needs his own set of perfect circumstances. Mycroft and Watson’s relationship threatens that in his eyes and he resorts to acting like a petulant child; even going so far as to say he and Mycroft will need to have a shared custody arrangement. Watson shoots that right down as she is not chattel meant for barter.

It is a term of never use it again, or I will kick you in your soft parts

Things get more complicated on that end when Mycroft confesses he still carries a candle for Joan. Apparently, their one night stand left an impression. He is intending on staying in New York for a while and he suggest that… maybe he and Joan make a go of it. Joan is about as confused as I am because this is entirely out of context. I don’t automatically HATE Joan and Mycroft together, especially if Mycroft shadiness was factored out; however, I can’t say I love it because it’s out of nowhere. Also, because on two separate occasions, Holmes and Watson notice the same shady character at the restaurant. Is Mycroft running a front for a crime syndicate?

Mycroft and Joan sitting at a table in Diognes
Don’t trust him! Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

What’s also out of nowhere? Joan’s desire to get some distance between her and Sherlock. As she tells Mycroft, she would never consider being in a relationship with him under Sherlock’s roof, but since she has apparently been contemplating getting her own place, Mycroft’s overtures was the kick she needed. Now, given Sherlock’s idiosyncrasies and habit of barging in and waking Joan up at an ungodly hour, I get how she might want a place of her own. She still acts as Holmes’ default sober companion when she’s supposed to be his partner. It’s an imbalance in the relationship. Again, would have been a great thread to run throughout the season; having an increase of discord and restlessness on Joan’s part. Again, we’re only hearing about it now so forgive me if I find Joan’s willingness to enter a romantic relationship with Mycroft a little off-kilter.

Oh yeah and there is a case. One of the women at Holmes’ NA meeting has a missing sister, Paige. She’s afraid Paige has started using again and when the pair inspect her apartment, they find a stash of heroin. Paige is an aspiring musician who left a clue on one of her recordings as to where she liked to play, a statue of Harriet Tubman in a nearby park. In the woods around the statue they find two sets of footprints running in opposite directions and Paige’s guitar. The footprints lead to the bodies of Paige and a mystery man. From the looks of the evidence, the man Zach Pillar, was the target and Paige was an unfortunate witness.

Zach happened to work for an aeronautical company that developed and flew drones for military contractors. Zach was also in the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Sutherland. When questioned about their relationship, Dr. Sutherland was cagey. He had good reason to be wary; Zach’s company sent out one of their drones to kill him. Not only that, but they also dispatched a drone the size of a mosquito to listen and record the detectives at their home. This is some 1984 scary shit. It’s also the reason why I don’t want drones used as a delivery service. Do I want my latest Amazon Prime order delivered to my doorstep by a drone? Hell fuck no.

The “nope” continues when one of the mosquito drones is dispatched to deliver a poison to Dr. Sutherland, killing him instantly. Apparently during their sessions, Zach confessed that he may be the responsible for a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan and Sutherland had been paid off by Zach’s company to report back. The company is ready to go public and they don’t need this kind of scandal so he was killed before he gave away the game.

Holmes holding up a sign for a robotic mosquito in a jar.
This plays into my worst fears. Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting

The firm is trying to cover their tracks, stealing computers with a report of the strike gone wrong. As a way to draw them out, Holmes holds up cards to the mosquito drone saying they had a copy of Zach’s report and to meet him to exchange money for silence. Watson sneaks her way into the office of Kenneth Carlson, the COO of the company, who is the one to meet Holmes at the South Street Pier. Joan gets in his office, picks the lock on the safe and calls Carlson and reads him the first line of the report that was hidden inside, just as Carlson was calling Holmes bluff. Carlson cuts a deal and the report is going public, which is what Zach would have wanted.

In the end, Holmes apologizes for not respecting Joan’s privacy. He values her as a person, not just for what she can give him. It’s nice, but Joan doesn’t accept it. Holmes only apologizes after he gets what he wants and with that, she leaves to meet Mycroft at Diogenes to warn him of the crime syndicate running out of his restaurant that he’s ignorant about (uh huh).

When she arrives at the restaurant, Mycroft is nowhere to be found and one of the men regularly seen is handing another man some papers and walking out. Back at the brownstone, Holmes takes some heroin he must have taken from Paige’s apartment and hides it in a hollowed-out book. Maybe he’s preparing himself for the self-fulfilling prophecy that is about to come true.

Joan follows the man outside where he puts the papers in the seat of a motorcycle and goes inside another building. At this point I’m yelling, “Joan, you in danger, girl.” She picks the lock and is reading the file when the man reappears saying “Fair is fair, you take my picture, I take yours,” before he covers her mouth with an ether cloth and throws her into a van. Why? Why does the climax of a story involve a woman in danger? Le sigh.

Let’s see what the show has for us in the finale, shall we?

 

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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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