So, I have to confess that I screwed up in last week’s review when I said it was the penultimate episode. I messed up the dates and we in fact have until May 15th before the show goes on summer break.
Hopefully the P-Mag editors won’t have killed me before then. [Ed. note: We promise we aren’t the murdering sort!]
This episode is special for two reasons; 1) we see Sherlock and Mycroft together for almost an entire episode and hence, get to see brilliant performances from Jonny Lee Miller and Rhys Ifans and 2) this was Lucy Liu’s directorial debut. I thought she did great and it keeps me from snarking on how little Joan was in this episode. For practical purposes, if you’re directing and acting in an episode, the writers tend to keep the part light as to not overwhelm the actor/director.
So Joan has been kidnapped by a French cartel named Le Milieu who have insinuated themselves in Mycroft’s restaurant business, using the various Diogenes locations as meeting places. Now that they have Watson, the group is able to use her to manipulate Mycroft into using his brother to get some information and a certain individual, Pierce Norman. Norman has a list of wealthy clients that are of interest to both Le Milieu and the US government and worth billions.
Sherlock: My very good friend might be murdered by your very bad friends; brilliant deduction Mycroft.
For now, we have the scene at the start of the episode where Mycroft comes to Sherlock for help and the scene between them is electric. All of the simmering tension and history plays out in this scene, even though we as the audience don’t know the half of it. Mycroft needed to keep his restaurants open for his employees who are like family; Sherlock needs Joan back because he cares deeply for her (displaying his care by throwing furniture and Mycroft around the brownstone.)
Sherlock: I wish it had taken you. The leukemia. I wish it had rotted you to bones.
Mycroft: Sometimes, I wish the very same thing.
What’s interesting about this scene and much of the episode right up till the end is that one is never sure if Mycroft is being genuine or using Sherlock’s love of Watson to get what he wants. If it’s the latter, then Mycroft is a master manipulator. However, Sherlock tells his brother that after this is all over, Mycroft is to leave their lives and never return. I wonder if the force of Sherlock’s emotion has more to do with the fact that he’s trying to make up for being a tremendous ass in the previous episode.
Joan, for her part, spends the episode being threatened and using her skills as a former surgeon to stitch up the cousin of the main baddies, Jem. The guy spends the scenes with Joan slinking about and telling her how he’s going to kill her if Mycroft doesn’t come through. He also shoots his cousin when Joan insists he won’t survive without taking him to a hospital. Dude we get it; you’re dangerous.
In order to gain access to Norman’s place of business, a Swiss bank, the brothers use their father’s name and reputation to get in the door and Sherlock’s deductive reasoning to bully their way into Norman’s office. While in the office, they are under the watchful eye of Kurt Yoder (cue yodel joke), Norman’s right-hand man. The only useful thing they find is a handheld game console hidden in a plant.
After leaving the bank, the brothers are intercepted by the NSA and Agent McNally, who are interested in Norman and the list for their own reasons; the list could hold the names of those who use their wealth to fund terrorism. Sherlock doesn’t want the NSA to know about Joan, lest they get in his way, so he tells McNally that the Swiss bank hired them to track down Norman and hand over to the list to them and the US government. The pretense is bought for now and they return to the brownstone where Sherlock figured out that Norman used a game to communicate with someone. Mycroft’s disposable phone rings and while he tells Sherlock it’s the restaurant, it’s actually the mystery person, telling Mycroft he should have gotten his brother out of NYC sooner.
The next day, the pair head out to Westchester to meet, not with an accomplice, but with Norman’s lover, a man named Deron. A photo of Norman on his phone, combined with photos in his office lead the brothers to Norman’s summer house, thanks to Sherlock’s detective skills. Unfortunately, they find him dead and buried in the backyard. They are now missing a key component in getting Joan back. While examining the body on the kitchen counter, Sherlock does find them a break. The presence of a larvae suggests that Norman has been dead longer than the breach at the bank. He’s not a criminal, but he’s being framed as one after death. Whoever killed Norman, could still be traded for Joan.
The person who framed him was Yoder and he’s lured to the brownstone under false pretenses and incapacitated with a taser. He wakes up tied to a chair with Sherlock threatening slow and painful torture if he does not confess. I actually thought the show might go there. Miller has been playing Sherlock as barely hanging on, more twitchy than usual and it wouldn’t have surprised me if he made good on his threat. No matter, because Yoder gives up the information and the list, which is on a pen drive hidden in his car. Before Sherlock can make a plan, Mycroft uses the taser against him and calls his contact (boss? blackmailer?) — he’s ready to make an exchange for Joan.
After he wakes up, Sherlock goes to McNally for help with hat in hand, but he says he can’t help, so Holmes must rely on his colleagues at the NYPD. Meanwhile, Mycroft meets Le Milieu under a bridge, handing off the list and Yoder, saying Joan poses no threat. Of course, he’s double-crossed by Mr. De Soto, the walking boss of the cartel. After De Soto drives off, Mycroft asks Jem if he can have a few final words. He only needs three; “paint it black.” Jem and his buddies are dropped by snipers and a team swarms around Mycroft and Joan, calling Mycroft, “Sir.” I guess the show has decided to go with canon and make Mycroft some kind of British government figure.
This is honestly why I sometimes prefer Mycroft to Holmes. He’s just as intelligent as his brother, but instead of proclaiming his genius to the world like Holmes does, he goes about his business, being just as brilliant without having to brag about it. I generally like many of the portrayals of Mycroft (except Mark Gatiss’ Mycroft on BBC’s Sherlock, but that’s mainly because I don’t like the actor). However, Rhys Ifans might be my favorite. He brings a certain lothario vibe to Mycroft that still contains an undercurrent of the sinister. Now, we just have to wait till next week to find out what his purpose is and what he does for Queen and country.
Till next time, watch this video of Lucy Liu talking about her directorial debut.