New Show Recap

New Show Recap: Elementary, 2×05, “Ancient History”

So there are two downsides to recapping Elementary every week:

  1. Scandal airs at the same time, and I love that show. In the past, I would watch Elementary live and DVR Scandal one week, and then switch the next week. Alas, that is in the past at least for now.
  2. The piss-poor excuse for a comedy, Two and a Half Men, airs right before Elementary and no matter how hard I try, I always end up catching the very end and even that brief glimpse makes me vomit in my mouth a bit.

My quibbles are minor because I do love this show, even when we get a kind of boring episode like this one. The case (as always) isn’t terribly interesting, and the emotional B arc isn’t as compelling. Still, this episode did have its lighter moments.

Things are slow for our two consulting detectives; there just isn’t much murder and mayhem in New York City at the moment, so Joan is spending an afternoon with a friend, Jennifer, who ends up hiring her to find a one-night stand she had over a year ago. Joan and Jennifer had met at a bar and after Joan had left for the night, Jennifer had met a guy and things progressed from there. It was the one-night stand that was actually REALLY GOOD, the kind where it’s a shame you could only have that kind of sex just once. (Sidenote: I have the worst luck with one-night stands so I have pretty much stopped with them, but if you get good sex from one-night stands on the regular, that’s awesome and I kind of hate you.)

Back at the brownstone, Holmes is digging through old cold cases trying to find something interesting. He does mock Watson’s job as beneath them even though he’s only solved cases involving stolen bicycles and non-fatal arson lately. To each their own boredom pursuits, I guess. Well, as Holmes states, to find a diamond in the rough, you have to go to a diamond mine.

Said diamond mine turns out to be the morgue for a morbid and bizarre “shopping trip.” The pair gain access after a game of speed chess with the medical examiner, Rex.

“For future reference, a morgue is not a diamond mine.” – Joan Watson

Everything is coming up regular death, even the body of one Leo Banin, who was killed in a motorcycle accident like his head injury indicates. But Banin isn’t all as he seems. Holmes notices a tattoo and two long cuts on his hands. On that evidence, it’s revealed that Leo Banin was once named Vitaly, a Polish assassin. He disappeared from Poland and reappeared as Banin, got married and started a new life as a nurse at a retirement home and a deacon at his church. The mystery isn’t Banin’s death, but who he had killed on the day he died. The cuts on his hands indicate he may have garotted his victim before getting killed in his motorcycle accident.

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) in CBS's Elementary episode 2.05 "Ancient History"
Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting

The interview with his wife, Lara, confirms his change of heart, though she was aware of his “dark past.” He was a different man and they planned on opening a senior care home together. In the only nod to emotional development in the episode, Holmes quietly tells her that her husband was a very bad man and that he knows what it’s like to love someone with a dark heart. It’s excruciating, but a person moves on. Helping the detectives in understanding who Banin was as an assassin will help her to move on. It’s a manipulation for sure, but it illustrates the difference between the way Sherlock Holmes is written in Elementary and the way Steven Moffat writes him in Sherlock. The latter version would have harshly told Lara Banin about her husband with little regard for her feelings. Is the former using his own emotional backstory to gain trust and evidence? Yes, but it is still coming from a place of empathy, something that the BBC version lacks most of the time.

Assuming Banin killed someone he knew since his contract killing days were over, Holmes is able to track down a man who was a part of the senior care home venture (and didn’t send a card). He’s a contractor by the name of Travis Hardwick, and he seems like something of a scam artist. Video footage at Hardwick’s office reveal Banin visited him before he was killed, and it’s assumed Hardwick is buried underneath concrete. His truck is still at the site and a concert ticket stub leads to a motel room containing Hardwick, who is very much alive and in the company of two women and a bunch of cocaine. This is a disappointing development for Holmes, but he soldiers on and finds out that Banin borrowed $25,000 from a loan shark to restart the stalled construction on the care home. However, Hardwick used the cash to have his own personal Hangover experience.

“Travis, you’re alive—that’s unfortunate.” – Sherlock Holmes

We take a pause for the B-story, in which Joan is still looking for Jennifer’s mysterious one-night stand. She obtains news footage from the bar from that night since it was the same night as the Brazilian Day parade, and the whole neighborhood was in this one establishment. Before she can begin going through the footage, Holmes reveals he was Jennifer’s one-night stand. It was at the beginning of their acquaintance, when Joan was still his sober companion. He wasn’t sure he could trust her, so he followed her after she left for a night out. He wanted to get more knowledge of Joan, so he approached Jennifer to try to glean some insights, but that obviously didn’t end up happening. This incident was glossed over as the action moved to finding Banin’s loan shark, but I wished they had spent more time on this because it was categorically NOT COOL. I wish we could have had more of a betrayed reaction out of Joan, but alas, the case is more important to the writers.

The pair move onto a front business for the loan shark Russell Gertz. After some questioning and posturing, Gertz reveals he did loan Banin $25,000 because he took good care of his mother in the care home. Some more pointed questions about a nasty bruise on his arm revealed Gertz had a visit from the Russian mafia, who were looking for Banin. The man, Gregori Andriev, wanted info on Banin, but when it was revealed that Gertz knew nothing of his location, he just left him with a mangled arm.

It’s decided that the crash site needs a closer look since Holmes now believes the Russian mafia had something to do with the fatal crash. Evidence indicates that Banin was trying to escape a shooting attack by Andriev, so he fled and crashed his motorcycle into a van, finishing Andriev’s job for him. Well, at least that what everything thinks until Andriev’s body is found a short distance away, and it looks like he was strangled to death. Since dead men can’t shoot, what really happened to Banin?

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) in CBS's Elementary episode 2.05 "Ancient History"
Starting to look more and more like your standard cop procedural. Photo courtsey of CBS Broadcasting


An investigation by Gregson reveals that Banin stole $30,000 from the mafia and that’s why he fled. Additionally, the shell casings found near Andriev’s body match those used to kill a RICO witness last year. It was rumored  that Andriev was the trigger man. Holmes figures that there must have been a third shooter. A call from the M.E.’s office also reveals Andriev was on a cocktail of drugs, including antidepressants. A trip to his psychiatrist’s office leads to an associate of Andriev’s, Marko Zubkov, whom Andriev talked about during his sessions.

At Zubkov’s residence, they find the man not dead and sporting a stab wound to the leg. He claims he was mugged and has an alibi for the time of the accident. Pictures of the stab wound reveal the tourniquet coincidentally matches the curtains in the Banin residence. Lara is brought in for questioning. After getting Lara to nod at a picture of Zubkov and letting him see the nod, Holmes reveals that he knows Lara revealed her husband’s identity to Zubkov and the Russian mafia. When Zubkov went in Saturday night to kill Banin, he stabbed him and was able to escape. Lara found Zubkov bleeding to death on her floor and saved his life with a tourniquet made out of her drapes. Banin called his wife to tell her they were in danger and to meet him in Far Rockaway. She alerted Andriev to his location and the pair were at the site when Banin killed Andriev. Lara then shot at a fleeing Leo and missed, but it caused him to crash and die anyway, so mission accomplished. Lara denies this at first, but since a member of the Russian mafia saw her seemingly identify him, she decides confession and possible protection are her best options. Lara confesses that she killed her husband after he discovered she made porn to pay for her trip to America, and he was going to divorce her. All their money was wrapped up in the old folks’ home, but she knew that the Russian mafia had a price on her husband’s head so she made the call in order to salvage her life.

Lastly, Joan meets with Jennifer to reveal that her partner was her one-night stand. Turns out Holmes beat her to the punch and revealed himself to Jennifer. He and Jennifer also had one last dalliance. In an attempt to get back at him, Joan returns to the brownstone and gushes about how happy she is that Sherlock agreed to help Jennifer get pregnant. The look he shoots her is one of slight panic until Joan says, “I almost had you.” Yes, yes she almost did.

So what do you think of this episode? Boring. Not enough angst. Missing Alfredo, Mrs. Hudson, and Clyde? Or is that just me?

By 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.

6 replies on “New Show Recap: Elementary, 2×05, “Ancient History””

Sherlock being the mystery man was a nice twist. And ever since someone pointed out that Joan/Sherlock have a D/s light relationship I am secretly thrilled when things point to that.

But yes, again the case sailed past me. Bell was amazing, I’m always up for more Bell. But I want more character episodes again, no cases.

I think next week we get a Gregson episode, which I’m interested to see, but yes I love Bell more and more each episode.

I did not notice the D/s light elements in the relationship. Do you remember where you read that because I’d be interested in reading it?

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