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New Show Recap: Elementary 2.09, “This is the Line”

This latest episode is arguably the creepiest we’ve had in a while, and I think that’s largely because we knew the guilty party within the first five minutes; the rest of the episode was just a cat and mouse game. The creepiness was made worse, I felt, because this hour dealt with every woman’s worst nightmare: becoming the victim of a serial killer. So with that in mind, I would like to give you trigger warnings for suicide, mentions of rape, stalking, mentions of torture, and just a general sense of unease.

A young woman stands on a bridge and pulls out a handgun, some wire, and a weight. She attaches the wire to the gun’s trigger with the weight at the end and let’s it drop, killing herself and making it look like a possible homicide. That’s what Captain Gregson assumes when he finds Holmes and Watson on the scene as Holmes is yelling at a beat cop because his cone placement is off. The rudeness Holmes shows is a thread that runs throughout the episode, but more on that later. Gregson is convinced it’s a homicide because the woman, Samantha Wabash, called 911 saying the man she suspected of brutally murdering her sister, Lucas Bundsch, had been stalking her. Sherlock rightly argues that Samantha killed herself and they are not needed. Bundsch calls the station and volunteers to take a polygraph.

The polygraph goes as expected. It seems the guy is innocent, except Holmes notices signs that Bundsch is fooling the polygraph. Holmes bursts in and asks Bundsch if he killed Samantha’s sister. He answers no, the response pans out, and he is released, but Holmes realizes it may have been better to let Samantha frame him because Holmes now suspects Mr. Bundsch is a serial killer. He does look highly suspicious. His current job description is sound engineer, but before that he was a mover, during which period women went missing in every building he worked in. None of this sways the lead detective on the case, Gerry Coventry (who found his way from Bon Temps and changed his name from Andy Bellefleur.) He is convinced of Bundsch’s innocence and is pissed at Holmes for questioning his skills as a detective. So much so that Coventry gives Bundsch the head’s up that he’s being investigated and the address of the brownstone. Bundsch shows up as our detectives are watching surveillance video of Allie Wabash making a phone call from a pay phone before she disappears, wearing Uggs in July. It’s theorized that Bundsch made her believe she had a bomb strapped to her and she would die if she didn’t do as he said. In this way, suspicion is diverted from him as a suspect. Anyway, there is a bunch of posturing, but it’s clear that Bundsch is a very creepy man. His parting words are a warning that Samantha’s pursuit of him ruined her life and it would be shame if the same happened to Sherlock or Watson.

 Detectives Gregson & Coventry argue in CBS's Elementary episode 2x09, "This is the Line."
This guy is an ass. Holmes might learn something from him. Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

Detective Coventry is confronted by both Holmes and Captain Gregson and we learn something that comes as no real surprise: There are many in the precinct who resent Holmes and the way he treats them, which is pretty damn rude. There are many who think Gregson is a fool to put up with him. I was personally wondering when this would get addressed. On the surface, Holmes has an enormous amount of kindness to give to Watson and to a limited extent, Detective Bell and Captain Gregson. Yet, it’s a common theme that Holmes dismisses others if they are not useful and only acknowledges those he needs in particular circumstance. Anyway, now that Bundsch knows where they live, mounting surveillance on him is out of the question. They move to interview the families of the man’s supposed victims.

Bell and Watson interview a Mr. Spaulding, whose wife Kathy went missing sometime ago, though her body was never found. He has no clue who Bundsch is, but he is a part of an online community for the families of murder victims and another member of the community, Cynthia Tilden, recognizes Bundsch’s name. On a Skype call with our detectives, (which was just audio with no video, something that makes sense later) Tilden says that Bundsch and her daughter dated in high school. Her daughter went missing as she was leaving her job. She never suspected her daughter’s ex, but did mention his family owned a remote cabin, which could be where he took his victims.

Holmes and Watson make arrangements to meet Tilden in her town, but she never shows. Holmes calls her number, but Bundsch answers, indicating he is holding Tilden hostage. The police are called, but when they arrive at Tilden’s residence, she has no idea who they are, nor does she have a daughter named Bonnie who was murdered. They’ve been duped. Holmes realizes that Bundsch is the worst kind of criminal: a serial killer and a catfish. He tortures and kills women and then uses social media to create profiles to stalk his victim’s families, playing on their pain. Jesus, this is my worst nightmare, seriously. Bundsch taunts Holmes by telling him that whatever he imagines he does to his victims, it’s actually much, much worse. For this, when Holmes confronts the man in his recording studio, he loses his cool and punches him.

Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) arrive to a crime scene in CBS's Elementary episode 2x07, "This is the Line."
New spin-off: CSI Elementary. Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

It’s an understandable move, but it’s one that further hinders their case as Bundsch slaps a restraining order on our favorite pair of detectives. As Watson tends Holmes’s wounded hand (he broke his finger) and they figure out how to proceed, Holmes gets a text from the number Bundsch used when he pretended to be Mrs. Tilden. The address belongs to a Jenna Lombard, who was taken from her apartment. Bundsch now has a new victim and they have to race against time to find her. In his desperation to find Jenna before it’s too late, Holmes almost resorts to framing Bundsch, much like Samantha tried to do. The only catch being that it’s probably just what their killer wants him to do.

He figures that Bundsch is keeping his victims where he spends most of his time, his recording studio. Old blueprints show that there is extra space in the studio. They find Jenna Lombard alive, and, to their surprise, one other victim: Kathy Spaulding. She, like all of Bundsch’s victims, was held for months at a time before she was killed. She is reunited with her husband and a serial killer is behind bars. With that momentum, Gregson takes a moment to call out his precinct on their attitude towards Holmes. Gregson will use ALL the resources at his disposal, including a rude, slightly anti-social British genius with a chip on his shoulder. Anyone who doesn’t like it can leave. The shot lingers on Coventry, who may be rethinking his place on the squad. I have a feeling this plotline isn’t over yet, and while the feelings of resentment are dealt with for now, I have a feeling that this will be used as a plot device in later episodes.

The most startling revelation comes at the end. Watson wonders why Holmes can’t at least try to be a little gentler when working with the NYPD. It’s because, he says, he is not a nice person. He is capable of social niceties when necessary, but his core is mean, cold, and logical. It’s different with Watson; she is an exceptional person, so he makes an exception for her (and maybe for Bell and Gregson.) Watson doesn’t think he can maintain that status quo; no one can. Holmes simply replies, “To thine ownself.”

So this was a darker episode to be sure, and there was very little of the show’s humor to be found, though I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a change of pace and tone is needed. I’m interested to see where Holmes’ attitude takes him in the future. Will he continue to be an ass or will he take the path of emotional development we’ve been seeing this season? We shall see. ‘Til next time.

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.

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