This show has always worked on the basis of certain assumptions and tropes. There’s the assumption that Holmes will use a bit of deception and rule-bending to solve a case. There will be tons of snark from all sides and let’s not forget that Sherlock Holmes is the greatest example of the Insufferable Genius trope. All these elements make the basis of the show week to week. This episode shakes up the formula a bit by actually introducing real consequences for Sherlock’s actions and the choices he makes in the pursuit of solving a case.
The opening shows Gregson giving a briefing at the station with all detectives present when a man comes in asking for the Lord, which I guess means Gregson. The man tells the gathered officers that he’s a knight; a knight that had to kill the Queen. To emphasize his point, he uncovers a gun hidden in a jacket. The tension is high, as every cop in the room has a gun pointed at him, but Holmes intervenes, talking to the man about the knight’s code. Holmes starts coughing and has to take a drink of water.
The drinking of water transitions to Holmes taking a sip in a courtroom as he is on the witness stand. The woman questioning him asks why he’s telling the courtroom this story as it doesn’t have anything to do with the reason for this inquiry. Holmes insists they are related and continues. Flashing back to the station, Holmes asks about the scarf around the man’s wrist, obviously a token from his lady. When Holmes asks to see it, the gunman is distracted long enough to get him subdued. After everything is calmed down, Watson, Holmes and Gregson now wonder who the Queen, might be and if she’s still alive. Gregson states that Holmes is, “brave and brilliant and if they are patient, he will lead them to the truth.”
The judge in the courtroom immediately calls bullshit on that statement after knowing Gregson for years. He has no time for Sherlock’s embellishments as this is an administrative hearing to decide whether or not Holmes and Watson will continue working with the NYPD after Holmes fucked up. Big time.
The fuck up in question is how certain events led to our favorite grumpy detective, Marcus Bell, getting shot and ending up in the hospital with a potential life and career-altering injury. No, not Bell! Not my sweet, sassy prince! The hearing is to determine whether there was a breach of protocol and whether said breach of protocol is part of a larger pattern. The answer to that question is yes and yes, but that is something Holmes would never admit to in front of a judge or other plebeians. The woman questioning Holmes, Cassandra Walker, asks if both Watson and Holmes break into apartments regularly without a warrant. Of course they don’t; they find an inordinate number of unlocked and open doors in New York City. There was the one time they heard what they thought was a baby crying, so they broke in, but it was actually a TV left on.
Of course, Walker and the judge are having none of this and it seems as if Holmes is deliberately trying to provoke them. The Holmes on the witness stand is the worse version of himself: arrogant, condescending and disdainful of the proceedings. Watson later calls him on it (as she should) since his lying and bending of the truth has placed her in an awkward position of having to lie to corroborate his version of events.
The man with the gun is Silas Cole, a schizophrenic (because the detectives are trained mental health professionals and can make that diagnosis) in the middle of a spell. Though Cole is allegedly in no shape to provide information, Holmes gets his identity and address from receipts in his pocket. They go to his apartment where they find evidence that Cole had a girlfriend in the not too distant past and she may be the “Queen” he was referring to when he entered the station. Now portrayal of mental illness, especially schizophrenia, is problematic in the media, but I think the show handled it a bit better than most. When Bell wonders how someone with Cole’s condition could have a girlfriend, Watson rightly points out that they don’t know what he was like when he was on medication. Shocking that a person with a mental illness could have a life AND meaningful relationships.
Bell finds an old fashion magazine addressed to a Rhoda Hollingsworth. They go to her apartment and find her dead by a gunshot to her heart. As always, it is the logical conclusion that Cole killed his ex-girlfriend, but Holmes disagrees (as he always does). According to the knight code, the heart is the center of the soul. Silas would be ultimately interested in saving Rhoda’s soul; destroying the heart is counterproductive. In Cole’s diminished capacity, he may have thought he killed her. Please note that most of this story is told both in flashbacks and in the courtroom with Walker questioning Holmes’ methods and motives every step of the way. She’s especially interested in how Bell contributed to the case, asking if Holmes thought he was useful. Holmes states that Bell is, “a far cut above most officers” and that he respects him.
Watson chooses to enter the room at that moment though she is barred from the room while Holmes is on the stand. Captain Gregson, who is observing the proceedings, has his phone off and is urgently needed. It’s then that the viewer learns Bell was shot. He had been recovering well, but a clot in his arm during recovery complicated matters. He’ll live, but he may never regain the full use of his arm. It’s also learned that while Watson has been paying regular visits to Bell, Holmes has stayed away. Is this a result of feeling guilty? Remorse? Not wanting to face the consequences of his actions? As Holmes absorbs the news during a break, Gregson sagely points out that he could be a bit nicer since his job is at stake.
In that spirit, Holmes leaves a handwritten poem for Walker on a picture of Solomon Ben Judah she carries, he is the writer of the poem, thought to be an early version of the serenity prayer. Holmes is acknowledging a fellow addict and someone else who might find it difficult to operate in the world.
Back to the Case
It’s discovered that Hollingsworth was undergoing treatment for cancer and was a part of experimental drug trials, run by a Dr. Phineaus Hobbs. Hobbs didn’t know much about Hollingsworth’s personal life, but he did know about her “crazy” ex-boyfriend. The question of how Hollingsworth was paying for such expensive drug trials on a teacher’s salary was brought up. Her treatment was being financed by a viatical settlement, a heinous and predatory arrangement where a desperate patient could sign away their life insurance benefits for a monthly stipend. Such a settlement was arranged by a James Dylan at Helping Hands Viatical. He works in a cubicle with other bottom feeders, where he is confronted by Holmes. Dylan is punished if the settlement payments run out before the patient dies, making him a prime suspect for killing Hollingsworth and blaming Cole. He has a criminal background after all. Holmes tells Walker in the courtroom that he discovered this while doing an Internet search on the man. In reality, Holmes hacked into Dylan’s phone at the office to extract the information on regular meetings with his parole officer. He’s not quiet about his revelations, either, so Dylan takes him outside and confesses he was drinking at a bar in violation of his parole the night Hollingsworth was killed. He has buddies who can corroborate his story; he just asks that Holmes not tell his parole officer.
Since Dylan didn’t work out, they need a new suspect. At the brownstone, while Holmes is playing the game of, “What’s heavier than Clyde,” Holmes and Watson discuss how Cole discovered his ex-girlfriend’s body. It’s determined that Cole arrived at the apartment an hour after Hollingsworth was killed. The only explanation as to why the killer would wait so long is to hide a poisoning; potassium chloride to be exact. After examining Roda’s organs at the morgue, they arrive at an answer; the experimental cancer treatment caused her heart to enlarge, making her susceptible to congenital heart failure. The drug would never get past stage one and Dr. Hobbs was set to lose millions. He thought to cover the side effects with a shot to the heart and blaming her ex-boyfriend.
As Holmes (and later Watson, who is cross-examined by Holmes in a hilarious scene) is relaying the case, it becomes clear why Holmes went through all the trouble of talking about this case. He and Watson do good work. A mentally ill man who would have more than likely been thrown in jail as the most convenient suspect was proven innocent. Yes, the pair use unorthodox methods, but they work and keep the system from falling apart. It’s a narrative Holmes believes wholeheartedly as he later argues with Watson. He is above the rules because he is of a singular mind and has enough moral compass to not use it for evil. I think that both Watson and the audience recognize it for the slippery slope that it is.
The story of the shooting is finally told by Watson on the stand. I find it interesting that Watson is the one to tell the story, but given that Holmes has proven to be an unreliable narrator; it makes sense. As Bell, Holmes and Watson leave the station, they are confronted by Dylan. He’s pissed because a coworker overheard the talk of his felony conviction and he was fired. His parole officer also found out about the drinking and he’s going back to jail. Holmes is his usual unsympathetic and snarky self, prompting Dylan to pull a gun. Bell steps in front of Holmes and takes the bullet. For his troubles, he may lose the use of his right arm and as he tells Watson despairingly when she visits him in the hospital, a detective is required to be able to carry a gun. what happens to him if he can’t do that?
In the end, though the judge recognizes that Holmes and Watson do good work, their disregard for regulations puts others in danger. He is recommending that the commissioner terminate the pair’s relationship with the NYPD. In a thoughtful gesture, Walker approaches Holmes after the verdict, asking him if he would like to accompany her to a meeting.
The verdict is a recommendation, not a final judgment. That judgment is left in the hands of Bell, who receives a visit from the commissioner at the hospital. He recognizes the good work Holmes and Watson do and if they leave, the NYPD could face lawsuits and overturning of closed cases. He leaves the the fate of the pair in Bell’s hands. It’s after Bell gives his recommendation that Holmes finally decides to visit. He apologizes in probably the most sincere way he knows how and offers Bell the services of the world’s foremost specialist on nerve damage and recovery, free of charge. While the apology was sincere, I think Holmes assumed that the offer of help would erase all the ways in which his actions led to Bell’s injury. It doesn’t. While we can assume Bell saved Holmes’ job, he wants nothing to do with Holmes and asks him to never visit again. He leaves and Holmes is left in a hospital room alone.
So what did you think? Do you think that our resident genius will change his ways? How did you think the show handled the portrayal of schizophrenia? We have at least one more episode before the break and next week’s episode features the return of Alfredo, another character that has been sorely missed. Also, it’s looking like Moriarty is making a return appearance after the New Year!
Until next time!