Given that this is the last episode before the winter hiatus, this week’s showing was a bit quieter than previous episodes, though a meeting at the end could change the trajectory of the show going into the last half of the season. Plus, Natalie Dormer is back as Jamie Moriarty in the first episode of the new year so perhaps they’re saving the big twists until later. No matter, since we get the return of Alfredo and more development on Detective Bell who has become one of my favorite characters of the series. Please also note that this recap has a trigger warning for suicide.
Detective Bell is back at work and writing reports, but his hand shakes as Watson enters with some casseroles he can heat up for dinner. Bell’s working on physical therapy, but it’s slow going. He’s also still really pissed at Holmes, but he’s thankful for Watson’s help. It’s a nice moment between the two and I’m sitting and watching and yelling, “I SHIP IT!”
Alfredo’s back! He’s watching Holmes as he is trying to break into a car. He fails and sets off the alarm becoming very agitated. Holmes thinks it impregnable, but Alfredo’s beat it ten times. We all know the source of Holmes’ frustration: Detective Bell and his injury. Holmes doesn’t think he did anything wrong in regards to Bell. He’s gone over everything, every detail, but he’s still disturbed. Alfredo suggests a meeting which Holmes dismisses outright since he’s here to help a colleague, not have a heart-to-heart with his sponsor. However, they agree to go to a meeting tomorrow. Holmes returns to his work, but throws down his tool in frustration.
Next scene is in the apartment of Donald Hauser, a hedge fund manager who was found to be fudging numbers and helping lots of people lose lots of money. He’s been exposed by an investigative journalist and he’s being ripped apart by the press and everyone is angry. Hauser is seen putting a gun into his mouth, but is interrupted by a man who wants some answers, shooting him in the legs as Hauser begs him to just let him die. The next morning, a girl comes into the apartment later and finds him dead, the word “thief” painted on the wall in blood.
The girl is Hauser’s personal chef, Chloë Butler. She could be a suspect, along with a thousand other people who lost their life savings because of him. Watson interviews Butler, who is distracted by Holmes’ unusual methods. Holmes basically tells us what we already know and it’s back to the brownstone where he thinks they need to focus on Butler. She looked nervous while he examined the body; not something that would usually get his attention and not something to warrant her as a suspect. Joan gets a text from an unlisted number asking if she has time to talk. Before she leaves to “run errands,” Holmes asks after Bell, which is obviously the reason he’s off his game. Watson’s errand is meeting Butler at her house. She’s a former client of Watson’s, now clean but she didn’t want anyone else to know about that part of her life now that she has a son. That’s why she was so nervous when Watson interviewed her. Watson gets her permission to share her story with Sherlock who is at the station and obviously watching Bell go about his business. When he hears about Chloë, he’s perturbed he missed all the signs that she was a former addict and that she and Joan knew each other. Like I said, off his game.
Moving on, Holmes wants to talk to the journalist, Rosalee Nunez, who broke the story; however, Watson thinks thought it would be better to talk with the last person to see him. The man, Jacob Weiss, runs a non-profit that identifies Swiss bank accounts of Nazi war criminals and pays reparations to survivors of the Holocaust and their families. Hauser donated his time for free as their CPA. None of the charities funds were touched. His work there may have acted like a karmic rebalance to the cheating he was doing at his real job. He had no reason to kill Hauser.
As they’re leaving, Holmes get’s a call from Nunez’s phone number. There’s a detective on the other end because she’s been found dead in her apartment. Definitely killed by Hauser’s murderer a few hours after him, as the setup is identical. The shooter literally killed the messenger. Nunez’s laptop is missing, but the residue left on the door is of more interest to Holmes. The accumulation of mud and fruit particles means that the killer walked through a nearby park to get to Nunez’s apartment. They seem to be out of luck except for the skateboarders hanging around and filming their sweet tricks. Holmes laments a generation that must film all their experiences in order to obtain relevance; Watson sees it as the opportunity to possibly get footage of the killer. She’ll talk to the skaters since she speaks their language after stitching up so many of them; Holmes needs to go to a meeting with Alfredo like he said he would two days ago.
Holmes arrives at Alfredo’s place to find a strange man in front of the impregnable car. He’s Randy and he’s been clean for three months. Alfredo met him at a meeting and thinks Holmes is a perfect match to act as his sponsor. Holmes, of course, dismisses the offer outright and uses the case as an excuse to flee. When Holmes recounts the meeting to Watson later, he argues his life isn’t conducive to being a sponsor. Watson disagrees.
Watson’s work bears fruit as the video and photos taken by the skateboarders yields a possible suspect. Watson recognizes the man as a former associate of Chloë Butler’s and a possible client of Hauser’s. The man, Nelson Maddox, showed up at Butler’s home when Watson was her sober companion. Butler confirms his identity, but begs Watson not to involve her. She’s in a custody fight for her son and no one knows she’s an addict. Butler plays the confidentiality agreement card to keep Watson from reporting her findings to the police. Holmes is less than pleased with the news, saying that he would have exposed himself as an addict if a murderer was on the loose. For a man who works in so much gray area, he can have some surprisingly black and white attitudes. This is especially relevant given Holmes’ penchant for bending rules and protecting people à la the “Poison Pen” episode.
Holmes leaves and breaks into Alfredo’s residence, waking his sponsor by revving the car that had vexed him earlier; breaking into Alfredo’s apartment was simply child’s play. Holmes ruminates that he always has compassion for the victims of the crimes he investigates. He’s afraid that becoming a sponsor would distract him from his work, which is so important. Alfredo rightly points out that this is not about Holmes. He’s benefitted greatly from the program; it’s time for him to give back.
During the night Holmes spent sulking, Watson found a workaround to the Chloë Butler dilemma. She gave the video of Maddox to Gregson so it can be released to the public. Nunez’s laptop was missing and a laptop bag is in the video. It’s not much, but at least it’s something. It pays off when Weiss of the non-profit knows Maddox and states he has ties to the art world. That connection leads the pair to a pretentious art gallery with Fabiana, the requisite gallery girl, saying she doesn’t know Maddox (she’s lying.) Marks on the floor lead them outside to the dumpster where Maddox’s body is stashed. Fabiana reveals that Maddox was a silent partner of the gallery. His car was also found parked nearby with the same caliber gun used in the shootings and same kind of rope used to bind both victims. Apparently his day job was as a drug dealer to the wealthy. The gallery was also a client of Houser’s which explains his murder. Now the question is, who killed Maddox and why did he kill the journalist?”
Watson figures Nunez knew there was more to the gallery connection than meets the eye. Holmes thinks she’s right. He notices the red dots next to certain art pieces, indicating that they’ve been sold. In this case, there are red dots next to every third painting as if someone simple circled the room, placing dots at seemingly random. As Holmes points out, reality is never so tidy. The dots are make it look like actual art buying takes place when in fact, the gallery is a front for a money laundering scheme.
Back at Weiss’ non-profit, we get the big confrontation and debrief. Weiss has laundered money from his non-profit in the name of Holocaust survivors who are either dead or never knew someone was making a claim in their name and they never see a dime. A list of people who supposedly bought pieces from the art gallery are the same names featured prominently on a Star of David in the non-profit’s lobby. As it turns out, Houser found out about the scheme and even a man scamming millions from his clients couldn’t take the hypocrisy. He informed Nunez of the arrangement as that karmic counterbalance. His mistake was giving Weiss a heads up. Weiss contacted his shady business partner Maddox, who tortured Houser for information and then went after Nunez and her laptop. When Maddox was identified on the news, Weiss killed him.
With the case wrapped up, we go back to the station where Bell is summoned to Gregson’s office, but instead of finding the captain, he finds Deputy Commissioner Frank Da Silva. We haven’t seen much of Bell this episode, though his presence has been felt through Holmes’ palpable, though denied, guilt. Da Silva is in charge of an intelligence surveillance task force. Their job is to keep an “eye on certain groups” (read: Muslims) and focus on any interesting chatter. Some people may think it’s wrong but it’s not (it totally is). If Bell would look into their work, he’d find that he would agree with their job. He wants Bell to join their task force because Bell is a good detective and may be staring at a desk job for the rest of his career. Wouldn’t he much rather help save New York City from another attack? Interesting job offer and I’m wondering if this is a set-up for nefarious purposes in the second half of the season. Is this somehow connected with Moriarty coming back? Will Bell go to the dark side or will he be a contact for Holmes and Watson as he monitors activity around the city?
The last scene is quiet, with no big shock twist ending to go into the winter hiatus. It’s indicative of the show and one of the reasons I like this show so much. Randy comes to the brownstone to meet Holmes who is all full of posturing and nervous energy. He tells Randy he chose Alfredo as his sponsor on a whim and that he had low expectations of him as a sponsor, but was wrong. He’s learned much from Alfredo and he can teach Randy, too. He won’t coddle him or act as his therapist, but he will help him to keep sober if Randy finds those terms acceptable. Given that Holmes has been clean for three years, he finds the terms acceptable and Holmes is now a sponsor.