I have a confession. I might have paused this episode five seconds in to stare at Jonny Lee Miller in a tux for a few minutes. I may have done the same thing with Lucy Liu in that ballgown. What can I say? I have a weakness for beautiful people in formal wear.
The pair doesn’t spend long in their duds; just enough time to catch a security guard who uses his prosthetic leg to smuggle priceless pieces of art out of a museum during a gala. However, the detective partnered with our pair is a poor, poor replacement for Detective Bell, who is now firmly placed in his new role with the Demographics unit. On the bright side, Bell’s old precinct and his new unit intersect when Commissioner Da Silva sends Bell and another officer to investigate some suspicious activity at an oil refinery plant. Apparently, a person with a darker skin tone than white was seen acting suspiciously. The investigation leads to finding a body in a metal barrel, prompting a call to Captain Gregson’s precinct and bringing Bell and Holmes face to face. The tension in that first meeting reverberates throughout the episode as the pair work out the resentment on Bell’s part and Holmes’ attempts to mend fences.
The body in the barrel is a result of a mob hit (I guess concrete shoes as a method of execution went out of style in the ’80s). The twists and turns and ins and outs get very complicated and involve old mafia feuds, dirty cops and the NSA. It’s revealed that Da Silva is in fact a dirty cop; a man who was a mafia plant from his days as a beat cop, though his side job was diminished as the mafia bosses were arrested or went into retirement. It’s only after a union election threatens the retirement of some old mob bosses do they get in touch with their old buddy Da Silva. In a brilliant move, he uses his position as the city’s Big Brother to ignite a new mob feud that would take focus off of him and protect his position.
I like the idea of Da Silva using his unit for devious purposes, but in my imagining, I saw this line stretching out into a multi-episode arc with Bell and Holmes having tense and volatile interactions as Gregson’s precinct and the Demographics unit collaborate on cases and intersect via crime scenes that concern both of them. It looked like we might have gotten this when Holmes suggested a regular partnership with Demographics during the investigation of the body in the barrel. It was an obvious ploy for Holmes to get back in Bell’s good graces, but I think it would have made a good storyline interwoven inside the typical case-of-the-week episodes. It also might have given us more of Peter Gerety as Da Silva and maybe even Paul Sorvino as mob boss Robert Pardillo. I feel like these two actors were wasted in their guest starring roles, especially Gerety.
Even with the wasted potential of a longer storyline involving Demographics and the debate around such an enterprise, the eventual confrontation between Bell and Holmes was a high point. Jon Michael Hill has played Bell’s frustration with Holmes perfectly; a perfect balance of anger, resentment and self-loathing. Holmes for his part spent the whole episode following Bell like a puppy who has done wrong, but doesn’t like his owner being angry at him. It’s the equivalent of, “I know I chewed up your favorite pair of shoes, but I’m so cute! Just look at me!” When Watson and Holmes bring up the possibility of Da Silva being a dirty cop to Bell at the brownstone, Bell begins to storm out until he’s stopped by Holmes. It’s a scene where their true thoughts about each other are revealed. For his part, Holmes continually pursues Bell because he knows that Bell is running from his true calling; being a NYPD detective. The man has superior instincts that serve him well as a detective and it’s a shame to see them go to waste. He pushes himself into Bell’s sphere because he knows that Bell can overcome his physical ailments by the sheer force of his will.
Bell counters with the assumption that many, I think, have about Sherlock Holmes; that everything comes easy to him. In the ultimate show of trust and a sign that Holmes sees Bell as a close colleague, he confesses to Bell that he is a drug addict. He reveals that despite his carefully constructed façade, there was a time when he was an absolute wreck. If he can crawl out of that wreck, then so can Bell. There isn’t the level of intimacy that Holmes has with Watson, but there is the notion that Holmes is allowing Bell into his inner circle.
As the case wraps up, Bell uses those natural instincts to sniff out that Da Silva is in fact a dirty cop and is able to obtain evidence off-screen. A dramatic set-up and arrest of both Da Silva and Pardillo sees the Demographics unit dismantled and Bell back at the precinct at his old desk. There was a silent acknowledgment that things were not completely forgiven between Bell and Holmes, but the relationship was on its way to being mended.
My big wish for the show is that it would incorporate more long story arcs into the episodic narrative, much like the show did in Season 1 with the Moriarty arc. This way, we can have regularly recurring characters appear like Alfredo and Mrs. Hudson. The latter has all the characteristics of a house elf; she cleans and arranges the brownstone without ever being seen. I’m glad the gang is back together, but I think an emotional arc between the consulting detectives and Bell would have been lovely to see. Ah well, at least we have fanfiction to hash out unexplored storylines.
Until next time!