Don’t you hate it when crime procedurals hire way too famous an actor for a part, thus, giving away the killer far too early in the episode and deflating any sense of drama from the story? Yeah, me too. It’s been said before, but this week it was easy to see that CBS often falls into the trap of making CSI: Baker Street when it doesn’t know what else to do.
When a brutally murdered ballerina is found during a dress rehearsal, a dance company is completely uprooted. The prima ballerina, Iris Lanzer, becomes a suspect early on, because it turns out she replaced the now murdered girl as the lead late in the production. It would seem that competition would be the cause for murder, but this is where CBS does itself a disservice. By casting Scott Cohen as Iris’s lawyer, it’s easy to pick him out as being too famous and too prominent to take a small bit part. Of course, it could be a fake out, but in this case it all comes down to a really thin motive that doesn’t necessarily ring true. It does, however, give Sherlock a chance to geek out about the ballet, which was both surprising and delightful because it harkens back to the 1970s Billy Wilder film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The comical film infamously pairs Holmes with a Russian ballerina who proposes that they have a baby. Her hope is that his intellect and her beauty will produce the perfect child. As you can imagine, the two never pair up in the 1970s film, but that didn’t stop CBS from giving Holmes another ballerina flirtation.
Elementary really wants us to forget any notion that Sherlock Holmes is an asexual being. Sherlock has been having female guests nearly every night leaving Joan to serve them coffee in the morning and awkwardly chit chat before they go on their way. These are all one night stands, meant as a physical and mental exercise for Holmes. Jonny Lee Miller is a sexy dude, so it makes sense for him to attract the attention of a variety of women. And to the writers’ credit, this newfound sexual abandon did eventually serve the plot. Holmes is able to clear (in his mind) Miss prima ballerina of any suspicion because of how she failed to use her right shoulder. His diagnosis: a torn rotator cuff, which would make her incapable of committing the crime.
Important side note: why does CBS love the word coitus so much?
There’s a nice canonical reference worth appreciating in this episode, though. Watson takes on a case of a missing homeless man after a friend in his shelter reports him missing. Her investigation takes her to the missing man’s sister’s home, which reeks of a specific brand of military issued cigarettes. Holmes gets a shining moment when he picks up on the scent on Watson’s clothing and is able to identify the brand instantly. Holmes’s extensive knowledge of tobacco is a frequent topic in his investigations in canon and its subtle role here is especially nice when it leads Watson to the missing man’s captor. The whole storyline also allows Holmes to expound on his knowledge of the homeless network, which in turn, leads to an interesting twist about Watson’s biological father being homeless for the last 15 years. It’s a sad and sweet moment when the two resolve to go give away some blankets to the homeless in the park. Elementary is truly at its best when it combines canonical truth with emotional connection.
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