Last week I hoped Lestrade would be given a chance to redeem himself before season 2 came to a close. Well, my wish came true. When Elementary excels, it’s because they’re focusing on relationships. Between Holmes and everyone else, yes, but also specifically when the people in Holmes’s life intersect and can teach one another something about working with, living with or even dare I say, being friends with the detective. For the first time, we see one of Holmes’s previous partners and current partners butting heads, but it may not be for the reasons you’d expect.
Holmes and Watson agree to let Lestrade stay with them while he seeks out his next job. Offers are flying in from all over the world and yet he drags his feet in making a decision. After coming off like a bombastic egotist last week, Lestrade is considerably more humble in light of his employment choices and confides in Joan that he doesn’t believe he will be able to live up to expectations. He thoroughly believes he was never more than an average detective. But as Joan points out, there’s no such thing as an average partner when it comes to Sherlock. He only tolerates the best, even if they look average alongside him.
Meanwhile, the case of the week involves a man whose missing wife’s ears show up in a box. After a previous attempt to get her back went wrong, the man was painted by the media as a wife killer. But since her body never showed up and there wasn’t sufficient evidence to make a case against him, time passed and he continued to live with the weight of suspicion hanging over him. He admits to Detective Bell and company that he doesn’t want to find his wife to reconcile, he wants to find her so he can prove he was innocent after all. Unfortunately, in their next attempt to get his wife back, he kills the mule who was supposed to exchange a million dollars for his wife, so in the end, the guy becomes a killer after all. In the right circumstances, anyone can become the thing they are trying so desperately to prove they’re not.
But the real case this week is how will Lestrade get the confidence to go back to work. After he gets mugged, Joan pulls some case files with similar descriptions and gives them to Lestrade in hopes he’ll be able to solve it. He ultimately does, but here’s where the fun television comes in. Lestrade thought the investigation was far too easy. In his mind, it should have been exponentially more difficult to find his mugger. Naturally, the only way it could have been so simple is if Holmes interfered by curating the case files, confirming the suspect and then arranging the evidence so Lestrade couldn’t possibly have gotten it wrong. Holmes didn’t do any of this, but believing he outsmarted Holmes in one of his schemes gives Lestrade the boost he needed to take a job in Cork.
To put an end to the ears case, Holmes and Watson determine the husband in question was being duped by his wife, who had since moved to Long Island, remarried a plastic surgeon and utilized his skills as a physician to grow a second set of ears on her back. It’s an odd case, but one which is unusual enough to give Holmes a chance to really think. Plus, it allowed for a standout scene in the brownstone’s kitchen when Holmes teaches Watson no two ears are the same. It’s one of the reasons mug shots take images in profile, because while angle of the nose and forehead stance are important, it’s the ears that can often be the most distinctive factor. With no two ears being the same, either this wife lost hers or recreated them. Either way, it’s a creepy and satisfying conclusion. And both of these sorry people will presumably end up in jail. One for manslaughter and the other for extortion. What a happy couple.
Isn’t this what Elementary is really all about? How partners can both bring out the best and worst in each other given the right circumstances? Without Holmes, Lestrade lost sight of himself. With him in his life, he became paranoid and insecure, but he needed that jolt to realize he still had it in him. Joan is in a constant state of evolution, both balancing her instinct to care for others with her growing talents as a logical detective. Her greatest contribution to Lestrade’s new-found well-being may have just been serving as a reminder of where he used to be. Simple, but profound.
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