Review: Elementary 01×23 – The Woman/Heroine

Elementary 01×23 – The Woman/Heroine
Reviewed by Liz Giorgi
Being Geek Chic For The Baker Street Babes

When we were first introduced to this Sherlock Holmes and Watson months ago, we knew two distinct things about the show: the first and most obvious being that Watson was a woman. The second was that Sherlock was a recovering opiate addict. These two choices could have meant nothing to the series in the long run, but it was clearer than ever this week that these changes are the very things that make Elementary worth watching.

Jonny Lee Miller was exceptional in his own way and that’s no easy task with so many prominent variations of the famous detective available for comparison. I appreciated the way he strove for balance between the pain and struggle of addiction with the electricity of possessing such fire-cracking mind. Liu brought a sense of presence to the show, which allowed Holmes to be more vulnerable, more raw. In the end, I’m just so darned pleased this adaptation gave us a male/female friendship that didn’t devolve into petty flirtations and focused instead on the power of helping someone who can’t always help themselves.

Spoilers from here on out.

In The Woman, we finally get closer to Irene Adler. And if you thought it was going to be a happy reunion, you thought wrong. Adler was tortured and suffering from PTSD after being held hostage by someone named Mr. Stapleton. Holmes is refusing to continue to investigate Moriarty’s role, because of an emotional debt he feels he owes to Irene. He’s at her bedside day and night and even tries to protect her – that is until her constellation birthmarks give her away. It turns out that Adler is actually Moriarty. It’s quite a twist – one that was both very emotional and satisfying for the viewer.

Honestly, I was glad this M. Night Shyamalan quality twist happened, because I really like Natalie Dormer and for the first hour of this episode, I just kept thinking: “This is weird. She’s a better actress than this.” Thankfully, she was fooling us with a really lukewarm Adler.

It took the show an entire hour to make this reveal, which made it all feel overly long. Two hour episodes shouldn’t feel like two one-hour episodes smashed together and that’s exactly how this episode plays. I forgive it though, because I don’t think any of us wanted another Moriarty cliffhanger.

Now that Holmes knows Moriarty’s identity, he’s reinvigorated. He knows this woman in more intimate ways than the disembodied voice he thought he was interacting with in weeks past.  I assume that’s why he is able to deduce her plan based on the slightest traces of information. Moriarty has hatched a scheme to make billions of dollars on a currency manipulation scheme that involves Greece convincing Macedonia to switch to the Euro and then not. It plays out like a cat and mouse chase between Holmes and Moriarty leading up to an emotional scene where Holmes breaks down because he’s been beaten again.

Lucy Liu doesn’t get enough credit for her take on Watson. Other reviews have described her as bland and uninteresting, but what they fail to understand is that Watson may be a far smaller “star” than Holmes, but without the pair there’s no constellation. I use that metaphor because of the connection to Adler’s moles, but it’s true either way. She embodies that brilliant partner role perfectly and week after week she brings a quiet sensitivity to it. It’s never been clearer than it was this week that she truly empathizes with her partner. When Moriarty traps her into a lunch at a fancy restaurant, she looks this other woman in the eyes and realizes what we all know as lovers of the Holmes persona: he’s irresistible. Not even a criminal mastermind is immune to that.

This revelation is how Watson devises a plan to put Moriarty in cuffs. She advises Holmes to bench himself and “let Moriarty win” – which could mean anything. Death? Drugs? A long vacation? It seems like the second might lead to the first until a critical moment when Moriarty sits at Holmes’ bedside and she asks him to run away with her. It’s a dangerous and toxic love between these two birds, but it’s still love. Not only was I relieved that Holmes didn’t overdose, but I’m pleased he finally got one on his nemesis.

However, this is no happy ending. The bad gal is in cuffs, but two lovers have torn each other to shreds in a merciless mental war that will certainly leave scars for them both.

Elementary has been renewed for a second season and it will be interesting to see where they will go from here. My guess is that they’ll be forced to stray even further from Doyle’s  most notable characters from the series, especially since they’ve essentially got a twofer in Adler/Moriarty.

What are you hoping to see in Season 2?


lizgiorgiLiz Giorgi is the Baker Street Babes’ Elementary Guru and runs the fantastic nerdy blog Being Geek Chic. You can find her former reviews of Elementary here on her site.

She’s a social media and web strategist who currently works for a communications consulting firm in Minneapolis. She’s also a contributor for Apartment Therapy and The Mary Sue.

You can contact her at and follow her on Twitter @lizgiorgi

7 Responses to “Review: Elementary 01×23 – The Woman/Heroine”

  1. Andrea says:

    The more I think about it, the more I like this take on Irene/Moriarty. At first I was like, wait – the woman was brought down because ~love~ was her weakness? Really?! But then I thought, she had ALREADY defeated Holmes once before, and she lost this time around because she underestimated Watson (a woman she dismisses as being in a caregiver/subordinant role). So I loved that the greatest criminal mastermind is a woman, and that she’s thwarted by a woman.

  2. Tony says:

    I somehow have the feeling that with her skills she will escape and plague Holmes even more.

  3. The main reason I will follow Next Season :
    Moriarty’s Revenge

    Thank You for the review …

  4. Aki! says:

    I loved this ending. I know the whole Irene is Moriarty thing has been done before but I certainly loved how it played out. Totally agree with Andrea!

  5. Jennie says:

    Mycroft! Show needs a Mycroft. Preferably a Charles Gray Mycroft rather than a Gatiss Mycroft IMHO. Or maybe even a lady Mycroft? Oooooooooo who could play Jonny Lee Miller’s older sister?

  6. Haaris Mahmood Qureshi says:

    Can someone PLEASE explain the logic that is missing mole > working for Moriarty?

    I’m quite good when it comes to following complex plot lines, but this lost me. And I have watched it quite a few times.

    • Andrew70 says:

      The mole has been removed. An elective procedure.
      If Irene had really been tormented te way she claimed, it would be highly unlikely anyone would have noticed and operated on a potentially cancerous mole

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