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?
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