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Review: Elementary 01×20 – Dead Man’s Switch

Reviewed by Liz Giorgi
Being Geek Chic For The Baker Street Babes


You know what I really wish they would try on Elementary? Sherlock Holmes being happy. Sure, he has these momentary (and by momentary, I mean two seconds) instances of pleasure whilst solving a case, but the fact is that Elementary’s Sherlock Holmes is a giant grumpy pants.

It’s part of the whole recovering drug addict shtick, but it adds a severity to the show that starts to make it all seem very blase. After 20 episodes, all I want to see is Holmes and Watson engaging in a big freaking laugh.

If you haven’t seen episode 20 of Elementary, stop reading, because spoilers.

This week’s episode is an extortionist plot. Holmes’s sober companion Alfredo introduces our favorite investigators to his sober companion who is the victim of a blackmail plot. His daughter was rufied and raped a few years earlier and while she and her family got justice then, they didn’t realize the rape had been videotaped and now someone is using the tapes as a means to extort money out of the family. And sadly, several other families and their daughters are experiencing the same fate. Sherlock steps in and vows to put an end to it.

While investigating his prime suspect, he witnesses his murder and immediately realizes this isn’t a simple matter of catching a blackmailer, no, it’s equally important to prevent his “fail safe” from realizing that the head honcho is dead.

This cat and mouse chase leads to several false starts. The original rapist is beat to a pulp and afraid of the extortionist too. The blackmailers lawyer is a total wimp who hands over files and files on his client after Holmes breaks one measly frame. And that’s what leads him to Stuart Bloom: the fail safe. Turns out this guy is useless though too, because his whole world is cat litter, but more on that later.

The bright spot in a very somber episode? Alfredo. What a guy. Sure, he’s not a laugh a minute. But he questions Sherlock’s seriousness and even encourages him to celebrate his one-year sober-versary. Of course, moody Holmes doesn’t celebrate anything. There’s hope, though, because it’s not just genetic douchiness that’s causing Holmes to turn down the chance to collect his “one year sobriety chip” – it’s the fact that he used drugs one day after he initially quit. He is indeed a stickler for details.

And those details are how he and Watson solve the case again. After observing the extortionist’s autopsy, they notice that his vengeful murderer made a strategic face smashing choice. One that might conceal any previous scarring on his victim’s face. An investigation of a home and a few questions later and it seems that vengeance was not the motive for one dad to murder his daughter’s extortionist – but rather – the desire to get in on the scheme. What a shitty dad. (Ahem, sorry, stepdad. Either say, what a dick.)

But that’s not all, because the fail safe is dead too. Before killing the blackmailer, daddy dearest (AKA, the murderer) had convinced the original extortionist to kill his own fail safe: Stuart. And his method for keeping the police from finding his dead colleague? Loads and loads of kitty litter. What an idiot.

You know what else is getting kind of idiotic? For weeks (WEEKS!) I’ve praised Elementary  for all these tender Holmes-Watson moments in each episode. But tonight’s soft spot was just too soft. Watson decides to give Holmes a different kind of “sober anniversary” gift: A Robert Frost poem. I don’t know why this made my cynical heart so hard, but it was just overkill. Why can’t these two ever just high five and get an overpriced cupcake after they catch the bad guy? This is where the writers of this show could quite literally take a page out of Doyle’s books. Holmes, despite all his severity and eccentricity, was at heart truly joyous about his life as a consulting detective. And even more joyous to be able to do this work with his best friend. I hope we see some of that joy soon.


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

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