Talk about relevant programming. In the midst of a national crisis around police relations in this country, the mid-season finale of Elementary starts with the news that a police officer has been murdered on patrol. To make things worse, he was unable to defend himself because his firearm had been replaced with a BB gun. Or so we believe.
It turns out that this officer was an opiate addict, who found himself in business with an arms dealer when he started selling police weapons to feed his habit. In a way, this case revealed itself too early. The man who killed the officer was his business partner in this endeavor and he takes it upon himself to kill another officer in an attempt to draw police patrol from the armory so he could commit an even bigger robbery. The show attempts to pull out some red herrings, but it’s ultimately ineffective. And while timely, it’s not the key reason why this episode reaches a high point in the season.
The narrative of the drug addicted officer brought about another opportunity for Elementary to show us where Sherlock is in his own recovery. Viewers should appreciate this revisiting, because it draws back to all the things that make this show great: it makes Sherlock human. Except they take it up another level and make it even better, by reminding us and Holmes what it means to be recovering in the modern times. When a fellow NA member starts posting Sherlock’s anonymous statements from group on a Tumblr page, he is absolutely distraught. It blurs his focus and completely draws his attention away from the investigation. Kitty discovers the site, but doesn’t offer much insight on it. Instead, she lets him deal with it how he chooses – which is an interesting point of view considering they are both dealing with their own struggles for survival.
When Sherlock confronts the member of group who is posting Sherlock’s thoughts, Jonny Lee Miller really shines. He’s sensitive and vulnerable but vindictive and clear. He feels betrayed and I suspect it’s not a feeling Mr. Holmes has to face often. Of course, it’s made even more exciting when he ultimately uses his power of deduction to determine that the man is having an affair and of course, the man capitulates to Sherlock’s request.
This is a meaningful moment for the show. It gives them an opportunity to humanize Holmes again, but it also reminds us that they aren’t just going to forget about that whole first season where Sherlock began this journey with Joan. It’s smart and it proves why Elementary is far better than many fans may realize.
And while I have plenty of praise for this episode, I also have a little bit of frustration with the closing moments. Two cops are dead and under any circumstances, it’s a tragedy. But the truth is that there was this opportunity to take about addiction and it’s ability to ruin ones life – even in death – as is the case of the first murdered officer. Instead of Holmes serving as a guide to Gregson to help him have empathy for the addiction, he simply regresses into his own feelings about the now-defunct blog. Addicts aren’t evil, their disease is and it could have been an opportunity for Sherlock to reinforce that, but maybe that’s what we have 14 more episodes for?
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