Elementary Review: 03 x 04 Bella


In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes often dealt with some odd cases: “The Speckled Band” comes to mind, as well as the most bizarre of all, “The Creeping Man” (the first rule of “The Creeping Man” is do not talk about “The Creeping Man”). Elementary has often steered away from the stranger side of Sherlock Holmes’s caseload, but it seems to embrace that side of the canon a little more in “Bella”.

The show does seem to move back into its usual territory when the creator of the AI programme “Bella” is found murdered. Gregson and Bell arrive to do some of their usual investigative work, there are suspects to be questioned, motives to be considered, and for a long while the premise of the discovery of real artificial intelligence seems to fall by the wayside. The actual conclusion of the episode, however, is much more interesting: the professor who believes that the rise of artificial intelligence will make way for the apocalypse is just as strange as milk-drinking snakes. However, what is really interesting about “Bella”, and what raises it above a lot of the cases that Elementary deals with, is that it doesn’t resolve everything. The episode never tells us whether Bella is real artificial intelligence. It doesn’t answer all the questions the case poses. And it doesn’t tell us what Sherlock ultimately decides to do.

“Bella” is concerned with Sherlock and his humanity. It’s a little too on the nose at times in comparing Sherlock directly with Bella, but the way it plays out through Sherlock’s characterisation across the episode is satisfying. After being pulled into Sherlock’s network of experts, Joan’s boyfriend Andrew begins talking with another of these experts and they decide to go into business together – in Denmark. Joan believes that Sherlock deliberately orchestrated this to get what he wants – in this case, Joan refocusing her time and resources on him – and that this is another example of Sherlock’s lack of concern for other human beings. It’s a reasonable conclusion considering what we know of Sherlock, and so he must convince her that this is not the case and that he is, in fact, capable of more human thoughts and feelings.

Sherlock’s humanity and concern for others is questioned in two ways in this episode. Firstly in his relationship with Joan (who, he admits to Bella, is one of only three people he has ever loved) and whether he is manipulating people with no consideration for her feelings. Secondly, in his compassion for a fellow addict he has never met. Convinced that Isaac Pike is the perpetrator of the murder, Sherlock tries to blackmail him by threatening his drug addict brother. Sherlock Holmes is famous for despising blackmail above all other crimes, and Pike calls his bluff. He doesn’t believe that Sherlock is so heartless as to turn in a fellow addict. He believes, in short, that Sherlock Holmes is human.

The episode, then, remains unresolved. The murder has been solved, after a fashion; somebody has confessed, and both Sherlock and the audience strongly suspect who ‘really’ did it. However, we don’t know what Sherlock ultimately decided to do. Sherlock Holmes wants answers, and he wants justice, and he doesn’t like uncertainties. Sherlock Holmes is also a human being with a capacity for love and caring. We close the episode with Sherlock alone, ruminating over his thoughts with Bella,  trying to choose between letting a murderer go free and causing harm to an innocent person. There is a vulnerability to him in this scene; all his certainty has been stripped away. He’s proven to Joan and Kitty that he is capable of empathy and care, but now those very qualities are hampering his sense of justice. The question posed at the end of “Bella”, then, is which will win out.


1929975_537744099964_9352_nFran is a longtime fangirl with a degree in Film and Literature. She works in publishing and is trying to learn to knit, make digital art, and how to cram as many books as possible into one inadequate bookcase.

You can follow her on twitter at @IncredibleFran or on tumblr at chess-ka.tumblr.com.

Elementary Review: 03 x 04 Bella

In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes often dealt with some odd cases: “The Speckled Band” comes to mind, as well as the most bizarre of all, “The Creeping Man” (the first rule of “The Creeping Man” is do not talk about “The Creeping Man”). Elementary has often steered away from the stranger side of Sherlock… Read More »

Elementary Review: 03 x 03 Just a Regular Irregular

The third episode of Elementary continues exploring how Sherlock’s sudden absence has affected his relationships, and once again poses questions about his ability to have and maintain meaningful friendships. So far the series has, naturally, focused on beginning the rebuild of Sherlock’s relationship with Joan. This episode opens this up a little, and asks whether… Read More »

Elementary Review: 03 x 02 The Five Orange Pipz

After the premiere promised that things would be shaken up a little in this season of Elementary, “The Five Orange Pipz” for the most part returned us to familiar territory. There is a murder at the episode’s beginning and an arrest at the episode’s end, and this conservatism is a little disappointing after the energy… Read More »

Elementary Review: 03 x 01 Enough Nemesis to Go Around

Elementary is back in business. After a mixed bag of a second season, where the writers seemed unsure about how to develop Sherlock and Joan’s relationship, the choice to separate them was an interesting one – the show’s greatest strength is in its characters and relationships, and the chemistry of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy… Read More »

Femme Friday: Joan Watson

Joan Watson by BSB Melinda You can count me among the legions of existing Sherlock fans that were more than a bit skeptical when Elementary was announced. For awhile Sherlock Holmes was like the new zombie apocalypse (which was the new vampires): a resurrected topic with a bandwagon large enough for multiple networks, writers, and other… Read More »

Femme Friday: Irene Adler

Irene Adler By BSB Lyndsay Irene Adler means many things to many people.  For some, she is the first truly legendary antagonist faced by Sherlock Holmes.  (Because really…do you spend much time ruminating over errant Mormons?  Does Jonathan Small get your panties in a twist?) For others, she is a plucky ringlet-haired sass machine who is allowed to tweak… Read More »

Review: Elementary 02×05 – Ancient History

This week‘s episode felt a bit like an interlude after the first few episodes of this season have either broadened our horizon by giving us backstories of Joan and Sherlock, or by connecting contemporary issues with their line of work. Although all the main players were there and some allusions to the beginning on the… Read More »

Review: Elementary 02 x 03 – We Are Everyone

A government contractor by day and hacker by night leaks government secrets to the media and then disappears. Sound familiar? When I said last week that Elementary was modernizing, going more high tech, I wasn’t wrong. What I am surprised is just how well timed this story aligns with the release of The Fifth Estate,… Read More »

Review: Elementary 02×01 – Step Nine

Elementary 02×01 – Step Nine Reviewed by Maria Fleischhack The Baker Street Babes     If you haven’t watched Elementary yet, do yourself a favor, forget the prejudices, and watch that show. It’s nothing like Sherlock BBC in all the good ways. And I am saying that as a huge BBC fan. But seriously, it’s… Read More »

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… Read More »