It's rare to see Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) beaten, even if only for an instant. Opening with a montage of a frustrated father's (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) previous attempts to illicit the assistance of Holmes and Watson (Lucy Liu) into an attack that led to his son's eventual death, the episode begins in earnest with the man taking a diner full of hostages and giving the detective 16 hours to solve the case. Or else. With Joan as one of the hostages, it falls on Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) to work alongside Holmes and help him piece together events from five years ago before time runs out.
There may not be anything all that special about the mystery itself (well, the maple syrup twist was certainly unexpected), but "Over a Barrel" delivers in other ways such as highlighting Joan's attempts to talk the grieving man from doing something rash and Holmes fighting a ticking clock... and losing. Sure, he finds the killer and (through a convenient loophole) gets the justice so long denied the victim, but it's still worth noting that Holmes actually failed in the task given to him. If only for a single night, Sherlock Holmes was beaten. The faceless hacker collective returns as the show's basic crutch, although the montage does offer a glimpse at other more distinct irregulars in Holmes' army (who are always a more fascinating option and who I'd like to see brought back into the series a bit more).