Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Elementary - A Study in Charlotte

Murder by mushroom brings Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) to investigate the death of a college professor and others poisoned during group gathering of injesting what should have been non-lethal hallucinatory mushrooms. Even after discovering that the unique method of murder could only have been done by those with a specific skill set and training, the detectives have no scarcity of suspects who include the company who fired one of the victims (and was the true target of the murders). Investigation leads the pair to uncover an illicit drug ring, blackmail through land ownership, and ultimately reveal the true motive for the crime.

In an episode where the themes of the murder of the week are revenge, escalation, and cause and effect, the B-story mirrors the same themes. The disruption from their new noisy neighbors, also slowly reveals a series of actions, reactions, and escalations based on Holmes' peculiarities which drove a former neighbor (Richard Kind) out of the block and chose to rent out his apartment to party groups as a measure of revenge. Here Joan takes lead in not only cleaning up Sherlock's mess, which he proves disinterested in (even after understanding his complicity in the situation), but also cultivating a potential new friend and ally (and possible recurring character?) for the series to draw on. Other than Morland (John Noble), who doesn't appear in this episode, and the introduction of Mittens (Betty Gilpin) and Detective Cortez (Monique Gabriela Curnen), each who have made appearances in a pair of episodes, we haven't seen much of the regulars who routinely enter and exit Holmes' life as needed (are we ever going to see Ms. Hudson again?).

A play on the title of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story, "A Study in Charlotte" borrows a few of themes and points in the story for its own use here. The result is a slow-burning murder mystery that has its share of twist and turns but is often less interesting than it's B-story involving Joan unraveling the mess involving the detectives' neighbors. Not only does it show that Holmes is a terrible neighbor but it also informs the audiences of his total disregard of that particular shortcoming. His cavalier rationale for his disregard ("I was on drugs") is humorous, but it also continues to play into the series' larger themes of the past catching up with its characters when they least expect it.

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