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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

Elementary – “Flight Risk”

We love a good mystery.

People, as a general rule, love mysteries, in whatever form they take. Simple ones or complex ones, it makes no difference. We love piecing together clues, working our way through evidence, figuring out whodunnit – especially if we can figure it out before our friends. It’s why we love Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew. And it is very much so a major part of why we love Sherlock Holmes.

What’s exciting is that Sherlock loves the mystery, too. The opening crime of this episode – a plane crash where it appears that the murderer went down with his (or her) victims – shows that. While Sherlock cares about determining guilt, finding the bad guy, justice and all that, his real drive is figuring out the story. Even when it appears that there is no murderer to track down, he is adamant that he continue helping at the scene. Watson can’t understand it at first, but Sherlock points out that even though the murderer is apparently dead, s/he still hasn’t been identified. “There’s a story here,” he tells her, “and it deserves to be told.”

And he follows that story to the bitter end, from pilot to pilot, food company to law firm. Sherlock is more observant than most people, but he’s also more tenacious, and that is why he is so good at solving crimes. He doesn’t dismiss the little inconsistencies that others brush aside at part of life’s chaos, nor does he cling to the big inconsistencies as the final telling of it. This combination of unusually keen skills of observation and obsessive determination for conclusion are what make Sherlock so good – and what allows for his mysteries to be so convoluted.

Take this episode’s case for example. The small amount of blood surrounding a large leg wound and the strange shape of a head wound are what start Sherlock on his investigation. Then there was strange sand, a diabetic’s weakened grip, plane cargo weight, incongruous oil cans, and model glue.¬†Would anyone else have noticed the inconsistencies of Gerard’s wounds? Possibly. And the black box might still have led someone to Gerard’s phone, which led to the surveillance footage, which led to the whistle-blower. But it would have taken much longer. And would anyone else have noticed that the whistle-blower’s grip was too weak to wield a wrench? That’s a stretch. As would be anyone piecing together the sand in the fuel tank (after all, no one else noticed it at the scene) and the extra cargo weight on the flight logs.

It’s Sherlock’s ability to make connections no one else can make – or at the very least make them so much faster than anyone else – that makes his mysteries so much fun. And it’s his ability to see, hear, and find relevance in the most minute of details that keeps us coming back. We want to see if we can solve the mystery first.

That’s a little difficult to do when the breaking-point clue in the case is a smell and your TV doesn’t yet have smell-o-vision, but I’ll let it slide this time since the case itself was entertaining. The Big Bad face-off was pretty tame this time episode. No dueling brilliant minds and observation pitted against arrogance. Hopefully we’ll get more next time.

One thing we got more of was the continuing thread of Watson pushing for Sherlock to open up and him resisting it – to a point. They tend to go in cycles, with her trying to pry information out of Sherlock and him resisting until finally she breaks him in some small way and gets whatever little piece he’s willing to let out.

When Watson returns home after “meeting” Daddy Holmes, she isn’t angry at Sherlock for pranking her. When she cuts him down, it isn’t for making her look the fool, it’s for lying. She still doesn’t know him, and admonishment that she should trust him stings all the more. What she’s really angry about is that she lost the opportunity to learn about Sherlock from his father, as she so clearly hoped to do.

Sherlock, obsessive as he is, sits up, watching her sleep, until she wakes up and he can give something of himself to her and assuage her anger. He’s doesn’t apologize for the prank – doesn’t apologize at all, really – but instead attempts to make amends for the real reason she’s upset. He does so in a very Sherlock way, but the point still stands: he cared that Watson was upset with him and made the effort to fix it.

In the end, Watson gets a lot more information as a result of the prank itself than as a result of its aftermath. Using her mad deductive skills, she tracks down the faux Holmes father and connects with Allistair, who just so happens to be Sherlock’s friend, “as much as he has them.”

After the prank bit, I was concerned that that was all we were going to see of Roger Rees, which would have been an utter shame and a complete waste of such an excellent guest star. Fortunately, he played a much bigger role in the episode than mere one-scene prankster and, should my wishes be fulfilled, he looks poised to be able to return from time to time in the future. His time here with Watson revealed a little about Sherlock, but did reveal a lot about Watson. The main reason she was so angry about not meeting Sherlock’s father and getting more information about Sherlock is that she’s worried. She doesn’t know Sherlock all that well, and it’s clear from her conversation with Allistair that she feels like she needs to know him to be able to help him. She was angry because she’s worried that she might not be helping Sherlock as much as she could be.

Allistair does give her one bit of information that might help her get to know Sherlock better, and it’s a tidbit she takes home to confront him with.

“I know about Irene.”

THEY BROUGHT IN IRENE. I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT HER, Y’ALL. I do wonder where they’ll go with this: what Irene’s story will be in this iteration, what Sherlock’s story will be in relation to her’s, whether we will actually get to see her, who will play her. If it wasn’t clear from knowledge of the Sherlock canon just how significant a character she is, it would have been from Jonny Lee Miller’s face alone. His reaction to this bombshell from Watson is absolute perfection and makes me very excited for where his sure-to-be emotionally wrought plot thread may go.

 

 

Extras:

  • The precinct phone ring is the same ring as my hometown Pizza Hut. Now I just want pizza.
  • Addiction alert: Sherlock holding his scarf over his face to escape the smell of model glue… and because he isn’t supposed to get high.
  • “How’s the sex?”
  • “He’s Lucy with the football, and you’re Charlie Brown.” <3
  • Sherlock – wearing gloves – releases the drug money from the oil cans and offers it to Gregson, who takes it WITHOUT WEARING GLOVES and completely compromises the evidence. I am so disappointed in them both.
  • So far, all the people who have been reticent to work with Sherlock at first have come ’round rather quickly once he’s proven himself needed. I wonder if/when we’ll meet the first person who doesn’t.
  • “For the record, that’s not a pager; it’s an insulin pump. Your executive is a diabetic.” AND WATSON WITH THE SAVE!
  • “Brackish?” “It’s a combination of salt- and freshwater.” WATSON, OWNING PEOPLE WITH SOME KNOWLEDGE.

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