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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

Elementary – “You Do It Yourself”

For all intents and purposes, Elementary is a weekly procedural. But it’s a procedural the way Castle is a procedural (man, I could write a book on Castle). The procedural elements are really only there to frame out the personal ones. And while Elementary doesn’t as closely weave the two elements together as Castle does, they are very similar in the way they delegate time to each.

There is no direct parallel between this week’s crime and the personal development of the characters that occurs during its investigation. There is no central thread that runs through the two storylines, drawing them together as two sides of the same coin. Instead, the connection between the two elements comes down to something as simple and powerful as a cup of tea.

So far, it’s the little things that indicate the developing relationship between Sherlock and Watson: Sherlock waiting up until Watson wakes so he can apologize (in his own way) for upsetting her, Watson staying up to help keep Sherlock awake while they review case files, Sherlock praising Watson’s deductive skills. In many ways, it’s like an established relationship, one that shows itself through little gestures instead of big moments.

The gestures in this episode start with tea and end with waiting.

Sherlock begins the episode quite sick with the flu, but is determined to accept Detective Bell’s invitation to a crime scene because “boredom is far more dangerous to [his] health than any fever.” The investigation eventually leads the trio to Chinatown. Watson, of Chinese heritage, uses the time to peruse the stalls and pick up some herbs, which she then brews into a tea like the one her mother used to make for her when she was sick. Then she slips it to Sherlock (because she cares, this is the point I’m making), despite his protests against it.

I love the back-and-forth between Sherlock and Watson in the scene where she first gives him the tea, ending with her telling him to “Just shut up and drink it.” Sherlock, to his credit, does. The teasing continues when Watson later comments that Sherlock is looking better. “Must have been a weaker flu than I thought,” Sherlock says. “Or the tea’s working,” Watson retorts. It’s such comfortable banter, and the proof of Watson’s affect on Sherlock comes later when he asks for more of the tea. He admits to having researched the efficacy of Chinese herbs after the tea had a beneficial effect. Watson allows herself to be a little smug.

These two get along very well and are clearly good for one another. Sherlock has even admitted to preferring Watson’s company above all others. For now, the big question from last week’s episode – What makes Watson stay? – has been put on the back burner (along with Irene). Instead, we get a discovery every bit as interesting: what led Watson to Sherlock in the first place.

There is a balance in the relationships of addicts. Like calls to like. Addicts often have an addictive counterpart – a fellow addict who fuels the fire or a loved one who won’t give up hope, even when they have no reason for it. Those people who keep trying to help the addict when time after time the addict fails them.

Just like our dear Joan.

Watson’s counterpart is Liam, an ex from her past who is still very much a part of her present. We learn that she met Liam in the ER when she was still an intern, and that it was while they were together that he became an addict – her first addict. Liam was what taught her how to handle addicts. And it was that knowledge that turned her toward sober companionship when she left her medical career behind.

She had also left Liam behind, but he turns up in this episode, asking for her help when he’s arrested for committing a hit-and-run while high as a kite. He doesn’t believe he did it, though he can’t remember anything. Watson doesn’t believe that him not remembering is the same as him not having done it, but even she’s a bit uncertain of his guilt. And Sherlock – Liam’s “brother in track-marked arms” – nudges her toward investigating further, presenting her with Liam’s arrest report. Watson’s work eventually proves Liam’s innocence, and he promises her that he wants to get clean. It’s something she’s heard dozens of times before, along with his apologies, but she still offers to get him a place at her friend’s clinic.

The episode ends with her waiting there for him, clearly torn between believing he’ll show up at any minute and knowing that he never will. She’s clearly been in this position before and should know better, but she can’t help herself.

And while she’s waiting, Sherlock shows up and sits with her.

Watson: “If there’s someplace else you need to be–“
Sherlock: “Not tonight, Watson. Not tonight.”

Oh, but it’s a beautiful thing. The big moments for these two aren’t ever really that big. They’re quiet moments – small, heart-wrenching moments: Watson in bed as the strains of violin music float to her; Sherlock’s quiet admittance about Irene; Sherlock and Watson sitting side-by-side in a clinic, waiting for an addict who won’t ever appear.




  • “Tell me something I don’t know.” “A pig’s orgasm can last up to 90 minutes.” Did I hear that wrong?
  • Watson masking her concern for Sherlock’s health by pretending all she cares about is getting paid. Girl, we know better.
  • We’ve been seeing a lot of Bell and less Gregson here recently. Makes me think Bell may get an episode of focus before too long.
  • 13 is lucky in Chinese gambling; 14 is unlucky (I knew that!). Mah jong tiles are used as Chinese gambling club membership cards (I KNEW THAT TOO!).

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