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Saturday, 17 of April of 2021

Elementary – “The Leviathan” and “Dirty Laundry”

I apologize for not reviewing “The Leviathan” the week it aired. Given the events of that Friday (the day I usually post my reviews), it is perhaps understandable that I was in no mood to write much of anything.

In any case, it somewhat works in my favor to have postponed my review until this week. There are elements in both episodes that complement one another, and are interesting to discuss in context. For simplicity’s sake, I am going to group my review into specific points I would like to discuss. I had begun a rather wordy discussion about obsessive personalities, addiction, and where both are leading Sherlock, but it was a bit poncy, frankly. Nobody’s here for a psychological profile, right?

So here we are. Class, today I’d like to discuss the following topics: 1. The effectiveness of Sherlock’s cases, 2. Sherlock’s obsessive personality, 3. Sherlock meeting Watson’s family, 4. Sherlock’s relationship with Watson, 5. Watson’s future with Sherlock, and 6. M.

1. I rather like the variety of the cases Sherlock investigates. “The Leviathan” starts out as a simple break-in case (that confounds Sherlock, much to his irritation), transforms into the hunt for a legendary thief, gets caught in some computer hacking, and turns into a murder. “Dirty Laundry” starts with a murder and ends with a Russian spy family. I really enjoyed the loop-de-loops “Leviathan” made, though it must be said I have a particular fondness for heists. And I adored the almost hokey nature of the Russian spies in “Laundry.” From the fact that these “full immersion” spies were silly enough to continue following Russian practices (like leaving out Russian coins and avoiding a handshake in a doorway) to the fact that the case was broken by INVISIBLE INK. The cases continue to do a good job of being odd and convoluted enough to justify Sherlock’s involvement without being so far-fetched as to be ludicrous. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

2. Sherlock spends 17 hours straight working on the Leviathan vault, trying to solve the break-in. When he can’t, he assumes it can’t be done without inside information, and jumps into a hunt for the legendary thief who could have provided said info. When both primary suspects are cleared of suspicion in “Laundry,” Sherlock admits that he’s angry because he’s run out of suspects. Watson, observant as always, knows exactly what Sherlock is doing. She calls it a “dry drunk”: Sherlock gets the same sensation as addiction – a high, essentially – from his investigations, all without using drugs. He’s replaced one addiction for another. Which means neither will ever be far out of reach when the other takes hold.

3. When Watson has dinner with her family, Sherlock invites himself along. He then makes a point of praising Watson for her assistance in solving cases, and in the work she does with addicts. “She rebuilds lives from the ground up,” he tells her family. Watson thanks him for the gesture, saying that she’s never been able to make her family understand what it is she does as a sober companion. Sherlock brushes off her thanks, claiming that he meant little of what he said, but his words don’t match his actions. He advises that Watson’s family is conventional, but she isn’t. Watson is like him, and he just told her family what they needed to hear. Which is true, but it was also something Watson needed to hear. It isn’t something we expect from Sherlock – he isn’t the kind to praise others, especially not effusively – but perhaps it’s something we should expect from him with regard to Watson.

4. Sherlock is fond of Watson. Not just as a person (though he likes her more as a person than most anyone else), but as someone similar to himself. He very easily admits when she’s right about something. Even more importantly, he listens to her. And he often comments on Watson’s “deductive skills.” “I give you as much credit for solving the case as I do myself,” he tells her at the end of “Laundry.” And he’s right: it was Watson’s observation about the hedge-trimming neighbor that led them to Silver and, subsequently, the rest of the evidence. And it was her refusal to ignore her belief that something didn’t add up about Carly’s confession that led them to the truth. He likes having her around, likes having someone to bounce idea off of, likes having someone who actively works with him to solve cases. Which is why…

5. He “invites” Watson to stay on as his “apprentice” after their companionship ends. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Mind you, I knew Watson wouldn’t accept this proposal, but it did surprise me that Sherlock made it. Upon observation, though, it makes sense. Sherlock wants Watson to stay, but could/would never flat-out ask her to. Using an “apprenticeship” as a cover makes perfect sense. The only problem is, Watson’s already taken on another client. Sherlock seems a bit shocked by the news, confident (as always) as he was that she would stay. Watson is concerned by his reaction.

“Are you okay?”
“My dear Watson, when am I ever not?”

As this exchange played out, pieces started falling into place in my mind. All through “Dirty Laundry,” Sherlock had been pressuring Watson to stay on as his apprentice, advising her to just make up a story for his father about Sherlock having had a setback. “Whatever your pride dictates,” he said. That, combined with the constant reminders of possible relapse – no champagne allowed, Watson pushing at Sherlock to get his house clean and organized because disorder was a slope to relapse – put me immediately on edge. This, I believe, is what you would call a Three Relapse Alarm. Things could play out in a very different way, but I would not be surprised if Sherlock did relapse – intentionally or not – in order to bring Watson back around/keep her around.

However it happens, Watson isn’t going anywhere (or at least not for long). The seeds for her staying – and why – have already been planted, but I think they will take a while to come into fruition. Mama Watson spells it out for Watson and the audience when she comes to visit Joan after the family-plus-Sherlock dinner. Mama Watson never approved of what Joan did not because of the nature of it, but because it didn’t seem to make her happy. With Sherlock, she finally is. “Will the next client make you happy?” Mama Watson asks. “People find their path in the strangest ways.” I think the show will build tension around this point – Does Watson stay? Why does she stay? If she leaves, why does she come back? And: how long does it finally take her to admit that she is staying because she wants to? If it does play out this way, it could be interesting.

5. M. The next episode introduces a character I wasn’t sure we’d see in the first season: Moriarty. The versions of Moriarty I’ve seen in the past have never fully engaged me. I’ve liked them well enough, enjoyed their games with Sherlock, but I haven’t ever loved any of them, certainly not the way I have various Sherlocks and Watsons. But all that may change with Elementary. Because for some crazy, wonderful, outrageous reason, this show has chosen Vinnie Jones to play Moriarty. It’s an interesting casting call, considering that Moriarty is supposed to be Sherlock’s intellectual equal (or even his better), and Jones isn’t exactly known for playing deep thinkers. Either Jones is going to be playing against type, or Moriarty himself is going to be different. Possibly both. Either way, I am extremely pleased and excited by the prospect.

 

 

 

Extras:

  • “Did you people learn nothing from the Titanic?”
  • I love how much random culture is casually thrown into the mix. Van Gogh and Hopper paintings.┬áThe programmer names his unbreakable code after a level of hell from Dante’s Inferno. The mentions of specific Russian cultural practices.
  • Of course Sherlock plays the piano. OF COURSE.
  • I now want a grate full of various padlocks that I can practice picking. Given the price of padlocks, it would be an expensive hobby to take up.
  • Sherlock is rewarded with champagne for solving the case. Watson POURS IT DOWN THE DRAIN, DON’T WASTE CHAMPAGNE, WATSON! STOP EEEET!
  • It must be said: Aidan Quinn wears the hell out of suits.
  • Why does Bell hand his notebook – with case notes in it, presumably – to a potential suspect to have said suspect write down his number? *tsk*
  • “Good, you’re here. He’s doing his tantrum thing.”

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