Thursday, October 30, 2014

REVIEW: 'Elementary' - Joan Investigates a Cartel Leader & Sherlock Returns with a New Protégé in 'Enough Nemesis to Go Around'

CBS' Elementary - Episode 3.01 "Enough Nemesis to Go Around"

Holmes returns to New York with a new apprentice and a renewed interest in working with the NYPD after being fired by London's MI6. However, Captain Gregson won't let him resume consulting for the department without permission from his former partner, Watson, the NYPD's new go-to private investigator.

For the majority of Elementary's second season, the core partnership between Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson was in a constant state of stasis. The two of them developed as a strong partnership. And yet, the show was often content with the two of them in that state of mind. The core dynamic of the show wasn't being challenged in an interesting or exciting way. It took external plot forces to bring about growth and change in their ways - the return of Mycroft to New York, Joan's kidnapping, the stuff with MI6, etc.

And now, the procedural returns for its third season full of change and promise. Sherlock left New York for a job with MI6 without saying goodbye to anyone. He is a cold and anti-social character at times. But considering the bonds he has developed with the rest of the regular cast, you would figure he would do more than leave a note for Joan to find. To him, Joan was adamant about moving out but still maintaining their partnership somehow. He felt like the dynamic was only sustainable as long as both were stationed at the Brownstone. He left town because he was afraid of that change.

That move ultimately forced Joan to create a much better and stable life. She moved out, started her own consulting practice from her apartment and is now in a seemingly healthy relationship. She has done great work for the NYPD too. Her bonds with Gregson and Bell have only gotten stronger in Sherlock's absence. She has grown more confident in her detection skills. Sherlock interprets that as a success and finish line for his job as a teacher. To him, she has learned everything she can from him. Now, both of them have to discover who they are as individuals.

Joan is the primary focus throughout "Enough Nemesis to Go Around." The case-of-the-week is something she has been dealing with for the past nine months. She is confident that Allison March (Gina Gershon) has taken over the drug cartel from her recently deceased husband. In the episode's opening, she proudly gets to explain how she connected all the dots and is getting March arrested over their lunch. March is a very pretty face but she is just as deadly as the head of a cartel needs to be. She hires an assassin to kill the only real witness willing to testify in order to escape free of all charges. She gets away with it too and it has Joan stumped.

Meanwhile, Sherlock returns to the city after being let go from MI6. We don't get a substantial explanation as to what happened. I'm pretty sure we will eventually. But it's nice having him back in the city. However, he has not returned alone. He has brought Kitty Winter (Ophelia Lovibond) along with him as his new protégé. He was scared of what Joan's leaving would do to his sobriety. Before his meeting with MI6, we saw him take the drugs he had previously hid in the Brownstone. Joan always kept him in check when it came to his personal issues. And now, to his surprise, he was able to stay sober throughout these last nine months. That has offered him a certain amount of clarity. He was holding onto Watson out of a personal necessity. And now, he figures that it's actually the teacher-student relationship he craves. From the little we see of Kitty, she is vastly different from Joan. She is a wide-eyed student who is focusing on herself and learning this craft from Sherlock. The best part of the Sherlock and Joan relationship came from both being able to balance the other out. It was a personal relationship as much as it was a professional one. Now, Sherlock is replacing that bond with a new one that is strictly professional. It's one of the rare cases where we can all easily see that he is wrong but it's the thinking that he needs to hold onto as truth in order to move forward in life.

It's also noteworthy of how respectful Sherlock largely is to Joan's investigation of March and her assassin, Kevin Elspeth. Yes, he does figure out the big magnet twist. But Joan gets her big moment of once again being able to explain to March how they've unraveled everything that she has done. And now, she is actually going to prison for good. Unlike Sherlock suggests, March is not to Joan as Moriarty is to Sherlock. But that's besides the point. Sherlock and Joan will now operate as sounding boards for the other should they ever need it. That friendship is something vital for each other. But the show also very smart recognizes that they need this space and time apart in order to try to grow and thrive as consultants for the NYPD. And challenging the central partnership of the series is one of the best ways to elevate Elementary as one of better procedurals on television.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Enough Nemesis to Go Around" was written by Robert Doherty & Craig Sweeny and directed by John Polson.
  • I'm just in love with the name Ophelia Lovibond.
  • I don't know if Raza Jaffrey's Andrew Paek is a good love interest for Joan or not. We don't get a lot of time with him to know what he's all about. But at least he's a stable part of her life.
  • Gregson and Bell continue to play the roles they've always played in terms of the investigative structure of the show. And yet, Gregson had a great moment when he was telling Sherlock that they are not friends.
  • Nice to know that Joan has been taking care of Clyde.
  • I'm actually really intrigued by Kitty. Her relationships with Sherlock and Joan over these next few episodes will be very crucial to the narrative arc of this season. That baton fight with Joan was pretty great.