Thursday, November 13, 2014

REVIEW: 'Elementary' - Sherlock Helps a Mathematical Expert While Joan Reaches Out to Kitty in 'Just a Regular Irregular'

CBS' Elementary - Episode 3.03 "Just a Regular Irregular"

Sherlock helps a math genius from his network of "Irregulars" experts after he stumbles upon a body while participating in a math puzzle competition. Meanwhile, Joan attempts to extend an olive branch after she learns about Kitty's past.

It's been strongly established on Elementary that Sherlock Holmes does not have friends. He has acquaintances and experts. He has assembled a strong collection of people whose knowledge in a particular field surpasses his efforts. It can come incredibly helpful while consulting for the NYPD. Sherlock knows a lot but he doesn't know everything. It's a relationship he values but that he only sees as a professional arrangement. He calls on these people to provide a service. That is the extent of their bond.

Just because Sherlock sees these relationships in that way doesn't mean that the experts do as well. Rich Sommer made a memorable appearance early in the second season as a mathematician. He returns in "Just a Regular Irregular" and is given even more emotional weight and a character arc to play with. His Harlan Emple is competing in a mathematical puzzle competition and discovers a dead body. It soon snowballs into an even bigger attempt on his own life. He has been uprooting the mathematical community by posting anonymously all of the various discrepancies in this world - including landing on the FBI's radar for posting a classified document. In doing so, he has created enemies and now someone wants him dead. That's a long way from just the man who took his shirt off in order to work on mathematical equations last season.

It works too because it also allows Harlan to see how Sherlock goes about solving this case and his own perception of this working relationship. Harlan considers Sherlock a friend - a rarity in his world as well but not by his own choosing. That feeling has forced Sherlock to put some distance between them - calling on other experts for help in mathematic-based cases. Harlan didn't even know that Sherlock had left the country for MI6 - or that he and Joan aren't working exclusively together anymore. Despite all of this, Sherlock saves Harlan's live and is willing to give the man an explanation for the state of their arrangement. It's all very rewarding because of the strong character journey at the center of the case.

Joan is helping Sherlock with the main case but she is a much stronger part of the other stuff happening throughout the episode - including getting Kitty to help her on a case of her own. After learning everything about Kitty's past - she was taken and raped - Joan sees her differently. The counselor side of her comes out a bit more. Joan is looking after Kitty's well-being. She's nudging Sherlock to bring up going to a support meeting again. That atmosphere has been very successful for him and it could be for Kitty as well. Joan wants there to be something more in Kitty's life than simply learning how to be a detective. Kitty just wants to be by Sherlock's side to learn and adapt. Joan recognizes that Kitty has to heal and deal with the past before she can move to the future. Joan is now willing to be by Kitty's side when she needs her and to also be a mentor to her. It's very telling that Sherlock refers to this new dynamic as him and Joan being the father and mother to Kitty. At the start of the season, he claimed this relationship with Kitty was a way to replicate the bond he shared with Joan. And yet, a bond between husband and wife is much different than the bond between a parent and child. This triangle of consultants is changing and I'm really enjoying what the show is doing with it right now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Just a Regular Irregular" was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and directed by Jerry Levine.
  • Sherlock meets Joan's boyfriend, Andrew. And it's..... weird? Still not quite sure what the show is doing with this new relationship for Joan.
  • It's fun watching Gregson and Bell learn about Sherlock's vast amount of "irregular" experts. Though I could have done without the scene in which they interrogate Harlan.
  • It was pretty clear that mathematician Jacob Pitts (from Justified) would be revealed as the killer. And yet, I was really distracted by his hair. Despite all of that, I still think this was a solid case of the week. It doesn't seem like there has been a bad one yet this season.
  • However, I really wasn't intrigued by the case Joan was working on which involved tallying a guy and she needed Kitty's assistance.