Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Episode #18 - 'Deja vu all over again' - a review

I am not one hundred percent sure how I feel about this episode yet, but for now I have to say it was one of my least favorite so far.

The episode centers on 'Watson's' attempts and schooling to become 'Sherlock's' partner as a consulting detective.

After the introduction of a 6 month old crime, we then skip to 'Watson' attempting to break into and hot wire a car. We find out it is part of her training.

We then move to 'Holmes' being asked to take a case by his father, this case being the disappearance of a young woman some six months earlier. While discussing the case with the client, 'Holmes' comes  across another case involving the pushing of a young women into an oncoming train. Instead of 'Holmes' excepting the case, we see him passing it off to 'Watson', leaving us to assume he finds it to trivial or to related to his father or a good case for 'Watson' to learn on.

As Sherlockians most of us probably assume he has already found a relationship between the two or at least believes he has already figured it out so therefore can test 'Watson's' conclusions.

We find none of this to be true as the case goes on.

So they go their separate ways and attempt to solve their individual crimes.

After a brief interview with the missing women's husband, 'Watson' comes away with a hunch, or gut feeling that the man is the one responsible of her disappearance. No facts or deductions to back this up.

Well, I don't want to summarize the whole episode, but for me at about this point the whole story becomes pretty convoluted.

My first problem with the show is 'Watson' trying to become a consulting detective. Canonically Watson is a catalyst to Holmes, a steadfast companion and a reliable "I-got-your-back" person. Holmes is the Blood hound and Watson is the Bull dog. Most attempts by Watson, in the Canon, to become a detective result in disappointment.

Realizing in this day and age any female character can no longer be used just as eye-candy and must have (and should have) and active and equal roll, the results in this episode were disappointing.
Up until this point 'Watson' had been played and written as a very smart women who was not only able to be a spring board for 'Holmes', but was also able to actively contribute to the cases she was involved in. Her medical knowledge, and even her observation skills were of great help in many of the earlier episodes.

But tonight we seemed to be more on a path of a 'Sherlock' clone. Instead of her becoming the moral, social and emotional rock of the show, tonight she became another Sherlock wanna-be. Even going so far as to distance herself from her friends and other relationships. Watson was the social one of the Canon, not the isolated thinking machine.

It has become a little tiresome in the show when clues are accidentally stumbled upon, but even more so tonight.

Not a whole lot of deduction was going on this evening.

The best use of observation tonight was in the references to the violin busker.

The show resulted in no firm conclusion, and in the end we are not sure why or how the young women was murdered. In the end, did the trunk really have anything to do with the case?
'Holmes' said no.
In this day and age when police, at least on TV, automatically check all emails and computers, the finding of the emails from the late women six months after the fact should get 'Gregson' fired.

When the episode first started I was hoping for something along the lines of Hound where Holmes sends Watson off to gather clues because he is unavailable at the moment. I realize for modern sensibilities it would have to be rewritten to place Watson in a strong light, but it could have been done.

Not only did this episode also lack the hookers, it also lacked the humor that has become a part of the show.

The acting was still good, although I am finding Millers 'Holmes' is not maturing very much.

But over all, at this point, I can only give the episode -


  1. "Even going so far as to distance herself from her friends and other relationships. Watson was the social one of the Canon, not the isolated thinking machine." - Great way to summarize the latest development in Joan's character arc.

    I don't think Miller's Holmes will mature. I believe his characterization is that of a likeable and playful Holmes, kind of like the RDJ version.


  2. You may be right on Millers portrayal. I guess I keep putting Victorian standards on Holmes.

  3. Why solo solved crime a Watson,interesting..

    Is not series a Holmes series?

  4. Some of the episode worked for me, and some didn't. There is tendency of this show to push the dialog envelope into Judd Apatow R-rated laughs that I find does not match my expectations for Sherlock Holmes or clever repartee. "The human face, Watson, is like the penis. Or so said the great personality theorist Silvan Tomkins." "Opinions are like ani, Watson. Everyone has one." "Did you know that 'shyster' is German for 'one who defecates'?" Ani, by the way, is the Latin plural of anus. When I think of Sherlock Holmes, I think of someone who has class; someone who can insult the King of Bohemia to his face and get away with it. Someone who can deliver a pithy and pointed barb with style and panache. Perhaps I expect too much.

    I've always felt that after the return from Reichenbach that Watson became a partner in the Firm. Holmes had his cousin buy Watson's practice and also banned Watson from publishing any cases while Holmes was active, leaving the doctor without income. Holmes gave Watson a role, and pay, in the Sherlock Holmes Agency (Holmes called it "this Agency" in SUSS). It may have first consisted of being official record keeper: "When I look at the three massive manuscript volumes which contain our work for the year 1894...", but Holmes also sent Watson out to do investigative work on his own; SOLI, LADY, RETI and HOUN (which I personal feel took place in 1900, not 1889). Watson's detective work in HOUN is very good and even gets a complement from Holmes. On the other had Watson is unfairly criticized by Holmes in LADY while Philip Green, who is supposed to be unobtrusively following Holy Peters and is spotted and recognized by Ms Fraser, gets complemented; "You have done excellent work." This is one of the things that "Elementary" has picked up on that most others have overlooked--Watson was a detective in the Canon and active partner of Holmes'. It is possible to think that the show is taking this element too far. A balance more like Jude Law in the Downey movies would work better. Plus, Liu's detective work is pretty unconvincing. Joan bases her conclusion of the husband's guilty on instinct alone. Sherlock reasonably points out that Drew's repeating phrases is natural under the circumstances with the fact that he's had to answer that question so often, it's become rote. In fact, that's a very real problem in trial testimony. By the time that witnesses get on the stand (one, two, or even three years after events), they are not recounting events but recounting what they said about the events. Sherlock encouraged her to continue her investigation. All to the good. The script should have had a line about finding evidence to confirm her instincts. Was it a smart move to break in to Drew Gardner's car to examine the trunk? Sherlock doesn't say. Vivian Tully's killer avoided the subway security cameras; the guard at the storage facility saw Joan on his monitor. Sage words about checking out for cameras before committing a crime? No. "You took a chance. Yeah? Fortune often favors the bold." And maybe the observant and the cautious and not the reckless. Balancing probabilities, as Sherlock said in "The Leviathan". What does Joan fall back on? Magical thinking: "I just keep thinking that if you were the one to break into that car, she would have been there, but because it was me...(sigh)"

    1. Very good points.
      I think Joan was of more use in previous episodes using her abilities as a doctor and observer.
      It was almost like your training, Joan, has you going out and screwing up and then we will figure out what you did wrong. Not, let's learn the basics first.

    2. Hardly any of the cases you mentioned with Watson serving as detective had good outcomes for Watson, serving mostly as a distraction.
      Detective work was never intended to be Watson's job, and he served best as a reliable companion.

    3. "Hardly any of the cases you mentioned with Watson serving as detective had good outcomes for Watson, serving mostly as a distraction." Must disagree, somewhat. "Don't be hurt, my dear fellow. You know that I am quite impersonal. No one else would have done better. Some possibly not so well." (RETI) Looked at objectively, Watson did not do so bad and in HOUN actually did excellent work. "And have, no doubt, searched all the huts until you came to this one?" Maybe that's how Lestrade might do it, but Watson actually uses observation and deduction: "No, your boy had been observed, and that gave me a guide where to look." We get the rare praise from Holmes: "Well done! Our researches have evidently been running on parallel lines, and when we unite our results I expect we shall have a fairly full knowledge of the case."

      The fact is throughout the Canon, Watson minimizes his role to make Holmes' brilliance shine brighter. Did Watson really forget about Ballarat between SIGN and BOSC? Of course not. He created a more dramatic scene for the Strand reader. And Watson seems to go out of his way to quote Holmes berating him, when in fact, as in LADY, he did alright. If Watson were a Scotland Yarder, Holmes would no doubt say he was the best of a bad lot. While Watson would never reach Holmes' heights, "Elementary" has gone a bit too far in giving Joan detective skills, and seemingly at Sherlock expense. There is a balance to be struck and "Elementary" has yet to find it. That maybe due to the fact it takes Sherlock the whole 43 minutes to solve the case, where the Holmes of the Canon knew early where the solution was to be found--like suspecting Stapleton before leaving London in HOUN.

    4. I think we can agree when I said, 'We like our Holmes as the bloodhound and our Watson as the Bulldog."

    5. Agree.

      I do applaud "Elementary" for doing something different albeit within the realm of the Canon. Many dissenters of the show have complained that "Elementary" does nothing new and thus has is no real reason to exist. But the showrunners have used elements that we can say have existed before in other cinematic adaptations--modern-day setting, drug addiction, female Watson, American backdrop, sexually active Holmes, Watson the crime doctor--into a configuration that can be argued as "new"; the dissenters then complain the show is too different to be Sherlock Holmes. It's a no-win situation for "Elementary". You cannot change the dissenter's mind; don't try. Only "Elementary" itself can do that. If they watch the show with an open mind, see Miller and Liu's performances for the wonderful takes of Holmes and Watson that they are, then perhaps they may come around. I don't hold my breath. Live and let live. The only thing I con do is give my support, voice my opinion and when the show strays too far from the Reichenbachian path it has set for itself, hope that someone hears my warning. I am certainly open to the possibility that my concerns are groundless. This is where reasonable online forums come in. So, thanks.

    6. I look forward to each episode and am having fun with it.
      If they keep growing it could be around for a couple of years.

  5. The real problem with the episode is it's Joan who figures out that Callie's "Dear John" video came before the subway murder not after. What would have worked for the show and the characters is, if in that scene in the brownstone with Sherlock and Joan trying to make the connection between the two crimes, Sherlock had said, "I know what the connection is, Watson. It's right there in front of you. Tell me. You can do it," and Joan figures it out on her own. Instead, Joan is there first, and Sherlock is no more brilliant than Cagney or Stabler or Starsky or any other run of the mill TV cop. Sherlock says as much in the interrogation at the end; "I was confused. And that doesn't happen very often," then he says it Joan who figured out the sequence of events. It makes Sherlock's claim at the very end, "I was able to identify the murderer in a matter of seconds. I would like to see how long it takes you," not a boast and a test, but a bluff and a hope that she can figure it out because he hasn't a clue. While there were some nice character moments and an appearance by Alfredo that was too short, this was a disappointing episode.