Monday, April 29, 2013

Dead Man's Switch - Elementary episode #20

Sorry for the late review, I didn't get to watch this episode till Sunday morning.
'Holmes' is asked by his sponsor friend Alfredo to help catch a blackmailer blackmailing Alfredo's sponsor.
And much to quickly in an uninspiring way finds out it is Charles Augustus Milverton.
Where in the Canon Milverton is one of the most intriguing criminals, he is hardly in this episode long enough to ever be placed in the intriguing category.
In the Canon he is the ". . . worst man in London." In this episode he could be, and it turns out he is, just one of many, and maybe even a little less worse than his killer. In the Canon, Holmes is already very aware of him when we are introduced to the case.  In this episode he is not.
We do, however, get lots of great nods to the story in this show; Holmes breaking into Milverton's. Holmes seeing Milverton shot. A past victim being Milverton's killer. Blackmail of a young women. The disfigurement of the face. Holmes's dislike of blackmailers even more than murderers.
But instead of it just ending as a case of revenge, it ends as a case of greed and blackmail.
Which if handled right would have been OK.
It would have been nice to see some of the other references and material from the Canon used.

There is some very good acting by Miller in this episode, and also from his supporting cast.
We see his battle with his addiction is not yet over, and from that we get some good insight into Holmes personality through his being very disappointed with himself for his lack of control over his choice to give up the drugs.
I found very little humor in this episode, which was OK.
The conclusion seemed a little anti-climatic to me after having, within the story, several twists.
Overall I think it was a pretty good treatment of 'Charles Augustus Milverton', and I was only a little disappointed with the ending.

So I give it;

mostly for it's strong acting.
And what is up with no hookers again?


  1. Agree with you John about the disappointing resolution to the mystery.

    Hope they do a better job with Moriarty.


    1. Although maybe not done all that well in parts, I liked that they tried to do a case from the Canon.

  2. This was the first time the series based an episode on a Canonical story (Episode 9's "You Do It to Yourself" doesn't count, where as they used the plot to "Thor Bridge", the showrunners did not put in anything else to indicate it was an homage. The "Thor Bridge" plot is now cliche and pops up everywhere on TV.), but interestingly the focus was not on the mystery, or A-plot but on the B-plot of Sherlock's "soberversary". Tellingly, the script lets us know the A-plot is secondary right after the end of the opening credits:
    Gregson: "Obviously you'd want to find the accomplice more than the killer but...what if the accomplice is the killer?"
    Sherlock: "Then all roads lead to Mecca. Blackmailer is foiled and a killer caught. All in one fell swoop."
    That ultimately is the solution. The focus is on Sherlock and his self-discovered weakness. So much of Sherlock is the inner man. His conceit is that he can stop being an addict at the flick of a self-willed switch. “One is either in it or out of it.” Sherlock finds out that he is more mortal and less superman than he thought himself to be. Kudos to Miller who makes this moment one all can identify with. It should indeed be humbling to find out that the chemicals we abuse our body with are stronger than our will--the contents of our mind. It is shattering to Sherlock because he *is* mind. "I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix," Holmes says in "The Mazarin Stone". It will be interesting to see how the Irene Adler story arc will handle this. "But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true, cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment," Holmes says in "The Sign of Four". And remember the look in "M." Sherlock gave Joan when she said to him about Irene, "You were in love." Does Sherlock consider his feelings for Irene to also be a weakness? "Elementary" was awarded the 2013 EIC President’s Award from the 17th annual Prism Awards ("PRISM Awards are given away to writers, producers, actors and actresses for their accurate depictions of mental health and substance abuse. Substance abuse and mental health not only affect the person involved but also others around them, and we are proud to commend those that are involved in the art of making a difference."). Not many network shows do a good job depicting this (such problems are one episode blips never to be heard of again) and "Elementary" has been consistent in depicting Sherlock's problems with sensitivity and humor. It is a relatively unexplored area of the Canonical Holmes and not everyone's cup of tea. I don't understand how making Holmes an unCanonical Aspergers-like "high-functioning sociopath" is wonderful, but dealing with a Canonical drug issue is somehow detrimental to the source material, but, well, to each his own. "Elementary" is first and foremost and exploration of the relationship of Sherlock and Joan; we get to see the evolution of friendship over time, something we don't see in any other movie or TV series. Usually, the relationship is fully formed or, as in the case of "A Study in Pink", happens over the course on 90 minutes. We don't even see it depicted in the Canon due to the piecemeal way Doyle wrote it. The mysteries are not secondary, but are of lesser impact to the show. That doesn't mean that the writing staff sloppily tosses them off, but, unlike with an Agatha Christie mystery, plot takes a backseat to character.

    Not to cause a kerfuffle but did you notice that Joseph Siravo (Anthony Pistone) bares a striking resemblance to Stephen Moffat?

  3. Not being a real big fan of Stephen Moffat so far, I really don't know what he looks like, but will check it out.
    I think if the show is to continue to grow the writers need to find a better balance between Holmes the man and Holmes the detective and maybe not make the mystery all it is about, but at least step it up a bit.
    Thanks for stopping by James.

  4. Agree with you about the balance. With 24 scripts in eight months, I think "Elementary" has done alright. Even Doyle had some clunkers and I think this episode was a solid B.