Sunday, October 20, 2013

Elementary Season #2 - episode #4 - 'Poison Pen' - a review

Just returning late last night from vacation and trying to get back into the swing of things, Holmeswise.

The past comes back, in a way, to haunt Holmes.
When becoming involved with a new murder, Holmes comes across someone from his past.
What turns out to be a possible return of a past murderer soon turns into copy cat killing.

I thought it was a very good story and well acted with some good twists. And, I find surprising, I was a little more comfortable with Watson's involvement, which I will go into more in a bit.

The connections I found were these;

- Tracking down the make of clothes to where they were made. (Holmes often uses a persons clothing to solve crimes or identify where someone works.)
- Deep knowledge of past criminals and cases.
- Knowledge of poisons and how they mix with other liquids.
- A connection to what got Holmes started on his life of fighting crime as in Gloria Scott. ( It is interesting to note, depending on the year you believe GLOR took place, that Holmes was the same age when introduced to his career, 15. )
- His boxing ability.

I think this episode was a step up from the last couple and I did enjoy the twists and turns.
I think the time restraints don't allow for some of the development I would love to see take place, but that can't be helped.

What I am however finding interesting; some of the biggest complaints about the show, from some reviewers, especially Starky Tour Guide, is that the show is filling in many of the things, in the writers opinions, that Sherlockians have made their reputation on. In other words Playing the game.
While not all well regarded, and those not so well regarded, have not made there name on playing the game, many have and still do.

Part of playing the game is about coming up with explanations for Holmes and Watson's behavior and personalities and filling in detail about their past. And many noted Sherlockians have made their Sherlockian reputations by doing just that.

So, although we may not like how the writers in Elementary are playing the game, I think they are at least being faithful to the game. I think in this episode with the connections to GLOR, they did a pretty good job. They not only brought in the modern theme of bullying and how it can affect ones life, but also how it has changed over time and why Holmes may have developed an interest in the martial arts.
As we are aware, conditions especially in British boarding schools were probably pretty hard on any one that was a little different and out of the norm.
I don't understand how some people can find high Sherlockian Scholarship in BSB's discussion of their Sherlockian fetishes while finding fault in the flaws of Holmes as done in Elementary. While we all may find some of the traits not to our liking in the TV Show, they are, after all, just Playing the Game.

As to Watson and why her continual increase in involvement doesn't bother me as much as it once did;
I think if Watson doesn't become more involved the show would have a tendency to be 'dumbing' down the character. We all believe Watson to be smarter than the one played by Nigel Bruce, but do we also only want Watson to be capable only of a certain amount of growth. If we assume Watson is not going to pick up much by working with Holmes, then are we not assuming she is not as smart as we would like to think? "You know my methods Watson! Use them."
 We can't have it both ways. Canonically, Watson as just a biographer worked wonderfully because he could frame the stories in such a way as to make Holmes appear to be that much smarter and the format worked well for that approach.
But so much more is expected of doctors now a days, and I don't think an unthinking biographer would hold up well in modern stories.
Can it be taken to far? Sure. Will it be? Maybe.
But remember, although Watson found the tablet, Holmes put her on the trail.
I think we would grow tired of Watson just following Holmes around astounded all the time with a blank look on her face. Instead we have a Watson who is smart and capable of growth.

I will try to come back and fill in a few more thoughts once recovered from fifteen hours of driving, but for now (and I haven't got my pipes handy) I give this episode four (found them!)

out of five pipes.


  1. I like your comment about the "Elementary" writers playing the game. Spot on. Also your thought on Liu, Bruce and Watson have given me something to think about.

    1. During a fifteen hour drive, you get to think about a lot. Have one more theory I am thinking about, but. . . . . not there yet.