Friday, January 30, 2015

The Illustrious Client S3E11 and The One That Got Away S3E12 - Kitty Foyle(d) it.

One of the problems 'Elementary' is always going to face is having a character named Sherlock Holmes that bares very little resemblance to the image most people have of the Victorian detective.
Where 'Sherlock' at times seems to have plucked the Victorian Holmes out of 1895 London and dropped him, complete with wardrobe, habits and mannerisms, into 21st century London (which they are doing well), 'Elementary' as brought forth a Holmes more a creature of these present times, absent of most of traits we have come to expect from our image of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe in some eyes, this has been a failing of this show. It has, however, been a bold attempt to examine Holmes as a creature of the times he is now in.
When discussing the Canon at many Sherlockian events, arguments have often been bolstered up with some phrase along the lines of; "Well, they did things differently back then." or "People looked at things differently in Victorian times.", "We have to examine things in the context of their time."
'Sherlock' has found a way of balancing its seemingly Victorian-like Holmes in a way that has worked for it without actually giving us a modern Holmes. (I think it is the strong Watson they have in the show.)
Much of the time, this tampering, in 'Elementary', with the image has not served the show very well, being an almost parody of our much loved detective. Yes there have been episodic exceptions, but for the most part, Playing the Game with 'Elementary' has been an exercise in trying to dig up Sherlockian references (no matter how tenuous) in a show that lacks them.

The last few weeks, for me, the episodes have not fallen into that habit. Several episodes this season seem to suggest that 'Elementary' if not actually having found it's stride is very close to doing so.

I watched these latest two episodes, 'The Illustrious Client' and 'The One That Got Away', almost back to back, instead of spreading them over two weeks. That is why I am reviewing them as one.

At the end of S3E10 we find Holmes attending the crime scene of a murdered and branded young woman. The markings on the young woman are identical to those left on Kitty by her abductor.
'The Illustrious Client' found Holmes and gang pursuing an individual, de Merville, they suspected of the crime, erroneously for time thinking they had found the perpetrator of the crimes against Kitty. We find, near the end of this first episode, that although a loathsome individual in his own right, de Merville is not the man who violated Kitty. Holmes and Joan are reluctant to believe this in the beginning, The plot thickens with Kitty hearing the voice of Joan's new boss and recognizing it as the voice of the man who kidnapped and violated her.
'The One that Got Away' then picks up from here with first Joan not believing that to be possible, then, once convinced, joining Holmes and Kitty in trying to get Gruner off the streets.
Not wanting to rehash the whole story here, they do eventually do that and Gruner is put away.

But like with most episodes of 'Elementary' the plot or case is usually not what the story is all about.
Just think how much time we spend examining in the Canon things other than the case.

In these two episodes, and for that matter the one before (#10), we find a Holmes I believe is as close to a Canonical Holmes as we are going to get from 'Elementary'. He is no longer, as Brad so aptly suggested, the man child that so frequently invaded many of the early episodes. He is now more focused, introspective and stable. He now, at least for the time being (I hope it won't be short lived) the key figure in the investigations. There are no longer three 'Holmes' jockeying for position as lead detective. His skills are more refined and at the forefront. His observation, still not the only ones made, direct the investigation.

Watson's new role or position has still not yet formed, but has taken a more traditional back seat to Holmes as side-kick and helper more than equal partner. I also found it satisfying that Watson had a couple of deductive or detective missteps in her observations, once again proving she is not Holmes' deductive equal.

But lets face it, these last few episodes have really been all about Kitty. We have finally come to realize how and why Kitty has become involved with Holmes and how each have been important to the other in a certain amount of rebirth.

The episode showed much more 'depth of character' in all involved than has been displayed in many of the episodes.

While playing freely with the Canonical story ILLU, it did however remain true in many ways.

Kitty of course was a victim of the Canonical Gruner, as was she of this Gruner.

She survived his attacks in both cases and in the end extracted a little revenge in both.

Scaring was the method of disfigurement in both the original and the adaptation, although different on Kitty and Gruner in 'Elementary'.

In the end a book, used by Gruner to record his crimes, was used as evidence against him in both cases.

In the Canon, Violet was a victim of a manipulative suitor, in 'Elementary' Violet was the victim of a manipulative brother. Both required some convincing as to the horrors of their men-folk.

Both Canonically and episodically the case against Gruner was going to be hard to make.

In both, the case against Kitty for mutilation was not going to be pursued with much effort allowing on one for a light sentence and in the other an escape.

Gruner is a wealthy man in both.

Also in both, Holmes tries to get Kitty out of the way once Gruner is on to her again. In both cases this effort proved futile.

Another Canonical reference, made in E11 was Holmes' use of several safe houses about town.

I am surprised these episodes were not used at the end of the season, a prelude to next season. This hopefully means there are more good things to come.

Several other reviewers, not Brad, have argued that 'Elementary' is bold in its take on a modern Holmes, and for the most part I have scoffed at these interpretations, finding Miller's Holmes to far out there for me to make that image work. Maybe it is my newly found lack of taking this show too Canonically seriously, or maybe the scrips are becoming better, but I can now find some validation in that argument.

I liked how the Holmes and Kitty story arc came full circle in the conclusions offered last night.
I liked the fact that they closed the question of the cocaine bag in a satisfying way.

I will miss Kitty.

In fairness, would we now want a modern Holmes story that tries to compete with 'Sherlock', a Victorian Holmes placed in our times. One show is doing that well, two probably could not.

Not comparing these two episodes in content with the last two episodes of season three of 'Sherlock', but comparing them to how I felt about the shows at the end, I find episodes 11 and 12 very satisfying.

For these reasons, all the above, I give it;


  1. Now the question is: how will rest of the season live up to the high standards set by these two episodes....