Review: Elementary Series Premiere


by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

This is Elementary, my dear viewer. Should you delve further into this review of this pilot episode, it is a foregone conclusion that SPOILERS will be revealed. Thus, should you not want to be deprived of experiencing these secrets on your own, you should stop reading now. If not, then please, dear reader, venture forth.

The episode begins with Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) rushing to meet with Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller). Sherlock has very recently checked himself out of rehab after coming off of a recent bout of drug addiction. His father, unable to trust that his son will keep his sober stability, hires Dr. Joan Watson to be his sober companion for six weeks, going wherever he does. She has recently lost her medical license as a surgeon and is forced to deal with inner demons and the complications of losing a part of her life that made her feel full and accomplished. He has lost the drugs that gave him an out. What a perfect, dysfunctional duo—two broken people needing to rebuild their lives.

The duo, soon after meeting, is called to a crime scene in order for Holmes to put his detective skills to use. The case is this: a doctor comes home and finds that his wife is not there, presumed murdered or kidnapped. Upon arrival, Sherlock can tell that something is missing from the data they’ve gathered. The young woman who has gone missing had a visitor the previous night, someone that she had known. Sherlock discovers this bit of information by finding a piece of glass that implies there were two glasses, which means two people. He got this information by lying down, looking under a cabinet, and dragging out a rather large portion of one the extra glasses.

This new discovery leads to his second, that the woman in question has had some sort of facial plastic surgery done, and it leads to a search of the house where Sherlock comes to another discovery: the room is at an angle (the police seem almost comically incompetent), and at the end of the slope, is a door to a panic room. Once they open it, they find the body of the woman who had allegedly gone missing. Holmes announces that sometimes he wishes he wasn’t right.

Watson and Holmes search the streets of New York City in hopes of discovering clues to the murder. For the duration of the search, something begins to feel off about the case and he begins taking a deeper look into the doctor until a heated conversation occurs outside of his office. It’s here that, essentially, the doctor confesses without a hint of guilt, and goes on his merry way. Enraged by the doctor’s admission, Sherlock, in a fit of blinded rage, takes Watson’s car and crashes it into his. He is promptly taken in by the police until bailed out by Watson, who is unhappy with him. He, still angry about the entire, albeit straight-forward, fiasco, lashes out at her, dissecting her fears and past regrets until she, not putting up with it for any longer, storms out to go the opera, which she had originally wished he would attend with her.

Here is where the show takes a different, but good, route. He goes and finds her at the opera and apologizes. He may be calculating, but he is not turned off from human emotion entirely, and he recognizes his wrongdoings. This Holmes isn’t always in control of his emotions and the distancing genius routine is more of a façade than anything else. Here is a man who’s battled substance abuse, is having his stings controlled by a demanding father, has had his heart broken and has recently moved from his home. This Sherlock is vulnerable and introduced to us as such. We come to this knowledge by the end of the episode rather than having to peel back the layers one by one. Miller plays the emotion on his face and it works so well with the way he’s been written and the way Watson has been written to be more of his equal. Vulnerability works when it is not simply used to create angst for a character and make him or her pitiful.

It’s not long before the doctor is found out and caught allowing Sherlock and Watson to go on to fight another crime another day. What this show capitalized on is the burgeoning friendship between the two. For the naysayers who believe it’s going to turn to nothing but sexual tension and longing stares full of lust, the show runners have gone out of their way to prove the opposite and nothing in this episode would hint otherwise. They seem like buddies, like two people who might come to be very close friends due to some shared hardships and likelihoods.  Their introduction, their genders and their basic demeanors may differ from other interpretations but the one thing that always is a constant is the bond between the two that grows, and it’s that bond that, no matter the medium, causes audiences to take notice.

    One Comment

  1. nerdybird80October 2nd, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I was very surprised at how much I liked this show. I recently got into the BBC Sherlock and LOVED it so I was worried that I might compare too much without even meaning to do so. After the first meeting of Watson and Holmes I was no longer worried. I think that while many can compare the two shows and say one of better or worse than the other… I think they both stand alone and I think that there is room on my (any many others) DVR for both shows.

    I am not a fan of Lucy Liu normally, but I found her to make a very likable Dr Watson. And Johnny Lee Miller is sort of the punk rock Sherlock that we have never seen before… which is kind of cool! I like the vulnerable side of this Holmes and I like that he is still at his core the same character he always has been but he just seems a little more human like the rest of us.

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