CBS' Elementary ended on a big note with its first season finale to reveal Moriarty-- and to reveal her to be someone quite close to Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) after all. When the second season picks up, that theme of shedding some light on others in Sherlock's life is still on-going, though this time around the details and truths that emerge about them pale in comparison. We suspect most anything would after Moriarty, but Elementary's second season premiere still takes a few moments to get back into the groove of things.
Perhaps it's the jet lag, though, because in "Step Nine," the second season premiere, Sherlock and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) head across the pond to help an old friend of his who has become obsessed with proving a particular man killed his wife. The man is so certain this is the case, he shows up at her funeral and makes quite the spectacle of himself. In many ways, this man is a mirror into Sherlock's past as an addict because he exhibits all of the behaviors of someone who has lost control to an idea or an itch but none of the tools needed to cope with it. We've always seen Sherlock as such an eccentric genius yet-- a man who will sit in a pile of newspaper or train and follow carrier pigeons for a case-- yet here he is a pillar of collectedness simply by comparison.
Admittedly the case itself feels a little reaching to make it interesting. Sherlock has to go to seemingly unnecessarily showy methods to get some information on a pretty out-there murder weapon. The details feel a little thrown together randomly in order to keep some of the quirk in what could be an otherwise very serious and somber tale. The elements that do make it unique feel slightly wasted in this particular episode, not given their proper time to shine as something unique in a very well-populated genre.
The trip to London also allows more insight into Sherlock through the introduction of the brother Joan never even knew he had, Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans). Though Sherlock would like Joan to believe he has immediate disdain for the brother he deemed "lazy" simply by taking his trust fund and opening restaurants with it, his responses toward Mycroft often betray him. His nickname of "Fatty," for example comes off as much more affectionate than insulting, and even though he huffs and puffs about it, he is still willing to stay in his brother's apartment and meet him places when he texts.
The Holmes' men spend more time talking about each other than they do spending time with each other on-screen, but even that lends itself toward sympathizing more with Sherlock. Seeing a piece of his past and familial history cements just how much of an outsider he must have felt growing up, let alone as a young adult with addiction issues. His brain simply works differently than those who should be closest to him. It really allows the audience to understand how far he's come and cherish the kinship he has found with Joan.
Of course, on "Step Nine", that partnership is just as dry and at times seemingly snarky as ever, but strides are made, a little at a time as always, to show just how much they've learned from each other. For Joan in comes in the form of effortlessly playing the part when Sherlock lies about her credentials while interviewing a suspect as well as by deducing a secret about Mycroft. For Sherlock it comes in the steps he takes to recognize, feel, and treat addict behavior in another. The episode may be set thousands of miles from their New York City homebase, but it's Sherlock and Joan-- and of course Miller and Liu-- at their sharpest.
Elementary returns to CBS on September 26 2013 at 10 p.m.
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