Monday, September 30, 2013

Another "Step" For ELEMENTARY

Article first published as Another "Step" For ELEMENTARY on TheTVKing.

The following review was posted before the episode aired, and so is mostly spoiler free, dealing with relationships and generalities, rather than details of the case. Enjoy!

The second season premiere of CBS's Elementary, airing tonight at 10 p.m. ET, is called "Step Nine." For those not familiar with the twelve-step program that Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction treatment programs like to implement, the ninth step is to make amends. This makes sense, as Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) flies across the pond to help out former colleague Gareth Lestrade (Sean Pertwee, who used to co-own a production company with Miller, Ewan McGregor, Jude Law, and Sadie Frost), intending to right past wrongs.

I call Lestrade a "colleague" because, as pointed out in "Step Nine," Sherlock doesn't have friends. That is, until he meets Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) last year. Before Watson, no one could see past Sherlock's abrasive attitude enough to care about him and help him out. This informs very much Sherlocks' relationship with both Lestrade and the authorities on the other side of the pond.

Sherlock feels guilty for Lestrade's down slide because he allowed Lestrade to take credit for Sherlock's work repeatedly. This suited Sherlock's purposes, as well as Lestrade's, but gave the latter a yearning for the spotlight that didn't serve him well when he no longer had anyone feeding him the answers. It's an interesting thing for Sherlock to regret, as one could argue it was a mutual relationship that wronged no one, but it also makes sense as a thing to make up for, as Sherlock does feel above everyone else, and that he had influence over the other man's actions.

While in London, Sherlock and Watson encounter Sherlock's brother, Mycroft (Rhys Ifans, The Amazing Spider-Man), who has moved into Sherlock's old flat, replacing the detective's possessions with his own. This riles up Sherlock, believing it to be a symptom of their longstanding rivalry. Yet, Watson sees something else in Mycroft, and works her way closer to him in order to gain greater insight into Sherlock.

This relationship is actually a two-way street because Mycroft quickly realizes that Watson has that special connection with Sherlock that no one else can ever have, similar to his own. These are two people who see a side of Sherlock that no one else does, and by combining what they know about him, they can form a fuller (yet still not complete) picture. This is definitely a couple of characters I want to see encounter one another again.

Mycroft has a secret that he isn't sure how to tell Sherlock. It's changed the way he feels about his brother, and spurs him to reach out. The way in which Mycroft does so is surprising, but feels right for someone who is kin to Sherlock. I'm hoping that Mycroft succeeds in beginning a new chapter with his brother, though given how Sherlock likes to keep things close to the vest, we won't likely know for sure if he's been successful for quite awhile.

That's what's disappointing about Elementary, though. There are rich characters and fascinating stories, but they are routinely pushed to the back burner for cases-of-the-week. Miller's talent is wasted in a standard procedural, and if it's not a sweeps-month episode, each installment tends to be numbingly boring, the same thing from week to week. The brilliant scenes are positively stunning, and everything else is drivel by comparison.

"Step Nine" is a good example of this. As excellent as the Mycroft and Lestrade bits are, much of the hour is given over to catching a singular criminal. This isn't strictly necessary; Elementary could have Sherlock just go over for a visit, or make sure that whatever he needed to do was dealt with quickly. They could even have made this a two-parter, leaving Sherlock in London long enough to have more interaction with the men from his past. Sadly, this is not to be.

And now, even though the opening of "Step Nine" is exciting and there are wonderful moments within, I wonder how long it will be before the next episode of the series deserving of praise airs. It likely won't be next week.

Elementary airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

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