Television: Elementary, "M."

I suppose this episode title is designed to serve me right for giving them a difficult time about their titles.*

In truth, the title is meant to reference (without expressly naming) that old Holmes nemesis Moriarty. M's appearance invigorates Holmes, even as he cuts Watson loose with the excuse that, with her imminent departure, he needs to get used to working alone again. In an echo of BBC's Sherlock, Watson gets in some quality time with her therapist who points out that, while Watson professes to enjoy what she's doing "now," her "now" is about to end. Food for thought.

Watson goes on to admit to Holmes that she'll miss working with him but makes good on an exit before he can formulate any kind of response. Meanwhile, M breaks into the brownstone and leaves a note.

Holmes launches his own attempt to track M, who is ostensibly responsible for the death of Irene Adler; when Watson demands to know why Holmes isn't working with the police, he admits his goal is to catch, torture, and kill his adversary. Well, it's nice to see Holmes motivated anyway. But does this count as a relapse in Watson's book?

This episode sees a turning point in the series—a point in which things become more interesting as stakes are raised.

Holmes tells the story of his seven-month love affair with Irene Adler that ended when, as Holmes helped Scotland Yard narrow in, M killed her.

Watson and Holmes now at odds, Holmes goes in search of M while Watson runs to Gregson to get help in finding Holmes before he can go through with his revenge fantasy. Holmes gets there first, takes M off to torture him, only to discover that "M" is Sebastian Moran (ah!) who works for Moriarty. What now remains in question: who is Moriarty, where is Moriarty, and was he the one to really kill Irene? (As it turns out, Moran was incarcerated at the time of her death.)

Concluding that Moriarty has sold him out, Moran spins a story to screen Holmes, even after Holmes stabs him in the gut (evidently out of sheer frustration). Holmes finally admits to Watson that he will also miss working with her, prompting her to call his father and ask for an extension. He declines. But Watson lies to Holmes (surely he knows she's lying?) and tells him his father has agreed to let her stay on.

The episode ends with Holmes decluttering his wall and pinning a single notecard on it for him to concentrate on, with exactly one word written upon it: Moriarty.

I'll admit the idea immediately crossed my mind that the only reason to go with just the initial was to mislead the viewer. And upon seeing this "M" I was fairly certain it was unlikely to be Moriarty, at least in the traditional sense; Doyle's Moriarty—and therefore the template for all others—is a spindly professor who has others do his dirty work. But I didn't jump directly to Moran (from Doyle's "The Empty House," though now I see that an empty house also figured greatly here—nice touch).

I also thought, however briefly, that this unseen Moriarty might somehow be connected to Holmes' shadowy father. Or maybe yet another M, not yet introduced: Mycroft? Why else sell out your best assassin?

Good of the writers, too, to avoid making Watson a damsel in distress. I like that she's a strong character but still sympathetic.

Easily the best episode thus far and it gives the series a nice new direction and some new threads to follow through the crime-of-the-week format.

*No, I'm not actually that egocentric as to believe they were naming it for me.


B2B said...

I agree with you that this was the best episode so far. Some nice plot twists and good acting.

I enjoyed your pastiche "Sherlock Holmes & The Adventure of Ichabod Reed". I will be posting a review soon!

M Pepper Langlinais said...

Thank you! It's the prequel to "Sherlock Holmes & the Mystery of the Last Line," which is my most popular title.