Television: Elementary, "Ears To You"

In Doyle's story "The Cardboard Box," a woman receives a parcel containing two severed ears and Sherlock Holmes must figure out why and whose ears they are (not necessarily in that order). This episode, then, has ties to that story, however loose the knots may be.

Meanwhile, Elementary has made a terrible habit of having Holmes interrupted just as he is about to do something. Sure, it's cute once in a while, but lately it has been noticeably rife and repetitive.

Lestrade has been living in the brownstone for 19 days as he debates a few job offers.

And a man named Gordon Cushing receives a parcel containing two severed ears. Gordon's wife Sarah has been missing for four years and has lived under a cloud of suspicion that he murdered her, but without a body for evidence, he cannot be prosecuted. The note with the ears says they belong to Sarah and makes the usual ransom demands. (Note that in the original story, the ears belong to two different people. Also, in the story the murderer was a drunkard; in this version Sarah is ostensibly the alcoholic.)

Gordon has been sent ransom notes before, notably in 2011, at which time Gordon paid the alleged kidnapper without alerting the police. And never got Sarah back. The police believe Gordon may have staged the whole thing to redirect suspicion.

And Lestrade gets mugged after winning a bet on a football game. (American football or, as we call it, "soccer"?) But Watson catches him out having been drinking. She takes him to task for having alcohol around Holmes. And Lestrade points out that he used to be Holmes's sidekick and tells Watson to "enjoy it while it lasts."

Gregson and his team watch as Gordon makes the exchange with the alleged kidnapper at a subway station. But Gordon insists on following the suspect into the train tunnel, and by the time Gregson's team catches up, Gordon has killed the man. The man doesn't have any identification on him, so there are no ways to determine who he is or where he might have been holding Sarah.

But at least they know the ears are Sarah's. They match photographs and the DNA matches hers as well.

Watson gives Lestrade until the weekend to pick a job and get moving on his new life. And she gives him a couple of mugging case files that match the attack on him so he can follow up and prove his skills. Holmes later tells Watson she shouldn't try to help Lestrade, that only by allowing him to bottom out will he get better.

Holmes examines the kidnapper's body and discerns he was a manual laborer. And based on the sobriety chips tattooed on his body he was in AA. So Holmes and Watson attend a meeting in hopes of identifying their man. Only to find Sarah Cushing there. And in possession of both her ears. (Note that in the original story by Doyle there were three sisters with similar ears.)

Sarah's new name is Alison. She admits to having left because Gordon used to stare at her in a way that made her think he might kill her. But she's made a new life: gotten sober, married a doctor. (Except not really because it's illegal to be married to two people.) Sarah identifies the dead man as Jim Browner (same name as the murderer in the Doyle story). And explains that the reason for the DNA confusion is that the brush the police took hairs from had never been hers; it had belong to Gordon's "other woman" and had matched a body found in a marsh, a body they had thought might be Sarah's. So now it appears Gordon may have killed his girlfriend/mistress?

And Lestrade follows up with the two other mugging victims. Turns out a yellow bicycle might be the big key.

Gordon tells the police the brush belonged to a "professional" named Kendra. And that Kendra went into hiding after the whole Sarah thing broke.

Holmes's theory is that Sarah sent the ransom demand in 2011 in order to extract money from Gordon. And that she may have then sent Browner for a second pass. (Though if she's now married to a plastic surgeon, would she really need the money? Maybe she got the ears from him?)

Bell, meanwhile, calls with the news that the ears weren't Kendra's either. Nor was Kendra the body in the marsh; Kendra—real name Kelly—died in a car accident three years before.

I don't understand why it took Holmes so long to make the plastic surgeon connection. Nor why they haven't taken DNA from Sarah now they know where she is.

Lestrade tracks the bicycle and breaks into the perp's home. He asks for his money back, but the guy brings out a bat instead. Lestrade handily knocks the guy out . . . Then finds a chicken feather.

Holmes and Watson do finally figure out that the plastic surgeon figures in, and that he had . . . grown two extra ears on Sarah's back (as per a 1997 experiment), then cut them off and sent them to Gordon? Then Sarah had talked Browner into doing his part. But now, finally, Gregson issues a warrant for Sarah's DNA. (She'd lied about the brush belonging to someone else.)

And Lestrade, believing he has bested Holmes at his own game, takes a job with the Irish Garda.

One of the better episodes. It honestly had me wondering who was the culprit: Gordon or Sarah. (Though it might have been nice if Holmes had been wrong for a change, at least for a little while.) The bit with Lestrade was well done as well. Though Holmes disavows to Watson any actual handling of the mugging case, there is lingering doubt about whether he was actually manipulating both Watson and Lestrade. There's something a little dark going on there, but it adds a nice depth to the characters and overall story.

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