4.10.2014

Television: Elementary, "No Lack of Void"

Remember when Roger Rees showed up last season as Alistair, the guy who had coached Holmes in accents and tricked Watson into dinner then told her about Irene? Apparently he's at least still helping Holmes with accents (this time specific to Derry in Northern Ireland). He records stuff for Holmes to practice imitating, and Holmes is happily anticipating meeting Alistair over breakfast.

Meanwhile, when Watson goes down to the station to give some files back to Detective Bell, she gets called in to aid a pickpocket named Apollo Mercer . . . Who has died of anthrax. Time for a quarantine!

Seems Apollo had swallowed a baggie of anthrax that had ruptured. So where did it come from, how did Apollo get it, and why did he swallow it?

Oh, and Alistair is dead. Of a heart attack. A week ago. So Holmes missed the funeral and is in a terrible mood.*

Surveillance video leads Holmes, Watson, and Bell to a makeshift lab by one Charles Simon . . . And Charlie's body (dead from . It's clear from the lab that it had likely been used to make a s***load of anthrax. Enough to infect half a million people. Problem? It's all gone.

But where?

Eugene Macintosh is the chief suspect in the killing of Charlie. Eugene has radical leanings, is involved with something called the Sovereign Army. Typical anarchy stuff. Eugene's brother Bart lives upstate at a dairy farm, so he's the first contact.

And Holmes goes to visit Alistair's partner Ian, who gives him a signed first edition of the first play Holmes ever saw Alistair perform.

But Holmes is on the trail of something . . . He asks Ian about Jeremy, whom Ian says had dinner with Alistair a week before. Apparently there was some bad blood there.

Bart Macintosh rails about his brother and tells Watson and Bell that he hasn't seen Eugene in a month. But he eventually gives them an address of 1313 Linden, a house where Eugene and his Sovereign Army friends might crash.

And there's Alistair. A hallucination? Are we going to start having the ghost of Roger Rees turning up from time to time?

Holmes watches men load a truck and discovers the missing anthrax, and in the brawl with the men manages to break a jar of it. (What kind of idiot puts anthrax in a jar? That can break? I guess the same kind of idiot that makes anthrax to begin with.)

So now Holmes has been exposed to anthrax.

Except Holmes insists he hasn't been exposed to anthrax, and tests bear that out—it wasn't anthrax in the jars. Questioning one of the men who'd been loading the truck, a man named Joe who'd panicked when exposed to the powder, it's clear Eugene duped the guys. So we're really back where we were before . . . What a pointless little detour.

Jeremy turns up at the brownstone. Turns out Jeremy is Alistair's son, and he tells Watson that Alistair died of a heroin overdose.

And Holmes admits to Watson that it bothers him that he's bothered by Alistair's death. The fact that Alistair had been clean for so much longer than Holmes himself had ever been . . . Holmes tries to understand what set Alistair back.

This heartfelt navel-gazing is interrupted by Gregson calling to say Eugene has been shot and killed by his brother Bart. My guess is starting to be that Bart is the bad guy here; his rant from earlier suggests he's hot-headed and holds a grudge.

Bart says Eugene was dumping anthrax into his cattle feed with the idea of the milk infecting anyone who drank it. He also handily remembers that Eugene mentioned "friends up north" and "our government not being the only one that needs to be taught a lesson."

Holmes follows up on the fact that Eugene had dermatitis where he'd been wearing a wedding ring. Married by a Justice of the Peace to a woman in Delaware. What government-hating man does that? A call to Eugene's widow confirms that Eugene was no longer an anarchist.

The story of the attempted poisoning of the dairy cows has people discarding their milk products. And here is where Bart's motive appears: His cows are insured. And Bart and Eugene owned the farm equally per their father's will. They'd planned it together, but when things got hot and the police came around asking questions, Bart sacrificed his brother.

Obligatory scene of Holmes standing over Alistair's grave, talking to his ghost/hallucination. (And obligatory Waiting for Godot quote?)

While I can appreciate Holmes's anger and all the drama surrounding Alistair's death—particularly given how he died—it felt a bit strange. But maybe that was the point. It should be uncomfortable. I think, for me, it was simply strange in the way the scenes of Holmes (and Watson) dealing with it were wedged in between scenes of the A [anthrax] story . . . It was somewhat awkwardly shoehorned and could easily have been more fully explored. But they can't make something like that its own episode, even if the content would serve, because for better or worse Elementary is at heart a procedural.

ETA: I realize what bothers me about the Alistair plot line here: The fact they brought him back as a plot point without first reintroducing him in some other form or fashion. It would have had much more impact and felt far less derived if Alistair had turned up now and then over the course of the show. But until now we'd only seen him the once (in "Flight Risk"). So . . . The viewer had very little invested in him and had to take it on faith that Holmes was as invested since we saw almost no interaction between the two.

*Truthfully, I thought this was going to be another of Alistair's pranks, but as the episode went on it seemed less likely . . . Or far more cruel than necessary. But then again, Alistair's prank on Watson had also been a bit mean.

1 comment:

Trisha F said...

I haven't seen Elementary! :)