Television: Elementary, "Art in the Blood"

So last week we ended with the realization that Mycroft was more than a mere restauranteur. This week it is made explicit that he works for MI6. That Sherlock takes the news so badly does no credit to his character; it's not entirely clear to me why (a) Sherlock is surprised, and/or (b) he cares at all. Aside, of course, from the recent stunt that put Watson's life at risk, of course.

We're not left with much time to ponder because Mycroft promptly takes Sherlock for a debriefing that turns into MI6 asking Sherlock to sleuth for them. They spin it as a "you owe us" deal, as if their having saved Watson was somehow their being kind. Again, I'm not sure about the logic here. It would have been easier, one supposes, to let the bad guys kill Watson but . . . Didn't MI6 want to catch the bad guys? And they did, so . . . Why is there a question of anyone owing anyone else anything?

Whatever. Sherlock takes the case, in which Arthur Cadogan West (a name poached from Doyle's "Bruce-Partington Plans") has been murdered. He was an ex-agent with a mental imbalance who'd resettled in New York with his American wife (now divorced but they still keep in contact). West would periodically approach MI6 with one of his delusions of conspiracy, but after too many cries of "wolf" they'd pretty much dropped him. Yet West's murder has occurred shortly after another of his calls, and so MI6 wants to know if West might have actually been on to something this time—something big enough to get him killed.

Sherlock gives Watson a pass if she's not feeling up to working yet, but she joins him for a visit to the morgue. West was shot in his own home; when they pull out the body they discover his arms have been cut off.

Time to hit up the wife. She'd told the police she hadn't seen West but Sherlock deduces otherwise; photos show grocery bags in West's apartment from a unique market closer to the wife's abode, so it's clear she was doing West's shopping. She admits to Sherlock and Watson that, yes, she was still in touch with West. And a number of other startling revelations spill forth: West had once been tapped to follow Sherlock and keep notes on him (he'd decided Sherlock was okay), and his arms had sported tattoos visible only under UV light—she even has a picture. And she thinks she's being watched. West had once told her Sherlock was the only one she could trust; could she stay the night? (In the guest room, folks.)

And speaking of staying—or not staying—Watson then hits Sherlock with her plan to move out and find her own place. That goes about as well as can be expected. At first Sherlock says she's just rattled and will see it's a ridiculous idea once she settles down a bit. But when Watson insists she needs more in her life than just Sherlock and their work . . . It's enough for Sherlock. It's all he wants in the world. But Watson needs more.

Anyway, on to the tattoos. They're number strings that seem to incorporate dates, but other than that Sherlock is mystified. West had believed MI6 had a mole that was passing information through a bookstore, but . . . Sherlock considers his work for MI6 to be done in any case; though they plead with him to come on board full time, he declines.

And then Sherlock learns from Gregson that there are fingerprints from the gun that killed West. Very familiar fingerprints.

Meanwhile, Watson has heretofore rejected Mycroft's attempts at apology. But she finally goes to see him to get clarification about one of Sherlock's youthful escapades, something West's wife mentioned from back when West had been keeping an eye on Sherlock. Turns out Mycroft took the job with MI6 to save his brother, who had, at the height of his drug use days, become the unwitting lackey of a terrorist. MI6 agreed to expunge Sherlock's records in return for Mycroft's aid.

After such a heartwarming story, of course Watson has to sleep with Mycroft. Again.

Only to have Sherlock burst in the following morning and tell Mycroft he'd better damn well pack and get moving. The fingerprints on the murder weapon? Mycroft's.

Interesting that Sherlock immediately assumes Mycroft is being framed. For someone who always seems willing to believe the worst about his brother, it's an odd leap.

Still, the episode is commendable for the growing complexity of the relationships as they evolve: Sherlock and Watson, Watson and Mycroft (I don't see the chemistry here, though), and Sherlock and Mycroft. While the plots aren't always great, this is one thing the show has done consistently well. Character development and arcs are nicely handled.

Next week's "Grand Experiment" finishes out the season.

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