Television: Elementary, "Bella"

The best episode thus far this season, though I can't tell whether I'm starting to like Kitty or if it was just that she wasn't as evident in this episode and that's what made her tolerable.

Bella, as it turns out, is a computer program designed to create true artificial intelligence—meaning the computer learns and begins to "think for itself" rather than relying on pre-programmed bits of data and/or any data it can snatch from the Internet or whatnot. Since Bella is not hooked up to the Internet, that rules out her (as Holmes would insist, its) ability to gain information that way. So the question becomes: Is Bella a real A.I. "life" form?

Turing test, yada yada, and you're wondering why Holmes is involved at all. Well, Bella's creators hit him up because they've suffered a break-in, but that ends up being the least of the issues in the episode. By the half-hour mark, Holmes has figured out a known criminal nicknamed Raffles (from the Victorian stories) went to work as head of security for some big-name company, &c. &c. Raffles, then, is the culprit.

It's when one of Bella's creators ends up dead that the mystery really begins. Did Bella think ahead and plan to kill him when he wouldn't allow her Internet access?

Well, at the risk of spoilers, no.

Turns out Bella was fed a virus that capitalized on her creator's epilepsy to kill him. All contrived by a professor who is part of a group that warns against A.I. because, if computers were ever to achieve such sentience, they would surely kill off the human race. (This sort of reminded me of the dinosaur thing from last season.)

Meanwhile, on the character development front, Watson's boyfriend Andrew is looped into the A.I. research by Holmes. Andrew has a computer programming background, after all, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that he could be useful in this case. But Watson feels certain Holmes is up to something, and that surety increases when—through the group e-mails—Andrew meets a likeminded entrepreneur named Magnus and plans to fly off to Copenhagen to further explore their ideas. Watson thinks Holmes is orchestrating Andrew's exit, and there's a nice scene of them together in the kitchen at the brownstone (was he making Yorkshire puddings again?); once convinced Holmes means no harm to her relationship, Watson threatens to hug him, and he points out that she knows him well enough to know better.

By the end of the episode, Watson is flying off to Copenhagen with Andrew. (Can I just add, I really am enjoying Raza Jaffrey in this. His role got a bit too heavy in Smash, but he fits in well here, and I hope we'll see more of him. Though, if he's playing the Mary Morstan part . . .)

Right now, Elementary's ratings are starting to slump, though one might blame the Shonda Rhimes juggernaut for that. All the old people who watch CBS aren't staying up 'til 11:00 for Elementary; they're recording it and watching it later. It's not "appointment television." And it may be that the +3 and/or +7 numbers are fine (I haven't looked). But I worry this may spell the last season for the show unless CBS decides to try a new time slot next season.

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