A would-be hero (aka vigilante) is found murdered, and Holmes and Watson search for his true identity. The guy dressed as a known [in the world of this show] comic book character called the Midnight Ranger. The [fictitious] comic book company was not happy about this guy's antics, considering them a breach of their copyright or intellectual property or whatever, but they hadn't succeeded in figuring out the guy's real name either. Shelve that for later . . . which in procedurals means we'll come back to it in the end because the killer is connected to the comic book company.
Then we go through the dummy suspects (the ones thrown at viewers to make them temporarily forget the place we've just been where the real villain works or lives): the fellow vigilante who all too eagerly takes on the mantel of Midnight Ranger, the drug dealer the dead man was known to hassle regularly. But of course nothing comes of these leads except a few more clues leading back to the truth.
Sure enough, we loop back around the comic book people, and in particular a friend of the dead guy (now identified as Mike) who had reason to hate the comic book company he worked for. Turns out they didn't like him either and had a big dinner out with studio execs that this guy wasn't invited to. So when the guy headed out to that restaurant with a small arsenal . . . the Midnight Ranger stepped in to save the day . . . and lost his life in the process.
Pretty basic stuff, but this episode held my interest a lot more than some others this season, even though the culprit was easy to spot early on.
So Watson steps here into the gray, which is interesting given she pushed back against such a thing when Detective Cortes used Watson to a similar end. (You may remember she asked Watson to consult on a case, and when Watson helped, Cortes used the information to act outside the law. After that, Watson refused to consult with her again.) Overall, we're dealing with questions of where the law fails to meet its goals and what counts as justice being served. Who gets to decide? And do the ends justify the means? These aren't new debates, so it's all in how they're presented. We'll see if Elementary does so in entertaining fashion—so long as they also remain true to the characters they've created.