Television: Elementary, "Dirty Laundry"

No, seriously guys, we've got to do better with these titles.

Also, I hate whatever color pants Holmes was wearing in that opening scene. What color is that? Not orange enough for rust. Too dark for rose. More like the color your red pen starts to make when it's running out of ink. Just ugly.

Fashion aside, Holmes and Watson are counting down the last ten days of their enforced [non-sexual] cohabitation. As a last hurrah they investigate a homicide in which a woman named Terry has been stuffed into an industrial washing machine at the basement of the hotel of which she was manager. (Husband of the victim is played by That Guy. Victim's guy friend is Dr. Matt from American Gothic.)

If you haven't seen the episode yet, be aware that spoilers follow.

But it's the way the daughter is acting that sends up a red flag in my mind. (And later, I discover, for good reason. Tip your hand much, writers/directors?)

The plot devolves into something about Terry running a prostitute ring in her hotel. For free. So she can secretly film them. To access information from international bigwigs because she is really a spy. And we're only halfway through the episode.

Sometimes I worry the writers feel like the more stuff they toss in and the faster they pace things the better or cooler the show will appear. But their feints are so obvious, none of it is surprising. It's really so much more fun to just watch Holmes and Watson do their Odd Couple thing. This episode doesn't have quite enough of that; the dirty dishes and garbage are not really a great foundation for the action and dialogue between them.

The writers have tried to make the daughter sympathetic but my devious mind immediately goes to the idea the girl is using Watson for information about the investigation. That she is somehow core to the operation. (She cops to having killed her mother.) Look at the way she stops to think, quickly, before answering Watson's questions. (Leading questions, Watson, very bad.) You can practically see that the girl is deciding how much Watson probably already knows, how much her father is likely to have spilled while in custody. The fact that the dad wanted the daughter protected in writing suggests there may be more to the story.

And here is where Holmes and Watson show how well they work together, as Watson peruses the evidence, persistent in finding a better and more rewarding answer after Holmes has walked away from the case, considering it closed. Marry Watson's x-ray of Terry's hand to Holmes' flash of inspiration at the sight of the fountain pen mentioned at the beginning of the show (you knew it had to come back), and a new angle emerges.

The daughter remains in the clear. Might've been more interesting if she had been more deeply involved, but whatever. We finish up with Holmes suggesting to Watson they lie to his father to get him to keep funding their exploits, only to have Watson tell him she's taken another job. "I'm usually good with deductions," says Holmes. Is he familiar with the psychological notion of projection? He keeps saying Watson wants to stay, but could it be the other way around? Truthfully, it's sweet, but also a tad unfortunate that the writers have made Holmes so transparent here. Holmes should never be easy to see through.

This episode seems to want to capitalize on the popularity of shows like Homeland or the buzz (assuming there is any?) of the forthcoming The Americans. Spies are vogue again. (I'll take mine with a side of Daniel Craig, though.) Here the result is cramped and not fully realized. The writers of Elementary have good ideas from time to time, and good moments in their writing, but they do need to do something about their pacing, and they need better poker faces if they're going to write a show that surprises and delights.

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