As regular blog readers may recall, I had a bit of a Damascene conversion over Elementary during the last season. I went from disliking it for being a poor imitation of BBC Sherlock to enjoying it very much and appreciating the clever crimes and great partnership between the two leads.
So I was excited for its return and optimistic that I would continue to enjoy this interesting addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe. But as with Sherlock series three, I do feel a bit let down – again.
I think one of Elementary’s strengths has always been its interpretation of the friendship between Holmes and Watson. I had come to love watching their partnership grow; it was well-paced, believable and done with a lightness of touch which gave it great credibility – in contrast to the Sherlock/John love-in we had in Sherlock series three.
But now ‘Lemon Entry’ is back and for the first 13 minutes or so we don’t even see Holmes. Instead we have Watson doing very nicely for herself in her posh new pad, solving crimes on her own for the NYPD and private clients. Holmes has been away in England for six months working for MI6 and they didn’t exactly part on good terms.
I do like the fact that Liu’s Watson is a capable, intelligent woman but here it goes too far. Holmes should be the detective, Watson the assistant – that is the dynamic at the heart of all we love about Sherlock Holmes stories. Suddenly, we are now being asked to accept Holmes working with a new assistant, Kitty Winter, and Watson, a fully-fledged detective, whose skills are a match for his own.
Kitty Winter is one of my favourite characters in the canon (she of the acid throwing fame in The Illustrious Client) but I’m not sure about her incarnation here in Elementary. I think (hope) that perhaps it is too early to pass judgement and that the character will be developed further in forthcoming episodes. I want her to have a great back-story that explains why she has given up everything and left England to work with Holmes. And I hope it will relate in some way to the original Kitty and her struggles against the evil womanising Baron.
What I do like is the fact that Watson doesn’t simply cave in and forgive Holmes for his disappearance and behaviour. I felt this was a major weakness in Sherlock series three and actually in the original Empty House. I think that Watson’s hurt and anger here is much more realistic. I’m torn between being desperate for them to make up and reinstate their partnership and thinking ‘Fair play, give him hell.’
I didn’t like the fact that in his absence, Watson has become such a successful detective in her own right that she now holds the power over whether Holmes can return to working for the NYPD.
They’ve played around too much with the essence of what the characters should be – Watson isn’t a detective in the canon, he’s a doctor, an ordinary (albeit intelligent) bloke who readers can associate with. He/she should be an everyman character who gives a contrast to Holmes who must always remain the only one who can shine light into the darkness. Elementary have messed around with the formula in this episode and in my opinion, haven’t got away with it.
The crime story was imaginative but I suspect that they didn’t quite get the science right. I’m no expert but wouldn’t you need a much bigger magnet than that?
I await next week’s episode with interest and a healthy degree of apprehension.