Holmes and Watson on the roof of the brownstone

Don’t make me come over there

This week it’s a strong moment in a weak episode, the season three finale of Elementary, “A Controlled Descent”.

Oscar kidnaps Alfredo, inciting a guided tour of Sherlock’s old life as a heroin addict. Shooting galleries, shady characters and souls lost, all in the hope of finding Oscar’s sister who has checked herself out of the rehab Sherlock meant for Oscar. The denouement? Sister is dead, it’s all Oscar’s fault, but he believes that Sherlock is ready to fall back into habits.

Oscar sort of worked as a minor character — a walking reminder of the life that our consulting detective swore to himself he had left behind. But, even after this wild goose chase, how important is he really to Holmes? Sherlock has been in worse straits, under more pressure, I didn’t feel that his sudden relapse was earned*^.

But there we are: Holmes beats up Oscar, picks up his kit and heads into the railway tunnel, ready to get back on the horse. Cut to, Joan getting off the telephone and heading up to the brownstone’s roof to tell an apparently high Sherlock that his father (who has been a spectral figure since the very first episode) is going to pay them a visit.

Elementary is a fine TV procedural, reliably entertaining, pleasingly whimsical. Finding quirky contemporary equivalents for the 1890s character traits of the original stories, has always been part of the fun. John became Joan. Cocaine dalliances became addiction and recovery. Irene Adler, the girl who got away, became the nemesis who will not be caged.

The origins of Sherlock Holmes — who he was before Watson found him, fully formed and living at 221B — are a big black hole in the mythos. There is a reference to a grandmother, in the original Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, who was sister to a famous artist. The detective muses that maybe she is the origin of his and Mycroft’s gifts: “Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms”.

Hence, this was my favourite monent of the week. I can’t wait for Papa Holmes!

* Especially using Oscar’s filthy works after years of sobriety
^ I’ve since read that there is a three day gap between Holmes walking into the tunnel and the scene on the rooftop with Joan and the next season will explain what happened during this time to warrant Holmes Snr popping across the channel.

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