Since the last three episodes (“Paint It Black,” “Art in the Blood,” and ” The Grand Experiment”) essentially comprise a three-part finale, I’ll address them all at once. Also, it’s impossible to avoid spoilers, so… spoilers!
I’ve fallen behind as I’ve had to focus on my personal life for a while, but I’ve since caught up on my Elementary watching. I’m actually going to skip this week’s episode, since I feel it’ll tie into next week’s, but I still have four other episodes to catch up on.
Continue reading Elementary 218-221
Episode 216: The One Percent Solution
Lestrade: These two episodes are fortuitously grouped together, as they both showcase G. Lestrade. I talked a fair amount about Lestrade back at the beginning of the season, but there’s more to go into here. (I’ll cluster my comments together for ease.)
His tenacity (such as his stubbornness in tracking down John Bowden and Shawn Menck) is canonical. He’s called a “bulldog” in Hound of the Baskervilles, and “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” showcases both this quality and his foolishness (also showcased in this episode):
“When he arrives he will be met by the obtuse but resolute Lestrade, and I have no doubt that we shall have all our details filled in.”
Interestingly, it is also “The Cardboard Box” in which we first learned that Lestrade’s first name starts with “G.”
But Lestrade does have a strong sense of justice, as we see in both episodes. No matter his failings from Holmes’ perspective, he is always “the best of a bad lot,” and there is a reason why Holmes continues to work with the detective.
Seven-per-cent solution: The title “One Percent Solution” is a play on a famous quote from The Sign of the Four:
“It is cocaine,” he said, “a seven-per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?”
Episode 217: Ears to You
Severed ears: Speaking of “The Cardboard Box,” the setup for this episode is very similar to that story — two human ears are mailed to someone, packed in salt. In the original story, the ears were not matched, however.
Alphonse Bertillon: The French biometrics researcher was not only extremely influential to Victorian criminology, but he was referenced twice in the original canon. The first time was in The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Holmes is considered the “second highest expert in Europe” after Bertillon. In “The Naval Treaty,” Holmes “…expressed his enthusiastic admiration of the French savant”.
Off-Topic: 221b Con!
As a digression, I want to remind readers that I’ll be at 221b Con next weekend! I’m on five panels, and I’ll have copies of Watson is Not an Idiot for sale at the MX Publishing table. That’s a lot of hotlinks, but it’s just because I’m very excited. Last year was a wonderful show, and I’m looking forward to going again! If you go, say hello and mention that you’re a reader of the blog.
This is unfortunately a short post, and these two episodes are, in a lot of ways, two of the weaker ones of this season. The only canon nod I could find was in “Corpse de Ballet,” where Holmes makes a reference to his monograph on tobacco and the value of identifying it (which Watson actually uses).
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about a compare and contrast between Sherlock and Elementary (as well as some thoughts on the new Russian series), but this article at Tor.com touches on a lot of what I’m thinking right now, and touches on some gender politics I hadn’t considered.
Sorry for the delay on these — things have been crazy in my life, but when I had an unexpected snow day at work, I was able to catch up on my Elementary watching. Sadly, there aren’t many canon references in the past two episodes, but there are a few to point out.
Episode 212: The Diabolical Kind
Moriarty: Naturally, the biggest canon reference is to Moriarty herself. I’ve already touched on her previously, but I’m in love with this character.
Clay: In passing, one of the men in the gang is called “Clay.” This could be a reference to “John Clay,” the villain of the story “The Red-Headed League.” Holmes himself called John Clay “the fourth smartest man in London,” and many pastiches consider Clay part of Moriarty’s network. So while this is very likely an explicit canon nod, it’s also a pastiche nod.
Episode 213: All In The Family
Mafia: Believe it or not, the Mafia does make an appearance in the original canon. Sort of. The story “The Red Circle” references a few Italian organizations of the time, and the Red Circle itself is a renaming of the Black Hand (confirmed by a copy of Doyle’s original manuscript, where “Black Hand” is crossed out and “Red Circle” written in its place). At the time, the “Black Hand” was (incorrectly) used to describe both the Mafia and the Camorra, another contemporary criminal organization based around Naples. So, a roundabout reference to the Mafia, but one nonetheless.
Two great episodes, but not many canon references this time around.
Episode 210: Tremors
Not much in this episode — the whole episode revolves around Holmes’ proclivity to take the law into his own hands to fit his personal sense of justice. Sherlock’s speech to Watson about rulebooks is very evocative of comments Holmes has made in the canon, although it wasn’t a direct reference. A good example is in one of my favorite stories, “Charles Augustus Milverton”:
“I suppose that you will admit that the action is morally justifiable, though technically criminal.”
Also like in this episode, canon Holmes has sometimes hurt people in the course of his own investigations. The best example is when he nearly killed Watson in “The Devil’s Foot,” when he exposed them both to a powerful drug.
Episode 211: Internal Audit
Bell’s trauma with his hand is vaguely reminiscent of Watson’s own injury in the canon to his arm and/or leg, first referenced in A Study in Scarlet.
Episode 208: Blood Is Thicker
Two small canon references in this episode.
A corpse falling from a balcony on top of a moving vehicle is very similar to The Bruce-Partington Plans (although in that case, it was a moving train). This is also one of the very few times I’ve seen a plot point shared with Sherlock — Watson solved a similar situation in the episode “The Great Game.”
When Holmes talks about his wants in life, he mentions that all he wants is “a loaf of bread, and a clean collar.” This is the quote from The Hound of the Baskervilles:
I brought Cartwright down with me — you remember the little chap at the express office — and he has seen after my simple wants: a loaf of bread and a clean collar. What does man want more?
Episode 209: On The Line
Like the previous episode, the initial murder set-up is evocative of a canonical story. This time, the idea of a gun being tied to a weight so that the gun is pulled into a river is a key point in the story “Thor Bridge,” as well as the act of committing suicide to frame someone for murder.
Near the end of the episode, Holmes is driven by rage and frustration, and ends up taking justice into his own hands in spite of the police. This is a common theme in many of the Sherlock Holmes stories, from letting suspects go (“The Blue Carbuncle”) to threatening people that did horrible things that aren’t entirely crimes (“A Case of Identity”), although the story that covers that tendency the most is probably “Charles Augustus Milverton.”
While Holmes in the canon doesn’t stoop to falsifying evidence (and, thankfully, doesn’t manage to do so here), he certainly is cavalier about his relationship with the police and the justice system. Similarly, the fear that Holmes could become a criminal has been alluded to in the canon.