This review is spoiler-free! If you are unsure of whether or not to try out this new show, this review just might be for you.
As someone who has watched Sherlock, I can’t help but compare the two shows. But I’m going to do my best to keep an open mind and remember that Elementary and Sherlock are completely separate entities. So, unlike just about every other review of this show, I’m going to avoid the topic of BBC’s Sherlock.
The show begins with Sherlock Holmes’ first day out of rehab. His new sober companion, Joan Watson meets him at his house to help him make the transition back to the real world as smooth and natural as possible. She is supposed to be staying with him for six weeks, but since a show that only spans six weeks (besides 24) would either be a failure or a mini-series, Watson will clearly stay for longer. She will, no doubt, fall in love with Sherlock’s way of thinking and puzzle-solving and stay on as his sidekick for a long time. I say “fall in love with his way of thinking,” because the creators promised that there will be no chance of the two of them getting together romantically.
We don’t learn too much about Joan Watson in the pilot. We know that she was a surgeon who left her job to become a drug sitter, which is quite unusual for someone who has never had issues with drugs. She is easily intrigued (she quickly caught interest in Sherlock’s way of thinking and the case he was investigating) and fairly quick to anger. Hopefully her personality will expand soon, because right now, she is neither interesting nor relatable.
On the flip side of the coin, we learn quite a bit about Sherlock. He used to be a consultant for Scotland Yard, which gave him the freedom to work as he saw fit and he didn’t have to answer to anyone, which would clearly be a major difficulty for him. As Arthur Conan Doyle intended, Sherlock is hyper observant, he can determine an occupation from the calluses on one’s hands and will notice if the tiniest detail doesn’t add up. But he isn’t afraid to fact check, Google is his friend. He can keep a ridiculous assortment of facts in his head, he’s writing an entire book without writing anything down! Manipulating people comes easily to him, and he doesn’t hesitate to do so in any situation.
One thing about Sherlock’s brilliance that really irked me was that so much of what he deciphers would be impossible, even for a savant to do. He figures out the exact outcome of a baseball game, down to the plays. He would have to know every single statistic about every player on the field and be lucky for that to happen. But sometimes it’s the little things that drive me the most crazy.
Since this is a police (more or less) show on CBS, you should definitely expect a standard procedural with some elements of Doyle’s work. If you are a big fan of either procedurals or Sherlock Holmes (or both!), you should definitely tune in. If you tend to only follow serialized shows, this is not going to be your new favorite show. I have very little doubt that Elementary will become a hit, seeing as crime procedurals are what CBS does best. And if Watson becomes a genuine, loveable character and the writers manage to keep the cases interesting, I think that Elementary has a real shot at being a fun, captivating show.
The episode opens with Castle waking up alone. You can see the dejection on his face when he thinks that his perfect night with Detective Kate Beckett was a dream. But she then walks in, wearing his shirt and holding a mug of coffee. She sits beside him in bed and they look absolutely perfect in the golden glow of the sunrise. If I weren’t so happy to be seeing this scene, I would have probably rolled my eyes at the hackneyed scene. The moment is ruined when Castle hears the front door opening, his mother has arrived from her vacation early. He sends Beckett to hide in the closet while he deals with his intrusive mother and deeply hungover daughter. Castle deals with Alexis as Kate sneaks out the front door. Castle stops by her place to apologize, he isn’t used to the idea of having a real relationship, especially not one with her. But she treats him exactly the same when Ryan shows up unexpectedly. So they agree, unsurprisingly to keep their relationship a secret. How they plan on doing this is beyond me. All of their mutual friends are detectives, and very good ones at that.
Ryan is the only member of the team who still has his job, so he is left to investigate by himself. He, of course, is still going to share any information he unconverd with Castle and Beckett. He may have (As Esposito believes) ratted on them to Gates, but he did it to protect them, not to screw them over. He still cares immensely for them and he knows how important this case is to Kate. Ryan managed to get a hold of a copy of the missing photo from Montgomery’s wedding album (this is news from last season), this is who they believe Maddox is after. And Kate is thrown for a loop when Castle announces that this is who he was secretly meeting with throughout the last year.
Esposito isn’t working with the other three on the case, I’m assuming it is due to his anger at Ryan “betrayal.” Instead, he goes to a friend of his from the army and asks him to hack into the DOD database to get information on Maddox. When he tells Ryan that this isn’t doable, he could lose his job (and be arrested), Espo reminds him that he took a bullet for him. I know that Javi wants to get Maddox desperately, but the fact that he would stoop so low really annoyed me. He has never been by-the-book, not even close to it, but to threaten a friend was far worse than I expected of him.
After hours of searching, Castle and Beckett discover that the man that Castle worked with is named Michael Smith. What an uncommon name… Maddox figured this out before them. Smith was tortured, but he was still alive. As the paramedics wheeled him away, he whispered “86 mmm” to Castle. Castle starts digging through every file he can get his hands on to decipher this code. Beckett tells him that it’s worthless, he’s just grasping at straws. His touching response to this was that as long as there were straws to grasp at, he would grasp at them to save her. And just as they were about to give up, Castle spots a file with an address that begins 86 M. Beckett thanks him, she knows that she never would have gotten this far without him. This kind of blew me away, Beckett has never spoken like this to Castle. Either sleeping with him made it easier for her to express herself, or this was a poorly written line. You pick. And the fact that he found this file was complete blind luck, it was so farfetched that it genuinely detracted from the story.
Maddox followed them to the building, held a gun to their heads, and tied them up. Castle tells Kate “At least we had last night. We should have done that 4 years ago.” And all of the Caskett shippers (me included) felt the desire to throw something at the screen. Yes, they really should have (I’m aware that the show would have sucked if that happened, but just let me have this one, will ya?). Esposito finds the building too (Seriously? By himself?) and unties the two. They catch Maddox before he takes the file out of the safe. Even with two guns pointed at him, he decides to grab the file and make a run for it. He, didn’t know that the safe was rigged to blow. Both Maddox and the file are now forever lost.
When Ryan arrives at Beckett’s house, the three are prepared to attack. When they realize that it’s just him they calm down (besides Esposito, who calls him Judas). He brought the shards of the file that they managed to get. After a couple hours of piecing it together, they realize that Senator William H. Bracken was involved with the dirty cops and the shooting of Kate’s mom.
Since they don’t have any proof and Smith (who lived through the surgery) refuses to testify, Kate decides to take matters into her own hands. During the night, she slips out and we are led to believe that she is going to kill Bracken. This belief is furthered when dramatic music is pounding and there are alternating shots between Kate’s flashbacks and Ryan, Esposito, and Castle running. Rather than killing him, she drops a phone in Bracken’s pocket and convinces him to meet her in the kitchen. She wants the truth, which Bracken insists isn’t something that you often get from a politician. He begins to spew his campaign story, which just angers Kate more. He reminds her that she’s a disgraced cop and he’s a beloved senator, a good guy, people will believe him. And he adds that “It’s not who has the gun, it’s who has the power.”
Kate agrees with that statement, so she lies, telling Bracken that she has the file and she will take it to the public if anything happens to her or her friends. She wants the same deal that he had with Smith (what deal that was is a little unclear). With an evil in her eye that I’ve never seen before, Beckett says “You have no idea what I’m capable of or how far I’ll go.” She hits him with the butt of her gun and walks off to meet Castle.
Gatss, in the first time we hear her say anything kind, says that she admires Kate’s loyalty to Montgomery and that she hopes that maybe one day Kate will feel the same way about her. That seems unlikely. She and Esposito have to serve out the rest of their suspension, but they will be placed back on duty as soon as that ends.
I think that there was far too much going on for a single episode. I’m sure that the writers wanted to capture the audience’s attention in the premiere, but I think that it was just too much. A lot of what Caskett, Ryan, and Espo figured out seemed implausible, but might have been clearer and more realistic if it took longer. This is a frequent issue with procedurals, and I guess Castle shouldn’t be excluded.
I have to say that I’ll miss seeing Tahmoh Penikett (Maddox) playing an incredibly evil character, but it will easily be made up for by Jack Coleman’s portrayal of Senator Bracken. He is an astounding actor, and if you didn’t see that in this week’s episode, you will definitely agree with me within the next few weeks!