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Holmes Unravels in “Risk Management”: Elementary Review

By on May 10, 2013

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in Elementary. Image © CBS

If everyone has finished raising their jaws from the floor, let’s discuss Elementary’s “Risk Management”. A rise in the excitement level as a season draws to a close is something to be expected, but the writers of this show have gone above and beyond. Everything about Elementary is done with such a gripping, detailed focus that it is truly a treat to watch. This episode could have ended a season, so whatever they have in store for the two-hour finale next week is sure to be thrilling.

The case – courtesy of Moriarty – is not terribly gripping, but that’s likely because we’re waiting for it to lead to Moriarty or some other big reveal. It does offer some thought-provoking parallels between the killer and Holmes, because the killer was murdering for revenge. Throughout their conversations, Holmes wonders if the man feels better after avenging his loved one’s death. That topic is rather close to his heart these days.

It is clear that Holmes is unraveling as his frustrations and anger threaten to get the best of him. We can see that he is excessively jittery and quirky, which is a testament to Jonny Lee Miller’s acting. Taking a character who is always a little on edge and making him appear to dance closer to it is no simple task. He also, later on in the episode, reveals a vulnerability that is staggeringly haunting.

The ever stylish Watson (seriously, she always looks good!) continues to come into her own. Gregson tries to persuade her to leave Holmes and take another sober companion job, which would be a big step backwards. While Gregson’s heart is certainly in the right place, Watson is not too pleased to be singled out. It might be rational for Watson to take a step back from Holmes, but she is far too invested to do so. Just like Holmes is too close to the Moriarty puzzle in order to be completely clearheaded, Watson is too close to Holmes to judge her situation objectively.

Holmes and Watson share a very touching scene when Watson wonders if he is afraid of Moriarty. She also points out that there’s more than one way Moriarty could hurt Holmes, and the implication is obvious. Eager to reassure her, Holmes promises that he will never let Moriarty harm her.

There are some typical Elementary-style giggles throughout the episode. Watson can always count on Holmes to rudely awaken her and then chirp, “Oh good, you’re awake.” At one point, Holmes plans to meet with a suspect alone. Before he leaves he says to Watson, “For what it’s worth, he’s not bringing his wife either.” Aw.

Image © CBS

Image © CBS

For the first time, after Watson tentatively inquires, we get to hear a little bit about the elusive Irene Adler. There has been – and will continue to be – speculation as to whether or not she is alive. Holmes says that it is difficult to describe Irene, and then proceeds to describe her exquisitely: “She was, to me, the woman, to mean she eclipsed and predominated the whole of her gender.” There are compliments and then there are lines like that. Maybe we’ll just sit on that one for a while and forget that he follows it up with: “And the sex!”

Classical music, an abandoned (beautiful) house and plenty of suspense make the last part of the episode breathtakingly good. Unable to keep Watson from joining him, Holmes leads the way into the house that Moriarty sent him to. The place looks essentially empty, and waiting for something to pop out or be stumbled upon is brutal. When they open a door to reveal a room full of gorgeous paintings, we remember that Irene was a successful painter and the horror of what might be coming surfaces. I found myself getting very worked up about Moriarty, afraid for whatever pain Holmes was about to suffer in the room of paintings.

Lower lip trembling and barely able to stand, Holmes points to a beautiful blonde woman and breathes, “Irene”. Is she a hallucination? Considering that the woman didn’t seem to hear them come in or talk until he loudly says her name – maybe. Seeing all of Irene’s paintings could have triggered that kind of emotional response from him, and Watson gave no sign that she saw a woman there. Or is Irene really there, alive and presumably well in NYC?

Share your thoughts on that whirlwind of an episode! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to rewind that last scene a couple of times. You’ll also be waiting on pins and needles for the finale, airing May 16 on CBS.

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