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Elementary Review: Airing Out The “Dirty Laundry”

By on January 4, 2013

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes. Image: Tom Concordia © CBS

There comes a point in most TV plot lines where the audience is ready to throw the remote at one – or all – of the characters in question. In “Dirty Laundry,” Elementary’s return from a brief hiatus, the story just about reaches that point. The ever quarrelling (but secretly enthralled with each other) duo continue to dance around the fact that Watson’s time with Holmes is supposedly coming to an end. There is also an unusual case for the team to confront, one that is ripe with opportunities for humorous moments. In several scenes, all Watson can manage in response to Holmes’s comments is a simple stare. If you haven’t caught the episode yet, beware of spoilers ahead.

We begin with Watson complaining about the messy state of the kitchen. Holmes defends his cleanliness – or lack thereof – by claiming that geniuses draw inspiration from chaos. When Watson argues about the importance of structure, Holmes suggests that she is simply unhappy with his success. He also notes that she doesn’t enjoy his successful recovery like she seems to enjoy assisting him in his work.

At this point, Holmes makes her an offer. He says she should take lessons from him after their partnership has ended. When he adds that this would be in exchange for some light housework, it seems possible he is kidding. Later on in the episode, though, it becomes quite evident that he isn’t joking.

They are pulled onto a case concerning a hotel manager, Teri Purcell, who was killed and left in one of the hotel’s washing machines. Charming way to start a chase, isn’t it? Some questioning of the victim’s family reveals no leads, though Watson does establish a line of communication with the daughter, Carly. In a manner so astute you’d think she spent time with Sherlock Holmes, Watson figures out that Carly struggled with an addiction. She gently offers her support to the grieving girl, even giving out her own phone number just in case.

A nosy neighbour hints about a man she thinks the victim was having an affair with. When they locate the suspect, Geoffrey Silver (guest star Jake Weber), Holmes interrogates him in his typically blunt fashion. “Intercourse. Were you and Teri having it?” Holmes inquires abruptly. Unfortunately, the man gives them nothing of use, leading to a slightly grumpy Holmes.

Detective Bell and Holmes discussing the case. Image: Tom Concordia © CBS

Detective Bell and Holmes discussing the case. Image: Tom Concordia © CBS

However, the moody investigator perks up a bit when Detective Bell mentions the hotel’s prostitution problem. Turning down Bell’s offer to help look into it, Holmes tells Watson they should go directly to the source for more information. When Watson looks puzzled, Holmes asks very articulately, “Tell me, have you ever been whore-fishing?”

It is highly entertaining to see the two of them sitting in the hotel lobby, scanning the various women carefully. Watson makes a guess at which woman might be looking to offer her services, so Holmes criticizes her logic. When she calls him misogynistic, his correction is that he is anthropological. His first guess does end up being right, but in fairness to Watson, he’s had more practice.

Watson appears a tad uncomfortable when they approach the woman at the bar. Of course, Holmes doesn’t help matters when he asks the woman how much she would charge to sleep with the two of them. He clarifies that he is just kidding before questioning her. After she tells them the little information she knows, she hands a speechless Watson her card. With a wink and a smile, she says to call her if they ever decide they do want a date (“I think we’d have some fun”). The look on Holmes’s face is nothing short of priceless.

Some other highlights from the case showcase the fun, natural rhythm that Holmes and Watson have with each other. At one point, Holmes thinks he is about to uncover a disturbing, vile video. He warns Watson about the hideous footage he expects to see, suggesting that she not watch. Instead, she drops what she’s doing and walks over to examine it. When the video ends up being two people having coffee and a recorded phone conversation, she dryly comments, “Wow. Yeah, I don’t know how I’m ever going to unsee any of that.”

In another example, Holmes is getting agitated with Captain Gregson because he wants to interrogate a suspect. Gregson explains why Holmes doesn’t have permission to do so, but isn’t getting very far. Watson enters the room and Gregson is immediately relieved, “Good, you’re here. He’s doing his tantrum thing.”

After everything appears to be solved, Holmes walks in on Watson pouring over the evidence. As a side note – he only entered without knocking because he wanted to bring her some spaghetti in a cup, as you do. Flattered at the “lovely homage” to his methodology, Holmes assists Watson in her research. They end up coming to a new conclusion, one that will put away the ‘baddie’ of the episode for potentially the rest of his life.

While this illustrates Watson’s keen eye for detail, the episode also shines a spotlight on her compassion. The victim’s daughter, Carly, receives some warm and touching encouragement after tearfully opening up to Watson. It is obvious that Watson is good what she does.

Image: Tom Concordia © CBS

Watson comforts Carly. Image: Tom Concordia © CBS

At the end of the episode, Holmes circles back to his offer from earlier. In a somewhat rare show of approval, he tells Watson that he is proud of her. Holmes goes so far as to state that she deserves as much credit as he does for solving the case. Watson puts an end to the conversation by admitting that she has accepted a new job. She is set to start it as soon as she wraps up with Holmes.

It is a little heartbreaking to watch Holmes react to that news. Wearing a distant expression, he accepts the news quickly and quietly. Watson asks him if he is okay, and it is curious to note how the playing field has been altered since the two of them met. High-energy and dominant, Holmes tends to accidentally hurt feelings with his statements. He certainly did so in the beginning with Watson. She has come through much stronger, which is more proof that they would now make an excellent crime-solving team. Hint, hint.

Elementary would essentially cease to exist if these two characters parted ways. We know they are going to find some way to stick together, and we’ve been building towards that for quite some time. It will become a little tiresome if they continue to pretend that they are about to separate forever, but it will be worse if they pretend that concept is appealing to either of them. The relationship that the two of them have developed throughout this season has been beautifully, expertly crafted. To fall into a worn and dishonest routine now would be a disservice to that story.

What did you think of the episode, and what do you expect to happen next? Catch Elementary Thursdays on CBS to find out.

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