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Lies and Revenge in “M”: Elementary Review

By on January 11, 2013

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes. Image: Jeffrey Neira © 2012 CBS

Last week’s Elementary episode may have been a teasing extension of the season’s build-up, but this week’s “M” delivers. We are given answers to many of the questions that fans have been painfully speculating over, as well as some brand new ones to ponder. This is excellent TV because it keeps us guessing and hungry without being stingy. If you haven’t caught the episode yet, there are spoilers ahead.

Holmes and Watson are arguing about the importance of reflecting on Holmes’s progress (he thinks her exit protocols “sound ominous”) when Captain Gregson calls. There is a new case to solve, and it just so happens that Holmes is familiar with this particular madman. The killer (guest star Vinnie Jones), who fancies stringing his victims up before draining them of blood, is nicknamed “M.” Holmes offers the NYPD all of the files he has on M, and acts surprised when Gregson points out that M could be in New York because of Holmes.

This is the first clue that something is wrong. Sharp and always a step ahead, it seems Holmes would have considered that. A second, less blatantly obvious clue occurs when Holmes tells Watson he doesn’t want her helping with the case. His excuse is that he doesn’t want to keep using her as a crutch in the cases, but it seems odd that a man as proud as Holmes would admit any dependency on another person.

It is a little after M breaks into Holmes’s house to leave him a creepy note that Watson starts to get suspicious. Gregson wants to find Holmes and Watson a safe house, but Holmes insists on staying put. When Gregson turns to Watson, she says she goes where Holmes goes. Even though Watson’s loyalty could be passed off as professionalism, the moment is still touching. This show likes to offer us the sentimental bits in brief flashes, which makes every admission of vulnerability that much more delightful.

Watson discovers that Holmes has surveillance cameras when a young man – claiming to be an associate of Holmes – comes knocking. He shows her a picture of M that Holmes gave him. After finding the camera responsible, she also finds several more. As soon as Holmes returns home, an agitated Watson confronts him and demands answers.

Holmes and Watson argue. Image: Jeffrey Neira © CBS

Holmes and Watson argue. Image: Jeffrey Neira © CBS

The truth behind Holmes’s dishonesty is chilling. We learn that M zeroed in on Holmes when he was in London. Watson is horrified to hear that M killed Irene, the mysterious woman from Holmes’s past. Holmes coolly informs Watson that he kept the cameras from the police because he doesn’t want to simply capture M, he wants to torture and murder him. Accurately describing his clarity as “frightening”, Holmes tells Watson not to feel responsible even though she helped him get to this point. When she snaps that this is not a joke, he retorts, “No. This is revenge.”

This is a side of Holmes that the audience has never seen. The fact that he is not acting like a raging, heartsick man is actually more unnerving. A calm and calculated approach to revenge is scarier than an illogical and emotional reaction. This is probably why Watson is so nervous that he may be about to ruin all that they have worked for.

While Watson hurries to tell Gregson, Holmes goes off to capture M. He catches M in the middle of another attack, knocks him unconscious, and they relocate to one of Holmes’s father’s abandoned properties. When M wakes up, he sees that Holmes has laid out a number of disturbing torture tools in preparation. There are bees there, too, but Holmes clarifies that he isn’t going to use the bees just in case M is allergic (wouldn’t want him to have a quick death).

Speaking of torture, it is something along those lines to watch Holmes in this scene. M introduces a big twist in the story by telling Holmes that he did not kill Irene. The man he works for, Moriarty (Sherlock fans will recognize the name), killed her. Naturally this news is devastating to Holmes, who looks near tears as he struggles with the new information. Jonny Lee Miller is at the top of his game with this performance, particularly while delivering the line, “You made me a shambles of a man. Now I’m simply returning the favour.”

Before an angry Gregson, Watson and NYPD team can hunt him down, Holmes brings M (now known as Sebastian Moran) to the police station. Though Holmes stabbed him, Moran agrees to lie and clear Holmes of any blame. Both men are obviously not fond of each other, but can have a mutually beneficial relationship if Holmes is kept free. They both want to find Irene’s real killer, just for different reasons.

Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson. Image: Jeffrey Neira © CBS

Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson. Image: Jeffrey Neira © CBS

Earlier in the episode, Watson abruptly told Holmes that she was “going to miss this,” and that she thought what he did was amazing. At the time, Holmes was silent. But after he fills Watson in on what happened with Moran, she sits next to him and places her hand on his in gesture of comfort. He echoes her earlier words by admitting that he is also “going to miss this”, and that he also thinks what she does is amazing.

Considering the sincerity of that conversation, it is not terribly surprising when Watson calls Holmes’s father asking for an extension. What is surprising is that when he tells her no, she lies about it. Watson tells Holmes that his father has agreed to have her stay on longer. The lie, quite out of character for her, seems to come quickly and naturally.

So now we finally know how Watson and Holmes continue their time together. It is an excellent way to write it. They were not forced into co-operating by external forces, or even by Holmes relapsing. It was a clear choice, one that shows definite development in Watson’s character. Normally she is very by-the-book in her actions, but her desire to remain with Holmes led her to choose a slightly deceitful path.

It is exciting that now Holmes is up against a real villain, one who cannot be dealt with in a single episode. We are seeing more and more layers added to the show, giving it an interesting complexity. The final scene ends with Holmes looking at his wall, where he has placed a single notecard reading “Moriarty.”

A few footy (or soccer) fans may be a bit disturbed to learn that Holmes is not an Arsenal fan, but other than that, what did you think of the episode? Is anyone doubting whether or not Irene is truly dead? It is a bitter pill to swallow that a character of such importance is never going to grace our screens, especially since so far we’ve seen no concrete evidence of her demise. Keep watching Elementary on CBS to find out.


  1. chris hughes

    January 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    All sounds very good.Looking Forward To Elementary Starting Again After The Holidays

  2. Buddy2Blogger

    January 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Great review, Kali.

    This was one of the best episodes so far. I hope they maintain the same quality in the future episodes too.


  3. Steve A. Schiff

    January 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

    I love the TV series! A very interesting twist on the whole Sherlock Holmes story line. And now the introduction of the Big Bad, “Professor” Moriarty, is going to make it even better! I’m really hoping they give this show a second season.

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