Murder and Mayhem: Elementary ‘Flight Risk’ Review
Holmes, our self-described “specialist in the field of deductive reasoning,” works on a plane crash case in this Elementary episode, ‘Flight Risk.’ This is a more interesting project than last week’s case, but the character and relationship dynamics taking place around the case prove much more intriguing. Watson stubbornly tries to break through the emotional wall Holmes has built around himself, and finds an unexpected source to help her with that. In the climactic final scene, there is a name drop that fans of the Sherlock Holmes story will recognize. Spoilers ahead!
Initially, Holmes complains to Watson that it has been a slow week. Captain Gregson hasn’t called once, so there hasn’t been much ‘murder and mayhem.’ Soon though, Holmes catches wind of a plane crash. Before they go to investigate, Watson announces that Holmes’s father is in town for business and wants to meet for dinner. Holmes finds this rather bitterly amusing, assuring Watson that his father will not show up.
At the accident scene, Holmes concludes in a very timely manner that the plane crash involved a murder. When a woman on the scene begins naming off possible crash causes, Holmes tells her, “You might want to add wrench-wielding madman to that list.” The case takes Holmes on a journey involving drug smuggling, lawsuits, model glue (that he won’t smell due to orders not to get high), commercial sand sabotage, and a telling pitcher of water. If it sounds like this could get complicated, then it sounds correct. Yet somehow the Elementary writers connect all these dots without having the twists and turns become confusing.
Since Holmes is preoccupied (and certain that his uncaring father will not show up), Watson decides to attend the dinner on her own. It begins quite pleasantly, and the man Watson assumes to be Holmes’s father tells a story about Holmes as a young boy. While playing on a fence that his father had instructed him not to, Holmes fell and badly injured his wrist. Rather than admit that his father was right, Holmes set and bandaged the wrist by himself, and still has a scar there. Watson seems to be enjoying gaining some insight into her companion until she is asked “how the sex is” with Holmes.
At this point we have to conclude either that Holmes has a bit of a perverted father, or that the man having dinner with Watson is not who he says he is. It turns out Holmes asked the man, Allistair (played by Roger Rees), to pretend to be his father as a prank. That is how confident he was that his father would cancel on the dinner date. Unsurprisingly, Watson does not take kindly to the joke, especially when Holmes mentions that he deserves some credit for coming up with such an idea.
This leads to a frustrated Watson telling Holmes that she does not trust him, because he will not share personal details with her. She feels that they are still basically strangers. The scene is tense, but Holmes does not want to be at odds with Watson. This is clearly demonstrated when she awakes, startled, to find him sitting next to her bed. That girl’s going to develop nerves of steel living with Holmes. He shares with her that she was right when she earlier guessed he had a little fixation with plane crashes. He explains that he notices too much to be comfortable, such as whether or not the pilot seems nervous or the mechanic unhappy. This is not enough for Watson, though, so the conversation ends with a somewhat incredulous Holmes asking, “You want more?”
Yes, she does. The persistent Watson acts on her thirst for knowledge by tracking down Allistair at the bookstore he works at. The two have an amiable conversation, as it turns out Allistair has a sharp grasp on how to be friends with Holmes. Watson learns some details about a time nine months earlier, when Holmes showed up at Allistair’s very high. Describing Holmes’s mind as so ‘addled’ that he could barely stay conscious, Allistair paints a troubling picture of a part of Holmes’s past. He also notes that Holmes repeated one name over and over again, and somewhat reluctantly tells Watson what that name was. Roger Rees does a great job playing Allistair, who seems to truly want the best for Holmes. Before Watson leaves, Allistair gives her the following advice: “You can’t expect Sherlock Holmes to relate to you the way others might. The moment you do he’ll migrate out of your life and you’ll be the poorer for it.”
When Watson returns home from her research, Holmes is in a pretty chipper mood thanks to closing his case. With a little trepidation in her tone, Watson says she has a question about his past. Sarcastic as ever, Holmes says that is excellent, but asks her to wait until he is upstairs in his bedroom before she speaks. He is about to go upstairs when she announces that she knows about Irene. It is a heavy scene, as the expression on Holmes’s face makes it clear he is surprised and, sadly, upset.
For those unfamiliar with the Sherlock Holmes series, Irene Adler is a significant character who is generally considered a romantic interest for Holmes. It was interesting that Allistair chose to describe Holmes’s mind as being ‘addled’ earlier in the episode – that is a specific and unique word choice to employ. This might hint at Irene being a major factor in that dark period of Holmes’s past. For now, we can only speculate as to what role Irene will play in this version of Sherlock Holmes. So far the twists on the classic story have all been fantastic.
We’ll also have to wait to see what kind of fallout occurs after Watson went behind Holmes’s back to get that name. She is in a sympathetic position, as clearly she is fascinated by Holmes and wants to help him. However, he did not volunteer the information, and could quite possibly be angry at the invasion of his privacy.
Was Watson out of line? What did you think of the episode?
Tune in Thursdays on CBS for your weekly Elementary fix.