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You Do It To Yourself: Elementary Review

By on December 7, 2012

Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) in Elementary. Image © CBS

It is a nod to Jonny Lee Miller’s performance as Sherlock Holmes that when his character catches the flu, the entire tone of the episode feels different. Due to feeling a little under the weather, Holmes is not quite as fervent and energetic as normal. Combining this with the natures of the various dilemmas faced makes for a quieter, thoughtful episode. The usual witty quarreling is lacking in ‘You Do it to Yourself,’ replaced with some refreshing development in the Holmes and Watson relationship. That isn’t to say the show lacks any trace of humour – it has its moments – but the focus being shifted elsewhere makes for a good change of pace. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, there are spoilers ahead.

Initially, Watson valiantly attempts to cure Holmes of his illness by keeping him home from work, but that goes about as well as anyone would expect it to. Holmes abandons his blanket and insists they head off to the latest crime scene, mentioning that boredom is far more dangerous to his health than any fever. The pesky flu hardly impairs the investigator. In fact, he is his own biggest critic throughout the duration of the case. Though his responses may have been a little more biting than they would have in full health, Holmes’s reasoning abilities remain impressive. There are also several opportunities for Watson to lend a helping hand, and it is always great to see them work as a team.

The case revolves around a professor, Trent Annunzio (guest star Richard Topol), who was shot in both eyes at an underground Chinese gambling parlour. As they learn more about the case, it is revealed that Annunzio callously abused his girlfriend, threatening to have her deported if she went to the police. During the investigation, Holmes accidentally uncovers this information, leaving room for the authorities to set up the woman’s deportation. He feels guilty about this, but is later able to correct it.

In the beginning, Holmes works with Detective Bell instead of Captain Gregson. The two of them are clearly not best friends, and it is entertaining to watch them interact. When Holmes makes a bold statement, Bell comments, “I know you’re just waiting for me to ask you why you think that…” he pauses before finishing, “Why do you think that?” When Bell makes a discovery of his own and waits for Holmes to inquire as to how he figured it out, Bell is met with a blank stare. This is another area where the writers shake up the status quo, making it a more engrossing story.

Jon Michael Hill as Detective Bell and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson. Image: © CBS

We learn a little more about Watson’s past when she receives a desperate call from an ex-boyfriend, Liam Danow (guest star Adam Rothenberg). Watson visits the less-than-charming Liam in prison, where he explains that he is being charged with a hit and run. According to him, he doesn’t remember doing it and doesn’t think he should be held responsible. Frustrated that Liam is still abusing drugs, she refuses him when he asks her to put in a good word with her friend at the DA’s office.

Holmes astutely notices that the situation is troubling Watson, and decides to gather some files about Liam’s situation for her. After looking over everything, she does find a way to prove Liam innocent. He apologizes for the way he treated her, but she rightly tells him that she has heard it all before. She offers to call her friend at a rehab facility if he agrees to do it for himself, not for her. Before leaving, she firmly reminds him that she will not be waiting for him.

Based on all the effort Watson puts into helping Liam, it is clear this relationship was one she was seriously invested in. That is why it is significant that she later confides in Holmes, sharing some of the details and heartbreak of the relationship. Watson may be a little nosy when it comes to digging into Holmes’s history, but she is also willing to offer some transparency herself. This admission on Watson’s part does not, thankfully, result in an out-of-character response from Holmes. They do not hug or proceed to have an emotional heart-to-heart.

Instead, in a realistic and lovely example of growth, Holmes comes to sit with Watson at the rehab facility as she anxiously waits for Liam to arrive. He makes an excuse about not wanting to be bored, but when she stresses he can leave if he has somewhere else to be, he murmurs, “Not tonight, Watson. Not tonight.” It is a touching moment.

The comic relief arrives in various forms, such as Holmes taking over the bathroom for studying, and rejecting Watson’s special tea. When Watson gives Holmes the tea, he states that he is British and that whatever Watson gave him is not tea. Her explanation that she put some healing Chinese herbs in it does not seem to thrill him, but he drinks it anyway. Later on, he researches the herbs and requests more tea. This is a tiny, fun example of how Holmes benefits from having Watson in his life.

What did you think of the episode? At first glance, the slower pace may make it seem like a bit of a filler. However, it is nice to have some insight into how far the two characters have come. It is also good to learn about why Watson decided to become a sober companion. I’m sure that next week, once Holmes’s herbal tea has kicked in, we’ll return to the animated and urgent pace we’ve grown accustomed to. Check it out for yourself this Thursday on CBS.

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