Friday, January 4, 2013

Elementary: The Long Fuse Review


Blasted Holmes

The Long Fuse, Elementary's eighth episode, has something new and different: it was a crime that was never meant to be.  This is one of the twists in The Long Fuse that makes it a good story, but which has a method of discovery that relies a bit too much on chance to make it fully work.

Our recovering addict Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) simply does not want a Sponsor now that his Sober Companion Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is coming to the end of her tenure with him.  In fact, one would think given how he doth protest too much Holmes can do it all himself.  However, his personal issues disappear briefly when there is a crime to investigate.  A bomb has gone off at a web design company, killing two and injuring 11.

Why and who would target this company?  At first things look extremely puzzling, until Holmes comes upon a painfully obvious clue that people see but do not observe: the bomb's trigger was a pager.  Now, why would one use such an antiquated device to set off a bomb?  Answer: they WOULDN'T.  Moreover, with shards of newspaper from 2008 point to a twist: the bomb was simply not meant for the web designers.  It was intended to go off four years ago.  The bomb only went off when someone accidentally dialed the wrong number, thus triggering the device.

Thus we search for the previous tenants: a public relations group headed by Heather Vanowen (Lisa Edelstein).  As it so happened, they had been targeted by an environmentalist group: the Earth Liberty Militia (ELM...which seems a riff of the Earth Liberation Front or ELF).  GIven the turns of phrases in the threatening letters Holmes and Watson soon find the sender of said letters/suspect, one Edgar Knowes (John Pankow).  While he's the author of those letters, he isn't the bomb maker.

Now Holmes suspects that this was an inside job from someone at the Vanowen Firm, but who and why?  The main suspect now is an ex-employee who has disappeared: Pradeep Singh (Vedant Gokahle).  Still, there is something off: the bomb, had it gone off in 2008, would have blown up Singh's own office.  Holmes deduces that rather than being the bomber, Singh was the target.  However, Singh still is missing, but not for long.  At his wife's house he notices the pictures are a bit off and there is mold on the wall.  Mrs. Singh doesn't notice anything being particularly amiss but Holmes discovers the late Mr. Singh within the house.

A little extra detection (along with a VHS tape) unmask the killer.

While Jeffrey Paul King's screenplay was clever in many ways, The Long Fuse has one fatal flaw: the element of coincidence.  It is both vital to the resolution of the case but to my mind shockingly convenient that Singh had secretly recorded a tryst with someone before he started at the public relations firm to which to blackmail said ex-hooker.  I think this would have worked better IF there had been an affair DURING their employment AND then the video was made as a form of insurance.  Unless Singh had some form of collection the 'sex-tape' angle in The Long Fuse seems almost curiously more 2012 than 2008. 

It is at this point where The Long Fuse stumbles.  Up to then everything in the story was adding up and giving us those twists we love in CBS procedurals.  While making the killer's motive be to cover up the past is a good idea, I never could shake the idea that it would be an extraordinary coincidence that the killer's past would be videotaped by a future employee.  Possible, but highly coincidental, far too coincidental for my tastes.

However, on the whole while this part of The Long Fuse doesn't hurt the story overall, it does push it down to what could have been something better.  Fortunately, the domestic aspects of The Long Fuse offset the slight stumble on the crime.

The interplay between Miller and Liu makes them a formidable team, and Ato Essandoh as Alfredo, the ex-thief who may or may not be Holmes' sponsor gives a great performance.  He shows that behind the tough exterior is someone who understands Holmes as much as he is able to given there's been little interaction between the two.  Alfredo not only knows addiction but figures that like Holmes, he finds the intellectual challenge of being able to pick locks more interesting than actually taking things.  Here's hoping Alfredo will become a Baker Street Irregular.

Edelstein and Miller also have a wonderful rapport when the former flirts with the latter.  Vanowen comes across as a woman who wouldn't mind having a romp with our hunky hero, and it's to Miller's credit that we've already established that his straightforward manner will come across as shocking but perfectly within his character.

The Long Fuse has strong moments of character development (Holmes' perhaps suppressed need for Watson despite his protests) and a strong mystery that holds up until the end.  Minus that, The Long Fuse manages to keep our interest and gives a lift to Elementary's premiere season.   

Let's go to the tape...


Next Story: You Do It To Yourself

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