Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Elementary: Possibility Two Review


Blood Type Holmes Positive...

Possibility Two goes towards shifting more detective work to Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), and while she doesn't tackle the main mystery, it isn't all that important because the mystery itself isn't all that of a mystery.  You have two murders where the killers are unmasked before the final scene, one of which doesn't quite connect to the both the first murder AND the overall crime, and the actual murderer almost popping out of nowhere.  Possibility Two is an Elementary story that finds itself a bit lost within itself, but the subplot and the humor save the episode from not being if anything else, entertaining.

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) in his usual madcap way, has decided to take Dr. Watson under his wing and throw her into solving the crimes presented to her (a recurring line from Holmes to Watson is, "You're the detective, you figure it out").  After Holmes shows both Watson and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) they were wrong at a crime scene (although Watson's skills are improving), they are met by Crabtree (Steven Hauck), chauffeur/attaché to Gerald Lydon (Dennis Boutsikaris), billionaire genius.  He asks Holmes to take his case, which according to Lydon is murder: someone is killing him by giving him a hereditary illness that leads to dementia.  Odd thing is, no one in his family tree has had Hereditary CAA. 

Holmes at first refuses Mr. Lydon's offer (even if he was recommended by a certain Mr. Musgrave from London) and also his offer of a rare bee.  Things take an ugly turn when Gerald shoots Crabtree and Gerald is as confused about this as everyone else.  Now thinking that something is amiss, Holmes takes the case...and the bee.

Holmes and Watson soon zero in on Watts Helix, a major corporation that is involved in gene therapy.  The geneticist Natasha (Jennifer Lin), who has written extensively on the 'warrior' or 'sociopath' gene,  has heard of this rather odd theory, but believes that it is in theory possible.  The fact that Lydon's son Carter (Christopher Sieber) has contacted a Norwegian geneticist about such a possibility raises eyebrows.

As Holmes and Watson start closing in on this lead, Natasha herself is murdered.  One might think her murder was connected to the Lydon case, and it is, but not in the way we think.  The prime suspect in HER murder is Benny Cordero (Albert Jones) whose blood was found at the scene of the crime and who had a grudge against her.  He, however, has an alibi: he was photographing people to potentially blackmail.

Her killer is soon identified as her fiancee Paul (David Furr) who suspected she was having an affair with someone named Lincoln Dunwoody...and who also carried this 'warrior/sociopath' gene.  The name Lincoln Dunwoody is the clue Holmes needs to crack the case, for now he sees that Natasha did know that the CAA was indeed given to two wealthy patrons of the sciences whose last names were Lincoln and Dunwoody.  The killer is finally unmasked, but alas he too is suffering from CAA.  The scheme was simple: infect the two wealthy patrons in order to give motivation to find a cure and thus find a cure for the killer.

In the subplot, Holmes, being rather persnickety about his sweaters, keeps sending Watson to a rather inept Russian laundromat where on every visit she soon starts noticing how odd things are: many cameras, few customers, no idea what to actually charge ($75 for four sweaters, immediately reduced to $20 when Watson protests).  Obviously, there's something rotten in the spin cycle, and Holmes congratulates Watson for figuring out earlier than he thought she would.

It's In the Genes...
Possibility Two I think has very little interest in the actual mystery.  Let's examine two things in Mark Goffman's script, namely, the two murders.  Murder A (Crabtree) is open-and-shut: Lydon admits it.  Murder B (Natasha) is really independent of Murder A since it was Paul's jealousy that made him do it, not anything specific to Lydon's suspicions of genetic poisoning (already a rather bizarre scenario).  Once we get the real killer revealed, I did wonder 'where did HE come from?'

One can't be blamed for finding oneself a little perplexed as to what exactly they are investigating: they go from Lydon's potential poisoning to Crabtree's shooting to Natasha's killing back to genetic poisoning...all within the forty-odd minute running time.  Throw in a rather bizarre premise about faked DNA tests and obscure hereditary diseases and one might think, "Wha..."

However, Possibility Two really to my mind is less about the mystery than it is about the process of deduction, in particular Holmes' eagerness to train Watson in the ways of The Force.  I get the sense that Holmes is like a kid with a new toy, finding in Watson an apprentice whom he could mold into his own image.  The fact that Watson is similarly eager to do this (within limits, she doesn't see why she has to learn the single-stick method of defense) I think shows Elementary is going to attempt to make them more equal in intellect. 

I personally don't see a problem with this only because Watson is usually seen as the dim one (thank you, Nigel Bruce).  I do hope though that this is a temporary fling and that while Watson is shown to be an intelligent person we don't lose sight of the fact that it's Sherlock Holmes who does the heavy lifting. 

I did find myself amused by the subplot, especially seeing how Watson tries to be civil and ration in a situation that calls for neither.  The scenes inside the laundromat are the comic relief to a puzzling scenario and brought in the humor Elementary is fast adopting as a calling card.

By now the two leads are growing in confidence in their interpretations of their roles.  Liu is the capable, more (emotionally) mature of the two, finding a new lease on life solving these various crimes.  Her scenes whenever Holmes cajoles her into putting things together show a mixture of insecurity of being put in these situations but a hesitant but growing confidence in her abilities.  Miller as Holmes is maintaining the intelligence of Sherlock with something that one doesn't associate with the Great Detective: a sense of humor.  Miller's Holmes is manic, sometimes impatient to move things along (a highlight of Possibility Two was when Holmes yells at Bell and Captain Gregson, "You may delay but time will not" in order to get them to stop questioning Cordero).

However, in his scenes with Liu, Miller shows a slightly softer side, one who delights in seeing how much she's grown (but won't admit it out loud).  There's a certain lightness in Miller's Holmes that doesn't make him quite as serious as some of his predecessors but which also doesn't hold Sherlock Holmes up to ridicule. 

The fact that Aidan Quinn's Gregson can give as good as he gets just makes me admire Gregson even more.        

In short, Possibility Two is hampered by an unwieldy crime scenario, but the interworking between the four main characters and the lighter moments save the episode from being just flat-out weird.  Also, seeing a Watson-centered episode (especially given how good Lucy Liu has been in the role) is an added treat.  In terms of the mystery, it was a bit of a bust (no offense, Angus).  However, Possibility Two shows the show indeed is riddled with more than just two.

Girl, You'll Be A Detective Soon


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