Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Elementary: Deja Vu All Over Again Review


Holmes and Flower Show...

For some time we've gotten the sense that in Elementary, the relationship between Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) would shift from partners in detection to mentor/apprentice.  Good thing or bad I leave to each viewer.  For myself, I'm not sold on the idea that it will be a road they will be travelling long on.  I keep thinking this is a whim of an overly-eager Holmes to find someone he can totally mold into his hero...himself.  For her part, Watson appears equally eager to be a consulting detective in her own right.  Deja Vu All Over Again is her debut case of sorts (she still turns to Holmes and isn't on her own) but we also see Watson coming into her own with a case that takes fascinating turns that I think pretty much hold up.

We have a flashback to six months ago, when a woman is handed a bouquet of roses by a stranger on a subway platform, then shortly after is pushed onto an oncoming subway by same said stranger.  Meanwhile, Joan is hanging out with old friends when she's contacted about her latest client.  She accepts, but does ask what kind of name is Sherlock. 

Move forward to now: Holmes is not pleased that his father has called upon him to help a lawyer under Holmes, Sr.'s employ.  However, Holmes gets a surprise: it isn't for his lawyer, but the lawyer's assistant Rebecca (Geneva Carr).  She is concerned about her sister Callie (Roxanna Hope), who has gone missing.  Rebecca suspects her brother-in-law Drew (Josh Hamilton) has killed her, but there's no proof of anything except for a farewell tape Callie left and the disappearance of a family trunk.  In the tape, Callie mentions something about the "woman with the roses" falling off the platform as being some kind of trigger to get her to leave.

Holmes decides this will be the perfect case to throw Watson in, although she still has misgivings.  Holmes decides to also take up the investigation of who pushed Vivian Tully (Penny McNamee) off the platform six months prior.  Watson's first step is to interview Drew himself, who denies knowing anything about his wife's disappearance.  Watson, however, is convinced Drew killed her and stuffed her body in the missing trunk.  Holmes anonymously sends a "we know what you did"-style message to Drew in hopes of drawing him out, but nothing doing.

Watson is so convinced Drew did it that when she and Alfredo (Ato Essandoh), Holmes' sponsor/ex-car thief, find Drew does indeed have the trunk, she dares to break into Drew's car.  We find the trunk...empty. 

Holmes, meanwhile, deduces that to avoid the cameras the pusher must have cased the joint.  While he finds someone who was stalking Vivian he has the oddest alibi: he videotaped the crime.  On that videotape we find a street violin player who witnessed the crime who abruptly stops before the pusher strikes.  A little investigating leads Holmes and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) to Thaddeus, our Joshua Bell-knockoff (and I'd venture, a better violinist than Bell, but I digress).  Thaddeus says the killer might recognize him due to his attempt at pickpocketing, especially since he recognized the jacket.

The jacket had a distinctive patch, which Watson recognizes in a picture of Callie.  Still, tying the subway pushing to Callie's disappearance is nearly impossible...unless...the case is solved.  Holmes and Watson find the killer (thrilling Joan) and Emily (Susan Pourfar), Watson's friend and a reporter, tells her while she is still concerned for Joan's new endeavour she was wrong to have staged an 'intervention' of her own.

Deja Vu All Over Again is on the whole a delightful episode: smart, with some good twists and some great moments of humor.  In fact, the episode is both a clever mystery and almost a comedy.  Brian Rodenbeck's script has a great moment of comedy between Miller and Aidan Quinn's Captain Gregson while examining the tape.  Holmes observes that the violin player abruptly stops just before Vivian is pushed.  He can even recognize the piece being played by the fingering, telling Gregson he plays the violin, adding if Gregson didn't know that.  Gregson remarks that up till now, he didn't know Holmes ate food.  When inquiring about the violinist, Gregson asks about the violinist playing "Panini's...Whatever" had to do with the crime.  How Miller and Quinn work together so well is one of the highlights of Deja Vu All Over Again and Elementary in general.

Miller in particular has been elevating Holmes into a figure who is manic and remarkably light, almost amusing without being ridiculous.  When Watson tells Holmes she'll do her best Colombo impersonation on her first case, Miller's reaction is terribly funny without being idiotic.  His expression can either read that he doesn't get the reference or is not amused by it.  Miller's stiff manner and blank expression makes the whole thing humorous without making our lead look genuinely crazy.

As this is Watson's first 'case', Liu just shines as the growing junior detective.  Her performance shows amusement in the discovery of the killer along with something Holmes rarely if ever shows: vulnerability.  Her scene with Miller when she expresses a fear that if HE had opened the trunk the body would have been there shows that despite her intelligence and hard work Watson still has moments of doubt and insecurity in her new job.  At one point Drew offers to drop charges against Watson in exchange for an apology.  Holmes is dismissive of such an offer and says Watson should dismiss it off hand, but Watson almost snaps, "I'm not like you," to him.  Elementary will continue to play with their interplay and it will make for interesting watching.

In terms of the mystery one thing that is great is that the two stories eventually dive into each other and in a way that shows that is on the whole both logical and clever.  One thing that perhaps didn't quite work was the secondary suspect of Vivian's stalker.  What are the odds that he A.) would have videotape the crime, B.) not submitted it anonymously to help find the killer, and C.) hold on to it.  Granted, it was needed to find the witness who led to the killer, but it all seems a little too convinient. 

However, when Watson suggests that in this case, B led to A, I had come up with that conclusion myself though hadn't fit exactly how. 

Finally, it is good to see Alfredo back (especially in how he helps Holmes and Watson solve the crime and in showing that Holmes' addiction recovery will not be forgotten).  I also think that putting in some of Watson's pre-Holmes lives with friends were integrated into the story.  The 'intervention' among them over Watson was odd but logical, and we hope to see more of Emily (given she's a reporter, I don't see any difficulty integrating her into future stories).

Deja Vu All Over Again moved fast, moved logically (mostly...the videotape deal didn't quite work, one might have thought someone using their cell phones would have been better than the stalker deal) and allowed great teamwork between Miller and Liu (who especially shines in a leading role).   At least this season, for myself, the bloom has not faded from Elementary.

You don't bring me flowers anymore...

Next Story: Snow Angels

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