Thursday, August 13, 2015

Elementary: Seed Money Review


Every Good Holmes Should Have Some Flowers...

Seed Money is not the first time Elementary has had flowers as part of its story.  It certainly isn't the first time there've been drugs on Elementary.  And certainly a major conglomerate as an evil force is something Elementary has done too.  Therefore, am I saying Seed Money is a bit repetitive of what we've seen before?  Not necessarily.  Certainly things are in a particular pattern, but we get such good work from the cast, some really fun twists, and a great cliffhanger that it makes it all worthwhile.

There are two cases in Seed Money.  The major case involves the murder of Clay Dubrovinsky, a wealthy young man who we discover was working for a Brazilian cartel.  As it happens, his death gets tied into the killing of the Kellys, an old couple who were accidentally poisoned when toxic fumes seeped into their apartment on the first floor (Dubrovinsky having been set afire below them).  The Kelly case was the one Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) was asked to consult on, and Holmes being Holmes, wouldn't do anything until his ex-protégé Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) showed up. 

Their investigation uncovers that Dubrovinksy not only grew pot but also had the Wu Tai Ping Tong, the rarest orchid in the world.  The only WTPT known to exist had been stolen from a flower show, and it had been selling on the black market for years.  They track down a buyer, AgriNex executive Barbara Connolly (Katie Finneran), but she appears to not be the killer, for she still has the WTPT.  Or does she?

They discover that the orchid had been cloned by Dubrovinsky and he'd been selling fakes on the black market for years, Connolly being one of the victims.  When two AgriNex executives are executed the same way Clay was (necklacing: putting a tire on someone then setting it on fire), with a warning in Portuguese, we go back to the idea that this is drug-related.  It is, and it isn't, and Dubrovinsky's murder is tied into all sorts of weird drug/conglomerate shenanigans that leave everyone but Sherlock stunned (Sherlock finding everything rather hilarious).

The minor case is one involving Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond), Holmes' new protégé.  A fellow rape victim support group member asks her to find Tess (Olivia Nikkanen), whose run away again.  She investigates and does find her, as well as the man who raped Tess' mother...who is also her father.  Tess' plan was to use herself as a way to find the man who had raped her mother, but Kitty tells Tess to focus on the fact that her mother did what she could to make a good life for her despite the circumstances and focus on that. 

We end with a cliffhanger, as Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) asks Holmes to come see a crime scene.  The victim has the same bruise marks that Kitty has, and it looks like Kitty's rapist, who had tortured her, is now in New York and has struck again.

Seed Money shows some good and bad about Elementary.  Let's start with the bad, and that is Kitty.  Now, I don't think she's a bad character or that Lovibond is bad in the role.  Far from it: both have been wonderful in the series.  The bad is that she is a bit of an outlier, one who has been relegated slightly to being apart rather than a part of the show.  The dynamic between Holmes/Watson (and Miller/Liu) are so good that I could easily see how Kitty could be written out and have Joan or Sherlock handle the Tess case.

However, I think a large part of this subplot was not so much the case (which while interesting and with a happy ending doesn't take up a lot of time) but to explore the character of Kitty.  We start Seed Money with her at the support group, being vulnerable, which is a great change from when we first met her, so hostile and hard.  At the end, when a tearful Tess spontaneously embraces Kitty, we see how uncomfortable Kitty is, and then see that softening in her that we've seen all these episodes.

Her evolution has been a great thing to see, and Lovibond has done excellent work.

However, we go back to the negative, which is that she is essentially left out of the investigation of the main case.  That is left to the adults.

The various twists in Seed Money were quite interesting: drug cartels meet industrial giant meet jilted lovers.  At least the reason for Dubrovinsky's murder aren't what we at first expected, which was a nice change.

On the good side, we see just how well Miller and Liu work together.  They have a great interplay between them, and they are allowed to have moments of humor.  Liu makes the comment that a picture of the victim, shirtless with a surfing board, looks like "Point Break and Magic Mike had a baby", leaving Holmes slightly irritated.  He more than gets his own when Connolly reveals the company's dealings with a drug cartel.

"Decorum forbids me from showing my emotions during interviews such as this one but I assure you on the inside I am doubled over with laughter", Holmes tells Connolly to the shock of Watson and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill).  When more information is revealed, leaving Holmes to say, "And now Inside Me is soiling himself", Miller's perfectly stoic face makes everything more amusing.  Liu's astonished reaction to this, and Hill's 'I can't believe he's saying this' facial response shows just how well the core group works with the material.

Holmes shows the reason for his disdain with AgriNex has not so much to do with its power but with the fact that it is a source of a 'bee genocide', which as a beekeeper would touch something within him.  At least he has his reasons.

What is really fascinating is that Seed Money is how it plants the seeds for the future (pun intended).  On Sherlock's part, we see that he is working to move away from Watson, telling her he is going to make her a full-time partner.  Watson, for her part, is going to work for an insurance company as an investigator and is closing up her shop.  She insists that she will continue working with the NYPD and with Sherlock/Kitty, a condition of her going with the insurance company. 

I like how Jonny Lee Miller's Holmes constantly tries to be more open, more human, throughout the episode (the "Inside Me" bit notwithstanding).  He is now working to relate to people, and Miller does excellent work.  Same with Liu, who also is working to get away from her own fear of getting swallowed up in Holmes' sphere.  If anything in Elementary works, it's the double-act of Miller & Liu, and it shows what can be done when characters are allowed to be real, not cartoonish.

Wonder if I have something specific in mind when I think on 'cartoonish characters'... 

On the whole, Seed Money does what it does well: present us with a case that takes turns both unexpected and unsurprising, gives us great moments of humor (Sherlock keeping up his odd habit of waking Watson up now takes a turn by having him break into her apartment with a smoothie), and gives us a cliffhanger for a two-part story.     


Next Episode: The Illustrious Client

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