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Elementary Season Finale Review: Is Far More Advanced
I love Sherlock Holmes. I’ve loved the character ever since I was a child when my mother gave me the complete work by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I still own that book and another copy on my Ereader. I enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr. Holmes, the amazing BBC Sherlock played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and surprisingly I really liked Elementary with Johnny Lee Miller as our intrepid hero. I enjoyed all three versions of the character as they all focused on different aspects of who Sherlock is. Downey’s Holmes is charming and an excellent fighter, Cumberbatch’s Holmes is far more analytical, and Miller’s Holmes focuses on the character’s addiction and how he never really escaped from it. I just enjoyed all the re-interpretations of the characters that I grew up with so I was eagerly awaiting the new Moriarty, and I was not disappointed.
This review is actually about the two-parter finale as it’s impossible to separate them and get the full picture of what Elementary has accomplished. First up is The Woman the episode that introduces us to the only woman Sherlock may have any respect for, Irene Adler. The original Doyle Adler actually isn’t that major of a character, but her impact on Holmes fans has made her a legend. Elementary’s Irene is different from any other version that we’ve ever seen. She’s not confident, she’s not seductive or wickedly clever. No, Irene Adler is a shattered and fragile version of her former self and her only goal is to get Holmes to leave the country.
Watson takes a backseat during this part only because there is just so much to learn about Holmes and Irene. This episode is about them and their dysfunction and how her “death” lead to Holmes’ initial heroin addiction. Irene is a reflection of Holmes in Elementary; she’s a kindred spirit, not a thief or con woman. Johnny Lee Miller was at his best when facing off against Natalie Dormer’s Irene. You felt his pain and his confusion in the face of temptation, especially when we get to Heroine the finale.
Throughout the show, we know that Moriarty is in town to force a Greek shipping magnate (Arnold Vosloo) to murder a member of Macedonia’s elite to ruin an EU deal because it’s worth a billion dollars. And yes, it’s a little weak in terms of plot, but hey, it’s a billion dollars.
And the case brings Watson and her positive effects on Holmes’ life especially in the face of Irene’s return back into focus. There’s an excellent moment in the case where Holmes is in a lot of pain and he resists stealing Vicodin from a crime scene. When Holmes admits that he only stopped himself because he thought of Watson, it showed that in a way he recognizes the difference of what the two women bring to his life.
The big reveal is that Irene is Moriarty, and so much of the focus was on Holmes and her and how the reveal impacted him that it pushed Watson into the background. And that should be expected, as we’ve learned just how much Holmes cared about Irene and how she used and discarded him when she got bored. Irene only involved herself with Holmes to learn more about him after he stopped some of her plans. Once she outsmarted him, she faked her death, sending Holmes spiraling into addiction.
Watson really stepped up as the season went along, and she’s earned her place by Holmes’ side, but she isn’t a match for either Holmes or Moriarty in the diabolical department. So the challenge was getting her back into the fold, as this season was really about how Watson had to change her entire life for Holmes and they succeeded because the key to catching Moriarty was her.
Yes, this version of Moriarty grafted onto Irene is different, as she’s had a physical and emotional relationship with Holmes that gives her a weakness that the others didn’t have. But it also gave her an advantage, and one that Holmes and Watson used more effectively. She won in the beginning phase by killing people, but in the end she lost because despite herself, she cared. And it wasn’t really Holmes that beat her, but the sidekick Watson. That was the ultimate humiliation.
The Woman/Heroine did something different with two iconic Doyle characters, but I more than welcome the changes. Purists may object to Moriarty and Irene being one person, but those are the same people who might not be fans of a female Watson. Either way, Elementary not only successfully changed two characters, but it separated itself from Holmes’ fiction to stand out on its own for all the right reasons.