Saturday, March 1, 2014

CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode # 16 "The One Percent Solution" – Review

Sean Pertwee guest stars as Gareth Lestrade with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 16 The One Percent Solution

The opening scenes offer a quick recap of the first episode of Season 2: “Step Nine. As readers might remember, we were introduced to Gareth Lestrade (Sean Pertwee) in that episode.

Back to the present - Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) brings two fighting cocks, Romulus and Remus to his brownstone with the intention of rehabilitating them. Joan (Lucy Liu) is not happy with this particular idea of Sherlock.

Sherlock and Joan are summoned by Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) to solve a bombing in a restaurant. Some VIPs were present at the time of the bombing. One of them has been killed and a junior employee has been left badly injured.

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Lestrade is also on the case as a result of the influence wielded by his current employer, Richard Balsille (Bill Irwin). Gareth has also brought Miss Truepenny (Sarah Goldberg), his assistant along for the investigation.

Aurelius, a serial bomber becomes the prime suspect for NYPD. Holmes however thinks otherwise.

I recommend the viewers to check out the episode to find out the resolution to the mystery.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in a blue dress in NY brownstone in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 16 The One Percent Solution

Canonical References

1. The episode title: The One Percent Solution  - In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes refers to the famous “seven-per-cent solution” of cocaine.

2. In his DOUG Chat, Gareth Lestrade states: Like any art form, the science of deduction and analysis requires years of arduous study. You see, one lifetime is not enough to master it. No, no try several. So where does one start? Well, if you want my advice. start straightaway with a simple problem...” - Sherlock Holmes writes in “The Book of Life”, a magazine article in A Study in Scarlet: “Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the enquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems.”

3. Gareth Lestade's visiting card reads: When you have eliminated the impossible” - Sherlock Holmes states to Dr John Watson in The Sign of the Four: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 16 The One Percent Solution

Yet another boring episode. Nothing much to write about the acting of the principal or the supporting cast. In other words: business as usual.

The one notable point is that Sean Pertwee has become another casualty of the weak writing. It is a pity that the characterization of Gareth Lestrade has let such a great actor down.

Sarah Goldberg is completely wasted as Miss Truepenny. All she has to do is dress up well and crack jokes that unfortunately fail to tickle the funny bone. 

Guest stars Sarah Goldberg as Miss Truepenny with Sean Pertwee as Gareth Lestrade in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 16 The One Percent Solution


Sherlock and Joan have set the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter as the ringtone for Gareth Lestrade's calls.

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  1. This episode of Elementary was one of the better mysteries in an episode in a while for the series. I would not say that it was fantastic by any means, but not bad. The series has still kind of reached a plateau in terms of quality during season two. It is consistently decent and watchable, but rarely great. I believe I have said that before, but the series has changed much in terms of quality since the last time I said this. Good review and rundown of the references as always!


    1. James,

      If you observe closely, there is a pattern to the way the mysteries are resolved in Elementary. It is mostly (if not always), the character who is introduced briefly and then disappears. In the end, this character will turn out to be the killer/culprit.

      This episode was no different.

      I do respect your opinion and thoughts. To each his own.

      Thanks again for stopping by.


  2. I don't think you and I watched the same episode. I was highly impressed w/One-Percent Solution, thinking it clever, with good twists and an amusing parallel between the cocks and Sherlock/Lestrade. On the whole I think this episode worked well, and though Pertwee did a good job as Lestrade.

    Clearly the gap between us on Elementary (and Sherlock) is growing, but in regards to this adaptation we will have to agree to disagree & celebrate that ACD's work is undergoing a popular resurgence.

    1. As I replied to James above, there is a simple pattern to the resolution of mysteries in the CBS show. It is most often (if not always), the character who is introduced briefly and then disappears. In the end, this character will turn out to be the killer/culprit.

      I think that the show will be better off, if the lead (and other) characters stop sharing the names of iconic literary characters. This only leads to comparisons with the source material. Such comparisons definitely do not do Elementary any favors.

      Case in point: Gareth Lestrade. This Lestrade is nothing like the Canonical version. Of course, this might not matter to some viewers. I personally am very fond of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and hence do not find Sean Pertwee's version likeable. Not a reflection on Pertwee though - A fine actor, he is just doing the job given to him. I place the blame on the writers.

      ACD's work is definitely back in popular culture. It is debatable as to which adaptation(s) deserve credit for this.


  3. I think it's divided between prominent guest stars and disappearing minor characters. It doesn't help when you have over 30 episodes of one kind of crime to discern the patterns.

    People who are enjoying the show are enjoying the drama with the mysteries as a backdrop. The character relationships are the star of this show, not the super heroic prowess of a deducting savant, the premise has been has been done to death over the course of a century.

    The canonical characters may have been distorted, even caricatured, but it is happening to characters existing over a period of time. What may seem like an exaggeration at a critical moment may be less of an anomaly if it is averaged as part of a larger history for that character. On the Elementary, the characters have low points and high points. They grow stronger. They stumble get hurt. They learn. They aren't always at the their peak for every show like a career of a athlete. It is something they constantly work towards. The peak for anyone can be a fleeting thing and it needs constant maintenance to stay in condition. One of things I like on Elementary is seeing Sherlock continually studying and honing his skills, doing research and practicing his skills. Which helps sell the premise that he can be so knowledgeable and skillful about so many things. It's more convincing than the portrayal of an apathetic brooding jerk who gets bored to the point of shooting up his apartment yet never seems to be doing any studying/reading on a regular basis. The single occasion with him whipping a cadaver and his collecting ghoulish body parts doesn't really show his studious side or how he could be so knowledgeable about current technology.

    1. As the saying goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

      Thanks for stopping by.


    2. For me, Lestrade is played very Canonically.
      Thanks for the discussion.

    3. Correct me if I am wrong, but is not Lestrade described as being dapper (The Adventure of the Cardboard Box) as well as being assured and jaunty (A Study in Scarlet). Of course to begin with, he is a Scotland Yard Inspector throughout the Canon.

      In Elementary, Gareth Lestrade is a disgraced former Scotland Yard Inspector, who is currently a “consulting detective” working in the US. He was drunk, slovenly and lacking in self-control in the first episode: “Step Nine”.

      Quite different from the Canonical version, in my humble opinion.


      PS: It seems the CBS show writers are determined to make as many characters into Consulting Detectives as possible. First it was Joan Watson and now Lestrade.

    4. I forgot to add: Gareth “Lestrade” is the pimp for his boss. A bit hard to square with the likeable and the most famous of all Scotland Yard officials in the Canon.


    5. I think the Elementary Lestrade went through all the characteristics you described. In the beginning he was assured and jaunty. While dealing with the victim in the hospital he was rather dapper (and dressed as such).
      I think his bit as a consulting detective was a way of still riding Sherlock's coat tails.
      Once again, sure this is not a perfect show, but at least tonight give us (many of us) something to enjoy for a change.

    6. I have to agree about no adaptation of Sherlock Holmes being perfect. But I do think some strive for excellence and are made by people with passion for the source material. Personally speaking, I find such adaptations enjoyable.

      Again, as the saying goes: “To each his own”.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Although I usually agree with you, most of the time, we are pretty far apart on this one, for I found this one of the best episode's yet.
    But I do still love your reviews. Once again, thanks.

  5. Hey Buddy.
    I must agree with you - being a Canon fan, I believe that while Elementary is a good enough show, it really shouldn't be considered a Sherlockian adaptation. Sometimes caricaturing and modernising can be taken too far; the results aren't usually in the spirit of the canon. I believe, in my personal opinion, that BBC's Sherlock is the winner here - fewer episodes, yes, but definitely with an elegance and loyalty which reflects Doyle's work.

    1. Thanks Reena.

      As you rightly put, Elementary might pass off as a regular TV crime drama, but fails miserably as an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective. And yes, the spirit of the Canon has been lost, amidst all the so called “humanizing” and other changes done by the show writers.

      I wish the show writers would just change the character names. But I guess that would defeat the purpose of the show in the first place - to exploit the current hot streak enjoyed by Sherlock Holmes in pop culture. Fans of the show need to remember that Elementary was originally meant to be remake of BBC Sherlock.


    2. I have some idea of the heartbreak you might be feeling when something goes off canon. I am a Star Trek original series fan and all its descendants reject the original show's canon. So I am in this fuzzy world where I accept Next Generation and its spinoffs, the movies, the reboot as alternate realities of Trek with physics and history unique to their respective universes. Elementary at least doesn't replace the ACD universe. I think it is as faithful as most movie adaptations of novels. It's actually trying to echo the source material rather than run away from it. Some adaptations hate its source material. "Starship Troopers" movie mocks the novel it is based on. I still sting at "Mission Impossible" movie complete betrayal of the original characters. My head still spins at what happened in the Star Trek reboot. I accept Elementary as being as though all the characters were reincarnated into our time period and they are re-living their lives in this new world. I see the character names' purpose is to flag who is who for the audience in this reincarnation.

    3. Thanks zenzmurfy.

      Considering that you are such a big fan of Elementary, it was very thoughtful of you to leave this comment.

      I still have to respectfully disagree with some of your opinions about the CBS show. All of your comments are very appropriate to BBC Sherlock.

      Sherlock doesn't replace the ACD universe. It is as faithful as most adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes Canon. It is actually trying to echo the source material rather than run away from it. I accept Sherlock as being as though all the characters were reincarnated into our time period and they are re-living their lives in this new world.

      As for the CBS show, I honestly do not think that the writers have much of respect or love for the source material. I do agree that the character names' purpose is to flag who is who for the audience, as the show characters do not have much in common with their Canonical counterparts.

      My humble suggestion would be to read Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and novels first and then watch the adaptations. That is the best way to objectively judge an adaptation based on any source material. Doing the reverse invariably tends to bias one's judgment.

      As Sherlock Holmes himself said in A Scandal in Bohemia: “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

      Thanks once again for stopping by and the discussion.


  6. What is important in either of the series, the BBC adaptation or the CBS one, is the acting, the cast, the tone, the humour and the surprise element. I'm sure, ACD would have appreciated the very multi cultural, very modern insights such as the 3D printer producing a home made gun and the hunter/hunted, both sides of the same coin relationship between Sherlock and Irene Adler. So, in the end it's the very ingenious spirit of ACD which is being celebrated in Elementary rather than reproducing the original writing all over again.

    1. I agree about the importance of all the factors you have listed to the success of any Sherlock Holmes adaptation.

      As you probably are aware, ACD was never a big fan of his own Sherlock Holmes related work. He desperately wanted recognition and applause for his other work (including poems, non-fiction work etc..). I am not sure he would care about CBS Elementary or BBC Sherlock or any other adaptation for that matter.

      It has always been the fans of ACD's work who have been passionate about Sherlock Holmes. As far as ACD was concerned, he only looked at the Holmes stories/novels as a source of income and NOT as a literary work to be proud of.

      I personally do not find the spirit of the Sherlock Holmes Canon being reflected in the CBS show, either in the characters or the actors or the tone or the mysteries. Even as a modern day pastiche, Elementary is not my cup of tea.

      Of course, that is just my personal opinion and do not expect others to agree with me.

      As the saying goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

      Thanks for stopping by.