Monday, March 18, 2013

TV Review: Elementary Episode # 18 - Deja Vu All Over Again

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Episode # 18 Deja Vu All Over Again
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes
The episode opens 6 months back as a woman is waiting to board her subway train. She is offered a bouquet of flowers by a hooded stranger. Her joy is short lived as she is soon pushed to her death right in front of the approaching train.

Meanwhile, Joan Watson is dining out with her friends when she receives a call about a possible client. Joan is intrigued with her client’s name – Sherlock.

We move back to the present. Sherlock’s sponsor Alfredo Llamosa (Ato Essandoh) has started teaching Joan “street skills”. In turn, Holmes spends couple of hours with Alfredo for each hour, he “mentors” Joan.

As readers might remember, Holmes had borrowed 2.2 million USD from his father. It is payback time and Holmes has to help a woman who works for his dad’s attorney.

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Rebecca Burrell (Geneva Carr)’s sister Callie Burrell (Roxanna Hope) has been missing for 6 months.  Rebecca believes her brother-in-law, Drew Gardner (Josh Hamilton) forced Callie to make a confession video and then killed her. Callie mentions that she is disturbed with the aforementioned subway death and is thinking of leaving her husband.

Holmes pushes Watson to take this up as her first case. Holmes takes the case of the subway killer, as he had lost an informant in a similar crime.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Episode # 18 Deja Vu All Over Again
Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) takes up her first case as a Consulting Detective
Joan follows Drew around and breaks into his car to investigate the trunk, despite Alfredo’s strong protests. This lands Joan in jail and Holmes bails her out.

Holmes too is hot on the trail of a suspect, Anson Samuels (Jim True-Frost), who used to work with the subway victim, Vivian Tulley (Penny McNamee) and stalked her regularly.

Holmes is certain that these 2 cases are related just as Joan is convinced that Drew murdered his wife.

I will leave it to the readers to discover the solution for themselves.

Canonical References

1. Inside the attorney’s office, Holmes mentions about the glass being made of six inch polycarbonate – Reference to Watson’s listing of Holmes’s skills in A Study in Scarlet: “Knowledge of Chemistry. - Profound”.

2. Holmes’ remark: “There is no aspect more neglected than the art of tracking footsteps” – Direct reference to this statement by the Canonical Holmes from A Study in Scarlet: “There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps.”

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Jon Michael Hall as Detective Bell in CBS Elementary Episode # 18 Deja Vu All Over Again
Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) approaches a fellow violin enthusiast
3. Holmes recognizes the tune being played by a violinist in the subway footage and tells Captain Gregson that he plays violin - Reference to Watson’s listing of Holmes’s skills in A Study in Scarlet: “Plays the violin well.”.

4. Captain Gregson’s comment to Holmes about not noticing him eat on that particular day – The Canonical Holmes is known to skip food when he is working hard on a case.

5. Miller’s Holmes quotes the eminent psychologist, Silvan Solomon Tomkins’ infamous line – “The face is like the penis”. This seeming indifference to Joan’s sensitivity reminded me of the deductions made by Holmes about Watson’s brother from his watch in The Sign of the Four. Yes, it is a bit tenuous connection and I can say it in no better way than to quote Holmes himself from Silver Blaze: “A long shot, Watson; a very long shot!”

This was one of the better episodes. There were a lot of fun moments.

Holmes’ statement: “Fortune favors the bold” was very Sherlockian in nature. His usage of the term “Tube pushers” was a nod to his British nature and a nice touch too. Holmes’ reaction to Joan’s intention to settle with Drew to drop his charges was a fine piece of acting by Miller.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson in CBS Elementary Episode # 18 Deja Vu All Over Again
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson 
I also liked Holmes and Gregson working together while interrogating Drew. This aspect of their relationship is similar to the great chemistry between Basil Rathbone's Holmes and Dennis Hoey's Lestrade.

Homes’ meeting with the imprisoned Joan was a pivotal moment and showed the level of passion with which Joan has taken to her detective work. Joan’s Columbo impression was funny too.

There were a couple of weak points though. Joan approaches Drew and introduces herself as being interested in solving the mystery of his missing wife. She proceeds to ask a number of questions about his personal life. Drew answering personal questions about his missing wife to a stranger (who did not present any official credentials or credentials of any kind) was not a believable sight.

As good as it was to see Joan gain the confidence of being a good detective, the closing scene of her updating her status as a “Consulting Detective” on her social media profile was a bit clich├ęd and induced some unintentional laughs.

Oscar Wilde said in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying - "Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life." This episode reminded me of the subway tragedies in NYC towards the end of 2012.

On the whole, a good episode (by Elementary’s standards). The question is: Can they maintain this quality for the rest of the season?


Holmes refers to Gas Light, a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton. He makes this point during his discussion about “gaslighting”, a psychological form of making a person doubt his/her own sanity and beliefs.

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  1. Definitely a good solid episode. I liked how the it gave just enough information to the audience to figure out the mystery without making it too easy. Lucy Liu really stood out in this episode to me, she is getting better every episode.


  2. We are on different ends of the spectrum on this one I'm afraid. Although her acting was good, I think is was terrible material for Lucy Liu.
    I found it a little tiresome and the least Canonical of many of the episode.
    I agree with your Canonical references however.
    You are ever the good wordsmith.

  3. Love, love, loved this episode. Lucy Liu's Joan Watson has been the strongest part of this series all season long, and this was great to have an episode that focused so strongly on her character and her own storyline/case. Also thought it was so great how they showed her different her life has become in 6 months during that scene when they cut from a flashback to her having a night out w friends and then going to her breaking into a car.

    Last, I thought it was a great choice of music when they used Junip's "Line of Fire" when Emily and Joan are talking on the phone and Emily gives Joan moral support about her decision and career change to being a detective like Sherlock. Bravo all around, best episode of the season.

    1. Yes, the episode did a good job of showing the change in Joan's personal life before and after she became sober companion of Holmes.

      Thanks for the comment.