Saturday, May 18, 2013

TV Review: Elementary Episode # 23 - The Woman

Jonny Lee Miller and Natalie Dormer as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler Moriarty in CBS Elementary Season 1 Finale Episode # 23 The Woman

This review has spoilers. I recommend the readers to skip this review, if they have not watched the episode yet.

As seen at the end of the previous episode "Risk Management", Holmes is reunited with Irene Adler. Holmes takes up full time the task of keeping Irene safe. Joan continues Holmes' consulting with NYPD. Joan's deductions lead the cops to catch a suspect. In the end, it is revealed that Irene Adler is in fact, Moriarty.

Canonical References
  1. Miller' Holmes states: "A man should know when he is beaten" - Dr Watson states about Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia: " the best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman’s wit."
  2. Miller's Holmes remarks about the difference between a PI and a Consulting Detective: "Considerably less clandestine photography of cheating spouses, yeah" - This reminded of the Canonical Sherlock's often repeated disdain for the official force
  3. Holmes seems to be flattered by Irene's appreciation of his "beauty" - This is in contrast to the Canon. Watson states about Holmes in A Study in Scarlet: "I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty."
  4. Miller's Holmes and Irene Adler discussing about forgery in paintings - Holmes states about Professor Moriarty in The Adventure of the Final Problem: "Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts -- forgery cases, robberies, murders -- I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted."
  5. The character of "Mr Stapleton" - Reference to the character from The Hound of the Baskervilles

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  6. Miller's Holmes "bargains" for a date with Irene Adler - This is a direct departure from the Canon - “His aversion to women and his disinclination to form new friendships were both typical of his unemotional character,..” from The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter and “I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson,…” from The Valley of Fear
  7. Miller's Holmes looks very pleased when Irene proposes to spend some together in her apartment and they proceed to have a "sexual marathon". Holmes even tries to repeat that experience with Irene and instead settles for a (romantic) walk in London's tunnels - Watson states about Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia: “…while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books,…”. Watson also mentions about Holmes in The Adventure of the Reigate Puzzle: “but when Holmes understood that the establishment was a bachelor one, and that he would be allowed the fullest freedom, he fell in with my plans  and a week after our return from Lyons we were under the colonel's roof.”
  8. Miller's Holmes mentions about making his own map of London's extensive networks of underground tunnels and catacombs - The Canonical Holmes has an intimate knowledge of London.
  9. Miller's Holmes has had sex with women in London and NY. Knowing Holmes' knack for taking international cases, it is not a stretch to imagine that he has had his fun in other countries too - Interestingly in the Canon, it is Dr Watson who is the Ladies' Man. He mentions in The Sign of the Four: "In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents,..." 
  10. Miller's Holmes refers to his habit of dabbling with narcotics - Reference to the Canonical Holmes' cocaine addiction
  11. M's message made up of cut up words from papers - Beryl Stapleton sent a similarly constructed message to Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  12. Miller's Holmes asking Joan to "dismantle" Moriarty's empire in Holmes' absence, to "expedite" Holmes' return - This is in direct departure from the Canon. In The Adventure of the Final Problem: "This was the organization which I deduced, Watson, and which I devoted my whole energy to exposing and breaking up. "
  13. Moriarty tries to get killed Proctor for his sloppy work and getting nearly caught - Holmes states about Professor Moriarty in The Valley of Fear: In the first place, I may tell you that Moriarty rules with a rod of iron over his people. His discipline is tremendous. There is only one punishment in his code. It is death. Now we might suppose that this murdered man—this Douglas whose approaching fate was known by one of the arch-criminal's subordinates—had in some way betrayed the chief. His punishment followed, and would be known to all—if only to put the fear of death into them.
  14.  Miller's Holmes uses a single stick to defend himself from Proctor - The Canonical Holmes is an expert with single stick.
Jonny Lee Miller and Natalie Dormer as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler Moriarty in CBS Elementary Season 1 Finale Episode # 23 The Woman

Miller's body language and mannerisms (specifically his way of pointing with his finger) are increasingly becoming a distraction. Coupled with the liberties taken (mentioned in the Canonical References section), it is hard to believe that the character he is playing is "the great Sherlock Holmes" (as Irene refers to him in a scene).

Miller's performance as a romantically involved Sherlock is just plain funny. Special mention must be made of the scene in the police station, where Miller's Holmes plays the perfect gentleman and opens the door for the love of his life, Irene Adler. Equally amusing was the scene in the garage ("safe place"), where Miller's Holmes talks about his concern about keeping Irene safe from further pain and danger.

Miller's Holmes not getting suspicious after Irene describes his face as being symmetrical was quite incredible. His plans to leave NY to save Irene's life and leaving it to Joan to take care of Moriarty and his criminal empire is patently unSherlockian.

Lucy Liu and Natalie Dormer fare far better than Miller. 

Lucy Liu is still the best part of Elementary. She comes off as a believable Watson. I would even go further and suggest that she should have been cast as Holmes.

Natalie Dormer gives a good performance as Moriarty posing as Irene Adler. The show has a terrible record of using Canonical characters who disappear after one appearance (anyone remember Miss Hudson from episode # 19 "Snow Angels"). It will be interesting to see how  soon  and how much of Moriarty will be seen in the next season.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in CBS Elementary
The worst part was every time the name "Mr Stapleton" was mentioned. For readers unfamiliar with the original stories, Stapleton is the antagonist in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. If this was done by the writers with the probable intent to impress viewers with their knowledge of the Canon, it only had the opposite effect. Throwing his name around repeatedly (in a completely unrelated story) as a possible agent of Moriarty was quite irksome.

Another puzzling part is how one of Moriarty's agents determined that his employer is a lady. As Holmes states about Moriarty in The Valley of Fear: "The agent may be caught. In that case money is found for his bail or his detence. But the central power which uses the agent is never caught -- never so much as suspected." Dormer's Moriarty herself mentions in the next episode "Heroine" that one of her lieutenants passed off for her as the real Moriarty to hide the truth about her gender.

Recommended only to die-hard fans of the show.

  • The song "Don Giovanni: Overture to Act 1" by Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Barenboim is played in the final scene, when Miller's Holmes discovers that Irene is actually Moriarty in disguise
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Image Source: CBS

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  1. Sounds like you're starting to lose patience a little with Elementary. Chin up - Sherlock series 3 is filming with another series confirmed!!

  2. Yes I agree with your assessment except for the part about Lucy Lui she's not a very good actor at all, all her acting seems like acting. JLM, is usually pretty good but after reading your post I agree he could have definitely played that whole thing better. I really hope things are better next season or it will be cancelled. And with the new BBC's show coming out soon it will be interesting to see how this show fares after that. Why can't they do less episodes and better writing?

    1. Perhaps, I like Lucy Liu's acting better because of even worser acting from the rest of the cast!

      Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat made a very smart move with the structuring of the show. May be, it is the way US shows are scheduled or may be it is the lure of more opportunities to earn more money with more episodes - either way, I do not foresee Elementary having lesser episodes than the standard 20+ episodes per season. But the show can definitely improve the writing....


  3. Yes, I've lost any belief in JLM playing Sherlock at this point... And to think, he seemed so promising...

    1. Agree with you on that point. Lucy Liu, on the other hand, is still good as Joan Watson.


  4. I agree that best part of both episodes was Dormer's performance. At first when she was Irene I was thinking she might be the best Irene yet compared to the other two (BBC and RDJ Sherlock series. As you said, she stole the show and I believe she made for a compelling villain. The whole Moriarty and Sherlock being equals, which is usually a theme in recent adaptations, was definitely given a new spin with their and I think it could make for some interesting stories later on in the series. Discovering that Irene was indeed Moriarty was rather surprising and I had not expected it until that gunman, whose name eludes me, referred to M as "her".


  5. I forgot to ad "relationship" in my first comment: "The whole Moriarty and Sherlock being equals, which is usually a theme in recent adaptations, was definitely given a new spin with their relationship and I think it could make for some interesting stories later on in the series."


    1. Thanks James.

      Right now, Lucy Liu and Natalie Dormer are the best things about Elementary.

      Moriarty was created by Arthur Conan Doyle to be Sherlock's intellectual equal and his archenemy. ACD grew tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories and created the character of Professor Moriarty with the specific purpose of getting Sherlock Holmes killed. Moriarty and Sherlock have always been equals and this has been shown in almost all the adaptations dating back to 1930s/1940s (Arthur Wontner and Basil Rathbone movies).


  6. do you know what is the songs in the flashbacks??anybody?