Friday, October 18, 2013

CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode # 4 "Poison Pen" - Review

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 4 Poison Pen

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) receives a call from Mistress Felicia (Keesha Sharp), a call girl. Her latest client is found dead in a black bodysuit, right when she is about to provide her services.

Holmes deduces that Titus Delancey (Steve Greenstein), head of APMG Financial Consulting has been poisoned with a overdose of nitroglycerine.

Burt Jefferies (Paul Fitzgerald), head of acquisitions at APMG is interrogated, after Holmes discovers that he bought the bodysuit from a store known as “The Pleasure Parlor”.

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Anne Barker (Laura Benanti), nanny to Titus' children becomes the new suspect, as she herself was once accused of her father's death (also because of nitroglycerine poisoning) way back in the 1990s. Anne's real name is Abigail Spencer and Holmes had taken a strong interest in her case and communicated with her for some time, before she disappeared to start a new life under a new name.

Anne reveals to Holmes that she was recently being followed by someone and gives the license number. NYPD discovers that the number belongs to a detective hired by Titus' wife, Peri Delancey (Noelle Beck) to spy on all women in her husband's life. Peri is intent on getting a divorce and is trying to frame her husband in an affair.

The NYPD is confident that one of these two women are responsible for the murder of Titus. Sherlock thinks otherwise and Joan believes that his feelings for Anne is influencing his investigation.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 4 Poison Pen

I recommend the readers to check out the episode to find out the resolution. 

Canonical References 

1. Miller's Holmes is seen boxing with an unknown opponent in the opening scene and practicing on a punching bag in the closing scenes - In A Study in Scarlet, Dr Watson mentions that Sherlock Holmes “is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman”. In The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, Sherlock Holmes states memorably: “It was a straight left against a slogging ruffian.”. In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes reminds the ex-prize-fighter McMurdo of the three rounds they fought at Alison's rooms on the night of the latter's benefit. McMurdo, in turn, fondly remembers Sherlock's “cross-hit under the jaw”.

2. Miller's Holmes deducing that bourbon was used to hide the odor of nitroglycerine - In Silver Blaze, Sherlock Holmes deduces that curry was the medium used to disguise the taste of powdered opium, used to drug the stable-boy.

3. Elementary Holmes is seen using a bullwhip with considerable ease and precision - This reminded me of Sherlock Holmes' weapon of choice - riding crop. Holmes uses it in a number of cases: A Case of Identity, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Speckled Band and The Six Napoleons.

4. Miller's Holmes talks about following Abigail Spencer case in the 90s, when he was 15 years old - In A Study in Scarlet, Dr Watson mentions about Sherlock Holmes: “Sensational Literature.—Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.”

5. Elementary Sherlock remembering the fact that Abigail wanted to have a Phoenix tattoo from the correspondence they shared years ago - Sherlock Holmes has a strong memory and is well known for remembering even seemingly trivial points.

Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn as Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson and Captain Gregson in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 4 Poison Pen

6. Elementary Holmes' statement: “nothing so mundane as love” - Dr Watson states about Sherlock's attitude towards love in A Scandal in Bohemia: “All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind.”

7. Miller's Holmes agreeing with Joan that Abigail was his first murderer in his career - In the Canon, Sherlock Holmes refers to The Adventure of the Gloria Scott as “the first in which I was ever engaged”. (Credit to John Foster for catching this reference)

8. Miller's Holmes lists a couple of reasons to prove that he knows that truth about Abigail Abigail Spencer and asks: “Shall I go on? I can” - In The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, Sherlock Holmes comments to Dr Watson: “You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right.”

9. Joan observes some scratches near the lock to a table drawer - In The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez, Sherlock Holmes observation of scratches round a keyhole proves significant to solving that case.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in their brownstone in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 4 Poison Pen

Interesting to know that Miller's Holmes reveals that he corresponded with Abigail Spencer under the pseudonym, Sean Holmes and also about his childhood experiences. Sherlock's statement: “If it were not so frustrating, it would be interesting” was a nice touch.

Still, it is Joan Watson who did the crucial deduction that ultimately solved the murder. This has been the trend in most of the recent episodes.

The plot and the episode was definitely more interesting than the previous one. Miller and Liu were solid. Jon Michael Hill and Aidan Quinn continue their token appearances as Captain Thomas Gregson and Detective Marcus Bell respectively.

Laura Benanti and Jonny Lee Miller as Anne Barker Abigail Spencer and Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 2 Episode 4 Poison Pen


The song “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” by Jim James can be heard in the closing scenes, when Miller's Sherlock is practicing his boxing skills on a punching bag. 

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Image Source: CBS 

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks John. I have updated the review and gave you the credits.


    2. I so look forward to your reviews that it is hard for me not to read yours before I write mine. But it is more fun to compare if I wait. So I hold out.
      You had a whole lot of great information to your reviews from a very deep knowledge base.

    3. Thanks John for the compliments. I appreciate them very much.


  2. Sorry for the late comment, I just watched the episode last night.

    My biggest problem with the episode is that the first 10 minutes felt like complete and unnecessary filler because it never came up again. Other than that, I would say this episode had some very good moments, although I found the mystery a little obvious after the son was introduced, but the resolution was satisfying. I do enjoy seeing Watson solving cases and showing her detective skills. Thus far, I have to say that season two is sizably better than the first season, at least in these first few episodes.


    1. Thanks James.

      I agree with your thoughts about the initial scenes, the plot resolution and Season 2 being better than Season 1(so far).