Elementary: 107 “One Way To Get Off” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Elementary features not only the most brutal crime seen in the season thus far, but also the biggest division of the Holmes-Watson team, with the dynamic duo spending the majority of the episode apart. It proves to be interesting enough viewing, although it lacks some of the spark of previous episodes in the season.
The aforementioned crime opens the episode, as a masked criminal ties pillows to a young couple’s faces with belts, before shooting them both in the head. While there are more shocking crimes out there in the world of television, in comparison to those seen thus far in Elementary, it is relatively alarming in its brutality. However, the depiction of the attack is brief, and is immediately followed by a tense, awkward encounter in the Holmes-Watson household, as Holmes refuses to talk to Watson unless he is directly spoken to first. Watson acknowledges this, and tells Holmes that it is her job as his sober companion to push his boundaries, as she did by asking about Irene at the end of last week’s episode. Holmes responds to this in typically childish fashion, by leaving the house and heading to the crime scene.
At the scene, he immediately draws a connection between these murders and a string of similar murders which happened over ten years ago, known as the ‘Wade Crewes’ murders, even down to the high-heeled shoe taken by the killer as a souvenir. Gregson tells Holmes that it couldn’t be the same man, as he personally caught Wade Crewes, who was subsequently convicted and locked up: Holmes takes this to mean that Gregson’s conviction was incorrect, and the real murderer is still out there. This rubs Gregson the wrong way, as the Wade Crewes conviction was an important one for him as it advanced his career significantly.
Back at the precinct, Holmes is tracked down by Watson, and a rather tense confrontation ensues wherein Holmes tells Watson that unless she stops pushing him about Irene, his attitude towards her will revert back to how it was when they initially met: in other words, cold and indifferent, and only civil towards her until his father stops paying her. He agrees to check in every two hours for a drug test, but otherwise he clearly doesn’t want her around, so she leaves him to it.
Holmes’ investigation leads to the introduction of Gregson’s former partner and a possible suspect who turns out to be guilty of one particularly horrible crime, but not the murders: however, the most important part of the case is Holmes and Gregson’s visit to Wade Crewes in jail. Crewes seems well-mannered and educated, saying that he has learned to control his anger, and reminding Gregson that his conviction was important for Gregson’s career. Holmes once again considers Crewes’ innocence, which visibly upsets Gregson. It’s nice to see some depth being added to Gregson’s character, and the subsequent twists in the tale reveal that, against all the odds, Gregson is the archetypal ‘good cop’, a character often overlooked in police procedurals.
Anyway, after a visit to the home of Crewes’ mistress and a brief meeting with her son, which proves inconclusive, another murder occurs, albeit this time with three victims as opposed to the usual two. Holmes takes some time to look through the Wade Crewes interview tapes, and notices Crewes being given a ceramic coffee mug as opposed to the regular plastic cup interviewees are given, and deduces that this mug was the same one found at one of the original crime scenes, complete with fingerprints which led to Crewes’ conviction. He accuses Gregson of potential corruption, albeit in a far gentler manner than one might have expected from Sherlock Holmes, and Gregson confronts his former partner shortly afterwards, revealing that it was she who planted the evidence.
While I understand why this subplot was included, it never feels as though it is going anywhere: it’s fairly obvious from the moment the evidence-planting twist is introduced that it was Gregson’s partner who got a false conviction, due to the mere fact that she is in the episode. She also gets very little screen time, so it never feels as though it is adding to Gregson’s backstory in any kind of meaningful way. Basically, it all feels a little forced, and I would have preferred a story about Gregson’s past and possible corruption to have been given its own episode, as opposed to being crammed into a corner in the way it is here.
After finding a possible suspect and subsequently realising that he is blind in one eye and couldn’t possibly have made the difficult shots needed to carry out the murders, Holmes realises that it was the person who taught the previously-illiterate Crewes to read who was Crewes’ accomplice. After a brief review of prison library visitors, they realise it was the son of Crewes’ mistress, who also happens to be Crewes’ own son, whom he corrupted and seduced into being his accomplice.
While the logic in this revelation makes sense, it was unfortunately predictable from the point at which Holmes and Gregson run into the son earlier in the episode. I’ve stated in my reviews before that predictability is a death sentence for a police procedural, let alone one based on Sherlock Holmes: while the writers have avoided this in the majority of the episodes so far, this episode shows that it is an ever-present danger in writing a show like Elementary.
During all of this, Watson visits Holmes’ old rehab centre in an attempt to find out more about Irene. Unsurprisingly, it turns out Holmes was unhelpful to every single therapist there, and the only person he opened up to at all was the groundskeeper who shared his interest in beekeeping. The groundskeeper gives Watson a bundle of letters written by Irene Adler, which Watson doesn’t read and gives to Holmes, who destroys them. However, at the end of the episode, Holmes reveals that Irene was a close friend and he didn’t take her ‘passing’ well, although he reveals no more information. Watson’s personal investigation is an interesting enough subplot, although the fact that she actually discovers so little information about Holmes’ past renders it almost entirely redundant, and more than a little disappointing.
A solid episode, although the predictability of the central case and the lack of information in the subplot make it a slightly frustrating one.