Elementary: 108 “The Long Fuse” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
We’re faced with an interesting episode of Elementary this week, as the focus of the investigation switches between finding a bomb-maker and finding a murderer multiple times. It is a plot trajectory which has the potential to be rather frustrating, but credit should go to Jeffrey Paul King, the writer of the episode, for making it instead into a fast-paced romp with some wonderfully snarky moments from Sherlock.
The main plot opens with a group of young hipsters working at their trendy web design company, generally being dismissive of anyone over 30, when one of them thinks he hears a cell phone going off. They track it to the air vent, at which point we see it’s actually a bomb, which explodes (with some slightly shoddy CGI, but that’s forgivable on a tightly budgeted TV show like this one) and kills two of the hipsters.
Holmes is called in and swiftly deduces that the bomb was not professionally made due to the newspaper used as packing material in its construction, and finds the motherboard from a pager which, judging by the technology in the rest of the office, he works out was likely the detonator. The act of not only spotting these things, but also quickly working out their purpose, is satisfyingly Holmesian, and sets a good precedent for the rest of the episode.
The police manage to trace the number which called the pager and find a man who was attempting to call a Deli whose number was a single digit different from that of the pager. This leads Holmes to work out that the bomb had been there for some time, and using the bomb-making materials he figures out that the bomb was built and placed in 2008.
At this point my review may sound slightly rushed, but it only echoes the breakneck pace the episode moves at. However, the twists which the episode flits back and forth between are interesting enough that the speed the plot proceeds at is not only forgivable, but also thoroughly enjoyable.
Holmes’ discovery leads him to a high-powered PR firm which occupied the offices in 2008, and an eco-terrorist group who had been sending them threatening letters. The police drag in the head of the eco-terrorist group, Edgar Knowles, who eventually admits to five other bombings but denies planting the bomb in the office. Holmes reveals that he found a handwriting sample imprinted on one of the pieces of newspaper used as packing in the bomb, and as it doesn’t match Knowles’ handwriting.
So the hunt is on for a new suspect, and Holmes returns to the PR firm to go peruse their personnel files. This results in one of the best scenes of the show so far: Helen, the head of the PR firm (played by the wonderful Lisa Edelstein, also known as Cuddy from House), begins flirting with Holmes based on their mutual ‘addiction’ to crosswords, evidenced in their earlier meeting. Holmes, as blunt as ever, cuts through her attempted seduction with a matter-of-fact assertion that he would enjoy a purely physical relationship with her, but nothing more than that and not right now. The combination of Holmes’ long-winded explanation of what his intentions would be and some fantastic reaction shots of Helen as her attempts are shot down make this scene a genuinely funny one. She promptly excuses herself and leaves, clearly embarrassed, and Holmes spots his new suspect: one Pradeep Singh, the firm’s regularly-promoted creative director, a man who was documented to have some kind of anger issue with the upper echelons of the firm.
Holmes and Watson go to Singh’s house, where his wife tells them that he disappeared, presumed murdered, soon after his confrontation with his boss. Holmes asks to look in the backyard, but simply uses this as a distraction and looks at a wall in the living room which appears to be bulging and mouldy. Shortly after, he moves outside and tells Watson his findings: he believes that Singh’s body is stored in the wall cavity, as the drywall was replaced more recently than Singh’s wife stated and the decomposition has caused the bulge and the mould. Watson asks is he’s sure about this, to which he replies that he is fairly sure: we then cut to the living room, where Holmes has torn the wall open to reveal a decomposed body wrapped in plastic sheeting.
Holmes quickly decides that Singh was not the bomber, instead being the bomb’s intended target, as the vent the bomb was stored in was situated in his office and he never missed a day of work until he was murdered. The police find a safety deposit key in Singh’s belongings, and they find an old video cassette in the box when they open it: Holmes plays the tape on one of his VCRs and sees that Singh was recording himself having sex with a prostitute, who is none other than Helen several years before she started working at the PR firm.
They bring Helen in, Holmes deduces that Singh was blackmailing her into giving him raises, and when his request got too much she decided to kill him: first with the bomb, then by shooting him, mummifying him and hiding him in the drywall in his own home. She claims that all the evidence they have is a tape and a theory, but Holmes reveals that the imprinted handwriting from the bomb’s packing material matches hers, and was caused by her writing the answer to a crossword.
The investigation this week left me somewhat breathless in its pace, but as I previously stated it was enjoyable enough that its high speed didn’t bother me too much. The central mystery was engaging and there were some lovely moments from Holmes which made it all the more fun.
Similarly I had no problems with the subplot this week, in which Watson attempts to find Holmes a sponsor for when her contract is up: he is initially reluctant, but ultimately chooses a former carjacker named Alfredo, who says that he’s always wanted to be a sponsor but nobody’s ever asked him. At the episode’s close, he turns up at the brownstone with a top-of-the-range sports car, telling Holmes that his experience as a carjacker has given him employment testing car security systems, and he thought Holmes might like to try. Holmes reluctantly agrees, and it seems he has found his new sponsor.
A fun, if somewhat frenetic romp through the world of bomb-making and corporate tensions, with some excellent moments courtesy of Sherlock Holmes and an inoffensive, if not completely engaging subplot.