Elementary: 109 “You Do It To Yourself” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week on Elementary, Sherlock proves that having a stinking cold is no obstacle to being the world’s greatest detective, and Watson has an unwelcome and unreliable visit from the past, in a decidedly average episode.
The problem I have with Elementary at the moment is that the Holmes-Watson dynamic is already reasonably well-defined, and the writers should let it develop through the pair of them solving interesting cases together, rather than having character development thrust upon them in a series of bland, uninteresting subplots. In a Sherlock Holmes drama, the case should always be the most important thing, and diverting attention away from less interesting cases with largely meaningless subplots feels like a big mistake on the part of the writers. Unfortunately, “You Do It To Yourself” is firmly in this camp, with a fairly uninteresting central mystery and an even less interesting story on the side, breaking the show’s run of fun, engaging episodes.
The main plot involves a man being shot in both eyes by a masked assailant. Holmes quickly works out, through the magic of the mobile internet, that the victim was a professor of Asian Studies at a local university, and once he visits the campus he works out that the professor was heavily involved in underground gambling in Asian parlours. Upon visiting a few of these parlours, Holmes works out that the last one they arrive in is the crime scene, due to the ‘janitor’, actually the manager in disguise, cleaning a small section of the floor with bleach and spackling the walls to hide the bulletholes.
Thanks to his subscription to ‘various home security catalogues’, Holmes is able to work out that there was a security camera placed where it would have had a clear view of the shooting, and once they have confirmed that the murder took place here, he demands to see the footage from the other camera, placed in the hallway and giving them a clear view of the shooter’s unmasked face. They track him down and find that he was contracted to kill the professor by an anonymous third party, and the hunt is on.
Suspicion immediately falls on the teaching assistant, revealed to be having an affair with the professor’s wife, and then suspicion switches to her, as Holmes believes she left the cell phone she called the shooter on in the assistant’s apartment to frame him. However, she tells Holmes that the professor was not her husband: he brought her back from Asia on the promise of marriage, then forced her into degrading, abusive sexual acts which he recorded. She tries to find the videos, but the professor’s computer has been wiped clean, which leads Holmes to believe something more complex is going on.
Upon researching the professor’s files, he realises that he was suffering from a painful, terminal eye condition and only had a few months to live: Holmes deduces that, having discovered his wife’s affair, he manipulated events to make it appear that the assistant killed him, and then ordered his own assassination. He offers up this theory to Gregson, who says that without evidence the assistant is likely to be convicted.
Luckily, Watson spots that Raul, the shooter, not only lived in the assistant’s neighbourhood, but was also on the sex offenders register: Holmes figures that it’s wouldn’t have been a great leap to persuade a registered sex offender into contract killing. But they also discover that there was another sex offender living much closer to the assistant who would have been a far more likely contender for the role of murderer.
As it turns out, the professor did approach this offender, who got suspicious and set up surveillance equipment in his hallway and lured the professor back to his apartment. He took the bait, and turned up with the hit money: armed with this footage, Holmes is able to prove his theory and thus let the assistant off. However, the professor’s ‘wife’ is likely to be deported, so Gregson allows the two to get married in order to secure a green card for her, in one of the least romantic marriage proposals in television history.
The main plot is fairly twisty, which is all well and good, but the case didn’t interest me nearly as much as those in other episodes, particularly not the last few which I have rated highly. Similarly, the subplot is almost entirely uninteresting, as Watson gets a call to Riker’s Island to help out an ex-client who has started using again and been arrested for a hit and run: unfortunately, he can’t say for definite that he didn’t do it, as he blacked out and doesn’t remember the events of that particular night.
Holmes works out the man’s identity from the details Watson told him (age, time of arrest, gender of supposed victim), and gives her the police report to peruse. She does some deduction of her own and works out that it couldn’t have been her former client due to the severity of the damage to the car and his lack of significant injury. She also works out that a silver keychain she gave him was missing and figures that thieves may have pawned it: she visits some pawnshops and finds the keychain, learning that there had been a spate of carjackings in the area recently, which is apparently enough evidence to get her former client off.
However, it transpires throughout the subplot that he was not, in fact, an ex-client, but an ex-boyfriend. He promises to stop using and that he will check into a rehab clinic, and the episode ends with Watson waiting for him to show up, and Holmes saying that he will wait with her, showing something almost brand new for this incarnation of Sherlock Holmes: empathy.
Two solid, if fairly bland plots combine to make “You Do It To Yourself” a rather unremarkable episode, and I can only hope the midseason finale next episode will be a step up.