Elementary: 115 “A Giant Gun Filled With Drugs” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
It seems more and more difficult for Elementary to get things right: last week the central mystery was solid but the subplot lacking; this week, the central mystery is fairly dull, but the character interactions and the development of Holmes as a character were the high point of the episode. My hope is that some week the show will find the perfect balance of the two, and become the thoroughly enjoyable drama it has the potential to be.
But this week was not that week, and so we must forge ahead: as the episode opens, a young girl is attacked in her house by a shadowy figure and dragged away in a large suitcase. We then see Holmes in a group therapy session, sharing a long-winded story about catching a criminal by identifying a mongoose, and back at the brownstone Watson gets upset with him for not sharing something about his addictions: he claims that he wanted to cheer the other members of the group up, and Watson storms off to her bedroom, but is interrupted by a very naked man, played by the marvellous John Hannah, coming out of their shower.
The man introduces himself as Rhys, a friend of Sherlock’s, and that his daughter Emily was recently kidnapped. As Rhys goes to put clothes on, Sherlock informs Watson that Rhys isn’t exactly a ‘friend’, but his former drug dealer. Watson worries that Rhys is going to be a trigger, but Holmes informs her that Rhys is no longer a drug dealer, and while he may be a trigger of sorts, all it means is that Watson will just have to work a little harder while Holmes is helping Rhys.
It turns out the kidnappers, a group of Dominicans, are targeting Rhys, and want the $2.2 million he stole from them, and subsequently gambled away until there was under $2000 left. Holmes leads the investigation to Emily’s house, and quickly deduces from a small pile of cigarette ash and a trace of a hand-stamp from a Dominican nightclub that leads them to a group of people in said nightclub. This deduction sequence felt a little far-fetched even for a Sherlock Holmes drama, and there seemed to be a lot of contrivances in the clues that were left.
The group of people in the nightclub includes a man whom Holmes follows into the toilet, and ascertains from the age of his tattoos that he is, in fact, a DEA agent undercover in the Dominican drug cartel. While beating Holmes up to maintain his cover, he tells him that the cartel was not involved in the kidnapping, and that he would know about it otherwise.
After reluctantly trawling through Emily’s Twitter feed, Holmes finds an unusual tweet regarding Emily’s stepfather Derek asking her for money. They stake Derek out, during which Rhys tells Holmes that he is impressed at how well he is doing: he believes that Holmes’ deductive powers are like the skills of an artist, and that he needs drugs to make the ‘creative’ part of his skill work better. Holmes is upset at the accusation that he was a better investigator when he was high, but their tense discussion is cut short by Derek heading to a property he used to own with groceries, leading them to believe that he is holding Emily there. Obviously, as this isn’t the end of the show, he isn’t: instead, he’s squatting in the building and didn’t know anything about Emily’s kidnapping.
The kidnapper soon calls Rhys and tells him that he knows the police are involved, but Holmes tells him that they aren’t, and he is a freelancer. The kidnapper nonetheless tells him that he’s shaving six hours off the deadline, and that there is a ‘present’ on the doorstep: that ‘present’ is Emily’s severed finger, which Holmes proceeds to examine. He finds a burn consistent with a specific pre-war radiator and traces of Ethiopian food under the fingernail and tries to cross-reference the two pieces of evidence.
He fails, and Rhys finds him re-watching the ransom video to try and find a clue: he then gives Holmes a small bag of cocaine and tells him that he needs his ‘meds’ to find Emily. Holmes attacks Rhys then storms out as Watson comes downstairs: he calls his father and asks him for a loan of the $2.2 million the kidnapper is demanding. He arranges a drop-off, but tells Rhys that not only is he getting Emily back, but he is buying Rhys out of his life: as soon as this is done, he never wants to see or hear from Rhys again.
Rhys agrees and they arrange a drop-off, however it is quickly revealed that the kidnapper is in fact the DEA agent from earlier in the episode: he is the stereotypical ‘dirty cop’, which was a disappointing resolution to the mystery as it relied so heavily on a cliché.
Anyway, Rhys and Watson subdue the agent, and Rhys gets shot in the process: he survives and is soon reunited with Emily as the police bust the agent with the pre-war building-Ethiopian restaurant connection Holmes made earlier. Altogether, the episode ends with something of a whimper as Holmes agrees to go back to group therapy and tell a story about addiction this time.
As stated earlier, the main plot of this episode is quite dull, featuring a large number of contrivances, coincidences and clichés. However, the episode is vastly improved by the presence of John Hannah as Rhys, a character who is not only engaging by himself but also facilitates something we haven’t really seen up until this point: Holmes dealing with his sordid past face-to-face, and not coming out too well from the experience.