Recap and review of Elementary – Season 1 Episode 7 – One Way To Get Off
Elementary steps up to the plate with one of its strongest episodes of the season, which finds several characters confronting their pasts in significant ways. “One Way To Get Off” fleshes out the relationships between Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) while also adding further nuance to the Holmes/Watson connection. The case this week also expounds upon this theme, and is particularly fruitful in binding all the disparate elements of the narrative into one cohesive whole. When taken together, these plot threads come together to make for one of the best episodes so far, and a clear example of why CBS has so much faith in the show (at least enough faith to give it the coveted post-Super Bowl slot). The episode works in how it broadens the themes of the series while also deepening its ensemble by focusing, in part, on the underdeveloped Captain Gregson, and introducing his crooked ex-partner.
The case this week involves a serial killer named Wade Crewes (Keith Szarabajka), who was put in prison by Gregson over a decade ago, when the latter was still a police detective alongside his partner, Terry D’Amico (Callie Thorne). When a series of murders pop up with Wade’s M.O., it leads Gregson to revisit the case, as well as the possibility that he may have gotten the wrong man. The plot allows us to investigate the relationship Holmes has with Gregson, one of the few people in the world Holmes would consider a friend. Repeatedly throughout the episode, Holmes makes reference to his deep respect for Gregson, and in one particular scene, Holmes notes how much it pains him to have to question his friend’s morality. By referencing Wade’s interrogation video and comparing images of his coffee mug with the one found at the scene of the crime a decade earlier, Holmes has discovered that someone has framed Crewes. Gregson vehemently denies it was him, and then goes to confront his ex-partner, Terry, who cops to planting the evidence in order to keep a bad guy from getting off on a technicality. Gregson is understandably appalled, and resolves to reveal this miscarriage of justice to the world, even if it means the end of his career. But Holmes is making headway in the case, and it might turn out that Gregson might have gotten the right person after all.
The other big arc of the episode springboards off of the Irene Adler reveal at the end of last week’s episode. Holmes is giving Watson (Lucy Liu) the silent treatment for snooping around in his private life, going behind his back and asking Allistair about Irene. Watson can’t get Holmes to talk about who Irene is, or what his relationship was to her, so she travels to Hemdale, the rehabilitation facility where Holmes resided. Though she gets no answers from Sherlock’s doctor, she makes progress through Edison (Stephen Henderson), the groundskeeper of the facility, who offers her a sheaf of correspondence with Irene that Sherlock left behind. Watson gives Sherlock the letters, but the tempestuous Holmes sticks them in the blender. Watson finally gives up and promises not to bring up Irene again unless he broaches the subject himself.
Their quarrel somewhat resolved, they get back on the investigation and discover that Crewes had a son out of wedlock with a woman who’s now deceased. They find the young man, named Sean, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s revealed that Sean has been committing the murders, having discovered Crewes was his father and acting, through Crewes, as an agent meant to create reasonable doubt in order to ensure Crewes’s release. It’s doubtless Crewes ever cared about his son, and though Sean is a cold-blooded murderer, there’s a greater sense of pathos there, the desire for a connection to the devious father he never knew. Sean could never understand where his father was coming from unless he assumed the role of his father more directly. The young man confronted his past in much the same way Sherlock is forced to confront his, and Gregson as well. Though there is darkness in that kind of introspection, it’s hard to imagine that anybody wouldn’t be better off for having taken the time to reconcile their emotional baggage.
Holmes, in particular, shows progress by episode’s end. As Watson is about to retire to bed, Holmes reveals the story of Irene Adler, though it’s necessarily terse and sparse on details: they were very close, she died, and he took the loss very hard. The end. But for Sherlock, that’s progress. He’s a man who’s guarded almost as a matter of necessity, as if there’s something darker in his nature that he’s trying to keep from getting out. This is often part of the depiction of Holmes across many of the different adaptations of the character over the years, and even in many of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Whether that portrayal will carry over to Elementary is a hard thing to know for certain, since Irene is dead in this continuity. Whether Holmes is lying, or if he simply doesn’t know she’s still alive, there has to be more to this story than meets the eye. If Irene actually is dead, then this represents a significant, and fascinating break with the Sherlock Holmes mythos. I can’t wait to see which direction they decide to take it, as Holmes is already irreducibly complex as is, without introducing a dark, brooding love in his past, a woman every bit his equal, and capable of throwing him off in a way no one else has, or ever could.