You know what? This show is turning out to be pretty fun. I mean, as much fun as a show can be while it’s about… heinous crimes, and such. I think the reason I liked last night’s episode so much was because it was so SVU. I mean, really. This may be the most SVU episode of a show that isn’t actually Law & Order: SVU I’ve ever seen. The only thing that was missing was my beloved Stabler, but that’s cool because we got Jonny Lee Miller up in this bitch! Oh, yeah. In a vest over a T-shirt.
GOD. But, yeah, this episode was pretty good. And, it wasn’t all because it was about a child murderer. That was a really weird couple of sentences to write.
It’s only been three episodes (wow!), but if these three are any indication, I think I feel the show growing into its own (I hope this wasn’t a fluke), and perhaps the writers are becoming aware of themselves. Last episode (two weeks ago), I was really upset that some of the evidence presented to solve the case was magical, in that it just suddenly appeared. Hello, the doctor’s ring tan? I have this thing about mysteries and suspense movies/TV shows/books: you have to give the audience/reader clues to think about, and time to work things out for themselves. For example, it’s why the book The Da Vinci Code was more enjoyable than the movie The Da Vinci Code (sorry, Tom Hanks. I still love you). If you’re reading or watching a mystery, you like the hunt, the journey, the figuring out of clues, right? At least to some degree. You have to have time. But that’s not really the main issue.
What this comes down to is treating the audience members like they are idiots. DON’T DO IT, SHOWS. Given the time these TV writers have to tell us a complete story, of course we’re not always going to get to see all the details and clues. But if they give us a fighting chance of having that “A-HA!” moment at the end, it makes us feel like we’ve been a part of it. And the last episode of Elementary didn’t do that. The pilot did by showing us that bag of rice (even if we didn’t know what it was for initially). And so did last night’s (in so many ways, but I’ll get to it). And that’s why I liked it so much more. Still following me? Good. Let’s go to the evidence box.
The whole episode is about a serial child kidnapper and murderer that has seemingly struck again by kidnapping a girl from her bedroom. How do they know it’s the same guy? He left his signature behind at the scene of the abduction: a bunch of balloons that presumably say things like “Thank You,” like the ones we saw in the opening scene (a flashback to 2005 when a boy Adam was kiddapped). Can I just say, that as someone who has seen almost every single episode of SVU, and as a serial watcher of many other procedurals, that detail with the balloons – a thank you to the parents of the child he kidnapped – may be the most fucked up thing I have ever seen. I was blown away. Like, that shit messes with my mind. So, kudos to the writers for that. MAN.
But anyway. Holmes is put on the case, and soon he leads them to a van. The cops find it, chase it down, and the driver is… NOT the BalloonMan. But, and I totally saw this coming, it was Adam, the boy from the beginning. Predictably he has Stockholm Syndrome, and when they finally get him to start talking (by letting Holmes, the not-a-cop, talk to him and feed him some crap about being bullied in boarding school), he keeps repeating how he loves the creepy dude who kidnapped him.
Now, I’m no psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but this is fishy to me. By my maths, Adam is 19, and was kidnapped seven years ago. So he was 12. At that age, would he really be fragile enough to be indoctrinated by this man to think of him – sincerely – as his dad? Something doesn’t add up.
Through some more Holmesian deduction, and some persuading of the boy, they’re able to track down the abductor and rescue the girl. Problem is, Holmes, like me, still has his reservations about the boy… until he realizes that HE was the brains of this operation! Too bad he already signed that immunity plea! OH SNAP.
God, okay, there are just so many things right there. First, while the topic of clues is still fresh, let’s talk about why this episode was better at letting the audience sniff at them than the first two episodes. Here are the clues we got to see or hear, even if we didn’t know what they meant, letting us have that “I KNEW IT!” moment:
- The corkscrew and lemon presses in the Castillo kitchen.
- The fact that no one ever mentioned the police finding Adam’s body.
- The cut on Adam’s hand
- The throwaway line where Adam mentions that Samuel comes home every morning and brings him doughnuts.
- Samuel Abbott’s back brace
- The broken window in a furnished room
- The dark brown hair on the pillow
There were probably more. But, that was excellent, writers. There was still a mystery to be solved, and even if the back surgery coinciding with the kidnapping and murder of one of the victims isn’t something we could have known, having seen it, we knew it was important. And THAT is what makes a procedural on TV interesting.
The other interesting thing about the way this episode played out and ended – the bad guy got away. Well, not really, but it was ambiguous. At first, when Holmes confronted Adam in the apartment, and Adam was all, “I’m going to go brush my teeth now, and when I come back, you’ll be gone,” I thought that was the end. That Sherlock Holmes had actually failed to solve the case completely, and I was kind of thrilled. Turns out he does alert the cops, but we don’t ever see Adam arrested. And he does have a point – he was kinapped, he was abused. Sob, sob, sob. Only he and Holmes know the truth, and how can that be proven in court? This psychopath could be out of jail soon, if he goes at all. You are no completely infallible, Holmes. You miss things, you see things too late, you make the wrong decision. He’ll screw something up later in the season, I bet/hope. That would be great character development.
And THAT is what this show needs to be about.
Random Notes/Favorite Quotes
- “For future reference, when I say that I agree with you it means that I’m not listening.”
- “I swear I was wearing a shirt at some point.”
- “If little girls could actually win fights against grown men, then yeah, it would be call for great optimism.” I really enjoy how rude, and…inappropriate Holmes is.
- “No sleep, no food…” “All make Sherlock a dull boy.” Ha.
- I heart Angus the Phrenology Bust.
- “He took care of me. He put a bandage on it.” Too bad he didn’t put a bird on it. Amiright?!
- I love that Holmes actually listens to Watson for once and does the exercises she suggests. And then even admits that he listened to her. AND then even says he might do it again in the future. GROWTH.
- Chuckled a little at The Investor’s Post with its distinctive salmon-colored paper. Or, as you and I in the real world know it, The Financial Times.
- “Twaddle” is my new favorite word.
- As soon as Holmes was all, “I expected a more virile man,” was I the only one who shouted “OMG ADAM IS THE BRAINS BEHIND THIS?!” Just because we can figure this big moments out doesn’t make them less stunning.
- “You occupied the master bedroom because you were the master.” That’s an excellent line. This was almost the title of this post, but I decided to go with the more light-hearted, shirtless JLM one instead.
- “You’re welcome to run. Recently I’ve been working on my core. I could use a workout.” Haha
- “It was only one murder. And Samuel abused me. I’ll be out soon.” What a monster.
- “Adam” — first man, first kidnap victim. I see what you did/may have done there, writers.
So, what did you guys think of the episode? Were you as excited about all the clues as I was? Do you think it’s getting better, or more boring? How much do you love JLM in that vest? Tell me all about it in the comments. I want to hear from you!