Elementary Review: “The View from Olympus”

Photo credit: tvequals.com (I couldn't find my usual pic this week)

Photo credit: tvequals.com
(I couldn’t find my usual pic this week)

Here’s my review of Elementary season three episode “The View from Olympus.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

As usual, the character work for an episode of Elementary outweighs the case work. “The View from Olympus” is hardly an exception. One on hand, we’ve got a pretty standard murder case involving blackmail, and on the other hand, we have Sherlock contemplating the subject of having babies and the question of the importance of leaving behind a legacy. The episode provides a fascinating look into Sherlock’s head which also does a lot of work to continue too humanize his character. These sorts of stories are the ones where the writers and the actor, Jonny Lee Miller, always shine.

Let’s begin by talking about Sherlock. Of course. As someone who solves cases for a living, Sherlock is always someone who seems like he’s got everything figured out. As we’ve seen time and time again, Sherlock often digs up the clues and the evidence necessary to make big leaps in their investigations and solve the case. Sherlock is also full of strange quirks, you know, like not hesitating to sniff what looks to be vomit on the pavement for the sake of investigation. Easily, these things could make Sherlock Holmes a larger-than-life character. An almost superhero in plain clothes.

But Sherlock also has flaws to counteract these good qualities. His drug addict past, his abrupt rudeness sometimes when dealing with people, his inability to comprehend love, just to name a few. Some of these things have been well-explored through all three seasons of the show, making Sherlock a character who has the capacity to grow and change and learn from his mistakes.

In this episode, Sherlock is confronted with an offer from his regular Irregular Agatha to provide some… material… necessary to make a baby. Instead of an outright refusal, he takes the episode to wrestle over this idea. He’s not open to saying yes to Agatha but clearly, it’s an offer that continues to stay in his mind during the course of the episode. At first, he throws himself into the case, but as time goes on, he begins to “multi-task” while they are investigating until he even gets to the point where he goes to take care of “personal matters” while Joan follows a lead.

I would argue that it’s Sherlock’s contemplation of the idea that makes him a deep and dynamic character.

Flat characters are people in stories who are never fleshed out. They never get flashbacks to fill in their histories, they never get put into different situations, and they never react differently to anything. They’re shallow and they never change. These kinds of characters are not a good example of real people. Think about it. How many people do you know in real life who never change or never exhibit different sides of their personality? The truth of that matter is that people aren’t like that. We are constantly changing all the time, even if the core of our identity may stay the same. (As a personal example: when I was in middle school, I was fully convinced that I would never be happy working in an office environment, but I work in an office now and function really well there. What you think you know about yourself in one point of your life may not apply at another point.) Sherlock as a character is constantly changing. If you look back at the beginning of season one, he’s definitely different from how he is now. But that change has been slow and organic throughout the entire series, which is great.

Sherlock’s reaction to Agatha’s request seemed very real in my opinion. First, he took to hiding down in Joan’s basement office. Clearly, he didn’t want to say yes, but he also didn’t know how to properly refuse. And he was confused about why Agatha picked him in the first place. It says a lot about how Sherlock sees himself when he says to Joan that he doesn’t know why Agatha would choose “a confirmed misanthrope and a recovering drug addict.” This isn’t a nice thing to say about yourself. Isn’t it sad to see that Sherlock has such a negative view of himself?

Later, Agatha explains that she thinks Sherlock should share his extraordinary gifts with the world. She, like many of Sherlock’s friends, see him in a more positive light. He’s done a lot of good by solving cases. It’s her words that get Sherlock to consider the subject again more deeply. In the end, he comes back to his original conclusion: to say no. But along the way, he’s thought more about himself. That last conversation he has with Agatha is excellent because of how Sherlock exposes his thoughts about himself. “You think I do them because I’m a good person,” he says about the work he does. “I do them because it would hurt too much not too.” During the course of the episode, he’s come to the conclusion that his “gifts” are a curse that he shouldn’t pass on to anyone. Whether that’s the right decision to make doesn’t matter. The acting in that scene is just wonderful as Miller portrays exactly how Sherlock feels.

And then episode ends with Joan, who has always believed in Sherlock’s positive qualities and potential, offering Sherlock ice cream to cheer him up. It’s a great demonstration of their friendship and also a positive sign that Sherlock’s life isn’t as bleak as he makes it out to be.

Extra Case Files

  • I didn’t get a chance to talk about the case in my review, but I thought it wasn’t all that interesting. In the end, it just got too unnecessarily complicated and they basically solved the case off-screen and just explained it as they arrested the guy. That’s no fun to watch.
  • Speaking of things that are no fun to watch: did we really have to see the victim getting hit with the taxi? Couldn’t we have just begun with the crime scene and explained instead? I thought that was a bit more graphic that Elementary usually goes for.
  • Bell got more screen time than usual in the first half of the episode so that was nice! It’s really great when they incorporate him more into the story. I’d like to see him more involved in a b-plot story sometime though. Do you think that’ll ever happen?
  • Sherlock referring to U2’s Bono as “Wailing Goggle Man” was hysterical. I wonder what nicknames he gives to other famous musicians.
  • “Who dresses you, gurl?” I love the subtle acknowledgement from the writers that we all love Lucy Lui’s wardrobe. ❤
  • What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? (if you like ice cream). I’m really fond of Cookie Dough.

So what did you think of the episode? Do you think Sherlock is a well-developed character? Do you agree with the way he sees himself or are you more positive? Feel free the share your thoughts in the comments!

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