Here’s my review of Elementary season three episode “One Watson, One Holmes.” 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.
This episode was a more light-hearted one following last week’s somewhat heavier topic. It was nice to return to a fun and slightly weird case, and episode with Everyone tend to be good ones. The focus of this one was more on the case than on Joan’s b-story, but I liked how they were thematically tied together. Identity and duality are the main topics in “One Watson, One Holmes” and I enjoyed the way this episode explored them.
It was a good choice to bring the “hacktivist” group Everyone back. Everyone is a shadowy, faceless collective which adds a fun mysterious tone to their character. You can’t put a face to Everyone like you can other regular guest stars like Alfredo and Ms. Hudson. Having a faceless collective character like Everyone can seem a little cartoony in a show that generally strives for realism, but honestly that’s just how life is now that we have the internet. Anyone can assume whatever identity they want and you can easily interact with people and never know their faces.
But the writers have chosen in this episode to pull back the curtain and show a few faces from Everyone. And the reason they get revealed is because of the “civil war” going on within the group. It’s a good reminder that Everyone is not some all-powerful collective but just a group of people who are really good with computers. The case looks at the importance of names and faces when it comes to identity.
How important is your name? How important is your face? How important are these things in determining who you are? All the people in Everyone have usernames like “Sucking Chest Wound” and “Species” and “Munkey verses Shark.” When Petros first appears at the beginning of the episode, he introduces himself as “Sucking Chest Wound.” No one knows his real name, Petros, until they manage to track him down and arrest him as a suspect. The same goes for all the other Everyone members. When they try to find “Tessee,” Joan subtly takes pictures of all the people she meets with in the restaurant so she’ll know their faces. Without anyone’s name and face, they can’t track or prove anything.
And as they continue investigating, they figure out that “Species” was actually two different people. But the most important part of this discovery was that it wasn’t made by figuring out what their real names were or how they looked, but by analyzing their online patterns. Yes that’s right, Sherlock figured out it was two different people by how many times they used the enter key! Take from that what you will about the importance of recognition by name and face.
The question about identities carries over to Joan’s storyline in which she doesn’t want to hang out with her friends. The connection isn’t obvious until Sherlock gives his big speech on friendship, reminding Joan that her identity should stay separate from his lest she pick up some of his more unfortunate qualities. He doesn’t want there to be “two Holmes” because he values the importance of the “one Watson.” We can interpret this as an exploration of the idea that part of your identity is influenced by your friends. But I would say that the weakness of this episode comes from not focusing enough time on this plot. (This episode was packed with a lot of stuff, mostly case-related) Joan’s sudden grief about Andrew’s death again after a few episodes without it seems a little bit off. As is sometimes too often the case, Joan’s storylines are relegated to the sidelines more than Sherlock’s are. I hope that’ll change in the future.
So in the end, we have an episode with a solid case (that really only begins to have problems when the FBI pop in) and an interesting meditation on the subject of identity for the audience to think about. Overall, it was a nice, enjoyable episode.
Extra Case Notes
- While I thought the friendship speech was a little too on-the-nose, I appreciated what Sherlock was saying. That’s an excellent definition of friendship. And I like the effort to portray Watson as an equal partner, not a sidekick. They are two separate people with their own case-solving set of skills. Just one Watson and just one Holmes. (Although can you imagine two Holmes? They would probably get annoyed with each other easily. Can you imagine a bunch of Sherlock clones just battling each other in a single stick tournament or something?)
- Instead of complaining about the lack of Bell this week (because he got to deliver the best line ever this episode), I’ll complain about the lack of Gregson. Even though he got in an excellent line this time too.
- I wished they’d used the Japanese swords more as a visual metaphor to emphasis their point, but I guess that might have been too obvious.
- I really liked that this was an episode where the arrest was shown on the news instead of the usual scene where Sherlock and Joan deliver a lot of exposition while the criminal gets put in handcuffs. It’s nice to mix it up every now and then.
- The callbacks in this episode were excellent! “His wallpaper is a picture of you… wearing a dress?” Bell says, very confused. I absolutely love the reference to Everyone making Sherlock wear a dress from all the way back to their first appearance. (But WHYYYY will they not show us the actual picture?!?!) And also, it’s easy to miss but “Goatwhore” was listed under the “music Clyde likes” category. Goatwhore, of course, was the name of the death metal band mentioned in the earlier episode “Bella.” And lastly, it was nice to see Joan’s friend first introduced in season one (whose name I never remember) as one of the people hanging out for the bachelorette party. It’s a tiny details but I like that she makes random appearances sometimes. Hooray for continuity!
- I loved the visual of the papers taped up all over the house while they researched. It’s a small detail that makes the investigation seem much more real. They ran out of room, so they expanded. The directors of Elementary always do a stellar job in the visual department.
So what did you think of the episode? What did you think about the idea of identity? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!