Here’s my review of Elementary season four premiere “The Past is Parent.” 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.
With a cliffhanger like Sherlock relapsing at the end of last season, you’d think this might be a dark, introspective episode dealing with the fallout. And it did give us insight into the consequences of what happened, but for the most part, this one was basically business as usual. That’s a good thing because “The Past is Parent” helped preserve the quirky spark of the show while still exploring new territory for our characters.
This was a very jam-packed episode with lots of things happening. There is the question of Sherlock’s pending criminal charges, their working relationship with the NYPD, the criminal who kills himself in front of Sherlock, the missing lady case, the maybe appearance of Papa Holmes, and Sherlock’s recovery from his relapse. But this episode never felt like it was too much to manage or follow. The introduction to the case (the suicide) grabbed the audience’s attention right away. It was shocking but they used that incident to propel Sherlock and Joan into a case instead of making Sherlock delve into some sort of retrospective on life, like other TV shows might do. And the case itself was not dull, since it was a cold case and they had to work a bit differently to figure it out. Compare this with last season’s opener which was a locked room case. Both are not what Elementary usually focuses on, but the change in routine made both stronger episodes.
Between the investigation, there was still plenty of time for character development as well. Sherlock’s is, of course, the most prominent one under the circumstances. We can see how much the relapse and assault have affected him without him ever having to directly say that. His words are more subdued, spoken with a quieter tone. His jokes have a bit of an edge to them. He sounds and acts impatient. It’s fascinating to watch because Sherlock wants to appear casual, back in control, and accepting of his fate. He wants to keep moving like nothing is wrong, like when he’s just recreating crime scenes with his lady friends Minerva and Athena. But he’s definitely feeling the repercussions of his guilt. The subtlety is what keeps the episode interesting and makes the audience want to come back for the next episode to see how things continue to play out, especially now that Papa Holmes is finally on the scene.
The only real disappointment is that there isn’t room for a lot of attention on Joan. She’s relegated to supportive friend/roommate and isn’t given much time for exploring her own reactions, particularly after she learns she’s losing her job as a consultant too. The scene with Bell at the elevator is probably the only time she gets to be a bit more honest. Sherlock’s not around so she doesn’t have to hide her feelings in order to protect him. Of course, she reassures Bell that they’ll still see each other around, so at least she’s staying more positive than Sherlock.
This was a strong season premiere because the writers shook up the usual dynamics again by cutting them off from the NYPD. This has worked well for them in the past, like putting Bell and Sherlock at odds in season two, and breaking apart the Sherlock/Watson partnership and briefly adding Kitty in season three. The most interesting stories come out of these conflicts. I’m curious to see how long the break from the NYPD continues and how they will incorporate Gregson and Bell if it’s permanent. Whatever they do, it seems like we’ve already gotten off to a great start at least.
Extra Case Files
- Joan’s excited hug followed by “I’ll go warm up some celebratory leftovers” was my favorite part. No question.
- I loved the opening part with the cold case recreation. It’s a nice reminder that Sherlock has other friends (acquaintances?) besides the main cast.
- This usually never happens to me but I actually recognized the actor playing the coyote, and therefore, I knew he would be the killer.
- One of Joan’s best moments was threatening Papa Holmes’ secretary dude. I was actually waiting for her to pull out her single stick.
- Sherlock, inquiring about his no-show father: “Did he appear in a black cloud of smoke?” This is totally something that Henry Parrish from Sleepy Hollow probably would have done. Nice to see John Noble has another regular gig now that he’s not playing Ichabod Crane’s vengeful son/bringer of the apocalypse anymore.
- “Benecio del Toro is an actor.”
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.