Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “Miss Taken.” 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 wasn’t a perfect episode, but it is probably one of the most interesting so far this season. We take a break from the fallout of Sherlock’s relapse and the drama with Papa Holmes to focus on a strange case and devote the b-story to Joan. Both plots in “Miss Taken” work really well together to make a solid episode.
The best thing about this episode is thematic cohesion. Even though Joan’s subplot with her father has nothing to do with the case they’re investigating, both share a common theme: fiction, or to put it more bluntly, lies. Mr. Watson has written a fictional tale based on Sherlock and Joan’s adventures while the impostor Mina weaves lies and spins stories so that she can con the family of the missing girl. It’s fascinating to see how each is treated. The con artist’s lies are obviously terrible as she used her fake story to cover up assaulting a missing girl, pretending to be that girl, and also murdering the investigator via a woodchipper. Mr. Watson’s lie, however, was just a way to get closer to Joan. Both fictional tales serve different purposes. Having a main theme for an episode is a great way for the show to examine a specific topic without bluntly beating the audience over the head with it. Having it in two seperate parts within the same episode makes it easier to subtly compare and contrast.
Another aspect of the episode that worked well was the case itself. This is the kind of strange, quirky case that Sherlock should be investigating. And it’s nice that the whole case doesn’t revolve around the murder victim in the woodchipper. Procedurals often get dull because there are only so many way to make a dead body interesting. But this case focused instead on the impostor. The idea that she posed as the missing daughter is so crazy and unexpected that it keeps the audience riveted, wondering what happened to the real girl and why the FBI guy have to die.
By the end of the episode, Sherlock and Joan have found the real missing Mina and saved the parents from confessing to murder they didn’t commit, but the ending is still a bit ambiguous. There’s not a lot that proves what the con artist did and she’s confident she can lie her way out of it. It’s nice to leave an episode open-ended every now and then just for the realism of it. Not every story, fictional or not, can be wrapped up with a neat bow on top.
Of course, the episode wasn’t without a few flaws. Because of the nature of the case, we had to sit through A LOT of exposition which can be tedious. But there’s not a lot of other ways to explain what’s going on. Because of her time devoted to her father’s story, it felt like Joan didn’t get to do much with the case. And neither did Bell and Gregson. And of course, Sherlock ability to tell when people are lying feels more like a magic superpower here than anything based on deduction and reasoning. Overall, these points don’t ruin the episode, but they could be cleaned up a bit in future episodes to make them stronger. Especially Sherlock’s lie-detector ability which is worrisome. But in general, “Miss Taken” did not disappoint even if it didn’t tie into any ongoing storylines. A standalone episode is nice every now and then.
Extra Case Files
- Raphael Sbarge who played the father was also in this week’s episode of NCISLA. What a weird timing coincidence!
- Speaking of guest stars I recognized, Ally Ioannides, a regular on AMC’s Into the Badlands, portrayed the impostor. I liked her performance here better than the other one because the impostor character is much more interesting and well-developed compared to her ninja one.
- I appreciated the meta joke about there being several fictional version of Sherlock. (Elementary is my favorite version of Sherlock Holmes, by the way)
- I have been enjoying the punny episode titles this season, but at what point does it become annoying?
- My brother ended up watching this episode with me and enjoyed it so much more than the last episode he watched. But then he hated the ambiguous ending while I loved it. What kind of ending do you prefer?
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.