Elementary Review: “A Burden of Blood”

photo credit: cbs.com

photo credit: cbs.com

Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “A Burden of Blood.” 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 I often talk about in my NCISLA reviews, long seasons usually mean there are at least a few filler episodes. Just a side story that doesn’t tie in with any sort of overarching storyline. Fillers aren’t bad, per se, but they’re not always that great either. But happily, “A Burden of Blood” was an interesting story (with both a strange case and a Bell-centered b-story) so ultimately it doesn’t matter that this one doesn’t connect to an overarching plot.

There are some pros to filler episodes. They act as a short breather between the more intense storylines that develop over several episodes. Sometimes this can ruin the tension of a story if not handled properly. Imagine, for example, if an episode had interrupted the conclusion of the Kitty Winter arc last season. The momentum of the story would have been lost and it would have had a lesser impact on the audience. But at this point in season four, a short break from the action is okay. The last we saw of Papa Holmes was him threatening an Interpol agent over dinner for threatening to warn Sherlock of apparently approaching danger. Because the show didn’t immediately follow up on that thread, it actually increases the tension, like a nagging worry at the back of your thoughts, we are left when the story will pick back up (and probably in spectacular fashion)

Another nice thing about filler episodes (and this one is particular) is that it shows us a normal everyday view into the lives of our main characters. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here. It’s just a case to solve with no outside distractions. The characters just exist, and that simple fact makes them feel more real and human, as opposed to a fictional construct for our entertainment. The downside to this is that there’s not a lot of opportunity for character development, but Elementary has always been quite subtle about that. So there are good but brief character moments in this episode at least.

Filler episodes can also be a chance to give a little more spotlight to a side character, and this one was for Bell. We don’t get many b-stories focused on him, so it was a nice change for once. The plot itself wasn’t all that exciting (he wants a promotion to help his mom financially) but it gave him some rare screentime outside of working a case. And it’s always fascinating to see him interact with Sherlock, especially knowing the past drama between them.

Even though “A Burden of Blood” was a standalone episode, it was still quite an entertaining hour of television. A detour from the main plot isn’t bad occasionally and it’ll make the next part of the big arc more interesting whenever we return to it. I’m looking forward to the coming episodes.

Extra Case Files

  • Don’t toy with my Bell/Watson feelings, writers!
  • I didn’t talk much about the case, but I liked all the twists and turns it took. I particularly liked that they solved it by coming back to the original piece of evidence: the recording. The name Nolan seems like such a throwaway detail at the time.
  • Is it just me or has Joan been getting more aggressive and brusque in her investigating methods? It’s an interesting development if it’s intentional, and I wonder how that will come into play later on in the season.
  • Bell had a lot of excellent moments such as his wonderful Sherlock impersonation. But shame on him for wasting almost that entire pizza! LOL
  • Favorite line of the night: “I have to find the right bleach to get blood off of my space suit. Any suggestions?”

So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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