Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “Murder Ex Machina.” 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.
Unlike most Elementary episodes, “Murder Ex Machina” didn’t have any sort of subplot meant to develop Sherlock’s, Joan’s, or even Bell’s character. That’s a little disappointing because this show always has very strong character work, so without it, things feel a tiny bit incomplete. But on the bright side, this case was absolutely enthralling to me with all its twists and turns. I can forgive the lack of character stuff as long as there is a fascinating case to investigate.
I believe the thing that makes the case better than usual is not the subject matter—a hit on a Russian billionaire isn’t all that exciting at first. It’s the incorporation of different characters to keep the story more dynamic. With a case that involves hacking, it would have been simple for the writers to use Everyone again as a source for Sherlock and Joan. They never have to interact with Everyone in person. But instead, they go to Mason for help. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him, but it’s good to have a familiar face around. He also adds some fun to the episode with his casual attitude and offhand comments.
Along with Mason, it seemed like Bell got to participate onscreen more than he usually does. He’s a regular cast member, so he really should be present like this more often. Bell also makes it easier for them to split up the work, like when he and Sherlock investigate the strip club together while Joan takes care of other things. I hope as things continue, he will continue to play a large role in their investigations. His perspective as a police officer as opposed to Sherlock and Joan’s perspectives is a good addition to the story.
Maybe there are some people out there who easily guessed who the murderer was and maybe his motive. But I will admit that I did not. Instead I was enthralled by the mystery and all the twists it took to get there. As the audience, we were able to get a taste of sneaky tech company tactics, the shady side of port unions, secret government deals, and the nasty practice of war profiteering. The look at so many different possibilities was fascinating for me. Plus, Fiona the neuroatypical programmer was a nice new character who has the potential to become one of Sherlock’s Irregulars like Mason in the future. Perhaps it was procedural predictability that the case circled back to the character we met early on in the episode, but with so many twists and misdirections along the way, I had completely forgotten about him. Personally, I would enjoy seeing more cases presented like this in the future.
The last thing that made “Murder Ex Machina” great was the ending. We’ve had hints and snippets of a storyline with Papa Holmes all season, and the reveal that someone has attempted to kill him before is exciting. It seems like they are finally pulling those threads together to make an interesting overarching story. When the episode ends, I’m left already wanting to watch next week’s episode. And that’s exactly what any episode of good television should do.
Extra Case Files
- I enjoyed that Joan was going to watch a mafia movie, The Godfather, for her night in, and then it felt like part of the episode was a part of a mafia movie itself.
- How would you feel about having a tortoise hibernating in your fridge? Be honest.
- One of my favorite parts might have been Bell asking “Is any of this legal?” about Mason’s work.
- This episode made me feel like I never want to buy a car that can drive itself.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.