Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “Alma Matters.” 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.
I don’t really know anything about acting techniques, so I feel like I can never comment on acting in my reviews. But I really feel like Jonny Lee Miller’s performance was the key to this episode. The writing was solid, as usual, but the acting really brought it to life. “Alma Matters” was a subtle look at Sherlock’s feelings about his father once again, driving the storyline further in an interesting way.
After simmering in the background for the past few episodes, the knowledge of an assassination attempt on Papa Holmes puts the father-son relationship back into focus. And this revelation throws everything for a loop and crumbles the tentative truce the two have. When he’s not investigating the case, Sherlock is throwing accusations and snide remarks to his father. Of course, Morland never seems to let Sherlock get under his skin. Sherlock’s attitude is almost like a child throwing a temper tantrum and Morland responds by treating him as such, dismissively never giving in to it. It’s a good character study for Sherlock since we know the past few years of his life have pushed him towards the attitude that making amends is good. But when Sherlock learns that there’s more to the puzzle than he first thought, he immediately wants to cut ties again. By the end of the episode, Sherlock has had time to calm down a bit and get more information, so he decides to find the assassin himself.
That decision is an almost unexpected turn considering how angry he was previously. From the beginning to the end, Sherlock slowly struggles and comes to terms with the situation. But as I said earlier, it’s Miller’s performance that really makes the episode work. He plays Sherlock with an angrier and pettier vibe than we’ve seen before. It even carries over to the case concerning the for-profit college. His confrontations with the CEO become more brusque and angry as they continue. He is downright furious by the time he makes his powerpoint presentation of exposition. He’s disgusted by criminals all the time, but he’s not even trying to hide it when it all culminates in the boardroom. It’s an example of how the matter concerning his father has shaken him up. Miller didn’t have to play the boardroom scene so angry, but it works a whole lot better because he did.
There are little moments that flesh out his feelings as well. Several nonverbal actions, such as his statuesque stance when he first confronts Papa Holmes to the facial expression he makes when he’s dumping all his father’s honey down the sink. Each detail makes everything feel more real.
I think it’s good that this father-son conflict has been slow and drawn out over the season so far. The overarching plot adds some focus to a show where the procedural aspect can easily become dull. This episode moved it forward the most so far, leaving the audience curious about what will happen next.
Extra Case Files
- Bell again got some good screentime and his solo investigation of the family was a good way to show his own skills.
- On the other hand, Gregson’s appearances feel like cameos these days.
- For me, the case was not all that interesting this time. Not unusual enough.
- The honey scene might be my favorite thing so far this season.
- Are you ever jealous of how well John Noble enunciates? Be honest.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.