Elementary Review: “A Study in Charlotte”

photo credit: @Elementary_CBS

photo credit: @Elementary_CBS

Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “A Study in Charlotte.” 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.

Every now and then, it’s nice to take a step back and take a breather to relax. This is true in story writing as well as life. If a story is particularly dark or heavy, oftentimes there will be a part where the characters have a more lighthearted adventure. For Elementary, this adventure is “A Study in Charlotte.” Again, we take a break from the weightier story of Morland Holmes and also Sherlock’s quietly angry recovery from relapse which has been simmering all season long. This episode was the exact kind of fun and quirky that this show does best. While the mystery might not have been the show’s finest, it was strengthened by the investigation part.

The murder investigation begins, not by Gregson or Bell calling them in on something, but simply by Sherlock intruding when he heard it on his police scanner. That’s a great scene because it shows Sherlock interacting with different people than usual. He’s really sassy in this scene, putting himself in a sort of time out chair in the corner because they didn’t want him there. When a character interacts with the same people all the time, it can start to get stale. But this solo scene, however brief, gives us another side of Sherlock to watch and wonder about.

As the investigation goes on, we are treated to the usual twists and turns of a case and it predictably circles back to the first suspect. But for different reasons, of course. But watching Sherlock and Joan investigate was entertaining, such as when Sherlock breaks into Charlotte’s apartment because “I smell mushrooms” while Joan reminds him that the cab driver is still there, or when they discuss Charlotte’s tattoos of former flames and Sherlock imagines a Moriarty tattoo. Instead of the frustrated Sherlock we’ve seen all season, we get a more lighthearted one, who just focuses on the case. Without the overarching storyline, the stakes feel lower, but it’s okay to take a break like this before the story resumes.

The b-plot is also a lot of inconsequential fun, and it actually opens up the episode. It’s just simply a disgruntled neighbor behind a series of loud obnoxious tenants. The randomness and fun of it sort of reminded me of a b-plot back in season one when Joan discovers her subletter films adult movies in her apartment. That plot was also just an entertaining side story. This one, however, has the added bonus of showing how much good Joan does for Sherlock. She’s the olive branch and she takes care of the things he’s messed up when he was on drugs. It’s a good demonstration of how their friendship works. There hasn’t been a lot of focus on just the two of them this season, so this is a nice reminder.

In the end, “A Study in Charlotte” didn’t move the plot forward at all. It was essentially filler until the stuff with Papa Holmes resumes. But that doesn’t make this any less entertaining to watch. And now that we’ve had that little break, it’s time to dive back into everything else.

Extra Case Files

  • I’ve never read the canon story A Study in Scarlet the writers have borrowed from, so feel free to share any Easter eggs I’ve missed.
  • How do you guys feel about tattoos representing your past loves?
  • I’m honestly kinda tired of having scenes that show us the murder. They’re kinda pointless because we’re not attached to the victim at all, and sometimes it spoils the mystery for the audience.
  • I loved that Sherlock’s actual alibi for the fire was that he was oiling his chainsaw.
  • “I forgot about the roosters.” Honestly one of my favorite callback jokes (I might like it better than the taxi whistle)

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

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