Elementary Review: “Who is that Masked Man?”

photo credit: tvfort.com

photo credit: tvfort.com

Here’s my review of Elementary season four episode “Who is that Masked Man?” 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.

With the exception of revealing information about Sherlock’s mother, “Who is that Masked Man?” feels like a dud. The case isn’t particularly engaging—it’s a tangled web of Chinese gangs and a dude with lots of masks. And we don’t get a lot of meaningful interactions between Sherlock and Joan, which makes this episode feel like it’s just going through the motions. But at least the reveal about Sherlock’s mom expands our understanding of his character and actions.

The most interesting bit of information was that Mrs. Holmes was an addict as well. It’s a fascinating parallel to explore, considering that Mrs. Holmes’ relapse let to her divorce and Sherlock’s relapse has led to developing some previously neglected relationships while straining others. It casts the father-son relationship in a different light now that we know what Papa Holmes knew and why he acts the way he does. Since the series began, Sherlock has painted his father as an uncaring and callous person, so his insistence on rehab and Joan as a sober companion was always somewhat baffling to the audience who only know him from Sherlock’s point of view. But this episode explains to us that Morland cares about his son’s sobriety because he failed to protect his wife’s.

The problem with this episode and reveal is just that it wasn’t all that engaging. Sherlock explains to Joan how his mother died while they are sitting at a table looking at case files. And Sherlock confronts his father in his office. Both of these scenes are just dependent on the actors’ ability to convey information. They all do a good job, but standing or sitting quietly to speak doesn’t make for very interesting exposition dumps. In comparison, I’m thinking back to earlier in the season when Sherlock and Morland ride in his car and talk about change. There were curtains on the windows, blocking out the outside world, giving a sense that Sherlock was trapped. Since Sherlock wanted nothing to do with his father, that trapped feeling was effective and made the scene more dynamic. And scenes with Sherlock and Joan in the past have been very fascinating to watch too. Whether it’s Sherlock waking her up or one of them cooking in the kitchen, they’re almost always doing something interesting while talking. The scenes in this episode weren’t bad; they just weren’t as entertaining as they could have been.

This episode could have been better. At the moment, I feel like Elementary is suffering from the lack of a compelling overall story arc. The investigation into who shot Morland is okay but somehow just not thrilling in a way the Kitty and Moriarty arcs were. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I’m curious to see where the storyline is going. Because right now, it’s anyone’s guess.

Extra Case Files

  • And we’re back to giving Bell and Gregson little screentime. Shouldn’t there be some way to balance this out better?
  • Sherlock did theater in college. LOL. Guesses on which plays/musicals he did?
  • How do you feel about the information Morland revealed about May Holmes?
  • Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if the murderer had actually been an old lady?

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

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