Here’s my review of Elementary season five premiere “Folie a Deux.” 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.
Since season four wrapped up without a cliffhanger, Elementary got off to a fresh start. As any good season premiere does, “Folie a Deux” set up a plotline that will stretch on for several more episodes: specifically, Joan’s job satisfaction problems and her new “project” Shinwell Johnson. The parts of the episode that relate specifically to that are the strongest. The case, however, is like a half-baked cookie where things are a bit squishy in the middle, which is a detriment to the episode. But this is nothing new for Elementary. The case is almost always the least interesting part.
At first I was intrigued by the episode’s case. Unlike usual, they don’t start off with a dead body as the focus of the case—a guy blows up but they don’t mention him afterwards since he was a random victim. Instead, their efforts are directed towards uncovering the serial bomber. It’s a nice change of pace. But this interesting start, complete with an exciting footchase, does not hold up as the case continues. Sherlock easily pegs the bomber and stubbornly holds to that idea even when things seem to disprove his theory, taking all the mystery out of the case. In the end, it’s revealed that there were two guys working together and the main motivation was money, of course. The problem here is that Sherlock is always right. We know he’s a genius investigator but it’s unrealistic for him to never be wrong about his suspects. I found myself hoping Sherlock was mistaken about the bomber and his ego would be taken down a peg when he realized that. It’s never good when the audience roots against the main character.
But procedural issues aside, the storyline between Joan and Sherlock was quite good. Sherlock has always been very protective of Joan and always worrying over her, so it makes sense that he’d confront her when he thinks she’s unhappy. It’s nice to see the two of them have a serious discussion over an important topic. Sherlock is the one who got her into the detective business, so it’s good to see him reflect on it. And for Joan, this topic opens up her character for more growth. Sherlock has definitely grown as a person since the series premiered, but Joan’s character development sometimes lags and halts altogether. So this story arc about job satisfaction (which seems to have roots with Det. Cortes from last season) will be a fascinating thing to explore. It’s realistic and will give us an ongoing storyline for her this season.
And that storyline will interact with new recurring character, Shinwell Johnson. He’s not long out of prison and looking to turn his life around. And additionally, he’s connected to Joan by a surgery she performed on him once. By the end of the episode, Joan has offered to help Shinwell on the path of change, giving her a purpose again. It’s a bit reminiscent of Sherlock mentoring Kitty Winter from season three, so it will be interesting to see if any parallels pop up as this story progresses. The Kitty storyline worked so well because it added a challenging element to the Sherlock and Joan dynamic. Shinwell should add a different sort of challenge as well. Nelsan Ellis plays Shinwell, and he does a great job of establishing the character in his introductory scenes. He keeps his cool in the face of harassment at work, and he offers relevant information to the case as well. But the final scene shows him with a handgun hidden away and it’s a bit ominous. It’ll be really good to see where this story goes.
So as usual, the character stories are excellent and the mysteries are rather dull. The plot for the personal lives of Joan and Sherlock is promising as we start the season. But if the cases continue like this, it will be difficult to maintain interest in the show. For now, however, the good parts outweigh the bad parts. We’ll see how the season goes.
Extra Case Files
- I’m used to seeing Matthew Del Negro as a recurring guest in NCISLA and Teen Wolf, so it’s always weird to see him in another role outside of that context. I kept wondering if they would reveal his character secretly worked for the government or something 😛
- Can we stop with the long expository scenes whenever they arrest the victim? We knew the bomber was scaring away the competition. You didn’t have to tell us again.
- The cold open with Sherlock wrapping up a case at the beginning of the episode was great. It’s always nice to see Sherlock and Joan doing things outside of the “case of the week.” Plus Joan’s entrance with the taser was awesome.
- There were a lot of fun moments in the episode: Sherlock’s footchase, Joan wondering what was in the smoothie, the Village people joke, Sherlock guessing Joan was unhappy because she wore the same outfit twice (hello meta jokes), and of course, “what kind of name is Shinwell/Sherlock?”
- What kind of mysteries would you like to see Elementary explore more? Personally, I want more locked room cases.
- My coverage of Elementary got a little spotty at the end of last season because of personal issues. But I intend to do better this season and plan to review each episode.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.