Elementary cast: Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
Elementary creator: Robert Dohearty
Elementary rating: Three stars
“By the time you are choking to death on your own vomit, he could be on another continent,” says Sherlock Holmes to a visibly shocked soon-to-be-victim of an assassination attempt. “Anyone ever tell you two that your bedside manner sucks,” replies the agitated victim to Holmes and Joan Watson, the tag team of consultant-detectives to the NYPD (New York Police Department), in episode 5 of the final season of Elementary.
The acerbic conversations are one of the standout features of the show.
The police-procedural show set in New York, started in 2012 with the two most loved mystery solvers of the literary world–but with a twist. Watson, the faithful sidekick of the savant eccentric genius, was a woman, and someone who could give Sherlock a run for his money. Lucy Liu, who has played Watson to perfection in her slinky heels and a wardrobe that is to die for, was an interesting casting choice opposite British actor Jonny Lee Miller who played Holmes. The sixth season was supposed to the last one, and it seemed a fitting finale, where Holmes and Watson had moved to London and were staying at 221B and 221A Baker Street. “We’re two people that love each other,” Holmes had said and we all had breathed a sigh of relief, that yes, the genuine love and affection that these two shared was eternal. But then came a shortened 13-episode finale, and we wondered why it was so.
Last season did throw some interesting curve balls — we saw a blonde Watson clearly struggling with the move across the pond while Holmes was thriving on his home turf. “ Think of the year we have had so far. Keep going like this, I might get knighted,” says Holmes.
But the attempt on the life of Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) prompts the duo to come back to New York, and we are back to familiar territory — one murder per episode and a bigger problem that would take over as a developmental arc in the show. Some life changing changes took place in the season, but they were hurried and at times seemed that they were retro fitted by the show creator Robert Dohearty.
All said and done, Elementary is a show that needs to be remembered for its take on gender and for subverting the misconceptions around it. Here, even the nemesis of Holmes, Moriarty, is a woman played by Natalie Dormer. Watson started off as a sober companion for Holmes but over the next six seasons, their relationship grew into a bromance that was touching. The duo dealt with bomb threats, recurring attempts on their lives, beekeeping, a pet turtle and Holmes’s shenanigans with the hacker collective Everyone, all from the imposing but ramshackle brownstone mansion that the two shared. Watson evolved to be a detective who was at par, if not superior to her mentor and guide. Holmes grew to form and have functional emotional relationships with his peers.
Elementary is not the first show to have adapted Doyle’s work. We have had House where Hugh Laurie played an offensive, but brilliant diagnostician who unraveled mysteries of the ailments that plagued the human body. Steven Moffat made Benedict Cumberbatch a household name with his rendition of Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman finally got his due as Watson. Robert Downey Jr has had his fun with the character. The Mentalist too had some Sherlockian overtones. But none of them have done what Elementary has done–humanised Sherlock Holmes like never before. While the acerbic, dry wit, and caustic one liners kept things from getting boring, the character development of the two protagonists made one root for them. It’s sublime to see Holmes all choked when he visits Captain Gregson in the hospital on his death bed. And in the final episode too, we see that emotional side as he says, “As long as we’re together, what does it matter,”. We are happy. And well, we think so are Watson and Holmes.