Sherlock and Watson are back after a three-week hiatus with the episode ‘The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville’. So far season 2 of Elementary has not disappointed, the tension between Sherlock and detective Bell and his difficult relationship with his brother is always palpable. For her own part Lucy Liu plays Joan Watson to a tee, her character now brings her own not inconsiderable detecting skills to the show. However, with both Sherlock and Watson I sometimes have the feeling that their backgrounds are only used when absolutely necessary and even then the details are only relevant for that particular episode. The revelations about their past hardly seem to impact how the audience view who they are. This week’s episode is different, we have our first flashback. It is set in 2005 and focuses on Joan Watson’s attempt to save a murder suspect from a stabbing. I can only hope we will see more of such flashbacks as with both Sherlock and Watson there is untapped drama.
The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville
Watson and Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) are called into suspected homicide scene. A mortician has been found apparently bludgeoned and bitten to death. However, Sherlock deduces the man got high on a mixture of cannabis and embalming fluid, stepped on top of the morgue table and fell onto the body causing the bite mark. He then fell again and cracked his head. The missing personal effects were stolen by a thief who stumbled upon the scene later on and is found in the freezer pretending to be a corpse. Despite the quick closure to the case Watson is frazzled by the similarities between this case and a string of homicides dating back from 2005.
Joan questions her old superior Dr Jonathan Fleming at the hospital and asks what the dying words were of Aaron Colville, the man who was the main suspect. Her superior tells her he confessed to the murders but found it suspect that her superior couldn’t save him from his stab wounds. Sherlock meanwhile tries to interest her in a shipwreck case but she remains preoccupied by the Colville case. Joan shows Sherlock the files of two women that have been recently murdered and had the same bite marks on them as Aaron Colville, who has been dead for 9 years. Sherlock obtains dental records of their suspect pool from a group of hackers he pissed off earlier in the season by walking around with sign asking to be punched in the arm.
Joan eventually finds a match in the records, but the suspect claims that the marks match his false teeth because he got in prison. From prison records eight more suspects are found but one by one they are eliminated from the list until none remain. Sherlock questions why Joan is so committed to the case. She admits that she believes her superior may have either made a mistake with Colville or deliberately let him die. Her quest to find the murderer thus has a second motive. Joan obtains all the medical cases of Dr Jonathan Fleming to try and find out if he killed Colville.
Sherlock insists they look at the files of the prison again, he discovers after a lengthy search that the dentists assistant at the prison got the job because he was an inmate there. Stan the dentist has already fled. Sherlock discovers from pictures of Stan’s apartment that he has stopped taking his chemical castration drugs as he was required to do as a sex offender. Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Bell (Jon Michael Hill) intend to find Stan but admit that if Aaron Colville is innocent they are opening up a can of worms. Sherlock and Joan try to find Stan through his dog, who is scheduled to undergo an operation. However, a friend has looked after the dog and so Sherlock implores in him to turn Stan in.
Though Stan can easily be sent to jail based on the evidence Sherlock is not certain he is guilty. Stan has little body strength to commit the murders. Captain Gregson is reluctant to hear this twist as he now has no suspect. Sherlock insists that the person who has most to gain with clearing the blame from Aaron Colville is the perpetrator. Sherlock and Joan settle on Aaron’s mother who is suing the government for a nine figure sum. Sherlock and Joan manage to interview her on false pretenses with the help of Captain Gregson. Quite quickly Sherlock finds the false teeth in her possession and she is charged with the homicides. Joan makes her peace with Dr. Fleming and apologizes for ever doubting him.
This episode is unusual for several reasons. First, the murder victims play no significant role and are hardly even mentioned. The story focuses only on the list of suspects that could have framed Aaron Colville. The episode is also unique in that Sherlock, Watson as well as Bell and Gregson speak and question a long list of suspects with the viewer having no idea who the real perpetrator is. Elementary at times played a bit too much on the understanding of the audience. All too often the likely suspect was introduced early in the episode, if no new characters were introduced after that than it was certain the perpetrator had been identified and you would only watch Sherlock go through the motions trying to deduce why they are guilty. On other occasions Sherlock pulls a figurative rabbit out of his hat by pointing to a suspect without there being anyway for the audience to have made the deduction themselves. This episode does not suffer from those mistakes and shows that genuine police work is instead based on lengthy analysis and boring interrogations. The red-herring plays his role well in that at one point you really did believe it was him, the final dénouement was then all the more a treat.
In this episode I like how Sherlock pretended to be aloof of Watson’s feelings. It seems that for him it is a mechanism to allow people to open up to him. By remaining silent they will try and convince him he is right. Watson either doesn’t know it or doesn’t care but in reality Sherlock seem very attuned to the feelings of others. The relationship between Sherlock and Watson has never been a easy one but it does seem that Sherlock is far better able gauge Watson’s feelings than she is.
Next week Elementary will be back with the episode ‘No Lack Of Void’, after that it will go on a 2 week hiatus after which the last two episodes of the season will air on April 24th and May 1st respectively. The season finale on May 1st will mark Lucy Liu’s directorial début.
Score; 8.7 / 10. A good episode of Sherlock though it suffers from a lack of victims.