After three seasons of Elementary the show’s concept is starting to show its age. No longer is the audience surprised when Sherlock makes an improbable but possible leap of deduction. Nor is the audience surprised that either Detective Bell or Watson can be as good as Sherlock at times. For the most part Elementary is about villains of the week and their improbable machinations to avoid detection. Oooh, and Sherlock’s ugly hairdo. With the resolution of Rhys Ifans’ Mycroft and Natalie Dormer’ Irene storyline we are only left with discovering just who Sherlock’s father is. In an effort to push aside ‘what did not happen’ in season 3 the season finale make a serious attempt to redefine the series. Perhaps it will also deal with the viewer fatigue that is setting in.
Elementary Season 3 Finale Review
‘A Controlled Descent’ a stars with the sudden disappearance of Sherlock’s addiction sponsor Alfredo Mendoza (Ato Essandoh). Before long Sherlock’s former drug supplier Oscar Rankin claims responsibility. He demands Sherlock helps him find his equally Heroine addicted sister Olivia. A reluctant Sherlock agrees under threat of Rankin (Michael Weston) allowing Alfredo to starve. Meanwhile Watson and Detective Bell make their own inquiries into the abduction of Alfredo. As Sherlock accompanies Rankin he is reminded of his own addiction on numerous occasions. After visiting a drug den and Sherlock’s former rehab Hemdale they discover Olivia was in the company of a man with a violent past. Watson and Bell discover Rankin stashed Alfredo on long-island and are searching for a marble quarry after Sherlock spots marble dust on Rankin’s jacket. Sherlock manages to control his urge to relapse in the presence of Rankin and discovers Olivia managed to mug the man she accompanied out of a nightclub. After Sherlock and Rankin follow the same route that her taxi took they are left near another drug den besides the railway line.
There Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) finds Olivia dead and determines from boot prints that Rankin had discovered her before he kidnapped Alfredo. Rankin states he thinks Sherlock is responsible for her death because he has forgotten what he once was, a drug addict like Rankin. Rankin even gives Sherlock a stash of Heroine to help him become an addict again. Sherlock fails to see the connection. At that moment he receives a text message from a phone he took of a drug addict which states Watson has found Alfredo alive and well. Rankin is enraged by the fact that Sherlock took a phone and threatens never to tell where he has Alfredo stashed. Then Sherlock proceeds to severely beat Rankin. The episode ends with Watson (Lucy Liu) finding Sherlock alone on his roof. Watson tells him his father coming to see him, the camera pans to show Sherlock’s face. The audience is left wondering whether Sherlock is catatonic or high from the Heroine Ranking gave him.
The season’s finale manages to shake things up considerably. It is a remarkably dark episode. The fact that Rankin is without scruples was established in earlier episodes and his reappearance pays dividends. Sherlock knows throughout the episode he is dealing with a very different case but remains in absolute control right until the end. Such a loss of control after the pronounced exposure to his own past comes as quite a shock to the audience. The final scene is thus an effective cliffhanger as we have to wait until September to discover whether Sherlock is using again. I don’t think Sherlock is using again, but the alternative catatonic state makes me wonder how this show can change to incorporate such a state. ‘A Controlled Descent’ was one the of the most effective episodes of Sherlock yet. It starts off all too familiarly, but the surprise ‘Usual Suspects’-style ending was just fantastic. It is easy to say that I want to see more of the same during season 4, but the truth is Elementary needs to change to keep its audience interested and this season finale was just one step.
Score; 9 / 10. A fantastically dark episode of Elementary in which the only fatality took place a day before its supposed start.