Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 21. A Landmark Story. (2013)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 21. A Landmark Story. (2013)

Elementary poster

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 21. A Landmark Story. (2013) and a red-letter day in another sense. This is the first case that doesn’t get solved in a single episode. One of the most serious problems with this series has been the perceived need for there to be a crime committed and solved within time available. Imposing this arbitrary constraint has led to some truly awful mysteries and solutions. Apparently, this is the first in a four-episode sequence forming the season finale which offers scope for some welcome complexity as Moriarty comes into the frame. This episode therefore lays the ground in a number of different ways.

Vinnie Jones is back as Sebastian Moran and obviously top dog inside the jail. His approach to ensuring no-one will pass on the contents of the conversation with Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is pleasingly direct. No matter that he lacks real credentials as an actor, our retired footballer does manage to come across as magnificently thuggish. He sets the ball rolling by summoning Sherlock and passing on news of a murder dressed up as natural causes. Since they both want to catch Moriarty, this is the first crumb in the trail of breadcrumbs for Sherlock to follow.

We now need to reflect on the backstory. It’s been suggested that Irene Adler (to be played by Natalie Dormer in the final three episodes) was the emotional rudder to the Holmes ship. By removing her, Moriarty was neutering Holmes, sending him into self-destructive addiction. So if Moriarty is to pull the same trick again, Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) must have become his important other. This is not, you understand, a sexual relationship. But as an addictive personality, Holmes has partially built his recovery program around this woman. That’s presumably why we have this scene in the park. While staking out the killer bees, Sherlock says, “The thing that’s different about me, empirically speaking, is you.” Although we’re still at a level of platonic friendship, Watson’s reaction looks equivocal. As I’ve mentioned before, this is dangerous territory. If the show makes them a “couple”, this is likely to change the dynamic of the relationship for the worse. The whole point of the Arthur Conan Doyle model is that Watson was loyal but not always around. It’s also a relief to see Watson allowed a little more personal space. Even though she disapproved of the autopsy, she was nevertheless provoked into action by Sherlock’s apparent incompetence. Or perhaps Sherlock was just manipulating her. Despite all this, the renewal of this show for another season presumably means that Holmes and Watson will be back. Hence, Moriarty cannot kill Watson — a big killer of suspense.

Vinnie Jones and Jonny Lee Miller discuss the weather

Vinnie Jones and Jonny Lee Miller discuss the weather

F. Murray Abraham appears this week as Daniel Gottlieb, an inventive serial killer who, as an engineer, delights in solving assassination problems through the appliance of science. Hacking a pacemaker is interestingly alarming for all those with that small piece of electronics inside their bodies. Dropping an air-conditioning unit on a target from a great height has a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner quality about it. While the attack of the killer bees is a genuinely ingenious way to attack someone with an allergy. It now seems Moriarty has twice spared Sherlock’s life. Gottlieb was due to administer a heroin overdose but the job was “cancelled” — the only time this happened. The second time is in the hotel room towards the end of this episode when the sniper could have killed him. So the game seems to be to challenge the mind rather than kill the body.

As to the investigation element, there was the now usual trail of breadcrumbs to follow from the pacemaker to the air-conditioning unit to the bees. I was onboard up to this point. Leaving aside the problem of how our assassin is going to spray the intended victim with a bee-attracting substance, he has to keep coming back to feed the growing hive. And kidnapping him is OK. But the next link in the chain is hopelessly incompetent. I hate it when our heroes have to trail after a suspect at night down empty streets without being seen. It also takes remarkable foresight to bring a camera with a long lens and shutter speeds to die for. The piecing together of the final picture is simply incredible given the circumstances in which all the shots were taken. This guy had to stand in the same position without turning his head while the train was passing. Like that’s going to happen. Any sane arrangement involves the contact person using his mobile phone to report back to the hypothetical Moriarty. Once again, if you blinked, you missed Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill). Inspector Gregson (Aidan Quinn) gets marginally more time. So although there’s a lot of good things about Elementary: A Landmark Story, it’s hardly rescuing the sinking ship.

For the reviews of other episodes, see:
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 1. Pilot (2012)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 2. While You Were Sleeping (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 3. Child Predator (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 4. The Rat Race (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 5. Lesser Evils (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 6. Flight Risk (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 7. One Way to Get Off (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 9. You Do It To Yourself (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 10. The Leviathan (2012)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 11. Dirty Laundry (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 12. M (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 13. The Red Team (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 14. The Deductionist (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 15. A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 16. Details (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 17. Possibility Two. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 18. Déjà Vu All Over Again. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 19. Snow Angel. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 20. Dead Man’s Switch. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episode 22. Risk Management. (2013)
Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 & 24. The Woman and Heroine. (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 1. Step Nine. (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 2. Solve For X (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 3. We Are Everyone (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 4. Poison Pen (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 5. Ancient History (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 6. An Unnatural Arrangement (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 7. The Marchioness (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 8. Blood Is Thicker (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 9. On the Line (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 10. Tremors (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 11. Internal Audit (2013)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 12. The Diabolical Kind (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 13. All in the Family (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 14. Dead Clade Walking (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 15. Corps de Ballet (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 16. One Percent Solution (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 17. Ears to You (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 18. The Hound of the Cancer Cells (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 19. The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 20. No Lack of Void (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 21. The Man With the Twisted Lip (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 22. Paint It Black (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 23. Art in the Blood (2014)
Elementary: Season 2, Episode 24. The Great Experiment (2014).

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  1. May 7, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I enjoy your reviews of Elementary. Great analysis, as always.

    I am not sure about Holmes being so dependent on Joan (and previously Irene). The Canonical Holmes only relied on cocaine to relieve the boredom. Miller’s Holmes seems to be written as a completely different individual.

    B2B.

    • May 7, 2013 at 1:27 am

      Thanks for the compliment (good to see you reviewing Iron Man 3 — I thought Gwyneth Paltrow was slightly more bearable this time around). If you look at the chatter about Elementary, you’ll see one possibility being discussed is that Irene is not dead, but staged her own death to become Moriarty. That’s why Holmes has not just been assassinated. This type of speculation proves you right that this Holmes is considered completely different from the original and the show is free to do whatever it likes with the canon.

  1. April 5, 2014 at 12:38 am
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