Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 2, Episode 16. One Percent Solution (2014)

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 16. One Percent Solution (2014)

Elementary poster

This review discusses the plot so, if you have not already watched this episode, you may wish to delay reading this.

Sometimes the use of symbolism gets a little out of hand as the scriptwriters try to find the best metaphors for capturing the essence of their latest episode. Elementary: Season 2, episode 16. One Percent Solution begins with Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) “rescuing” two cocks from the evil clutches of the animal welfare people — the birds had been in line to make sushi of each other at a fight. He has this theory that two bird trained by their genes and several months, if not years of practice, can be induced to give up their fighting ways and live in peaceful coexistence. All it takes is Sherlock’s gentle voice and the threat of bees stinging them to death if they fail to co-operate. In parallel, Holmes and Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) are called to the scene of a bomb explosion. Several bankers and senior officers at the Treasury and Department of Labor have been exterminated. No loss, you may think but the Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) must be seen to go through the motions. Unfortunately, there’s already a consultant on the scene. Yes, it’s the ever-lovable Gareth Lestrade (Sean Pertwee) (as in Step Nine, the opening episode for this season) who’s moved from the London Metropolitan Police force to private consultancy. Years of taking the credit for Sherlock’s brilliance have landed him a top job with the boss of the now deceased banker. This brings the two cocks together again and the eyeballs are soon rolling in the heads of Holmes and Watson as Lestrade proceeds to make a fool of himself in the hospital with one of the survivors. Then someone, possibly a bomber with a known record calling himself Aurelius, claims responsibility for the bomb. Holmes is sceptical. In previous notes, Aurelius has never directly quoted from the Greek philosophers, but demonstrated a reasonable understanding of their work. This note is mostly quoted content and therefore suspicious.

Lestrade then further endears himself by having the dynamic duo thrown out of his boss’s office when they try to explore whether the banker at the table might have been the target, and then asking Joan if she would like to come and work for him. So Holmes is forced into treating Lestrade as a potential conspirator in the bombing. Yes, there was a young server at the restaurant who could have placed the bomb and then went into hiding, but Holmes is unconvinced. In due course, Holmes uncovers evidence that Lestrade’s boss has an unorthodox approach to sexual gratification. This forces Lestrade to confess he’s been acting as the man’s pimp. This line of inquiry having proved a dead end, Holmes is then forced to go back to the other victims sitting around the table. Fortunately, the arrival of a blackmail letter discloses the motive and the identity of the bomber.

Gareth Lestrade (Sean Pertwee)

Gareth Lestrade (Sean Pertwee)

This type of episode is somewhat annoying because it assumes the killer will be unduly afraid of detection and so impatient to cash in. The killer has decided to “blame” Aurelius, a bomber with a track record of setting off anti-establishment bombs. The involvement of an angry member of the Occupy Movement who worked in the restaurant further muddies the waters. Whereas the server is intended to be visible, the FBI has had a task force looking for Aurelius for years. The chances of the scapegoat being found are minimal and the chances of getting away the the crime good. It’s therefore premature to use the threat of blackmail. Waiting until the next opportunity for profit would have been the safest and most profitable bet. Yet the killer is required to give him/herself away in the final section of the show. That way, we can have sight of the two retired cocks fraternising while Lestrade intrudes, looking to stay in the brownstone until he can find another job.

I suppose this episode is interesting both because of what it says about the lives of those in subordinate positions, and because of the greater degree of flexibility in Sherlock’s interpersonal skills. Throughout the episode, we’re shown how awful life is as a second-in-command. The banker who died was plotting a coup to depose his boss, Lestrade’s assistant is well-paid but treated like dirt, Lestrade is regarded as nothing better than a pimp by his boss, and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) is almost invisible. Only Watson is given a free pass because she’s treated as more of an equal. Then there’s Sherlock’s willingness not to assume the worst of Lestrade. Holmes could have gone to Gregson with his evidence but waits to hear Lestrade’s explanation. He’s plainly exasperated by the man but still not prepared to drive him away. I’m not sure if this is a step forward but it’s certainly an interesting development. On balance, this leaves me thinking Elementary: One Percent Solution is slightly above average.

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 21. A Landmark Story. (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 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).

  1. March 2, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Yes, the metaphors did get blindingly obvious in this one, didn’t they (although it had one of the best one-liners of the season). It’s interesting that the writers are giving Lestrade his own character arc; I suspect the next time we see him he’s going to save the day somehow, thus completing the arc.

    • March 3, 2014 at 12:38 am

      Surely you don’t mean the school pun on the word “cock” as the best line of the season? As to Lestrade, I can’t make up my mind whether the character dynamic works. In London, Lestrade was the sock puppet who took all the credit. Since Holmes had unofficial status, he would pay the piper to retain an inside track on investigations. After their first meeting in this season, I’m a bit surprised the scriptwriters have made Lestrade quite so brazen, even purloining the “when you’ve eliminated. . .” for his business card. I can understand him posturing in public. That fits the self-agrandizing side of his character. But you would think Lestrade would be slightly less bumptious in private. I didn’t expect gratitude that Holmes had saved him (again), but I did expect slightly more humility and honesty from an earlier point in time. That would have made it easier and more credible for Holmes to tolerate him staying at the brownstone. As you say, it will be interesting what happens when he makes his next appearance.

  2. March 3, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Sorry, juvenile of me but I almost snorted soda through my nose when Watson asked Holmes why he left the wake-up call outside her bedroom door. Of course half the humor was her delivery of the line with a perfectly straight face. An interesting epitaph indeed!

    • March 3, 2014 at 2:19 am

      The technique of snorting soda through your nose is excellent if you suffer from blocked sinuses.

      • March 3, 2014 at 2:33 am

        And that is something I never needed to know.

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