Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 5. Lesser Evils (2012)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 5. Lesser Evils (2012)

Elementary poster

As is always the case when you’re coming down from a high, the challenge is to climb right back up there the first chance you have. In Elementary: Season 1, Episode 5. Lesser Evils, the scriptwriters achieved this feat through a slight cheat. Up to this point in the series, there’s been no real challenge to Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) based on her medical knowledge. Although there have been odd hints at her expertise, this episode gives her the chance to shine. We start off in the morgue under a hospital where, in suitably dramatic fashion, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is doing some experiments on dead bodies. He’s strangling them to see what marks, if any, show up from post-mortem attacks. As he’s leaving the body of an old man, he pauses and diagnoses an unnatural death. With Watson on hand, we actually get a reasonable explanation of the thinking leading to this conclusion. Both then set off to the hospital room previously occupied by the old man, barricading themselves inside for a spot check before it’s cleaned. Naturally, they are detained by security staff and it’s only when Gregson (Aidan Quinn) intervenes that their accusation of a murder are taken seriously.

Jonny Lee Miller and Aidan Quinn get cosy with a suspect

It’s good to see Watson analysing the probable murder method and how it might be possible to identify which of the many death occurring at the hospital are suspicious. In the midst of all this excitement, she meets an “old” friend. Dr. Carrie Dwyer (Anika Noni Rose) invites Watson to sit in on the final examination of a young patient before surgery. Watson inevitably suspects a heart problem and warns her friend that administering the anaesthetic will almost certainly be fatal. Of course, this is dismissed. After a quick word with Holmes who confirms the general principle that first impressions are often correct, Watson returns to the hospital and insists Dwyer does the standard test. It comes back negative. But, of course, Watson knows the test is only reliable in 75% of cases. Without telling her friend, she therefore orders the other test. That comes back positive. Her friend is now caught between outrage and gratitude. It was completely unprofessional of Watson to order the test. She no longer has a licence to practise medicine and, not being an employee of the hospital, she had no authority to send the patient for the second test. Yet this saved her friend from killing her patient. This is what Holmes was talking about in the last episode. As you get more into the analysis of people and situations, you lose friends. Indeed, the final shot of the show is Watson deleting all the photographs she had kept of her time as a surgeon. She’s burning her bridges to the past and, as she slowly comes out of the withdrawal process, she’s looking to build a new future (although not necessarily with Holmes, of course).

Anika Noni Rose and Lucy Liu debate patient safety

As to the murders, this is an angel of mercy scenario but with a nice twist. Indeed, I can’t offhand remember encountering this particular idea applied to the angel scenario before, so kudos to Robert Doherty as creator and scriptwriter. It’s pleasingly original to use it in this context. So the result is another better balanced episode. Lucy Liu is slowly being allowed to bring a little more to the role as Watson and the murders are a simple enough case that they can be solved in a reasonably credible way. As a longer term problem, I flag up the episode time limitation again. If the scriptwriters are always going for self-contained episodes with a character-driven narrative arc linking them together, the individual crimes to be solved cannot be too complicated because solving them in a credible way will take up too much time. Half the fun of the Sherlock Holmes stories is watching him hunt the criminal. If there’s not enough time to follow him walking the scenes of crime, talking with the victims and suspects, playing his violin and doing a little thinking, it rather defeats the object of the exercise. It becomes just another crime series in which the hero rather arbitrarily solves the crimes. This would be a shame because, so far, there seems to be some potential in this particular variation on the Holmes theme. Elementary is still something to watch.

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 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 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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