Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse (2012)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse (2012)

Elementary poster

In the last review, I was thinking about what makes a canonical Sherlock Holmes story/episode and this eighth contribution to the series provokes me into further thought. I suppose I want to make a distinction between two types of puzzle. Let’s call the first one a chase. When I was young, and as one of these tricks schools play on their children to encourage physical exercise, I was introduced to the game called Hare and Hounds, also known as the Paper Chase. One self-motivating individual is given a bag containing torn-up newspaper and is allowed to run off into the countryside (in those days, we were never that far away from wooded landscapes which were especially useful for this purpose but, with the countryside littered with torn-up newsprint, it made the game deeply unpopular with nature lovers). As the hare runs off, he sprinkles the paper as a trail and, after a suitable time has elapsed, the rest run off, inspired by some vague promise of a prize for the first one to catch up with the hare. So, as applied to Sherlock Holmes, he goes to point A where he identifies a critical piece of information which leads him to point B and a second piece of information, and so on until he catches the criminal. We might consider “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” an example of this variety as Holmes runs all over the landscape until he finally catches the killer. The second variety is what Arthur Conan Doyle termed the Three Pipe Problem. In this, he obtains an overview of all the relevant evidence and then sits quietly, smoking his pipe, until he has applied his method and deduced who must be responsible. The phrase originates in “The Red Headed League” so let’s consider that an example of a mystery it takes him fifty minutes to solve without leaving his chair.

Jonny Lee Miller pointing out to Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn they are one short of a battery

Jonny Lee Miller pointing out to Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn they are one short of a battery

So how does this relate to Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse? Well, we start off by continuing the frame narrative with Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) confronting the fast-approaching date of her departure. She’s determined to find someone suitable as a replacement. He’s distracting himself from the issue by advising on a new case involving a bomb which kills a couple of people and injures others in an office block. So this is Sherlock’s arrival at point A where he picks a motherboard out of the wreckage and gives it to the “police guys” which, in this episode, include faceless bomb squad officers. We must live with the fact there’s a massive amount of ground to cover so Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) are reduced to their original cypher status and are allowed no more than a quick word as they rush off to do Sherlock’s bidding. So from the motherboard, we get a telephone number and track down the man who made the call triggering the bomb. Point B is therefore the interview where the accused convincingly explains he misdialled the fast-food delivery service. So as point C, Holmes goes back to the wreckage of the bomb, sees the battery and puts together pieces of newspaper used to pack the explosives. And so on until we arrive breathless at the end with an arrest.

Jon Michael Hill relishing the moment of actually being the only one in shot

Jon Michael Hill relishing the moment of actually being the only one in shot

This is not an episode in which we see anything approximating the fantastical deductive reasoning powers at work. It’s all point and we shoot off to the next scene. This is not to deny a very clever chaining of scenes for Holmes to arrive at and spot the next vital piece of information. Indeed, I would go so far as to applaud the scriptwriter for constructing a very ingenious trail for Sherlock to follow. But it’s uninvolving. Sherlock points something out, we look. He moves to the next scene. He points, we look. There’s nothing to think about. It’s exactly like Hare and Hounds. You only have to know one thing about the hare to be able to catch it: that it drops bits of torn-up newspaper. It fun to go out for a cross-country run when the weather is sunny. The exercise is good for you. But it’s not inherently meaningful. All it achieves is passage of time until the end. At this point, Watson has manoeuvred Holmes into talking with a possible replacement sponsor. So the frame story is moving forward with Watson supposedly counting down to leaving. Except it wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes series without a Watson, so there’s absolutely no suspense. The only question is how she will be persuaded to stay. So Elementary: Season 1, Episode 8. The Long Fuse is modestly entertaining in fairly mindless way, just staving off boredom as we wait for something better next time around.

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 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).

  1. December 2, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Sadly, this may be the best kind of mystery we get on this show; not even Doyle could cram good three-pipe problems into 45 minutes if he also had to include time for Watson and Lestrade. I think it might have worked better if Holmes had been treated as a secondary character. How much do you want to bet Watson sets up a private practice in Holmes’ brownstone? With Mrs. Hudson as the practice administrator?

    • December 2, 2012 at 3:27 am

      No contest on the return to a medical practice for Watson. That’s been clearly signalled from the outset, the only question being whether she would return to surgery or something less formal. Given the Watson must always be available to trail after the Holmes on his adventures, an appointment-based practice in the brownstone would give her the most flexibility. She can hardly drop the scalpel and run out of the operating theatre every time Holmes has a new case. I hope the reformed car thief becomes an Irregular. He seems to have potential and an interesting skill set.

      • December 2, 2012 at 3:43 am

        Indeed, I think Holmes’ new sponsor may very well be THE Baker Street Irregular–he is so totally connected and streetwise that he was obviously designed for the part.

  1. April 5, 2014 at 12:38 am
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