Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 11. Dirty Laundry (2013)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 11. Dirty Laundry (2013)

Elementary poster

A simple view of the world has us living in relatively small communities. We know a group of people based on the home, and a sometimes overlapping group based at work. There may be other groups based on playing sport or a game, or the places we hang out to meet friends. We’re comfortable when the people we have to meet on a routine basis are known to us. We’re uncomfortable when something disrupts the membership of one or more groups. Hopefully this is managed in a calm way. Neighbours move away, people change their jobs. It’s more distressing when people die. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly recently went on the record to report the homicide rate in New York had fallen 18% to the 30th September 2012. At a mere 319 killings, this is approaching a record low for the last fifty years. Yet if you watch this series and assume Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is only called in to consult on the really difficult cases by one detective working out of one precinct, New York must be experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of death. Since the series is running down the clock on the departure of Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), we must be seeing Holmes called out once or twice a week. Yet there’s no general sign of panic in the streets or in the brief glimpses we’re allowed of local television news reporting. Everything seems calm. Ah well, such is realism as captured in a television series (although it would be a relief if Holmes investigated something not involving death for a change).

Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller), Joan (Lucy Liu) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill, left) clean up after the murder

Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller), Joan (Lucy Liu) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill, left) clean up after the murder

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 11. Dirty Laundry (2013) sees us with the most unrealistic case to date except, strangely enough, it isn’t. History tells us that in 2010, a number of Russian sleeper agents were deported. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Foley parents revealed their roles to their son Tim in June 2010 and recruited him as a spy. Tim is now thought to be in Russia going through training even though his cover is blown. Interestingly, he retains his US citizenship and has not been charged with espionage. Why try to get their son involved? Because the parents did not have access to Washington (background checks might detect their fake identities), but their son would have a better chance of getting a job in government. Yes, the Russians are planning long-term, breeding a new generation of young Americans committed to the cause and prepared to report back to the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) — the leading external intelligence service.

So the plot for this episode is actually ripped from the headlines and that’s a small point in its favour. What makes it unrealistic is the dead woman’s handprint. If ever there was a silly way of clinching the case, this would be it. Inspector Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) do their walking-around-looking-busy routine while, for once, it’s Dr Watson who doesn’t want to accept the obvious result and provokes Holmes into reviewing the evidence. So score one for Dr Watson as she counts down to the day of her departure. Her willingness to talk to the daughter as a recovering addict in this case proves the key to tying up all the loose ends. Yet again she has made a valuable contribution (and sniffed out the neighbourhood gossip as well). So it will be interesting to see how she’s persuaded to stay. When you put all this together, Elementary: Dirty Laundry is a poor episode. Although the murder starts us off, it’s quickly left behind as we get into the espionage situation. When you come down to it, there’s almost nothing about the episode to demonstrate superior reasoning powers. In this, I dismiss the thrown away assessment of the happy couple’s sleeping arrangements and Sherlock’s ability to identify a prostitute. They are too trivial to count. Within the Arthur Conan Doyle canon, it’s not unprecedented for Holmes to be mixed up in espionage cases, but there’s no immediate threat for him to deal with, e.g. a sensitive naval treaty has gone missing. It’s all rather vague and insubstantial. So apart from the Watson story arc, there’s nothing of interest to report except, of course, the SVP has lost one of its toeholds in the American establishment. We can all sleep more soundly tonight, knowing there are no Reds under the beds.

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 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. January 6, 2013 at 1:43 am

    It was all lazy mystery writing. Other holes were Holmes’ willingness to accept alibis at face value, even when they eliminated all the available suspects, and his willingness to widen the suspect-pool to all “blackmail victims” even though he’d already stated that the murderer had to know the hotel’s interesting security arrangement. Also, you’d think the police would have checked the operating security cameras to look at every visitor who came in by the “front door” to meet the victim.

    • January 6, 2013 at 1:52 am

      We’re in agreement then. It’s the worst episode so far!

  1. April 5, 2014 at 12:38 am
  2. April 12, 2014 at 12:04 am
  3. April 26, 2014 at 1:48 am
  4. May 3, 2014 at 1:38 am
  5. May 10, 2014 at 12:09 am
  6. May 17, 2014 at 1:17 am

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