Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episode 18. Déjà Vu All Over Again. (2013)

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 18. Déjà Vu All Over Again. (2013)

Elementary poster

Well, after another of these breaks in the transmission schedule, we have a lone episode poke its head above the barricade. Elementary: Season 1, Episode 18. Déjà Vu All Over Again. (2013) is supposed to keep us interested and excited as another two week gap looms. It’s most curious the schedulers are not trying to maintain momentum and continuity. No matter what the quality of the individual episodes, this is not helpful to retain audience support. I suppose we now have an insight into the minds of the scriptwriters on how they propose to develop this series. Up to this point, we’ve had Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) as a medical doctor who, more by luck than good judgement, has been able to assist Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) in solving cases. Well, perhaps she’d already given up on the practice of medicine as such. If you’d looked on LinkedIn or some other social networking site, you might have found her describing herself as a Sobriety Companion. Think of this as a kind of intermediate step. It’s related to medicine in that addiction and its consequences are inevitably a part of a doctor’s remit although some might see this as more a mental than physical health problem. So she’s abandoned the specific role as a surgeon but remains under the umbrella of medicine. Now she’s taking a further step away from the practice of medicine and trying out as a consulting detective. This is a step of some psychological significance so this episode makes Dr Watson the focus of attention and watches her challenged by the past and begin to look forward to a different future.

The structure is one of a six-month flashback. She’s meeting with friends for a drink when the call comes in inviting her to work with Sherlock. Broadly speaking, her friends are supportive. They see a steady future for Watson whether she chooses to stay in counselling or to return to full medical practice. Back in current time, she’s learning carjacking skills from Alfredo (Ato Essandoh) and observing Sherlock at work to get a better grip on the processes of detection. Inconveniently for Sherlock, his father refers him to one of his US attorneys to take on a case. The fact the problem is an associate’s missing sister does not modify his opinion of the case’s merit. He delegates it to Watson and decides to investigate a homicide on the New York Subway mentioned in a video made by the missing sister. We therefore have the first chance to see Watson take the initiative.

Lucy Liu getting her first sight of the "clue"

Lucy Liu getting her first sight of the “clue”

After reviewing the files, she goes to talk with the sister’s husband and is immediately suspicious when he repeats his original statement to the police almost verbatim. It looks rehearsed. Sherlock listens and suggests the Gaslight (1944) approach, i.e. sending messages to a suspect to see how he or she reacts. This requires her to follow the husband. Perhaps he will act suspiciously. Taking an hour out, she meets up again with those “old” friends who complain she’s abandoned them over the last six months, not only becoming “involved” with the addict, but now apparently giving up on her medical practice. They are worried about her and so put her under emotional pressure to justify her decisions. This upsets her and she leaves only to misjudge the situation with the husband. A misjudgment that lands her in jail, accused of breaking into his car (you see how immediately useful those skills proved to be).

Meanwhile Holmes is making progress on the subway murder. For once, this is done well even though it’s very much a skeleton plot element as he identifies first a stalker of the murdered woman and then a musician working on the platform who saw the killer. The upshot of this is a critical plot element that Watson is able to link to her investigation. When they compare notes, they come up with a theory of what must have happened. A search warrant elicits the evidence and they jointly get the result. The point of all this is to enable Watson to see she can actually make a success of being a consulting detective. This is not to say she will become Sherlock’s equal. She doesn’t think in the right way for that. But it’s made obvious that she does have appropriate intellectual skills and the determination to pursue her beliefs even though this may force her to spend some hours in a jail cell or lose her friends. Ah, now there’s the rub. As an individual, it’s not so difficult to change careers, but it can be painful to give up friends.

As to the case itself, I was initially thinking this was likely to be a Strangers on a Train (1951) scenario but it proved to be a much less complicated albeit elegant plot once you accept the coincidence of the two cases being connected. Overall, Elementary: Déjà Vu All Over Again is moderately satisfying as a mystery to be solved, but I remain worried about the decision to make Watson an increasingly valuable “partner” in the detective business. Arthur Conan Doyle has the original Watson as the back-up with the gun but not in any sense an effective investigator. Even the Baker Street Irregulars have more savvy than Watson. But this is definitely moving towards a Sherlock and Watson Investigate format which potentially distracts us from simply enjoying the mental skills of the great Sherlock Holmes. Just imagine this series becoming another Remington Steele. Indeed, the title of this episode might more properly have been Dr Watson Investigates with Holmes very much pushed into the background. I think I did catch sight of Inspector Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill). As core cast members, they probably draw their salary no matter how little screen time they are given.

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 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. March 16, 2013 at 2:19 am

    I actually found this one of the more enjoyable episodes: Watson is smart–not Sherlock smart, but smart, and it was good to see her showing it. The mystery was also one of the better ones. The husband’s method of covering his crime was both elegant and believable; it is far harder for police to solve a random” killing–the platform pushing–than a domestic killing. I confess I actually figured this one out, right at the time Holmes and Watson were staring at their evidence-board and talking about how improbable it was that the pushing predictably led to his wife’s leaving him. (I remembered the brief newsclip at the beginning, which talked about “another” subway pushing.) So there’s the satisfaction of “aha!” this time for me. There were also few absurd coincidences leading to clue-discoveries this time.

    All that said, I too am wondering about what this means for the future dynamic of the series. I like this Watson, and I hope Holmes And Watson Investigate will work.

    • March 16, 2013 at 3:29 am

      I think I see this as a neutral, steady state, type of episode. It moved us along in broad narrative terms. The mystery’s solution was quite elegant. But I’m definitely not optimistic about the dynamic between Holmes and Watson. When she was the “doctor”, she had credibility and status. Now she’s exploring whether she can be a detective, she’s lost her different but equal status through which she could boss him around as an addict, and has moved into a teacher/student relationship. Balancing this relationship to maintain interest is going to be a challenge for the scriptwriters.

  2. March 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

    “As core cast members, they probably draw their salary no matter how little screen time they are given. ” – Sums up perfectly the character development for these 2 characters. I did enjoy Gregson and Holmes teaming up to intimidate the husband. Gregson has his moments now and then. Bell unfortunately still remains a non-entity and interestingly, he is the one supporting character who had an entire episode devoted to himself.


    • March 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

      If Watson is allowed to continue her progress to a more equal partnership in the detective business with Holmes, there will be even less time for Gregson and Bell. I hope this pair are members of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to ensure they continue to receive status on the credits and the financial rewards that go with it. Otherwise, the careers of two hard-working actors may be blighted by the scriptwriters keeping them off the screen.

  3. November 27, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Deja Vu All Over Again also referred to the “reverse circumstance” of Holmes’ being in custody from the pilot episode. The jail cell scene was reflectively done after Watson’s car break-in to recall the identical (reversed) scene from the pilot.

    • November 27, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Being old and forgetful, I can’t remember either episode very well. Wasn’t Holmes supposedly in a secure clinic for treatment but sneaked out to prove how awful the security was? Watson’s decision to accept him as a client pacified his father and kept him free. Whereas Holmes bails Watson out of jail for breaking into the car? I thought the deja vu element was the use of the flashback to explain the process of her becoming his sober companion and now becoming his partner in detection by taking her first solo case.

  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 12:10 am
  6. May 17, 2014 at 1:18 am

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