Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 & 24. The Woman and Heroine (2013)

Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 & 24. The Woman and Heroine (2013)

Elementary poster

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

In discussing Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 & 24. The Woman and Heroine (2013), the question that must perforce occupy us for the next thousand or so words is a simple one. What do we expect from the final narrative contributions to conclude a twenty-four episode series? Note that I said series and not serial, i.e. that almost without exception, each episode has been a standalone and the average viewer’s enjoyment would not be affected by whether previous episodes had been viewed. Except, of course, this series insisted on showing the final two episodes in sequence on the same night. This signals a slightly greater level of ambition. Indeed, there are references back to the last two episodes (A Landmark Story and Risk Management) although, again, the average viewer might not even notice. So is this a success and so, to some extent, redeem the series?

Jonny Lee Miller looking tense

Jonny Lee Miller looking tense

I suppose the first part of the answer is that it reaches a climax and there’s quite a pleasing emotional pay-off in the naming of the bee. Whereas other series have chosen to leave cliffhangers with viewers supposedly left on the edge of their seats during the summer, desperate to discover which of the series characters have been killed off, this satisfies us with the identification of Moriarty (Natalie Dormer) and offers an explanation of why she staged her own death and now chose to reappear. Although it fails to tie up loose ends, e.g. whether Moran survived, it does rather neatly leave us poised to start the new season with a clean slate. As an aside, I note the obvious failure to end canonically with the death of Moriarty. Since a woman with her talents and connections is unlikely to spend too long in an American jail, I look forward to seeing more of Natalie Dormer in the role. I thought she made a very good villain (as she has to a slightly lesser extent in Game of Thrones). Resuming the game with Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) would be an interesting possibility in Season 2.

So to the crux of the matter: Holmes has “recovered” Irene Adler from the clutches of Moriarty. There she was calmly painting. The next minute, Sherlock is clutching her to his heaving bosom. This has come as a shock to our eponymous hero and he’s mentally AWOL for most of the first episode. This leaves Watson in the driving seat and she’s more than equal to the task. In the private consulting business, you never know what small piece of information may prove critical, so even though Watson plays fair by admitting the coincidence of recently studying paints, it does enable the police to track down a key New York hench-person who, to put it mildly, is upset by his unmasking. Meanwhile, Irene Adler is cycling between PTSD and a version of Stockholm Syndrome which serves the purpose of keeping Holmes off balance. However, the flashbacks to London show Holmes stopped thinking the moment he set eyes on Irene. From the outset, he correctly identified her as a master forger, but he never takes the further step of associating her with the commission of any other crime. I don’t care how besotted he is and how diligently he chases her, this is a woman worth pursuing for her intelligence. He should suspect her of further criminal behaviour. I confess I had rather been assuming this was a long-term relationship with the couple getting to know each other rather well. What we see here is lust at first sight and the abandonment of common sense by our hero in a relationship based on a two actual and one anticipated sexual encounters, one following an expedition into a Roman sewer to provide the requisite level of uniqueness. I can’t say I find the subsequent breakdown even remotely credible. He’s far too self-centred for a casual sexual relationship to destablise him to this extent and so quickly. Perhaps we’re supposed to attribute the breakdown to guilt. He thinks Moran killed her because of his interest in her. Surely that just makes him angry, motivating him to greater efforts?

Lucy Liu gives Natalie Dormer the guided tour of the brownstone

Lucy Liu gives Natalie Dormer the guided tour of the brownstone

Now let’s look at this from the other side of the coin. Here’s this man chasing her. Obviously they have a good time together sexually but he’s dangerous because he’s sitting up in bed beside her analysing the assassinations performed by Moran. It’s therefore entirely reasonable for her to decide to fake her own death and disappear so she can get on with being a criminal mastermind without having to worry about the man in her bed. But we’re supposed to believe she’s fallen in love with this emotionally shallow man who’s being led around by his penis. Worse, when he collapses into self-destructive addiction, she’s supposed to “love” him rather than feel contempt for the pathetic weakling. I don’t think so. In terms of intelligence and in personality terms, she’s obviously better than him, i.e. ignoring the fact she’s using this intelligence for criminal purposes. So why reappear? Ah well he’s rebuilding thanks to Watson and with a big crime set in motion in New York, there’s a risk Sherlock might get in the way. Since she’s set everything up, it’s credible for her to set out to distract him. That he’s immediately reduced to a quivering jelly is a further nail in the romance stakes. How can she feel anything but contempt for this embarrassing wreck?

I think the scriptwriters painted themselves into a corner and, having done so, failed to come up with the best solutions. I’m not saying it’s a complete failure. Indeed, I think it’s a very brave shot at something very difficult, if not impossible, given the way they planned for the narrative arc to work out. But I just don’t buy into the idea that Irene Adler loves this man and wants to rescue him from himself. To make that work, the backstory has to show a real relationship between equals stretching over a significant amount of time and not snatched moments based on uniqueness. As to the major crime underway, the Greek shipping magnate Christos Theophilus (Arnold Vosloo) is primed to assassinate the key Macedonian politician’s son so that Moriarty can collect on a massive currency deal. This is a very ingenious crime based on a good understanding of the regional politics. The device of having New York’s finest driving through traffic to prevent the assassination is a tiresome cliché but it does at least give an extra few minutes of screen time for Inspector Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill). They have deserved better from this series. So we end up with Holmes and Watson in a more solid relationship, and Moriarty lives to fight another day, i.e. to order the assassination of both Holmes and Watson from her jail cell during the summer recess. That’s makes Elementary: The Woman and Heroine as good an ending as we could have expected to an indifferent season. One or two of the episodes were pleasing but the overall standard was poor to middling. If the television company had commissioned only ten episodes at ninety minutes including ads, we might have achieved a reasonable standard. As it is, we got no better than we deserved.

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 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. May 24, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Yes, what I liked most about the season end was Watson’s triumph. One note, however; I’ll have to go back and review some scenes, but I got the impression when I watched it that Holmes’ and Irene’s relationship stretched out over some months following their second tryst. This version of Holmes is far from an emotionless “thinking machine,” and it is possible for two people to fall deeply in love that quickly. As to his breakdown, remember that it wasn’t so much a breakdown as his diving into drugs. Recall the episode when his old dealer showed up; cocaine “enhanced” Holmes deductive power, or at least Holmes thought so. Stymied by his inability to find Irene’s killer, Holmes lost whatever careful restraint he possessed in his intake, wrecked his health, and went into rehab. In short, the whole Holmes/Irene thing played out fairly believably as far as I’m concerned; they have become each other’s weakness.

    Unfortunately, this emotionally satisfying denouement (which does handily explain why Moriarty hasn’t just had Holmes killed) does not make up for the writing weaknesses displayed throughout the season. I’ll probably keep watching, but it isn’t a series I’ll morn if canceled.

    • May 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Although neither of us considers it good news, the series was renewed for a second season and, if the leaks are correct, some or all the episodes will be set in London (http://skyliving.sky.com/elementary/elementary-season-2-premiere-to-be-filmed-in-london). One fascinating feature of the flashbacks showing Irene’s home had her front door open outwards. I have never seen that in a British home before.

      I agree with you about Watson. She’s had a hard run and deserves to save the collapsing Sherlock at the end. I confess I had forgotten about the existing cocaine use. You explanation makes sense.

  2. Yun Hsiao
    July 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I come from Taiwan~I can’t speak English~
    but I love this show very much,I also wrote Elementary about my Thought ^^

    • July 10, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Never mind about the English. I value your support.🙂

  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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