Home > Books > Elementary: Season 2, Episode 7. The Marchioness (2013)

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 7. The Marchioness (2013)

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

Elementary: Season 2, episode 7. The Marchioness perhaps sees the series starting to get on to a roll as we yet again begin with another thoughtful prologue. It answers one of the questions that has been nagging away at the back of my mind. Is Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) still going to AA meetings. The answer is a very positive, “Yes!” and he’s talking to the other addicts. This time he has a very interesting explanation for his addiction and wishes he’d been born at an earlier time when the word was less intrusive. He’s rather thrown off balance when Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) sticks his head above the parapet and even more surprised when his brother reintroduces Nigella Mason (Olivia d’Abo), his ex-finance (she slept with Sherlock which is why she’s his ex).

The episode then flirts with the Arthur Conan Doyle canon because Nigella went on to marry a Martian (well, I was close) who, amongst other things, kept a stable of horses. One of the herd was Silver Blaze, a rather successful nag on the race track. In the prenup, our speculate-to-accumulate Nigella was prepared to forego claims to the full extent of the estate in favour of ownership of the pony. After twenty-two months of matrimony, she was found in flagrante and divorce followed. This left her saddened, still burdened by the title and the proud owner of Silver Blaze. Having arrived in America to sell off stud rights, she’s making very good money until someone comes to the stable obviously equipped to kill the randy stallion. Disturbed before he could despatch the beast, the agent for the beef burger chains shot one of the stable employees and ran off across the fields. Now caught up in a murder case, Nigella contacts Mycroft who, in turn, persuades Sherlock to investigate this murder.

Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) shows Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) what's cooking

Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) shows Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) what’s cooking

Thematically, this episode plays the game of “who’s the biggest stud around?” game. Obviously we have Nigella making fistfuls of dollars from the vaunted prowess of her matrimonial asset, Sherlock claims the reason he seduced the all-too-willing Nigella was to prove her lack of loyalty to Mycroft, and Mycroft slept with Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) when she went to London (their respective motives remain ambiguous other than two adults enjoying each other’s company). This sexual merry-go-round both provokes the attack on the pony and, later, on Nigella, while there’s a dog in the manger overtone to the jealousy between the Holmes boys — it’s a rather pleasing metaphor. Mycroft was sleeping with Nigella which should have kept Sherlock away. He nevertheless barked. There were many ways in which he could have shown love for his brother and proved Nigella’s unreliability. That he chose to sleep with her is obviously the most hurtful method he could have picked. Sherlock is not sleeping with Watson so there’s no reason for Mycroft to stay away so long as he ignores the dog’s bark. But it does represent a form of payback, a biter bit, except neither Mycroft nor Watson mentioned it. Sherlock is able to deduce it from their body language, i.e. he’s the victim of his own cleverness. Mycroft’s failure to tell Sherlock of his leukemia is also indicative of a desire to protect Sherlock (if only from himself).

Wedged somewhere in the middle of this fratricidal angst, there was a murder mystery to solve. Staying with the dog metaphor, this time it’s a tree that barks. Yes, our would-be horse killer left a perfect set of prints on a tree. Frankly, I’m sceptical the bark would have paper-like qualities to show sufficient ridge detail and enable comparison in the databases. However, if we pass over that, we then come to the second fingerprint component which is that our killer had the technology to preserve a pair of human hands and to endlessly take castings so he could stick fake prints on his own fingers whenever he felt the need to disguise his identity. Having read Wikihow, I take it on trust it can be done without the police noticing it when taking sample prints. Then it’s back out into the urban parklands of America to compare tree sizes and we have our man (and his killer). Perhaps I was feeling too uncharitable when I watched this episode but I found this investigation bordering on the absurd. But I forgave it because the dominant storyline exploring the relationship between the brothers was pleasing. Rhys Ifans is nicely understated, not getting in Jonny Lee Miller’s way. Lucy Liu spent the episode not being too embarrassed by all the shenanigans. And the forces of the law, Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) got seats even further back from the main action that usual. The script obviously bore the legend, “Warning. Make room for visiting Brit actor.” So with the heavyweight hitters dominating the episode, the mandatory murder mystery felt even more superfluous than usual. I would have enjoyed an episode with just the four of them sitting around reminiscing about the great sex they’d had. As it turned out, this was one of the better efforts — the episode, not the sex, of course.

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 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 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. November 11, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Actually I liked the mystery; it wasn’t Who Done It? but Why? Why kill a retired racehorse? That is what my mind chewed on, not the mystery of the four-fingered assassin with the wrong prints.

    It all actually played true, to me; people do bad things for often arbitrary if not stupid reasons, and sometimes even after you know what they did their reasons remain utterly opaque (one of the reasons for fiction). The drug-lord had no reason to kill the racehorse except an elaborate and excessive revenge, but people do that sort of thing. Sherlock, as you said, chose the most hurtful way of enlightening Mycroft; why? Obviously the brothers had issues before then. Sibling rivalry? Father issues? Holmes’ ongoing indignation at his brother’s “laziness’? And as you say, we still don’t know why Mycroft and Watson spent the night, and it rightfully bugs Holmes because he’s the man who has to KNOW things and he can’t discern their motives without more clues. There’s just not enough straw there.

    • November 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Hmmm. Surely, the drug lord’s intention is to protect the value of his investment. If “Silver Blaze” is no longer producing indifferent offspring to give the game way as they grow up, Joaquin Aguilar retains an example of the pure bloodline. If the horse performs well, the stud fees from Nutmeg would be significant. Even if the horse does not perform well, one of the risks of the breeding program, it still has residual value as a stud because the next generation may hit the jackpot. Oh and Joaquin Aguilar hates to be cheated, so revenge comes in as well. From five minutes research, I’m now dubious about the use of hair whorls to “prove” it was not the right Silver Blaze. At best, it seems the use of whorls is pseudoscience. I now suspect Holmes simply assumed Nigella was a fraud and used this as a bluff to get an admission from her.

      Since Watson came on to the scene as a professional, she would want to maintain a professional distance. There hasn’t been any obvious sign of glances or gestures suggesting sexual interest in either direction. It’s being played as a platonic friendship. In theory, this leaves both partners free to engage in sexual activity with others. Presumably Holmes still uses the services of prostitutes which, from practical tests, he knows does not shock or worry Watson. He’s nevertheless piqued that Mycroft has taken what he has not. Or he’s irrationally angered that Watson had no loyalty to him. She should not have put herself in the position of being able to judge which brother is better in bed. either way, as you say, he’s driven to know things. Perhaps this will provoke him into trying to seduce Watson.

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