Home > TV and anime > Elementary: Season 2, Episode 8. Blood Is Thicker (2013)

Elementary: Season 2, Episode 8. Blood Is Thicker (2013)

Elementary poster

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 8 Blood Is Thicker (2013) sees the series continue on a higher level. “Ah ha!” say the viewers. “So not only is Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) still in New York, but we also have the canonical name of his new restaurant as Diogenes. What a good start as the two brothers set out to settle their differences through the age-old practice of trying to smash each other’s brains (or eggs) with a stout stick.” And then we get to this week’s death which sees a delivery man who might be interested to learn his stomach is rumbling, fail to notice the body of a young lady has appeared on the roof of his truck. Fortunately, when the body hit the roof, it caused a small blizzard of paint chips to fall inside the truck and this gives us a line on the top shelf showing which boxes had already been delivered before the body fell. This is the first really clever piece of observational reasoning we’ve had for quite a while. When they arrive at the probable place of attempted flight, Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is quick to point out the lack of plants showing on one of the apartment balconies. It’s nip and tuck in the deduction game tonight.

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is next with the three pairs of shoes and the new designer rather than more homely clothes in the closet, while Watson reads the victim’s name and address from the driving licence. It’s not a fair competition really. Fortunately Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) who has been lurking in plain sight for a while, persuades the building super to give up the name of the apartment owner. It seems we’re moving in monied circles with Ian Gale (William Sadler), a technological whizz. So when the three in pursuit turn up at Gale’s offices, they get to see his lawyer who’s always ready to be wheeled out at times like this. We then get to see the alibi presented. See, here’s the suspect half a world away in Malaysia. Sorry, that’s a stand-in lookalike who’s three inches shorter than the SUV he’s standing beside assuming the world is flat near the equator in that part of the world. That’s a clever but rather surreal piece of observation and calculation. Then pausing for the moose joke, we’re off to find Gale hiding out in one of New York’s finest hotels. Now we finally get to meet the murder suspect on the run (metaphorically speaking, of course) and learn the relationship between him and the deceased. It’s a nice change of direction.

Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) finds his gambit has failed

Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) finds his gambit has failed

And, talking of changes of direction, Watson goes to the autopsy and sends Sherlock to meet Mycroft at the Diogenes. As a “reward”. Mycroft gives Sherlock the keys to 221B. He says he’s moved out and leaves the place for Sherlock whenever he comes to London. He also warns Sherlock that their father wants Sherlock back in London and is prepared to take steps to achieve that end, i.e. cut off money, evict Sherlock from the brownstone, etc. This leads to a major tonal shift in the episode and proves the strength and weakness of the title the scriptwriters chose. In the idiom, blood is thicker than water, the point is that family relationships are stronger than the more casual variety. We’re therefore supposed to believe the simmering conflict between the brothers will always be surmounted, no matter what they do to upset each other. Similarly, the parental relationship will be held out as strong — a factor relevant to the motive for the episode’s murder(s).

Let’s now hypothesise Mycroft deliberately slept with Watson, hoping it would break the relationship with Sherlock. The sexual betrayal might persuade Sherlock to sever his ties in New York and return to London permanently. When Watson failed to tell Holmes, Mycroft came to New York to rub his face in it. Now Watson makes the choice that they stand together against the threat of the father, she’s choosing Sherlock more positively. At the end, Mycroft telephones a London number to admit the failure of his gambit and the need to come up with an alternative.

In the midst of all this, Watson solves the case but doesn’t quite link up the medical clues with the background to explain the motive. It’s actually one of the better puzzles to solve even though it’s submerged by the development of the metanarrative (for once, Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) is almost invisible). In Season 1, the dynamic was supplied by the mystery of Moriarty. This has been replaced by the mystery of Mycroft’s motives for wanting Sherlock to return to London. In the original canon, Arthur Conan Doyle has Mycroft work for the British government. If he has a terminal condition arising from the leukemia, he may be trying to recruit Sherlock to work for the British government in his place. That, I suppose, would be the benign explanation. Since Moriarty is currently in jail, it hardly seems likely she and Mycroft are acting in concert but the possibility cannot be dismissed. In the British television series Sherlock, Mycroft arrests Moriarty and inadvertently gives the master-criminal the clue how to become his brother’s unstoppable nemesis. Some kind of backroom deal could be possible between Mycroft and Moriarty for as yet undisclosed reasons. Or there’s a third option we’ve yet to see, but which could be wrapped up in the father’s needs. Let’s say Daddy Holmes is dying and there are succession issues to resolve. This is interesting to speculate on so kudos to the scriptwriters. They have come up with an interesting hook to hold us while the season develops.

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 7. The Marchioness (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).

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