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Elementary: Season 1, Episode 22. Risk Management (2013)

May 17, 2013 8 comments

Elementary poster

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

I suppose we have to consider Elementary: Season 1, Episode 22. Risk Management (2013) the story of three women rather than as an adventure for the hero created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Let’s start off with the question of Irene Adler. As has been trailed for some weeks, this is the episode Natalie Dormer is due to appear. Opinion among the experts favoured the notion she would appear in the flesh and not by way of flashback. The explanation why she should have been involved in staging her own death is left to the final pair of episodes being run together as the season finale. Not unnaturally, the speculation is that she is Moriarty and that explains why Sherlock has twice been spared death. However, en route to the reveal in the final seconds of this episode, we’ve been treated to a despondent Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) eulogising the woman as the superstar of her gender. It seems she not only had the body of a sex goddess, but also possessed the aesthetics of an artist and, most usefully of all, a brain. On the receiving end of this definition of a paragon (except possibly the reference to a brain) is Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) who, as she forcefully points out to Inspector Gregson (Aidan Quinn), has not been blessed with a penis. She has to sit through this remarkably unromantic moment demonstrating just how self-absorbed Holmes is. Anyone with even a hint of empathy would hesitate before passing this message of perfection on to a woman who might just be interested in something more than a platonic relationship. That said, Watson seems to be holding up the reputation of her gender both with the work to show who had committed tonight’s murder and by refusing to be marginalised by Holmes — she clones his phone so she can follow him.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu before the breakdown

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu before the breakdown

So far she’s doing her “stand by your man” schtick with considerable style. Whatever her actual strengths and weaknesses, Watson is determined to take the professional risks she thinks necessary to be the person she wants to be (not the person other people want her to be). Through her express role as a sober companion and now as an apprentice consulting detective, this Watson has become an emotional rock for this Holmes. She and Gregson are only too aware that this makes her a potential target for Moriarty. If she goes, the recovering Holmes could be thrown back into his pit of despair. Indeed, we see symptoms of collapse in the childish petulance Holmes shows when challenged by Moriarty to solve the case properly. So there’s an essential paradox in Watson’s role. Holmes fears losing her and, in a part of his mind, wants her to be safe and so seeks to exclude her from the danger zone. But the other part of his brain realises that, if she’s not there showing her mettle, she’s not earning his respect as a person. For all Irene Adler has been grated mythical status as the embodiment of all female virtue, she ran out on Holmes. Watson has refused to do that and is, at the very least, Irene’s equal — it will be interesting to see what motive the scriptwriters give Irene for leaving Holmes.

Which brings us to the third woman, Katie Sutter (Francie Swift) whom I find to be completely incredible. She has been in a relationship with Daren Sutter (J.C. MacKenzie) for more than twenty years and, for most of that time, he’s been depressed by the murder of his sister. As they approach the twentieth anniversary of her death, he becomes suicidal so this loving woman convinces him that a local man was the murderer. This framing of the victim is plausible. It would take the investment of significant time and energy to determine he could not have been guilty. Her husband does not feel the need to take the time. His drive for revenge is absolute and, when he has killed this man, the depression falls away from him. For the first time since his sister died, he feels at peace. Perhaps I lack a romantic spark but I don’t believe a successful business woman would arrange for her husband to kill a man just because it would make him feel better. Indeed, the entire murder element in this episode is perfunctory. I assume Moriarty wishes both the husband and wife owners of this detective agency out of the way and, wow, it just happens they have both planned a murder. How remarkably convenient and so lucky Moriarty can call on the services of Holmes to solve the case for him (after a little prompting, of course). It’s also nothing but a coincidence that the murder du jour is a moral message to Holmes on the practice of revenge. To say this is heavy-handed scriptwriting is an understatement. With on the question of the script, we should also note Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) had another line to speak this week.

Elementary: Risk Management sees Holmes relegated to sidekick status as his mind comes under pressure when tasked to solve a murder by Moriarty. I’m not sure the heroes of television shows like this are supposed to stop thinking clearly and turn into spoilt children. I agree with the scriptwriters to the extent that Holmes is a proud man, but the husband as killer in this episode seems a more credible character. Once aimed by his wife, Daren Sutter is completely energised and focused on achieving his revenge. Holmes is the exact opposite. He’s losing the chance to identify Moriarty until Watson solves the case for him. Oh wait. . . That’s the point, isn’t it. The two scenarios have been crafted as mirror images. Both men are weak failures. Respectively as a sober companion and a loving wife, these two strong women manipulate and “save” the men in their lives. The one so he can spend the rest of his days in jail — ironically an unhappy man because he now knows he killed the wrong man — and the other so he can be built up and knocked down by Irene Adler. If Irene is Moriarty, the canonical Holmes must eliminate her by going over one of the New York waterfall installations by artist Olafur Eliasson. Or Moriarty will kill her for real this time.

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, 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).

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