I began watching CBS' "Elementary" certain that it wouldn't live up to the BBC reboot of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character. However, the last three episodes since the phoned-in "Child Predator" have been absolutely stellar, and while the series hasn't quite reached the peaks that its UK counterpart has, it has proven to be one of the most must-see series on US television this fall.
This week, Sherlock's interest is piqued by a plane crash call that comes over the police band. A small passenger plane carrying a cargo of attorneys experienced apparent engine failure, plummeting to the ground and killing all on board. Gregson and the aviation investigator are both insistent that the crash was accidental, but Holmes notices evidence that suggests at least one of the passengers, Hank Gerrard, was killed shortly before the plane ever went down, perhaps by a heated argument in the plane's cabin between disagreeable co-workers.
The flight recorder seems to back up Holmes' initial theory of an argument leading to the murders, which in turn lead to the crash, but Sherlock notes the pilot's communication with air traffic control suggests that Gerrard was never a passenger on the plane to begin with. His revised theory assumes that Gerrard was killed long before the crash, stored in the plane's cargo hold, and the resulting weight imbalance of 200 pounds of unknown cargo threw the plane for a tailspin. Security camera footage from the airport also backs up Holmes' latest theory, showing Gerrard arrived at the airport alive and well, arguing with a diabetic employee of Carmanto Foods, the company Gerrard's firm was suing. Could this be the killer, or a characteristic red herring distracting us from the real story? I'm hesitant to reveal much more of what's a pretty serviceable mystery, and what is really what props the episode up as we continue to delve ever so slightly into our main character's past.
Evidently, Papa Holmes is coming to town and Watson suggests the group meet for dinner. Watson sees Sherlock's hesitation to commit to plans as evidence that he simply wants to avoid seeing his father, but the detective's detective assures her that his absentee father is sure to be a no-show, summing up the situation and Watson's role with a neat, tidy, easy to understand statement: "He's Lucy with the football; you're Charlie Brown!"
Alas, Sherlock's "father" (Roger Rees) seemingly does show up... only to reveal himself to be an actor. Sherlock hired the man, Alistair, to give Watson a gentle ribbing over just how right he was. Watson goes on to discover that the struggling actor is also a longtime friend of Holmes, as Alistair sheds some light on Holmes' drug-addled past and possibly sets up a much larger mystery for the future. It seems the inebriated, self-medicated Holmes repeated the same name again and again, a name that should ring a few bells for fans of the classic character: Irene.
BBC's "Sherlock" delivered an Irene Adler-centric episode that was arguably the series' best, and that's saying something. I'm doubtful that the US counterpart can reach such lofty highs, but still the promise of what's to come has my interest genuinely piqued. The tease of what's to come is the real story behind the latest "Elementary," and what a tease it is.
Final Grade: B+