[This is a review of Elementary season 2, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
So far this season, Elementary has mainly focused on Sherlock’s continued recovery, and how that has brought new struggles, which pertain primarily to the few relationships he’s either been able to cultivate since going into recovery, or the few bridges he didn’t completely burn before seeking help for his addictions. To that end, the season’s narrative has seen a greater concentration on the Sherlock making amends, not only with a few people from his past – i.e., Mycroft, Lestrade, and Moriarty – but also people like Det. Bell (Jon Michael Hall).
But this is still a procedural show at heart, and as it must conform to the needs of the episodic format, there’re times when the overall arc of the characters winds up competing for time against an equally large story that feels like it was prematurely pulled from the oven. In this case, ‘All in the Family’ is tasked with balancing the needs of Sherlock and Bell’s fractured relationship with a story about Bell’s new boss, Deputy Commissioner Da Silva (Frank Gerety), really being a long-time mafia plant, who wound up being good at his job, and rose up in the ranks of NYPD. Things have been quiet for several years, until a vote that would effectively cut off mafia funds compels his overlords to bring Da Silva back into the fold. Da Silva’s answer to the dilemma, then, is to reach out to the NSA (that means Tim Guinee‘s Dean McNalley is back) to leak the whereabouts of a mob boss’s son and effectively start a mafia war.
Now that’s not an uninteresting story, by any means, but rather than compliment Sherlock’s ungainly attempt to reach out to Bell, and Bell’s staunch refusal to accept, ‘All in the Family’ winds up brushing a lot of its secondary narrative under the rug. For the most part, that means fine guest stars from notable mob-related TV shows and movies like Paul Sorvino‘s mob boss Robert Pardillo and even Vincent Curatola (‘The Sopranos’), who briefly shows up as Theodore “Big Teddy” Ferrara, make for fun appearances, but the episode doesn’t really give them much to do other than deliver some information that winds up leading Sherlock, Watson, and eventually Bell, right back to Da Silva.
Despite feeling a little light on one end, the episode does manage to delve deeper into the reasons why Sherlock’s so desperate to repair his relationship with Bell – even if it means just getting things to a place where they can work together again. There’re several encounters that offer both Jonny Lee Miller and Jon Michael Hill a chance to run headlong into one another’s unresolved anger, and then to expose their vulnerabilities. This culminates in Sherlock’s admission of past addiction that helps quell Bell’s feelings of inadequacy, stemming from his protracted and difficult recovery from a gunshot wound.
Although Bell finds himself back at homicide – which we can assume means he’ll be working with Sherlock and Watson again – the writers wisely keep the larger relationship between the two men essentially unresolved, as a silent nod of the head is all they can seem to muster. Ultimately, the story probably says more about the kind of person Sherlock is becoming, than anything about Det. Bell, but considering the season has largely been about making amends, it works more than it doesn’t.
Elementary will be airing a rerun of episode 2, ‘Solve for X,’ next Thursday @10pm on CBS.