[This is a review of Elementary season 2, episode 18. There will be SPOILERS]
Over the last two weeks, Elementary has made some interesting choices with regard to how the show balances its character moments with the standard procedural elements that make up a significant portion of its DNA. The Lestrade storyline was ostensibly split in two halves, affording each episode a chance to approach Sherlock’s relationship with Gareth at a more gradual, deliberate pace, rather than shovel it (and a requisite mystery) into a single hour. By the time ‘Ears to You‘ ended, a significant, satisfying resolution to the two dectectives’ tumultuous relationship had been arranged, making the silly-but-still-fun mystery feel like a quaint side dish, rather than the main course.
When it comes to an episode like ‘The Hound of the Cancer Cells,’ though, Elementary winds up delivering a far more balanced hour of television that doesn’t come right out and say a great deal about the characters, but instead manages to work a few understated moments in to great effect. Of course, that’s in addition to the episode having a title inspired by one of Holmes’ more famous literary adventures, which undoubtedly grabs the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle devotees.
This time, however, the titular hound is actually a device intended to detect cancer through breath analysis. It’s not quite as exciting as, say, the possibility of a killer hound stalking people on the moors, but that doesn’t prevent the episode from turning in one of its more satisfyingly twisty investigations in recent weeks. Following the murder by helium (producing the sadly humorous byproduct of a grown man saying, “I don’t want to die,” in a squeaky voice) of a recently discredited scientist, Barry Grainger, Sherlock and Joan run through a nicely plotted investigation that first targets a famed debunker of corporate scientific claims known only as Adam Peer.
While Sherlock is busy piecing together who would want to discredit the Hound device and its owner, Henry Prince, Joan helps a fully recovered Det. Bell track down Nicole Watkins, a young woman scheduled to testify against a drug dealer. After quickly locating Nicole at the home of Mr. Rose, a “legendary” high school teacher who tangentially had a positive impact on Bell after he famously chased off two gang bangers with a baseball bat, Joan winds up handing the entire investigation off to Bell.
Neither case necessarily has anything to say directly about Sherlock, Joan, or Det. Bell, but that doesn’t keep them from offering solid, if somewhat plain conclusions to their relative mysteries. Sherlock and Joan manage to run into a mysterious Mossad agent, which eventually leads them to reveal the identity of Adam Peer is actually the Barry Grainger and a pharmaceutical company employee. It turns out the bifurcated identity of Adam Peer doesn’t nab them their killer, meaning Sherlock shifts his focus to Henry Prince, who, it turns out, was looking to temporarily sabotage his own company to prevent his ex-wife from taking any of the profits he was likely to receive from the release of the Hound.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rose winds up in the morgue, after he goes Harry Brown on the drug dealer who successfully chased Nicole to upstate New York. The man’s death clearly has an impact on Bell, who finds himself reluctant to join his own celebration for having successfully re-qualified for fieldwork after a gunshot wound left him on the sidelines for much of the season. The takeaway from the episode winds up being Holmes and Bell acknowledging the emotional price that comes with their line of work.
While ‘The Hound of the Cancer Cells’ could have spent the hour fixated on the troubled partnership between the two men, that’s already been addressed. Instead, the episode puts a nice cap on things and successfully moves their association forward, just as the season moves into its final stretch.
Elementary continues next Thursday with ‘The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville’ @10pm on CBS.