[This is a review of Elementary season 2, episode 23. There will be SPOILERS.]
Over the last few weeks, Elementary has been spending a great deal of time developing a story around Rhys Ifans’ Mycroft Holmes, and with the penultimate episode of season 2, ‘Art in the Blood,’ that development begins to pay off. No longer is Mycroft simply the semi-lecherous owner of several restaurants, whose brother still harbors ill will towards him. Instead, the Mycroft of Elementary is revealed to be an iteration much closer in design to the original, while still maintaining a level of differentiation that manages to make peeling back the layers of his true self a more satisfying endeavor.
The show has been dolling out bits of Mycroft’s character throughout parts of the season, but because he’s been built up in stages ‘Art in the Blood’ doesn’t have to contend with a bombshell and a resolution in one sitting. Last week’s ‘Paint it Black‘ handled most of the shock, which left this installment the appropriate amount of time to do what Elementary actually does quite well: evaluate the impact of an emotionally charged situation on characters who demonstrate sturdiness and fragility in unique ways.
For one, it was a welcome sight to see that Sherlock’s response to being incapacitated by his brother and left in the lurch with regard to Watson’s safety was to ask for Gregson and Bell’s help. Regardless the characters’ actual level of involvement in helping Sherlock with what he perceived to be a serious crisis, the fact that they were his go-to in an hour of extreme need says a great deal about the way Sherlock views his relationship the men, and about his willingness to ask for help when in the past he may have opted to stay the course alone. Secondly, ‘Art in the Blood’ manages to factor in the idea that being kidnapped and having one’s life threatened by a psychopathic Frenchman would actually be traumatic. And even though Joan is aware the danger inherent in her new career as a consulting detective, the effects of her experience aren’t immediately swept under the rug or shrugged off for the benefit of pacing.
Of course, the episode must be fixated on what Mycroft’s double life with British Intelligence means for not only the future of his relationship with Sherlock, but with regard to any future romantic endeavor he might have with Joan. To do this, ‘Art in the Blood’ marries the procedural element to the character portion quite well (as it did last week), with the added advantage that Sherlock’s discovery of who killed former MI6 operative Arthur West and why they subsequently removed his arms, pertains directly to one of the main characters – i.e., Mycroft.
Meanwhile, after spending most of the episode painting the elder Holmes as a “company man” who, like his brother is defined by what he does, Mycroft is afforded a redemption of sorts, when it is revealed his most recent stint with MI6 was contingent on Sherlock not being prosecuted for his inadvertent role as a courier in a failed terrorist plot. It’s a rare moment when displaying the fallibility and fragility of Sherlock makes the character more human, and augments those who stand around him as something more substantial than a buttress to his towering greatness.
As the season prepares to come to a close, those relationships will become even more important, and will hopefully generate an even more complex dynamic for the season to come.
Elementary will conclude season 2 next Thursday with ‘The Grand Experiment’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below: