[This is a review of Elementary season 3, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]
As the first installment of a two-part storyline, ‘The Illustrious Client’ works, but not in the way one might expect, given the set-up at the end of last week’s Elementary. With its premise set around the notion that the man who abducted and raped Kitty had surfaced in New York, the episode was primed to establish a cat and mouse game between the perpetrator of such a heinous act and the intimidating deductive powers of Sherlock, Joan, and now Kitty. And, for the most part, that is what was delivered; only the episode, like last week’s, saves the most important details for the last minute, effectively turning everything that transpires into an introduction for the real deal.
Essentially, this two-part story takes the normal structure of any given Elementary episode and spreads it out over two hours rather than one. In this instance, Sherlock and Joan notify Kitty that her attacker is in New York, and that they’ve vowed to not rest until he’s been apprehended. That means Joan has to take a short leave of absence on the first day of her new job. Thankfully, her employer, Del Gruner (Stuart Townsend), seems like an amenable fellow and is more than willing to accommodate the request, considering the personal urgency of the situation. Of course, after the reveal at the end of the episode, when Kitty recognizes Del’s voice as the man who attacked her, the questions surrounding the circumstances of Del and Joan’s new job become myriad.
It initially seems as though Del being both Joan’s new, incredibly cooperative employer and the man who Kitty has been searching for is an absurd coincidence, one that if left without an account of his intentions linking the two may be too coincidental. Without venturing too far into speculation, however, it also seems plausible that the offer of employment Del extended to Joan was as much of a smokescreen as the body left at the end of ‘Seed Money‘ was a calling card. In essence, it was all so that he might position himself closer to Kitty – after all, she is the one that got away. If that is the case, then Del Gruner will have become the season’s first serious antagonist, leaving next week’s installment – titled, perhaps not coincidentally, ‘The One That Got Away’ – the chance to allow Sherlock, Joan, and Kitty the opportunity to pursue their suspect with the same dogged determination they did Simon de Merville.
There was something off about de Merville from the get go. Although his crimes as a human trafficker and more would have made him a likely target for Sherlock any day of the week, his presence – or lack thereof throughout the episode – ostensibly informed the audience that the investigation was chasing down a criminal, but not necessarily the criminal the group was hoping to get their hands on. And while de Merville’s absence removes tension from the plot in terms of the development of an antagonist, the space his absence provides allows room for the episode to focus on what really matters: Kitty’s reaction to the whole thing.
While the episode functions as the portion of an Elementary storyline where the likeliest suspect is revealed not to have done it, ‘The Illustrious Client’ hinges on one scene in particular. One that is dripping with foreshadowing, as Kitty’s goes to extraordinary lengths in order to secure the cooperation of Simon de Merville’s sister, Violet. Kitty’s unconventional tactics are nothing new to the series; Sherlock too played with fire in the season 1 episode ‘M’, which saw him faced with the decision of torturing and possibly taking the life of Sebastian Moran (Vinnie Jones), as retribution for what he believed at the time to be the murder of the woman he loved.
But while Kitty’s tactics may be familiar, the resonance of their purpose and their impetus remains undiluted. After de Merville meets his end in a boat fire, likely set by the Albanian gangsters he’d been in business with, the following confrontation between Sherlock and Kitty establishes a small schism between them that is due in part to her realization that de Merville was not the man she was tracking, and that Sherlock’s attempts to understand and share a connection fall somewhat short.
The end result ultimately asks the characters to take part in a vain attempt to bring their quarry to justice, but it’s not a completely wasted effort. The build up of Kitty’s emotions and her willingness to go to extraordinary means to make sure justice is served – and perhaps cross the line into the realm of revenge – is enough to let the episode stand on its own, even if it needs next week’s installment to finish what it started.
Elementary will continue next Thursday with ‘The One That Got Away’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below: