Elementary Season 1 Recap Episode 1 – “Pilot”

For those you who don’t know, Elementary is the new procedural on CBS featuring Sherlock Holmes played by Jonny Lee Miller and the now female Joan Watson played by Lucy Liu set in modern day New York City. This is the recap of the pilot episode so beware spoilers.

A crime! Violence and a woman clawing and screaming for life. This is how we begin.

Cut to Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) waking up. She prepares for her day with a brisk run. A phone call interrupts her morning. The caller notifies her of an escape from the addiction facility. She is on the job.

Watson arrives to what I can only assume is New York’s 221 Baker Street to witness a girl with a dragon tattoo dressing before ignoring her on the steps outside. Joan enters the brownstone and meets Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock’s father has hired Joan as a sober companion to aid Sherlock in his rehabilitation. Holmes is also on a short leash as he is living in New York on daddy’s money. Before we can learn too much, we’re off to the crime scene.

This is where we truly start to see Sherlock’s powers of deduction at play, but first who’s who. Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn) is Holmes’ liaison within the NYPD and the series’ version of Detective Inspector Lestrade. There is also a skeptic working on the case, Detective Abreu.

Now back to the crime scene. Amy Dampier has gone missing. The door was kicked in. Broken glass shows signs of a struggle. Sherlock’s deduction? Not kidnapping, murder. The assailant did not break in. The foot print had blood in it which came from inside the apartment. Dampier knew the attacker as she had prepared two glasses of water which is proven by both the amount of glass and a second glass bottom fragment hidden under the oven. A missing ring box, noticed based on the symmetry of the living room, determined a murderer rather than a kidnapper. And finally the body discovered in a safe room in the master bedroom based on the slope caused by the safe room’s weight.

Dr. Mantlo, Dampier’s husband, is the initial suspect, but Holmes quickly disproves it based on the apparent size of the murderer. The murderer wore size 11 shoes and based on bruising around Dampier’s neck was also a large man. This sends them to question Ty Morstan who according to Mantlo had recently made a pass on Dampier. Morstan confirms Sherlock’s suspicions that Dampier had undergone plastic surgery, however it appears purely cosmetic.

Pause for character development. Holmes has been deducing many facts about Watson so let’s share what’s confirmed so far. She is a former surgeon based on her hand. She does not enjoy her work. Sherlock is a bit of a jerk. Now back to the mystery.

Holmes comes to the conclusion that the stolen ring box indicates a serial killer, and so he decides to look into similar attacks. This leads to a surviving victim, Eileen Renfro. He interrogates her regarding the attack, but when he crosses the line Watson sends him out. She finds out the identity of the attacker, Peter Saldua.

Now they have their attacker, but Capt. Gregson finds the Saldua on his own. He has committed suicide. Holmes arrives to see Saldua’s home. Of course he finds items of note. The washing machine had been turned over and stomped on. He also notices Saldua is missing his cell phone. Finally a bottle of Xanax is sitting on the window ledge.

Obviously since we’re only halfway through the episode, Sherlock is unsatisfied with the results. Two things are on Sherlock’s mind. Why had Dampier undergone surgery including the removal of a mole she favored? And where was Saldua’s phone which he used constantly up to three days prior? He also discovers checks paid to a psychologist named Jessup who had died two years ago.

But first, more character development! Sherlock is railing Watson about how he had been correct about everything so far, and Watson responds by telling him he hasn’t. Sherlock loses his temper and lets loose. He had sought to spare Watson’s feelings. He knew that she had not lost a friend to addiction as he claimed earlier because surgeons do not just quit. She had killed someone in the operating room. How did he know? The parking ticket she had was from an intersection adjacent to a cemetery. Watson had not been visiting family, because her family is well off. So, obviously she was visiting the patient who had died under her blade. Watson storms off to watch the opera which she had intended to take Holmes.

Holmes meets with Gregson at a local bar. Gregson had managed to obtain Saldua’s medical history from Jessup’s office. Saldua had been recording his sessions on his phone. A glimpse of professional wrestling sparks the idea in Holmes that Saldua experienced rage. Holmes realizes that Saldua’s Xanax bottle had been filled with a steroid. Holmes apologizes to Watson in the middle of the opera, and asks for a ride. A ride to confront Mantlo who had been treating Saldua in secret. Mantlo had been providing Saldua with steroids and urging Dampier to get plastic surgery to match Saldua’s obsession. Mantlo essentially admits to Sherlock’s assertion but walks away knowing there isn’t enough evidence against himself. In anger, Sherlock crashes Watson’s car into Mantlo’s.

After a night in a jail, Sherlock learns that Watson had come to his defense with his father. Watson discovers a piece of information that can be used to convict Mantlo: Saldua had a rice allergy. At the NYPD, Sherlock breaks it down for Mantlo. In Saldua’s kitchen was a bag of rice he’d purchased three days prior. The same day he’d stopped using his cell phone. Saldua had accidentally washed his phone and placed it in the bag of rice to absorb the water.

End with Sherlock’s uncanny ability to predict the outcome of a baseball game.

The dynamic of Holmes and Watson as former addicts can prove to be interesting, but seems unnecessarily tacked on. The show does have potential. Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes is a bit of a jerk with some anger management issues. I usually give a show three episodes before I make a decision to keep or drop so we’ll see where I stand in a few weeks.

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