So, is Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) in this week’s Elementary simply using a strategy when interviewing kidnap victim Adam Kemper (Andrew Chamberlin) supposedly suffering a grand case of Stockholm Syndrome? Or is there there some truth to his tale of being bullied while sent away to boarding school by the age of eight? It is those little reveals, doled out like rare gems, that elevate the new CBS series above the typical CBS police procedural series.
As Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) observes an exhausted Holmes trying to connect to the victim who will ultimately turn out to be the villain of the case, she also wonders about Holmes’ past. What has made him the way he is: antisocial, awkward, and a recovering addict?
Holmes believes that Adam had long ago begun to cling on to his tormentor as the only parent he’s known: he’s fed, clothed, and raised the young man from a young age. Has something in his own background made him empathize with the young man? Something that blinds him temporarily from seeing the full picture: that the victim has become over the years the victimizer, not only of the man who had kidnapped him so long ago, but of other young innocents?
Holmes continues to warm up to his female Watson; bouncing ideas off of her is preferable, he says, to his old thinking partner Angus, a phrenology bust. And Watson continues to be intrigued by her patient (if patient is the right word). She wonders, as our avatar (as John Watson was in the Conan Doyle canon) what troubles his mind so. Something had driven him over the edge back in London; something to do with the violin we see in last week’s episode. Whatever it was, drove him to the brink, but I have to believe that we shall learn only painstakingly slowly, just what that may be. Likewise, I think that we’ll only slowly witness the ultimate reveal of what made Watson leave a successful surgical practice.
There are definite similarities between Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes and Hugh Laurie’s House (besides the scruffiness and intense light-colored eyes). Obviously there are bits and pieces all over the eight years of House, M.D. that intentionally connect him back to his ancestor Sherlock.
But like House, Miller’s Holmes possesses an underlying edginess; something that drives him to tireless obsession. We understand that there are deep emotional wounds beneath the surface of both men, and without the distraction of work, whether solving medical mysteries or crimes, like the shark, will likely die. That is what always intrigued me about House, and what I see in this incarnation of Sherlock Holmes.
I suppose that is what makes Holmes, in whatever form he takes, so fascinating and endless in possibilities. If you’ve not had a chance to watch Elementary yet, you can catch up on the official CBS site for the series.
Elementary airs Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET on CBS.