Elementary: Flight Risk
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
The case this week involves a plane crashing on a beach, and the discovery of a body that, due to the coagulated blood, had to have been dead before the plane ever crashed. “Flight Risk” goes a long way in telling us things about Holmes himself, facts which are deduced by Watson, who is beginning to pick up a talent for deduction from her time spent with the detective (case in point: she saved a little girl’s life last week by deducing that her benign chart-readings were belied the very serious case of endocarditis that threatened to kill her). Here, Watson deduces that Holmes’s anxiety around the crash scene implies a fear of flying that Sherlock won’t admit to. It’s an interesting instance of deduction from Watson, and sets in motion the conflict between Watson and Holmes that gives the rest of the episode its vibrancy.
The dead man, Hank Gerard, was beaned in the back of the head with a wrench before the crash. A witness says the plane all of a sudden climbed sharply up and then crashed. Molinari doesn’t seem to know whether to believe Holmes, but Gregson knows better. All the passengers worked for one law firm. When the black box is found, they listen to what appears to be an argument between Gerard and his boss. Molinari and Gregson seem to think that the boss killed Gerard, but Holmes says no. Gerard was already dead, because they aren’t listening to a fight; they’re listening to an angry voice mail being left on Gerard’s phone. Sure enough, when they find Gerard’s phone and Holmes inserts the SIM card into Bell’s phone, they discover that he has one new voice mail. Holmes deduces that Gerard was killed before the flight and placed in the cargo hold. The extra weight would have completely thrown off all the calibrations the pilot made, disqualifying Newel as a suspect.
Meanwhile, Holmes’s father is coming to town and has asked his son and Dr. Watson to dinner. But Holmes, exasperated from years of his father’s purposeful, deliberate absences, refuses to go. Watson doesn’t actually believe that Holmes is telling the truth when he says that his father won’t show, and argues that his father only put him through rehab and pays for his brownstone out of a sense of “familial obligation,” and that neither love nor care enter into the equation at all. Watson, however, insists on attending.
When she arrives, she meets a man who introduces himself as Holmes’s father, and even regales her with tails of Sherlock’s youth, recounting a story about a wrist injury to really sell the story. As it turns out, the man isn’t Holmes’s father, but simply an actor named Alistair that Holmes purportedly hired to prank Watson. As it turns out, Holmes’s father didn’t show after all, just like Sherlock said he wouldn’t, coming up with some business-related excuse for cancelling (which he apparently sends via email, not so much as bothering to call). However, in her irritation with Holmes, Watson decides to dig into this Alistair guy, and discovers that while he is an actor, he’s not just some random guy Holmes hired. The two men are friends, insomuch as Holmes can consider anyone a friend. Alistair, in a somber moment, recounts his earlier interactions with Sherlock, in particular his days as a drug-addled shell of the man he is now. He recalls one specific moment, in which Sherlock arrived at Alistair’s house at all hours, in an incomprehensible state of drug-fueled intoxication, capable only of saying one single name, which he repeated over and over again throughout the night… Irene.
Back home, Sherlock is delighted with himself. He tells Watson that she should have trusted him. She asks why should she when she knows nothing about him. He tells her he has a suspect and to grab her coat. She refuses. Sherlock calls Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and they go to talk to Bates. Sherlock realized that he was smuggling cocaine. Newel discovered what Bates was doing and confronted him. Bates denies everything and says he was with Cooper when Gerard was killed.
The next morning, Cooper comes in, he tells them that Bates called him in a panic and admitted to the drug smuggling. When they arrive back at Bates, it appears that he’s run off. Bell tells them that a BOLO has been issued for Bates’ Toyota Camry. What looks to be the murder weapon was found in his garage. They wander around in it and Sherlock says that Bates has been killed. He goes over to the wall and opens a can of high performance motor oil, something not needed for a Camry. The can holds cash, as do the other three.
They bring Cooper in for further questioning, but he won’t budge from his story, until Sherlock realizes that he’s drinking a ton of water and not needing to go to the restroom. He realizes that Cooper must have been injured while killing Bates. Gregson, Bell and Holmes tell him that they’ll find the body and he should start cooperating.
Meanwhile, Watson jetted after noticing a scar on Sherlock’s wrist. She realizes the actor must be Sherlock’s friend and finds him at a bookstore. She noticed the receipt and that it showed an employee’s discount. She talks to Alistair. He tells her about Irene. Later she asks Sherlock about her.
Jonny Lee Miller finally delivers a solid performance. This is the first episode where Miller’s performance has started to grow on me. Miller’s Holmes has a fine sense of humor and a great chemistry with Joan Watson.
It is heartening to see Miller establish his credentials as a credible Sherlock, after Stephen Moffat and some fans of BBC’s Sherlock had written off this series so prematurely. Lucy Liu continues her amazing run as Joan Watson. If the previous episode focused on her past life, this time it is Sherlock’s past. Since Miller’s Sherlock has never been happy to discuss his past, Joan has to do some investigation herself and she does not disappoint. Full credit to Lucy for giving us one of the best Watsons. And, once again, the chemistry between Holmes and Watson in Elementary is truly a joy to watch. Weekly stories aside, watching the individual character growth and interaction between Liu and Miller is worth coming back each and every week.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars