When Moriarty was put behind bars at the end of Elementary's
first season, there was little doubt that she would return at some later point -- while the original character only appeared in a small handful of canonical Sherlock Holmes stories, Moriarty's notoriety has been played up and expanded in nearly every subsequent adaptation, Elementary
included. She makes her return in tonight's episode, once again mirroring Sherlock even as she opposes him.
That mirroring is central to the evening's cold open, as Sherlock is revealed to be taking part in an ongoing correspondence with Moriarty, even as he wonders whether he's truly engaging with her or merely communicating with his own projections. His abstract question is given a literal counterpoint, as Moriarty's former voice -- the male identity she had hid behind during her spree -- calls a crime scene to take credit for a murder/kidnapping. Dubbing the impostor "Faux-riarty," Sherlock decides to at last pay a visit to the real Moriarty, hoping she can shed some light on the situation.
Sherlock and Watson are surprised to learn that Moriarty has been transferred to surveillance in a private warehouse -- while she admits to no wrongdoing, she's able to trade valuable information for better accommodations, and has taken to painting large, eerie portraits of Joan. Though she's initially reticent to give any information on her former collaborator, she later surprises Sherlock by offering her full services to the police department. In spite of his protests, she's allowed to move about with relative freedom, close and constant monitoring notwithstanding.
While Sherlock and Moriarty continue their emotional chess match, a couple police officers are shot by the ex-Moriarty voice, who is revealed to be a man named Devin. Devin steals some of Moriarty's information from the downed cops, specifically sketches she drew of his likeness. Sherlock suspects that the real Moriarty might be in on the entire affair, possibly orchestrating a coded message to her followers hidden in the sketches.
The plot thickens when Sherlock decodes a secret message sent to Moriarty: Devin had actually been threatening her, and the kidnap victim was Moriarty's daughter. Just as Sherlock is brought up to speed, Moriarty is able to short out her monitoring bracelets and escape from prison. In a very Sherlock-like illumination, she arrives at Devin's location and details the deductive process that led her there. Unlike Sherlock, she does so guns blazing.
Shooting three men and reclaiming her daughter, Moriarty then calls Sherlock and asks to see him alone. Their meeting is surprisingly tender: while their prior correspondences had been somewhat narcissistically focused on their similarities, Moriarty touches on what makes them different: Sherlock has learned to adopt -- though perhaps just ape -- the outside world's moral revulsions.
It's clear that this suggestion has sticks in Sherlock's mind. While we've been unconsciously rooting for Sherlock's slow assimilation into society, Moriarty represents another path for him: never compromising and never apologizing. It's no wonder she's so adept at seducing him.(Image courtesy of CBS)