We have two mysteries tonight on Elementary
: the A story, involving a Polish ex-hitman, is pretty standard fare for the show, but the side mystery, involving Sherlock and Watson's early history together, is far more interesting. Funny how Elementary
likes to hide its substance in plain sight.
It turns out there are even more pitfalls to being Sherlock's partner than previously imagined: acquaintances will want to use your new powers. As the episode opens, Watson's friend is trying to employ the doctor's osmosed detective skills to seek out a guy named Tony who she had a one night stand with. Sherlock is entirely unwilling to pursue his partner's friends' former lovers, opting instead to seek out unreported murders by double-checking morgue-bodies -- he has an arrangement with the mortician that allows Sherlock to investigate the bodies any time he beats him in chess, which he invariably does.
Sure enough, Sherlock finds evidence of foul play in a motorcycle accident victim named Leo -- the accident itself doesn't seem suspicious, but Sherlock deduces that Leo had killed someone earlier. A background check reveals that Leo was a killer in Poland but found religion in America. Sherlock combs through his acquaintances searching for someone who didn't send condolences, suspecting he might be the victim; he finds only one match, a guy named Travis.
When they find Travis, however, he's very much alive and having a good old-fashioned cocaine and hooker party. Travis is also in possession of $25,000 that Leo left with him, apparently from a loan shark. Crucially, the fat stack of twenties is over a decade old: twenties rarely stay in circulation more than four, which suggests that the money was stolen and then cautiously guarded.
Watson meanwhile, insists on taking a stab at investigating her friend's hook-up. She manages to trace the friend's meeting back to a Brazil Day celebration, and hypothesizes that the mystery man might turn up in old news footage of the event. At this point, Sherlock steps in to reveal that it was in fact he who slept with her friend: he had been talking to her while trying to dig up information on Watson, and she'd taken things in another direction. The buried lead, of course, is that Sherlock was violating Watson's privacy when they first met -- she's not happy about that.
They trace Leo's loan shark to a nail salon front, where he quickly reveals that Leo was being pursued by the Russian mob, his former employer. When they investigate the scene Leo's accident, they find a shallowly buried Russian mob soldier. The mobster had been killed by Leo, but a third party had taken his weapon and fired at Leo, causing the accident.
Further investigation reveals that the deceased mobster had been seeing a psychiatrist for depression -- with client-doctor confidentiality nullified by the man's death, the Psychiatrist is able to reveal the mob's second-in-command. When they find him, they discover that he had been injured and subsequently treated by Leo's wife. When confronted, she admits that she had him killed: he had discovered her history in pornography, and had been attempting to divorce her.
While the central mystery isn't quite up there with the greats -- the accent on Leo's wife was so dodgy that I half-suspected she'd reveal herself to be a struggling actress -- I really like the episode's focus on how Sherlock manipulates people, both in the past and the present. He expresses his base level of disrespect for humanity by shamelessly using people -- Watson's friend and the mortician, for example -- but he's capable of largely leaving the practice behind once he's come to respect someone -- in this, and perhaps the only case, Watson. In that light, you can sort of see his past invasion of her privacy as sort of sweet.