Given the breadth and nature of the consulting that Sherlock has done for the NYPD, it’s a bit of a surprise that it’s taken him this long to wind up before an internal affairs court; he’s certainly pissed off enough powerful people. Tonight he goes before a judge to answer for a botched investigation, one which ended in Detective Bell getting shot.

A Knight’s Tale

Much of the episode is told in flashback, as Sherlock testifies about a mentally ill person who entered the precinct with a shotgun. Sherlock recognized him to be in the midst of a psychotic episode, delusionally thinking himself a medieval knight — Holmes successfully engaged with him until nearby officers were able to take him down. The knight was taken in for questioning, but was unable to offer much information other than that it was his duty to kill the queen and save her soul, whatever that meant to him. The team found a mural at the assailant’s house depicting him beheading what appeared to be a former girlfriend — sure enough, they found the woman shot in the heart at her home.

Contrary to the common opinion, Sherlock thought that the knight was not to blame — her murder didn’t match the medieval understanding of soul-saving, and a blood test showed evidence of meticulous poisoning. Contrary is a good word for his attitude toward the legal proceedings in general, incidentally, as he frequently butts heads with the judge and the investigator. He relates how his detective work exonerated the knight, but his ultimate point is surprisingly simple: it’s not that the knight’s tale is directly pertinent, it’s just that he and Watson do a lot of good.

Watson is brought in for testimony the next day, and is made to corroborate a number of lies that Sherlock told — their propensity for turning up at closed crime scenes is explained away as a lot of open doors and mistaken cries for help. She concludes the knight story, revealing how the victim’s former life insurance agent was fired because of Sherlock’s involvement with the investigation — he had tried to strong arm information out of the man by snooping through his phone and unearthing a criminal history, which was then overheard by a coworker who reported him to a parole officer, sending him back to prison. The disgruntled agent later pulled a gun on Sherlock, and Bell jumped in front of the bullet — justice was served, but the fallout resulted in nerve damage for Bell.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The hearing concludes with the judge recommending that Holmes be terminated due to his frequent rule-breaking, but the commissioner elects not to follow through with it, largely based on Bell’s recommendation. Wracked with guilt over his role in provoking the incident, Sherlock finally goes to visit Bell in the hospital, offering thanks, apologies and the phone number of a top therapist. While Bell was willing to try and keep Sherlock employed, he’s unwilling to take a favor from him; he recommends that Sherlock refrain from visiting him in the future.

This was, for me, a top-notch episode of Elementary. While most Sherlock Holmeses are portrayed as prickly and unsociable, this iteration of the character is distinct in the extent to which he’s a straight up criminal — not to mention his utter lack of apology for it. As in real life, Holmes’s moral relativism does not beget clean-cut heroism, renegade or otherwise. His intellectually aloof deconstruction of social order as a force for good leads to a fine line between genuine insight and diagnosable sociopathy, and it’s interesting how the characters of this world perceive both in Holmes.

Elementary airs Thursdays at 10pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Ted Kindig

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV