I am now 99% certain that the writers of Elementary are embroiled in some kind of competition to out-ridiculous one another. This episode was silly enough when two of the primary characters were (spoiler alert...?) revealed to be Russian spies, but once Holmes uttered the immortal line "Are you familiar with the concept of invisible ink?" -- Well, that was the point where the top of my head slid off and moths flew out of my brain-hole.
As Elementary crime plots go, this episode was relatively easy to understand. The various nebulous elements of "not-for-profit brothel", "suburban Russian spies" and "dishwasher murder" were all rather beyond the pale, but at least the finished product was more comprehensible than that one episode with the private jet crash conspiracy and the diabetes medication. To be fair, a certain amount of ludicrousness is almost a requirement for a classic-style Holmes mystery, as evidenced by such stories as The Redheaded League. The difference being that while The Redheaded League was appropriately satirical of Victorian London society, a TV episode about undercover Russian spies in the Westchester suburbs seems more like something from a 1970s sitcom than a contemporary crime show.
Holmes and Watson's complimentary outfits were out in fine form this week. My particular favourite was Lucy Liu's buttoned-to-the-neck Peter Pan collar shirt, which echoed Holmes' dorkish habit of buttoning all his shirts to the top but never wearing a tie. I'm now almost convinced that Holmes doesn't actually do laundry, but just donates his old clothes when they get dirty and buys some new ones from a bargain bin. In the light of this episode's focus on the wall-to-wall mess at Casa Holmes, this theory seems all the more likely.
Dirty Laundry's Holmes/Watson interactions were particularly satisfying, mostly because Elementary is so unusual in its portrayal of Holmes and Watson's relationship in its tentative larval stages rather than launching straight into the I'd-die-for-you intensity of most Holmes adaptations. More than in previous episodes, we got to see the imbalance between Holmes' self-contradictory enthusiasm and Watson's professional distance. Joan is far more opaque and guarded than Sherlock whereas he, as someone who seems to have practically no experience with real friendship, looks like a kicked puppy as soon as she turns down his offer of a real partnership. Holmes is just so... sweet? Plus, he called her "My Dear Watson" for the first time! KILL ME.
- ZERO violins or bees. Buck up, Elementary!
- I L-O-V-E Watson steadfastly refusing to do any housework whatsoever on Holmes' behalf.
- Why can't the storytelling in this show be as good as the scriptwriting? Holmes gets at least ten pithy little zingers per episode, while the overall plots meander around in a confused bundle of red herrings and dead-ends.
- While I do remain unimpressed by mainstream American crime television's reliance on hooker jokes, I did enjoy Jonny Lee Miller's delivery of the phrase "whore-fishing".
- Gird your loins, garters and accoutrements, because next week's episode is going to be featuring VINNIE JONES. The episode title is "M" and all signs point towards it either being about Moriarty or being a tremendous red-herring for Moriarty. I kind of almost want Vinnie Jones to be Moriarty because a) it's such a fascinatingly bizarre casting choice, and b) the reaction from the Elementary-hating wing of BBC Sherlock fandom would be so entertainingly horrified.