Elementary: Whatever Remains, However Improbable
September 21, 2018 12:13 PM - Season 6, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Holmes and Watson face their greatest challenge when a murder investigation threatens to destroy their partnership.
posted by litera scripta manet (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So on the one hand, I'm glad that Michael is actually dead, and there were some good twists in the episode, but a few things bothered me:

- I feel like the "previously on" segment telegraphed that Hannah was the killer too strongly. I also wish they had built up her character a bit more if this whole thing was going to ultimately hinge on her.

- I'm not sure whether this London thing will stick, but it feels like a lot was left up in the air back in NYC. I'm especially disappointed we didn't get to see much Marcus Bell in this episode. Do we even know if he's going to the US Marshalls after all this went down?

- Do you guys think the Captain's actions were consistent with his characterization so far? I feel mixed. On the one hand, I get that this is his daughter. On the other hand, I felt like him blaming Sherlock for Michael's actions was really uncalled for. I don't know.

I also wonder if they knew they were going to get another season when they filmed this.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought that was a very anticlimactic ending to Michael.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:27 PM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, that was a thing.

The AV Club review by Genevieve Valentine is really good, and considers the episode in it's could-have-been-the-series-finale context: Elementary tries out an ending, with hope for "Whatever Remains".
Every Holmes and every Watson are the center of their adaptation. Their relationship, wherever it exists on the wide sliding scale between platonic mentorship and subsumed romance, defines what the story will become. It’s snarky or earnest; it’s nuanced or slapstick; it’s pleasant or fraught. Elementary has faltered a little at times in how it positions its Holmes and Watson—one of them gets to discuss feelings much more than the other, in a show with a prescribed formula that doesn’t have enough time for quiet, guarded Watson to get that emotional reflection back some other way. But it has also deliberately made room to let their relationship be more than one thing. It’s a relationship that has its well-worn habits (either delightful or too well-worn, depending on your ceiling for things like the Joan Wake-Up). It’s a relationship that has broken, more than once. It’s a relationship that could easily take over the cases—and frankly should have—and has routinely been shortchanged in the name of episodic pacing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2018

Oh, and did Gregson's "Maddie wasn't just Hannah's roommate. She was her best friend." feel to anyone else like the show tiptoeing up to making her gay but then chickening out, in a very old-fashioned suggest-but-don't-say way?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh, and did Gregson's "Maddie wasn't just Hannah's roommate. She was her best friend." feel to anyone else like the show tiptoeing up to making her gay but then chickening out, in a very old-fashioned suggest-but-don't-say way?

Oh yes, absolutely! I actually thought Gregson was going to say "Maddie wasn't just Hannah's roommate. She was her girlfriend/wife/significant other/whatever." But not so much.

Although a more generous interpretation might be that the Hannah/Maddie relationship is supposed to mirror the platonic but still very devoted Sherlock/Joan relationship, and they purposefully kept Hannah and Maddie as best friends to maintain the parallel. But I don't know that I actually buy that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2018

Before we got to the ultimate conclusion, there was a moment when I thought Gregson might do what Sherlock ultimately did, confess to committing the crime, to protect both Joan and Hannah. And then maybe instead of shipping Marcus off to the Marshalls, he would take over the precinct? Although he's probably not senior enough for that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:26 PM on September 21, 2018

Oh, and did Gregson's "Maddie wasn't just Hannah's roommate. She was her best friend." feel to anyone else like the show tiptoeing up to making her gay but then chickening out, in a very old-fashioned suggest-but-don't-say way?

I wonder if they considered having Maddie and Hannah be a couple but then didn't want to be (rightly) accused of the Bury Your Gays cliche/trope/problematic plot pattern when Maddie was killed off after virtually no story arc and very little story arc for Hannah, especially just an episode or two after the writers had a gay man get killed off-screen to provide some backstory for Michael.

But whatever the relationship was meant to be, making an underdeveloped relationship the linchpin of the series-finale-turned-season-finale did seem a bit weak. I think they could have traded at least one or two murder-of-the-weak episodes for some development of Maddie and Hannah's relationship.
posted by jedicus at 2:39 PM on September 21, 2018

It's tempting to go back and re-evaluate just how complicated the Gregsons' shit is over the past few seasons. Hannah has been in a few pickles before, and she has consistently been portrayed not only as a sub-par police officer but as someone who makes bad decisions in general. I too thought Tommy's characterization of her relationship with her roommate was going in the bi- direction, but instead I'm convinced it was just sloppy writing.

Tommy's been up to his neck in shit several times, and not always because of Sherlock.

However, I don't think any of that warrants them getting dropped like hot rocks at the very end. Bell too.

This ep went back strong to the idea that Joan's wardrobe reflects her state of mind. Black on black on black for saying goodbye to Sherlock with just a splattering (literally) of white, and then a great white coat for the denouement.

"I said that when I thought I wasn't going to see you again," was prime Sherlock dialog.

Finally, I got REALLY EXCITED for a season of this show set in London.
posted by carsonb at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Finally, I got REALLY EXCITED for a season of this show set in London.

I can't imagine CBS will budget for a 7th season entirely set in London though.

This reminded me of the Charmed season 7 finale, when they too thought they were probably getting canceled, and did a whole 'the sisters fake their deaths to evade law enforcement' ending that they then had to walk back in the unexpected season 8. So now Elementary is going to have to find a way to undo Sherlock being a confessed murderer and Watson being a suspected murderer in order to plausibly get them back to NYPD consulting?

I wasn't thrilled with this as a series finale; it felt a little too close to a romantic pairing - like, with plausible deniability so as not to break the show's 'Sherlock & Joan will never hook up' rule. But I'm not looking forward to them pressing the big red re-set button next season either, so, I wish this had been the series finale it was meant to be.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:20 PM on September 21, 2018

Yeah, I think ultimately how this episode handled the Sherlock/Joan relationship would have worked well for a series finale. (It would have been too depressing if it had ended on Sherlock leaving Joan behind in NYC.) But if this had been the series finale, it was really unfortunate that the episode didn't get to have a better send off for Bell and Gregson, since they are the only other consistent cast members throughout the shows run. At least the few moments Bell had were nice character moments (him sticking up for Joan with the obnoxious FBI agents, and then him giving Sherlock all the info they had on Michael's murder), but I wish the show had found some time to give him a little more air time, or at least a bit more closure. I almost think it might have been better if they had Bell leave for the Marshalls before the two final episodes of the season, so it could have gotten more of a focus. And with Gregson, it would have been nice if his final moments in the episode hadn't been the argument with Sherlock.

Of course, this wasn't the series finale, but it may very well have been the finale for Bell and Gregson. With Bell, I could see them finding a way to work him in through his new role at the Marshalls on an occasional basis, but even if Joan and Sherlock return to NYC, it's hard to imagine them going back to work with Gregson after this.

I still think they should have put in more time this season building up Hannah. Before Michael murdered her roommate, wasn't her original storyline in that episode about her sharing that she's an alcoholic with her father? And wasn't her only other previous storyline the one where she was in an abusive relationship with another cop, way back in S3? (Okay, according to IMDB, she appeared in one other episode, which I don't remember at all.) Maybe if they had shown her playing a more active role in the investigation with Michael, and showing her doing a competent job at that, it would have given them more time to play up her relationship with Maddie and also build her up as a character.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:47 PM on September 22, 2018

I would actually be thrilled if they spent the whole of S7 in London, but I doubt that's going to happen for budget/logistical reasons. I'd be grateful if we get a couple episodes. But maybe they'll come back to the US, just not NYC? It's hard to imagine them in a small town, and I also can't imagine Sherlock living in, like, LA, but maybe Boston? Or Chicago? San Francisco? Of course, they'll still have to handwave away the whole "Sherlock is never allowed back in this country" thing, but with Sherlock's connections, it wouldn't be so unbelievable if they went somewhere that they didn't have as many ties, although even in a different city, it could make partnering up with law enforcement tricky.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2018

I was so prepared to be angry at the show writers during the opening scene when Joan showed up for an interview with the FBI without a lawyer. Then Joan got the information she needed and asked for her lawyer. They did that right. They did many things right in this episode. Of course Gregson's primary loyalty is to his daughter. That fits with his character. His relationship with Sherlock is transactional, as he has made clear in past episodes. Bell's loyalty is more personal.

I loved Joan's London outfit. That white coat and those impractically high heels in the green, rainy, city.
posted by rdr at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2018

Interesting TV Line interview with showrunner Rob Doherty - Elementary Boss Talks Finale's Big Move, Previews Season 7 Time Jump
posted by oh yeah! at 5:26 AM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe they can move to Toronto/Vancouver/Generic Unnamed Canadian City. Which would help the shows budget while still giving enough variation on the standard formula.
posted by Marticus at 6:11 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Late to the party as ever, but...

Sherlock and Joan made such stupid decisions that I lost all patience at a few points. "This accusation is based on no hard evidence and would last about 90 seconds if it ever got to court, but let's start skulking around under the noses of the FBI and why not criminally destroy evidence while we're at it?" However, play me This is the One at the end of anything and I will overlook a lot of faults. Plus Gregson and Holmes' confrontation was a standout scene.

I'm glad I skip over the 'previously' parts because Hanna's involvement was a surprise for me. And I actually liked that Michael's death was anticlimactic and that his life was ended as cheaply as his victims'. Why should he get a dignified / thrilling end?

The external shot in London was slick chroma keying, but the building they came out of looked very out of place. I'd be astonished if there's any location shooting in S7; I'd guess they're going to be back in the brownstone and working in the precinct within two or three episodes. Some deus ex machina, probably a case of national importance, will result in the slate being wiped clean.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:51 AM on December 2, 2018

Even later to the party (had to wait until it was on Hulu).

I enjoyed this one more for the performances than for the plot.

One thing that made it hard for me to engage with this episode was the utter implausibility of the FBI's theory. They seriously thought Watson beat Michael to death after she'd suffered broken ribs and a hematoma? It made the FBI agent look like an idiot, rather than a formidable (but misguided) opponent. And it made a lot of Sherlock's decisions seem like ridiculous overreactions instead of some grand sacrifices.

I may be alone on this, but I didn't feel the need for Hannah and Maddie's relationship to be explored further to buy the Hannah-as-killer storyline. Michael lured Hannah out of the house by asking her out on a date, so she wouldn't be there to protect Maddie. He killed Maddie in Hannah/Maddie's shared home, and left her for Hannah to find. It doesn't matter to me whether Hannah and Maddie were lovers or platonic friends or even just roommates on good terms. That's enough motive for me. People routinely commit multiple murders on the show for far, far less provocation.

The article that oh yeah! posted was interesting. Mr. creepygirl and I felt that the middle section of the season felt very different from the beginning and end, and now we know why. I have to say I enjoyed the one-off procedurals in the middle a lot more than the serial killer storyline, so I'm glad that Elementary got the extra episodes.
posted by creepygirl at 10:47 PM on March 1, 2019

OK SOMETHING THAT BUGGED THE SHIT OUT OF ME (and I generally really liked this supposed-to-be-finale...)

In "Fit to be Tied," while beating Joan, Michael explains that, yes, he killed Ray, and that William, in the aftermath of this news, OD'ed after ten years of being sober.

Then when he's killed, he's leaving a message on William's voice mail allowing him to shout "Joan!" on a recording in his final moments.

I was just waiting for Joan to piece that together all episode and it never came up. It really looked like Michael was trying to set her up as the final act of his miserable plan, but nope, just a weird plot hole.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:20 PM on July 3, 2020

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