Elementary: The Female of the Species
February 14, 2015 7:20 AM - Season 3, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Joan deals with the death of Andrew, and re-examines her self-identity. Sherlock and Detective "I have a first name, y'know" Bell visit the zoo. An old nemesis makes a brief appearance.

This episode was directed by Lucy Liu (her second outing in the chair for the show; her first was Season 2, Ep. 22, "Paint It Black" (previously on FanFare)), and the AV Club review notes some interesting techniques and stylistic choices.
posted by soundguy99 (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Interesting - I generally don't pay attention to who directs or writes specific episodes, thanks for pointing this out.

It was interesting seeing Sherlock 1) swapping roles of being concerned about the mental well-being of Joan, and considerate of her desire to make Sherlock's world her world, too, and 2) taking on/ reaching out to Marcus Bell as a temporary partner/protege.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on February 14, 2015

I don't usually pay much attention to TV directors either, I just happened to notice it while poking around to see how the episode was described other places online. I did notice a couple of interesting things about the show while watching it, like the long shot of Sherlock and Marcus trudging through the falling snow, and especially the end where they watch the arrest take place through the café window, rather than being right next to the police & confronting the criminal.

I think Sherlock's concern for Joan and his use of Bell were not so much a "swapping" thing as a further development of Sherlock's psychological arc this season - he's learning to accept that he likes and sometimes actually needs other people. In the beginning, 3 seasons ago, he seemed to feel that everyone else in the world was a "useful idiot" at best, and more often simply an impediment. Then he made an exception for Joan, and then this season between Kitty's development and his need to learn to cope with Joan's independence, he's gaining some self- awareness about the nature of his relationships with others.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I haven't really been watching the show this season, but caught this episode. The thing that I found most interesting was Watson; one could have expected from the beginning of the show's run that there'd be some sort of redemption arc for Sherlock wherein he learns the value of caring and all the usual after-school special stuff.

Instead, Watson is becoming much more like Sherlock, which quite nicely turns the trope on its head.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:16 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am so glad you brought up the term "After-school special." Several episodes have thrown off that vibe. Although they were using the "serious emotional moment" soundtrack, I didn't really feel that Joan's decision to come back to the brownstone warranted all the buildup it received. There was a lot going on in this episode:

1. Andrew dies from consuming hemlock meant for Joan, from a criminal that Joan put away for life.
2. Joan struggles with Andrew's death, and Andrew's father is angry that Joan couldn't have foreseen the use of a highly-trained French female assassin who relies on poison and prevented it.
3. Zebras and cloning technology
4. A very special friendship with Marcus
5. MORIARTY gets upset that someone is moving the pieces on her chessboard and assassinates the aforementioned jailed criminal.

The death of Andrew and the jailed nemesis just feel like it was late Friday night at NBC and everyone just wanted to call it a day and go home.
posted by mecran01 at 5:49 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love this show: more intelligent than CSI-type stuff, less traumatic than Luther or Homicide, pretty people but not distractingly so. But IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY the writer with the "I reached out to, you reached out to, he she or it reached out to" tick needs someone to follow them around with a custard pie catapult.
posted by runincircles at 9:18 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I will take Elementary being a little after school special if it means we continue to get adults acting like goddamn adults and expressing their emotions and communicating. I'm frankly sick of the not-so-lovable asshole trope given how overdone it's been the past few years, so I'm okay with course-correcting a little too far to the other side with characters like Elementary's Sherlock and Joan.

Joan struggles with Andrew's death, and Andrew's father is angry that Joan couldn't have foreseen the use of a highly-trained French female assassin who relies on poison and prevented it.

I didn't see this as being unreasonable on Andrew's father's part, and I was actually very pleased with how that scene played out. A lot of other shows would have had Andrew's father say considerably worse to Joan or explicitly blame her. Instead, we got a much more understated, ambivalent scene where Andrew's father points out the "too little, too late" nature of the circumstances: Joan and Andrew both knew about Elana March, they knew she was in jail and they knew the risks. But then she was in jail and the threat felt distant, and Joan couldn't have foreseen the poisoning and couldn't expect round the clock police protection without an explicit threat. Andrew, unfortunately, paid the price. Andrew's father seemed more than aware that Andrew was just collateral damage. His quiet, tired anger wasn't really directed at Joan.

I think that's what really fueled Joan's decision, so it didn't necessarily feel unearned to me when she decided to come back to the brownstone. Because that kind of undirected anger at the circumstances is actually harder to resolve than Joan being the target of Andrew's father's anger. There's no pat answer of solve the mystery, get revenge like there was for Sherlock and Moriarty or Kitty and her rapist.

Joan's response was instead quintessentially Joan: she chose the option she thought would ensure that this would not happen again, because Joan is solution-oriented. Remember, when Joan's mistake cost a patient's life, she gave up her career as a surgeon rather than risk it happening again. Now her new career has cost a life as well, just under circumstances she couldn't have foreseen or controlled. But this time she stays committed to her professional choices, she just gives up on keeping the boundaries of her personal and professional life separate, which is what moving out of the brownstone had represented. Moving back into the brownstone and conceding the costs of her career as a detective is on the same continuum of character development as Joan's decision to leave her career as a surgeon.
posted by yasaman at 12:12 PM on February 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

I would seriously favorite your comment a thousand times if I could, yasaman.

The only thing, though, is that it felt to me like Lucy Liu played those scenes about returning to the brownstone & accepting her lot as a detective with a noticeable lack of affect, as if there was some level of survivor's guilt/PTSD happening - so her returning to the brownstone is a solution, but maybe a solution that is born more from desperation and stress than a considered analysis, and so a solution that might not actually work out all that well over the course of the rest of the season.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:53 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I will take Elementary being a little after school special if it means we continue to get adults acting like goddamn adults and expressing their emotions and communicating.
Yes yes yes this times one million. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to strangle characters in other shows that would SOLVE THEIR DAMN PROBLEM IF ONLY THEY WOULD TALK TO [the other person or persons involved] ABOUT IT. I have literally made strangling motions at the tv screen over this.
posted by royalsong at 7:58 AM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

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