Elementary: T-Bone and the Iceman
March 13, 2015 5:26 AM - Season 3, Episode 17 - Subscribe

A murder victim turns out to have been instantly frozen at the time of her death; Watson is forced to have an awkward conversation with her brother after learning he is having an affair.
posted by oh yeah! (4 comments total)
AV Club recap
posted by oh yeah! at 5:27 AM on March 13, 2015

This comment at the AV Club got me thinking. I really liked the way the Joan and Sherlock relationship played out in this episode, because it seemed nicely lived in and comfortable, two friends who care about each other and who hash out personal and work stuff together in a productive and supportive way. But it's true that there's been something of a pattern of Sherlock solving or attempting to solve Joan's problems, such as when he rented Joan's old apartment because he was concerned she wasn't making the right decision in moving back to the Brownstone. It edges close to high-handed and even a little chauvinistic at times.

But I tend to agree with the AV Club commenter that it doesn't bother me, and I think it's because Joan and Sherlock have been developed and established as good partners to each other, and now, as a family of a sort. In this episode, Joan is upset about some family drama, Sherlock perceives that she's upset and asks her to tell him what's up, so she does. And he listens and offers some snark, but also a good deal of helpful or at the very least well-meant advice, and it goes back and forth like that for the rest of the episode until Sherlock sees a solution to Joan's problem and implements it himself. Joan's annoyed, but she doesn't tear into him for that bit of boundary crossing, which we know from experience she wouldn't hesitate to do.

I'd say the reason she doesn't get annoyed, and the reason I don't find it to be a troubling or annoying bit of manipulation on Sherlock's part, is that as he's explaining his actions to Joan, he tells her that she's his family too. He says it matter of factly, like it's not a big deal, but I'd argue that it's a hell of a turning point in their relationship for him to be so explicit about it. It was sort of implicit throughout the whole episode in the way Joan and Sherlock approached her family drama, but I was struck especially when we saw that Sherlock has his own relationship with Joan's mom, that it's a given to him that he respects and values her because she's Joan's mom. It's a stark contrast to what Sherlock said about his own family and his initial advice to "cut the cord," which I think we can safely assume is what Sherlock has done with his family issues.

So when Sherlock doesn't take the cut the cord option, and in fact manipulates Mary and Joan into a solution, he's conceding that maybe his family has it wrong. And he's doing it not as an outsider meddling in Joan's personal life and violating her boundaries, but more as a member of the family, and he tells Joan as much. One season ago, Joan would have been furious, and rightly so. But now? Now Joan is just annoyed, but is apparently otherwise cool with it because, yeah, she accepts that he's part of her family and family does shit like that (i.e. hot potatoing touchy problems around until the person best able to come up with/implement the solution takes care of it, to the dismay/gratitude/annoyance of other family members).

Maybe I'm overanalyzing it, but to me this is a wonderfully economical and understated bit of storytelling that does a lot more character/relationship work in the story than is apparent on first glance.
posted by yasaman at 1:05 PM on March 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

(Noting here that it's sort of interesting how the actor playing the cancer survivor tried to fix the script's misuse of "begs the question" with his unusual line-reading.)
posted by nobody at 5:02 AM on March 16, 2015

I wonder if the research about linguistics and lying is real.
posted by mecran01 at 3:14 PM on September 17, 2015

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