Elementary Season 1, Episode 18: “Déjà Vu All Over Again”
Written by Mark Rodenbeck
Directed by Jerry Levine
Airs Thursdays at 10pm (ET) on CBS
Like most great partnerships, it all starts with a flashback – during a seemingly normal evening, Watson gets a call to become the sober companion to a person with a weird name. The next minute, she is trying to hot-wire an expensive car only to struggle with the wires. All in a day’s work and a certainly more interesting way to begin an Elementary episode.
Once again, we see the spotlight on Lucy Liu’s Watson, as her character’s reluctance in being a ‘consulting detective’ and forgotten evenings with friends show a visible personality change. Compared to the cold opening where she is in the middle of her social circle, the situation is flipped as her friends choose to ‘intervene’ with her latest yet seemingly outrageous career change, allowing Watson’s underlying sense of self-doubt to creep up.
Even though we have seen her doubts of personal self-belief numerous times, this theme runs consistently throughout the episode; when she tries to conclude her case, a melancholic side appears in the form of a déjà vu – hence the episode’s apt title. The sense of personal disappointment, represented by a conversation through a jail cell, almost feels like recycled material, but the shift in perspective tilts the focus in Watson’s favour and essentially rewards her, not to mention Liu, the limelight she has been craving for since she has been working with Holmes.
Holmes, however, has his own way of working. When the two detectives are called to consult on the disappearance of a woman after a freak subway murder ‘inspires’ her to move on from her unhappy marriage, Holmes delegates Watson in her first solo case – strange for a character who practically revels in his intelligence, but seeing as the case was referred by Mr. Holmes, Sr., it’s probably a more grown-up way of saying “thanks, but no thanks, Dad.”
Using the less than legit means, his own pursuit of the previously subway murderer sees a differently animated side to the extrovert detective, indulging in conversations about pickpockets and stalkers like they were sports fans in a bar (nice nods to The Wire, by the way). On the other hand, It is clear that he wants to help Watson with her own case but he, not through lack of trying, doesn’t figuratively hold her hand through the process. So like his partner, Holmes displays a sense of personal growth since his introduction at the beginning of the show.
The plot to introduce two individual cases and then link them together is a smart move – as with all great murder mysteries, the complicated but gratifying conclusion ties up all the loose ends – and seeing the two protagonists separately in parallel, only for them to effectively join forces, proves how well Holmes and Watson work together.
Overall, “Déjà Vu All Over Again” is not a bad episode, but in terms of showing how much the partnership has changed from client-sober companion to consulting partners, this is as good as it gets.
– Katie Wong
NB: Elementary will return on Thursday, April 4.