Elementary, Season 2: Episode 6 – “An Unnatural Arrangement”
Written by Cathryn Humphris
Directed by Christine Moore
Airs Thursday nights at 10 on CBS
Despite the fact that there are four regular cast members included in Elementary‘s title credits, it would be a stretch to say that Gregson and Bell are anything more than supporting characters in this series (and, really, supporting characters that are rarely used in any meaningful way). So, when an episode like “An Unnatural Arrangement” comes along and focuses on Gregson, it is an interesting mix-up by default.
The episode itself stacks up rather well, too. Apart from the weird inclusion of the red herring character who is essentially stalking Gregson, the story that “An Unnatural Arrangement” has to tell is engaging, if cliche. (Note: the reason the red herring is a weird inclusion here is because it is set up to be more important than it ends up being and because the whole concept of that character is provocative enough that we want to see and hear more about it. Alas!) Yes, it is kind of unfortunate that the spotlight gets put on Gregson for a marital problems plot dealing with a wife who is tired of her cop husband putting in the long hours, but Aidan Quinn brings that believable weariness to Gregson that you would expect to see in detective characters like Martin Beck from Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall’s novels. I enjoyed especially how the crime plot, which is initially introduced as a threat to the Gregsons, ends up being a misunderstanding on the perpetrator’s part so that writer Cathryn Humphris did not feel like she needed to create some weak and grossly coincidental backstory for Gregson.
As we have been getting further into Elementary‘s second season, it is apparent that Joan is displaying some of that genius current that runs through Sherlock. All of that culminates in “An Unnatural Arrangement” when Sherlock gives Joan a chest of all his cold cases. It is a huge step in humility for Sherlock, and as he notices Joan open the chest from the background of the final shot, it is hard to say if there is a tinge of jealousy or pride – or both. While Elementary has created a character who has mostly been superhero-like, it is hard to fathom how successful Joan will be with the cold cases, but she certainly deserves it after giving Sherlock grief for not respecting the nature of their partnership (Sherlock has a different, warped definition of what that relationship is). If there is something else that should be said about how this B-story wraps up, it is that Elementary has a fantastic score, which I do not believe I have recognized yet in these reviews. Little things like that – when an episode of TV can pull of a montage or a weighty scene set to music – add that extra intangible aspect that gives this series its air of quality. We are still hanging around waiting for the return of Mycroft, but considering how different “An Unnatural Arrangement” is in terms of its narrative concerns, it ends up being another welcome one-off episode.
– Sean Colletti