Elementary, Season 2: Episode 8 – “Blood is Thicker”
Written by Bob Goodman
Directed by John Polson
Airs Thursday nights at 10 on CBS
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While cable television generally houses the majority of great drama series at any given time, network offerings like Elementary and Arrow have been quietly stringing together sophomore seasons that have been as much fun to watch as anything else this fall. And even if seconds seasons are often the strongest in a series run, it’s interesting to ask why. In Elementary‘s case (pun…intended!), everything about these first eight episodes is virtually the same form, content and style of its first season with the exception of a heavier emphasis on serialization. In 24 episodes, we only got two hours of Irene Adler. In just a third of that amount, Rhys Ifans’ Mycroft has popped up three times already, and the conclusion to “Blood is Thicker” sets up his arc as even more important to the plot of Elementary and not just to the character development of Sherlock. In an ideal world, I would have liked to have seen the writers avoid using Mycroft as a plot device against his brother, because his presence in an emotionally rehabilitated form works ridiculously well without making him either “good” or “bad.” But more Mycroft is more Mycroft, and until the writers drop the ball with the mythology episodes, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
“Blood is Thicker” begins with a rather pleasantly unusual situation for Sherlock and Joan to wrap their heads around. Before the duo is even on-screen, we see – or hear, rather – the central murder take place, also off-screen. What might be someone breaking into a truck turns out to be a dead woman falling on top of a truck, which we see from a bird’s-eye view as it pulls away to make another delivery. So, before Team Holmes can dig their teeth into this one, they have to trace the route of the truck back to where the woman would have fallen. Sherlock does just that without a hitch, so it’s a superfluous speed bump, ultimately; however, it’s little flourishes like that that add variety to a genre that can get stuck in the recycling of ideas without even knowing it. The rest is a predictable red herring affair that ends with the most likely suspect being the killer (Joan’s medical background plays into how she’s able to break it all down, and that callback is also a nice flourish). William Sadler, though, anchors the guest performances, and that’s just a treat even if his character’s death follows in the theme of things happening off-screen.
The big question now is who is Mycroft in cahoots with? And, depending on the answer to that, what are their intentions? The goal in “Blood is Thicker” is to get Sherlock back to London, but it’s hard to say what that means – what Mycroft would want from him that he couldn’t get while he’s living in New York. It’s kind of a cheap cliffhanger, but so much stuff is working on all cylinders in the final minutes of the episode that it’s more intriguing than annoying. The Brothers Holmes share a couple great scenes, shake hands and then we get to see Mycroft at the bar of his restaurant contemplating how his scheme has fallen apart. Like a couple other TV series, the score on Elementary is one of its unsung (pun…not intended) heroes, and the closing moments of “Blood is Thicker” just look and sound great. With Mycroft going back to London, this might be the last we see of him for a while, but three strong episodes this season have already made it a memorable first half.
– Sean Colletti