Elementary, Season 2: Episode 14 – “Dead Clade Walking”
Written by Jeffrey Paul King
Directed by Helen Shaver
Airs Thursday nights at 10 on CBS
One of the many smart decisions the Elementary writers have made has been coming back to Sherlock’s history of addiction again and again. For one, it’s one of the few sources of the narrative that can bring in new, recurring characters, like Sherlock’s sponsor and now his sponsee, Randy. More importantly, letting Sherlock interact with those characters allows for much more insight into his character and room for growth that doesn’t revolve completely around his relationship with Watson. Sherlock is quick to dismiss his personal stakes in other people’s lives, but even when we see him object/vent in frustration to Watson regarding the situation he’s put himself into – essentially becoming a confidant of Randy’s – it’s easy to see that he’s complaining just because it’s in his nature. He’s actually curious about and accepting of taking on another person’s problems in an attempt to help that person, if possible. Sherlock’s cynicism only goes so far, and the longer we spend with him, the more we see those walls begin to breakdown. Season two of Elementary has spent a lot of its time drawing attention to these minor steps Sherlock and other characters make in becoming different, if not more complete, versions of themselves.
This is what’s going on around “Dead Clade Walking”‘s edges as the consulting detectives investigate what is perhaps the series’ most unique case – the case of the missing dinosaur fossil. The most recent episode of Elementary had a wonderfully fun case at its core, as Sherlock and Watson got tangled up in a Godfather-like plot with New York’s mob. “Dead Clade Walking” follows that up with another unconventional mystery for the pair to solve – one that has almost a childish bit of glee tinging it. The strange part about it is how large the repercussions of finding the fossil are. Not only is the nano-T-rex an extremely rare specimen, but that fact that the fossil is buried in a layer of the Earth that post-dates the presumed extinction of the dinosaurs is a theory-altering fact that many people are aggressively trying to disprove.
The A- and B-stories here couldn’t be further removed, but Elementary somehow makes it work once again. It’s been a while since we’ve seen this kind of focus paid to Joan’s character, but because Sherlock is still technically the “main” one and because he is the more difficult of the two to relate to, seeing him put into different roles (first, the troubled and guilty party behind Bell’s injury and now the sponsor in charge of the safety of a fellow addict) is a treat in and of itself. This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking episode of the series that makes up for the gap it left in viewers’ lives during its hiatus (during which Sherlock returned to the PBS), but if that means waiting to see Mycroft or another hugely important figure in this universe until later in the season, Elementary has a pretty perfect track record there.
– Sean Colletti