Elementary, Season 2: Episode 19 – “The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville”
Written by Jason Tracey
Directed by Larry Teng
Airs Thursday nights at 10 on CBS
Elementary was renewed for a third season on March 13th, which was also the date of the last episode to air before “The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville.” That’s not been the first break the series has taken in 2014, having only put on eight episodes during the fourteen weeks it has been able to (part of that, of course, were the Olympics). The inconsistency, however, might account for why Elementary received its lowest viewership ever with this episode. And while the quality in the last handful of episodes has risen, it’s a relief that the renewal announcement came as early as it did, since since Elementary has become much more a niche show on CBS than one of the network’s heavy-hitting procedural crime dramas.
As long as Elementary has a home, episodes like “The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville” are always welcome. Though not ambitious in any way, it’s another good example of how the series can do an interesting self-contained piece while throwing in just enough character development to make it feel like we’re progressing somewhere with Sherlock or Joan or both. In this case, Joan gets to be the center of the thematic attention when an old case from her surgeon days crops up in the form of current-day murders tying to a former patient of her mentor’s. The man, Aaron Colville, had been charged with murders that he did commit, we find out. Yet, Joan still struggles when she thinks about what happened when Colville had been brought in. Her mentor displayed a clear lack of urgency when not administering an injection of epinephrine soon enough, thus giving Joan the impression that her mentor didn’t think Aaron should live because of his actions. It’s an idea that’s been used many times in medical dramas in television history, but because this part of Joan’s history has been so far removed from Elementary‘s second season, it’s an excusable use of the trope. To complicate it just enough, neither Joan nor her mentor have any clear idea as to how their opinions affected their actions that day, and Joan can only wonder about what she would have done had she been the head surgeon in the room. Sherlock, though, is quick to point out the silver lining in how Joan’s thought process operated. Maybe a surgeon can’t afford to think about the moral issues surrounding a situation like that, but it aligns with how a consulting detective might think. Joan, then, is in the right place in her life at the moment, and Sherlock makes sure she never forgets that.
The case itself has the humorous touch Elementary has such a handle on, especially in the interrogation scenes when the detectives are sifting through all the former prisoners who had dentures modeled after Colville. Sherlock’s lack of patience when it comes to the average human is so bitingly comic that 45 minutes of him harshly criticizing people for being lazy and stupid would make for very watchable television. So, too, would his insane deduction skills, which are better on display in the episode’s cold open than they have been in quite a while as Sherlock is able to uncover a thief posing as a corpse in a morgue by stabbing him with a pin. He’s great at playing up the theatricality, which is also why his vanity sometimes makes him susceptible. For those on Mycroft Watch, we get a mention in the script, which teasingly sets up the arc that will most likely conclude this season. As always, though, as long as the placeholder episodes can do both the procedural and character-based material like this without dragging, the wait becomes much more bearable for the bigger, better mythology episodes.
– Sean Colletti