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"The Woman" on ELEMENTARY is No "Heroine"

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Written by : published Monday 20th May 2013

CBS's Elementary is one of those shows that I often dread watching, because, like most crime procedurals, most weeks concentrate on a single case that is solved by the end of the hour. Despite that, when the series is good, it's very good, and this year's three-part season finale, which ended with "The Woman" and "Heroine" this week, are two of the best hours of television I've seen lately.

Sherlock (Johnny Lee Miller) finds the love of his life, Irene Adler (Natalie Dormer, Game of Thrones, The Tudors), is still alive, not dead as he had thought. Taking himself off the case, Sherlock intends to stay with Irene and make sure she's OK, trusting Watson (Lucy Liu), Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn), and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) to catch the villain responsible for Irene's abduction two years ago, Moriarty.

This is quite a turn for the character, seeing Sherlock able to walk away from the case. It's a testament to just how deep his feelings for Irene go. Clearly, this is the one person in the world that makes Sherlock change his game, and seeing the extremely talented Miller play the nuance and complexity of such a situation, so different from typical Sherlock, is fascinating.

But that is nothing compared to what happens when Sherlock finds out that Irene is Moriarty, his love and his foe one in the same.

Elementary has twisted much of the familiar Sherlock Holmes mythology in interesting ways; Ms. Hudson is a transsexual and Watson is an Asian woman. But to make Irene and Moriarty, two incredibly influential people in Sherlock's life, the same person is the boldest move yet. In lesser hands, with a series that doesn't write the tale so well, and isn't performed with the utmost care by amazing players, this would be campy and cheap. In Elementary, with Miller and Dormer involved, it's as impressive as it is daring.

Love and hate are two emotions very closely related. We've seen the story of a hero and villain who are best friends torn asunder many times. But I can't recall a dynamic in fiction as intense as this one, with Moriarty returning Sherlock's feelings, but also driven by motivation he doesn't understand. It helps that she is a genius, capable of tricking and manipulating Sherlock, and their interactions are charged in a very visceral way.

How this will change the game going forward is anyone's guess. Surely, this isn't the last we've seen of Moriarty, and when her path crosses with Sherlock's again, it will throw him into disarray. He is able to put the law ahead of emotion, and helps Irene get caught. But the romance between them doesn't seem to be over, either, and she will likely terrorize him again.

Part of the reason Sherlock is able to stop Irene / Moriarty is because she underestimates Watson. Liu's version of Watson is a memorable one, and much sharper than some may give her credit at first glance. Moriarty probably won't make the same mistake again. But the fact that Watson can play such a key role in "The Woman" and "Heroine," during a tale in which one would think she would take a step out of focus, is telling to Watson's overall importance in the series.

The fascination of three brilliant minds going at each other is wonderful storytelling. In this encounter, Sherlock is sort of off of his game, with only Moriarty knowing the score ahead of time, and Watson is the x factor. But the next time, they should be ready for each other, or Sherlock will be as ready as he can be, and it should be a true match of wits, with the stakes likely upped even more.

However, until then, we're probably sentenced to go back to boring procedural episodes, setting aside amazing backstory and awesome performances in favor of solving a few murders. Yawn.

Elementary has been renewed and will return to CBS next fall.

About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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