…by Alana Mancuso, a writer we always enjoy cuz she cuts through buzzwords and, as our grandparents used to say, “tells it like it is:”

Lucy Liu is the best thing about SHERLOCK...except for the writing and, um, Sherlock!
Lucy Liu is the best thing about SHERLOCK…except for the writing and, um, Sherlock!

by Alana Mancuso

Even as a fan of the show, I was not actually expecting the second season of Elementary and its finale to match what it had pulled off in Season 1—namely, because Natalie Dormer is now busy with Game of Thrones and really, Lucy Liu versus Natalie Dormer in a battle of hardcore ladies matching wits with millions of dollars, a global crime syndicate, and one man’s life in the balance? How were they going to top that? The writers still tried, bless their hearts.

Which is why, even a week after the finale, I find myself confused at how they managed to underwhelm me even when I was expecting to be underwhelmed.

This season had some very strong episodes. Elementary is, in many ways, a police procedural with Sherlockian elements instead of the other way around, which is perhaps why so many fans of Sir Doyle’s detective have been tentative to give Elementary a try. Despite the occasional formulaic form of such a show, there were a number of cases this season that had me intrigued even as a long-time fan of the genre. “Solve for X,” “Corpse de Ballet,” and “The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville,” stand out for their interesting premises, while “Tremors,” “The Diabolical Kind,” and “No Lack of Void” excel by using the cases as a framework to bring out the emotional conflict in and between characters. The fact that the anonymous internet hacktivist collective Everyone wasn’t introduced in the early season only to be discarded as a single-episode plot device, and instead showed up several times in later episodes, was also gratifying on a world-building level, as was the return of the NSA into Joan and Sherlock’s affairs.

Of course, the cases are why you watch a single episode: the characters are why you watch an entire season. While Sherlock’s character arc on his struggles with forging worthwhile human connection has ping-ponged back and forth over the season — his complicated relationship with Mycroft, his responsibility in Bell’s injury and antagonizing of the department’s other police, Moriarty’s letters, etc. — Watson’s own growth and search for independence outside of her partnership with Sherlock has been… there, and there consistently, but rarely in focus. The realization of how much of Joan’s life now revolves around their Great Work was brought up early in episode four but, aside from a few ominous conversations (notably with Jamie and Lestrade) about what it will be like once Sherlock has moved on from their friendship, which Watson even rebuffs, Watson’s development from loyal partner to separate entity doesn’t get much attention. That is, until she starts hooking up with Mycroft again near the finale; then it’s full speed ahead to wanting her own apartment so that she can see less of one Holmes brother and more of the other.

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MUNCHMAN’S NOTE: This review contains spoilers. We didn’t mention till now cuz…didn’t care. Spoilers are bullshit anyway.