Elementary ran for seven successful seasons on CBS and gained a loyal fan following. Here are the series’ best episodes, ranked.
The adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic literary sleuth have seen various reboots over the years. One of the most recent adaptations of the great fictional detective’s stories was the CBS crime drama Elementary, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.
The series started airing in 2012 and ran for seven seasons. Although the show was perhaps a tad bit overshadowed by its more glamorous BBC counterpart, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, it goes without saying that Elementary did a bold modern-day reimagination of the legendary detective. Let us look at ten of the best episodes in the CBS drama.
“Child Predator” (Season 1)
Holmes connects a current case of child abduction with an older unsolved kidnapping case where the kidnapper was never found.
The clues lead the detective, his still-sobriety-partner, Watson, and the NYPD to a serial killer Holmes calls ‘the balloon man’. The episode is fast-paced and ends with a startling revelation. The transformation of the apparently innocent victim Adam Kemper into the true mastermind comes as quite a shocker.
“M” (Season 1)
Holmes realizes that a murder the NYPD is investigating is the handiwork of a criminal he had been familiar with, in London–Sebastian Moran, who calls himself M.
The episode is taut and downright heartbreaking as it shows Holmes spiraling into the lowest depths of depression, vulnerability, and the desperate need for revenge. He holds M responsible for the brutal murder of his lover, Irene Adler, and is hell-bent on avenging her death. This is also the episode where Holmes’ attention is diverted for the first time to the real criminal mastermind, Moriarty, who, he realizes, had actually ordered the hit on his lady love, and is also responsible for various nefarious activities on a global scale.
“The Grand Experiment” (Season 2)
The season 2 finale is wrought with tension as Holmes gets into deep waters to save his brother and find the mole inside the MI6 who is framing him for treason.
The episode is also significant as Sherlock has to come to terms with the fact that Mycroft had been placed in a vulnerable position mostly because of Sherlock’s own bad decision, taken in the past in moments of drug-addled disorientation. The episode also puts to rest all speculations regarding Watson and Mycroft’s relationship, once the latter fakes his death and is forced to go into hiding after his run-in with the MI6. Fans will remember it as the only time Joan came closest to having a romantic entanglement with a Holmes.
“Paint It Black” (Season 2)
The final episodes of the second season revolve around the intrigue surrounding Sherlock’s hitherto estranged brother Mycroft, and the relationship between the two, as well as a potential romance between Mycroft and Watson.
As Mycroft’s true identity as a spy for MI6 comes out into the open, he and Sherlock have to team up to find Watson who has been abducted by a French mercenary group called Le Milieu. Joan shows a remarkably steady mind under duress and fights to gain her captors’ trust.
“The Diabolical Kind” (Season 2)
This episode stands out as one of the handful of episodes that significantly featured Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty.
A little girl is abducted and her parents killed; the detective duo suspects and is proven right about a possible connection with their arch-rival whom they had brought down in the previous season. In a thrilling cat-and-mouse game, Holmes finds out that the girl they were trying to rescue was, in fact, Moriarty’s daughter.
“Heroine” (Season 1)
Irene Adler’s mask is torn off and in one of the biggest revelations of the series, and also a drastic, but empowering departure from the canon, Adler is revealed to be none other than Moriarty.
Actress Natalie Dormer transforms from the vulnerable damsel in distress into the scheming Jamie Moriarty. Holmes’ blind love for him prevents him from seeing it for a good while but he does eventually, and with a modern twist to Conan Doyle’s ‘The Dying Detective’, Moriarty is lured by Holmes and finally caught by the NYPD for her crimes.
“The Illustrious Client” (Season 3)
In season 3, Holmes is seen taking an interest in training an awkward young woman named Kitty Winter in the art of deduction–for those who don’t know, she is a character from Conan Doyle’s short story, “The Illustrious Client”, same as this particular episode.
In this episode, Winter’s traumatic past finally comes to the fore in its entirety as well as the details of her chance meeting with Holmes at Scotland Yard. Winter’s captor turns out to be the same person who had hired Joan to be a consultant for his firm, and the episode shows Kitty preparing herself for revenge while Holmes and Watson try to figure out how to help her.
“Give Me The Finger” (Season 6)
The case of the episode here is not as intriguing as the story that builds around this season’s antagonist, Michael Rowan. Rowan is an addict who comes across Holmes through the support group meetings and initiates a relationship with him as someone who has been deeply motivated by Sherlock’s recovery.
It is soon revealed, however, that Rowan is much more than a friendly fellow addict. In “Give Me The Finger”, Rowan gets bolder and strikes closer home when he murders a friend and roommate of Captain Gregson’s daughter, Hannah. Holmes and Watson realize that Rowan is a serial killer but the trick is to find evidence and pin the crimes on him. Actor Desmond Harrington does an admirable job playing the sinister serial killer who gets away with the perfect crime, and for a while, it seems like Holmes has finally met his match.
“Reichenbach Falls” (Season 7)
As those familiar with the canon would know, the nomenclature of the series’ penultimate episode is crafted in a clever pun after the famous final problem at the Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes and Moriarty lock each other in fatal combat that leads to the latter’s death and the former to fake his.
Elementary reinvents the final problem as a face-off between Holmes and a tech guru, aptly named Odin Reichenbach, a fanatic corporate mogul, obsessed with putting the entire world under surveillance and casually bumping people off on what he arbitrarily perceives as threats to individuals and the nation. As the name suggests, the Reichenbach empire is brought to its feet in this episode, as Holmes, presumed dead by his allies at the NYPD, fakes his death and takes off. The penultimate episode gives the audience a much-awaited final confrontation between the detective and a modern-day take of a criminal mastermind with unhindered access to every civilian’s life.
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