This week's Elementary featured a wonderfully twisty mystery that pitted Holmes and Lestrade in an adversarial collaboration. When a bomb targeted a group of 1% financiers, Holmes and Watson quickly found that Gareth Lestrade had been retained as a detective / go-for for the company's C.E.O. With a coconut water in hand and a ridiculously submissive assistant in tow, Lestrade at first seemed like the epitome of egotistical self-deception, obnoxiously calling for a private jet and lording his supposed power and skill set over the irritated Holmes. However, as events unfurled, we got to see more of Lestrade's inner struggle and vulnerabilities, reminding us why he's a sympathetic and interesting character.
What I really enjoy about Elementary's take on Lestrade is that it's a new spin on the character that builds complex nuances upon the foundation of the original Lestrade. Unlike the show's version of Mycroft, who has too little in common with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's vision for my taste (there's also just something in general about Rhys Ifan's performance that isn't clicking for me), this Lestrade has quite a bit in common with his literary predecessor and the version from the classic Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce episodes. Lestrade always was putting his foot in his mouth trying to outsmart Holmes, and here we have much the same scenario, with Sean Pertwee infusing the role with a great blend of hubris and a barely repressed inferiority complex. And the idea of Holmes letting Lestrade have credit for his solved cases is also from the original tales, though now we're getting to see the consequences of this deal, which is intriguing.
The use of the rehabilitated cock fighters provided a clever use of metaphor, reflecting the confused interactions between Holmes and Lestrade. Somewhere between his mistrust and resentment of his former coworker, Holmes also seems to feel some amount of responsibility for his situation. Perhaps this springs from the fact that Lestrade's problems all stem from desperately needing to appropriate Holmes' genius, something Sherlock allowed him to do for too long. While it's nothing Holmes put into words, it's intriguing to consider how this might color his feelings towards his old frenemy, since Lestrade would have at least had more of a chance to develop his own professional identity and esteem had Holmes not made him his public mask. While not wanting to "shovel coal on Lestrade's ego," Holmes hesitates to encourage the monster he feels largely responsible for creating.
Posted by Virginia Mae at Saturday, March 01, 2014 9 CommentsElementary Reviews
And of course, the angsty roosters also allowed for some utterly hilarious wordplay between Holmes and Watson as he constantly baited her with questions about cocks. Watson's bemused reactions and annoyance at finding "Remus" outside her bedroom door as an alarm clock were delightful. I also enjoyed her quietly sensitive and intelligently observant counsel of Holmes through his issues with Lestrade. As Watson noticed, clearly his work on the case was becoming hampered by the distraction of Lestrade's grandstanding interference, and only by dealing with the problem head-on could Holmes return his focus to where it belonged.
Luckily, the two tasks became intertwined once Holmes and Watson realized that Lestrade had been involved in some of the sketchy CEO's dirty work, and Holmes soon confronted him on the matter. Sadly, it seemed that Lestrade's shame over how he had fallen from a successful investigator to a publicly derided one, and now essentially a rich man's pimp, eclipsed his drive to clarify his lack of involvement in the bomb crime. This shows the intense meaning that Lestrade attaches to Holmes' view of him, as he constantly wants to not just seem to outdo Sherlock, but really to impress the master detective. And Holmes' quick debunking of Lestrade's attempt to hide his embarrassing new career showed him at his most acerbically friendly and understanding, since he clearly felt no need to rub Lestrade's shame in.
Given the creepiness of Lestrade's employer, it seemed certain that he was behind the bombing, so it was a cool twist to have the true perpetrator be a seeming victim, the under-secretary conveniently seated at the end of the table. The complex subtlety of this woman's criminal genius was worthy of an original Conan Doyle tale.
"The One Percent Solution" was one of those fabulous Elementary episodes that had the show firing on all cylinders. The combination of a suspenseful mystery with the Holmes/Lestrade dynamic and all of the serious and comical moments that came with it was perfect. I loved Watson's nonchalant reactions to the high-strung Miss Truepenny, who was incapable of realizing that Watson was actually Holmes' full-fledged and highly respected partner - or that Watson wasn't desperately trying to impress Lestrade. Having Holmes assign the whiney "Had a Bad Day" song as Lestrade's ringtone was also priceless.
Just as the two roosters ultimately learned to coexist, so Holmes and Lestrade found a way through their difficulties to a more amicable working relationship. However, I doubt that Lestrade's tendency to aggrandise his own image will ever truly be doused. I look forward to seeing him back on the show in the future, seeing where life takes him next, and under what circumstances he might again encounter Holmes and Watson.
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