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Review of Elementary Episode 2.16 The One Per Cent Solution: "Here Comes the Rooster"



The most recent episode of Elementary, "The One Percent Solution," riffs in its title on the one percent, the percentage of Americans who control just over 40% of total financial wealth, and the seven percent solution, which was the cocaine solution Doyle's Holmes favored (and which furnished the title of Nicholas Meyer's 1974 Holmes pastiche). However, in this case Holmes's (Johnny Lee Miller) addictions are not the issue. Instead, the echo is used to suggest the addictive attraction of wealth, both for the episode's prime suspect, Richard Balsille (played by an underutilized Bill Irwin), and for his new head of security, former Inspector Lestrade (Sean Pertwee), who is now profiting in the private sector after leaving Scotland Yard, and whose taste for the finer things leads him into a moral quagmire.

This reappearance of Lestrade is scripted by series creator Robert Doherty, and offers up a mystery that manages to be deceptive, if perhaps a trifle implausible in one key respect. A bomb has taken out one of wealthy financier Balsille's highly-ranked executives, while also injuring several others. Several plausible scenarios present themselves, from a radical bomber targeting the wealthy (a nice red herring) through Balsille himself, eliminating a threat, before Holmes beats Lestrade to the punch and solves the case.

The tension between Holmes and Lestrade is of course the primary point and primary interest of the episode. When we last saw Lestrade, he had managed to get himself back in the limelight by once again riding Holmes's coattails. Now, he has remade himself even more fully in Holmes's image, not quite as a consulting detective but as an arrogant private-sector "security czar" who even has his own version of Watson (Lucy Liu) in Miss Truepenny (Sarah Goldberg). Miss Truepenny is an amusing foil to Watson, clearly a gopher rather than a genuine partner. In one scene, she tells Watson, "assistants wait outside," to which Watson responds "I know," before sailing past the flummoxed Truepenny and entering the interrogation room. Truepenny's name perhaps is an echo of James Bond's factotum Miss Moneypenny while also providing a punning contrast to the fabulous wealth of Balsille, not to mention a moral contrast: "truepenny" means "trusty or honest person," which Balsille clearly is not, and which Lestrade himself may not be, either, or so Holmes fears for some of the episode, when the evidence suggests that Lestrade may have been involved in the crime.

Lestrade's and Holmes's prickly relationhsip is reflected in the episode's subplot about Holmes's
attempt to recondition fighting cocks away from their hostility for each other. In addition to allowing for amusing word play (Watson trying to insist on not being childish and calling them "roosters" rather tha cocks before finally getting caught out, when in frustration she talks about holding cocks), the battling bantams serve as a fairly obvious metaphor for Holmes and Lestrade. The rapprochement between the two men--they come to some sort of accommodation by the end, if not becoming friends--is reflected in the successful reconditioning of the cocks, which will apparently join the menagerie in Holmes's brownstone (Watson, rolling her eyes, asserts that theough they may now own chickens, she won't feed them).

As for the mystery, for much of the episode the evidence seems to suggest that Balsille, abetted by Lestrade, may have actually been behind it, as he appears to be suffering from blackmail. The wealth/addiction equation is made clear in how we are told that Balsille's wealth has led to him going progressively further down the path of purchasing sexual favours, while the appeal of wealth has led Lestrade to wink at Balsille's indiscretions in exchange for his own rewards. However, the blackmail is really motivated by an attempt to manipulate the markets by one of the other bomb victims, which is where the plot gets implausible. First, not only is it convenient that she was one of Balsille's earlier financial conquests, the plausibility of her being able to get the goods on several of Balsille's other conquests in order to blackmail him is somewhat strained, and the gambit of being herself at the bombed table, albeit at the far end, so as to throw suspicion away from herself (after all, who in their right mind would set off a bomb at a table at which they were sitting?) really strains credulity (after all, who in their right mind would set off a bomb at a table at which they were sitting?)


Nevertheless, this was an engaging episode with typically amusing character byplay and an interesting redempton arc (well, to some extent) for Lestrade. and I , for one, would like to see more of Miss Truepenny. Let me know your thoughts below: want to see more Truepenny? More Lestrade? More cocks?

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