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Elementary - The One That Got Away - Review

"The One That Got Away" is a key episode of Elementary. It marks the halfway point of season three-episode twelve-and it also offers several turning points for the central characters. Not surprisingly, therefore, it was written by series creator Robert Doherty. The episode is structurally more complex than is usual for Elementary, paralleling action in the present with action from eight to six months in the past, and action in New York with action in London during those earlier months. We finally get the story of how Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond) first met and began working together unfolding in tandem with the resolution of Kitty's arc--at least for now.

The episode picks up where last week's "The Illustrious Client" left off, with Kitty now sure that Del Gruner (Stuart Townsend)--for whose insurance company Watson (Lucy Liu) now works--is the man who kidnapped, raped and tortured her, before she managed to escape. Kitty is from Gruner's perspective therefore the one who got away, a fact he comments on later in the episode when he tells her that hers was the face he always saw when torturing his subsequent victims. In another way, though, Gruner is also the one who got away, as his attempt to frame someone else for his crimes (as outlined in "The Illustrious Client") has made nailing him for his crimes a challenge. He got away with it then, and he might get away with it again, now. This seems like a real possibility early in the episode, as he manipulates events to make the accusations against him seem like vindictiveness (e.g. he fires Watson so that when accusations from team Holmes come forward it will look like payback). The ambiguous phrasing of the title allows us to read it several ways--and perhaps even in other ways than the two I've suggested here.

The episode is Kitty-centric, unsurprisingly, as she attempts to find ways to bring Gruner to justice in the
present while we learn about her first encounters with Holmes in the past. There we see how the fact that the one who offended against her got away with it has driven her to seek justice for others. Holmes first encounters her when she exits Scotland Yard after failing to convince a detective that she has discovered important evidence in the case he is working: the disappearance of a child. Lovibond's Kitty in these London scenes is clearly and effectively differentiated from the Kitty of the present through her body language; she is a far more damaged and angry woman when Holmes finds her than she has become by the present.

I've noted that a recurrent visual motif in episodes to date is to set Kitty apart, with blocking that isolates her or places her in oppositional positions in relation to other characters. This episode stresses the point, especially in the London scenes but also in the present, by having Kitty repeatedly literally separated from Holmes by a door.  Their first encounter at her London apartment plays out for several minutes with her locked inside and Holmes talking to her through the door. The same orientation with the relative sides reversed is repeated in one of their training sessions, when Holmes is trying to teach her how to break into a place with an inside chain lock, a trick he has to teach her by going outside himself and demonstrating. This also has plot relevance as later Holmes is able to deduce that Kitty has kidnapped Gruner because he finds the elastic band she has used to defeat his chain lock, but its key relevance surely is that it stresses visually how Kitty has barriers. The pattern returns again when Holmes tracks down the lair to which Kitty has taken Gruner and again engages in dialogue with her with the literal barrier of a door between them. Finally, the episode ends with a London scene in which Kitty returns to Holmes's apartment (a matching scene to the earlier lock-picking scene) but which differs in that now, Holmes is the one who must let her in.  The pattern: 1) Kitty must let Holmes in to her apartment; 2) Kitty is trying to learn how to break through the lock, which Holmes teaches her to do; 3) Kitty lets Holmes in when she has captured Gruner; 4) Holmes lets Kitty in.

The significance is made clear when we learn of the reciprocity in Holmes's and Kitty's relationship; if he saved her, she also saved him, he tells her.  While Holmes may have helped Kitty reclaim her life after
her trauma, the final London scene--and the episode's final scene--reveals that Kitty saved Holmes, too; by letting Kitty into his life, he found the strength to resist the heroin he has been tempted by ever since stealing that packet from a  crime scene last season.  (Not the only way this episode picks up on threads established much earlier in the show, but a particularly good one.) Holmes burns the heroin at the end of the episode, in a standard-issue symbolic rejection of his addiction. however, it also parallels Kitty's own crucible this episode.

Kitty is set apart not only via blocking but also via costume, and has been consistently during her run on the show, with her leather gear especially noteworthy in this episode as a signifier of the darkness she is facing not only externally but also within herself. I confess I don't recall noticing before whether her leather jacket bore the skull and bones images so clearly and repeatedly displayed this episode, but they represent powerful visual images of the burden of death Kitty carries on her back and the potential threat she represents. Her contrast with Watson on this front is rendered especially explicit, almost schematically so, in that Watson's confrontation with Gruner
 takes place in an open, well-lit environment with Watson in a particularly elegant gown, while Kitty's takes place in a dark, secret hideaway not a little reminiscent of the location in which Holmes faced his own nemesis (or one of them, anyway) when he kidnapped Moran in season one, also torturing and planning on killing him. I mentioned this in last week's review; Holmes makes the connection explicit this week. Kitty and Holmes are in some respects complementary. Each helps the other deal with his or her demon.

Holmes burns his heroin. Kitty burns her tormenter. She does not kill Gruner, but she does use her own version of the nutmeg concoction (another link to an earlier episode) to burn his face. She characterizes this as removing his mask, revealing the inner monster by burning away the smooth exterior. Well, fair enough, I guess. (Doyle fans will also recognize in this macabre punishment Elementary's version of a plot point from the original Kitty story). Kitty is thereby symbolically freed of her burden. Of course, she's also literally guilty of kidnapping and aggravated assault, so the episode ends with her leaving to escape pursuit by the police. Kitty is, therefore, once again the one who got away. The door remains open for her to return at some point. I rather hope she does. (It also remains open for Gruner to return, too, of course, no doubt with horrific prosthetic make-up to show his disfigurement!)

Overall, I think this episode provided a satisfactory resolution to the Kitty arc, giving her a closure that allowed her to confront her attacker without having her consumed by her darkness. What did you think? Was the slow build of Kitty's story resolved to your satisfaction? Let me know in the comments below.


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