Elementary “How the Sausage is Made” Review (Season 5 Episode 8)

How The Sausage Is Made

On the latest episode of “Elementary,” Holmes hit a roadblock in his sobriety, while he and Watson tried to determine who had killed a man involved with the artificial meat industry, in the amusingly-titled “How the Sausage is Made.”

We began with a man who could pass for Hercule Poirot delivering a coronet- that’s a crown to all us Yanks- to Holmes as payment for something or the other he’d done. Holmes had refused to take the man’s money, so he felt compelled to gift him something instead, but Holmes was nowhere to be found- including at the AA meetings the two attended- so he gave the item to Watson instead.

Naturally, this latter bit of information did not go unnoticed by Watson, who questioned Holmes about it in a roundabout way, only to discover Holmes lying about it to her. As such, she felt compelled to follow him the next time he announced he was going to a meeting, only to find him going to the park to play violin with a group of other musicians.

This was, of course, the nod to the Holmes of the books of the episode (or one of them), though I suspect the coronet might have been as well- I’ll leave that one up to those better versed in the stories than I to determine in the comments section. Either way, here it served as a red flag to Joan that Holmes wasn’t going to meetings, which wasn’t good.

How The Sausage Is Made

Of course, Holmes being Holmes, he figured out that Watson knew about it and had been following him almost immediately and called her out. He then admitted to her that he’d become bored with the meetings and had stopped attending for that reason some time ago. He also felt that, as likely the smartest man in the room, he could feel things more acutely than the others, but that it also made him more adept at handling sobriety than they were.

Watson naturally scoffs at this, saying that she disagrees completely, and that Holmes is wrong- he needs the meetings whether he wants to admit it or not, and no amount of musical therapy or anything else is going to change that. She thinks he should go back to a meeting and tell them exactly what he told her, but Holmes is dubious.

Fortunately, by the end of the episode, he sees the errors of his ways and finally returns to his meeting place of choice at St. Paul’s, where his absence has indeed been noticed. Towards the end of the meeting, he speaks up and does indeed tell everyone exactly what he told Watson, consequences be damned.

Though we don’t see what happens next, it’s safe to say that they were probably accepting of it, as it wouldn’t be the first time someone thought that they could beat things on their own. Thankfully, by admitting that he has a problem with it, he can find some comfort in the fact that, as Watson mentioned, he’s probably not the only one there bored stiff by these meetings, and that, just because he’s likely the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean he needs it any less.

These scenes were, of course, the heart of the episode, which made it a bit of a hard act to follow, though the main case wasn’t bad. I am glad, however, that the episode aired quite late, as I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be eating during some of it, lol. There were definitely some ick-inducing moments, to be sure.

How The Sausage Is Made

The case began with the first appearance in some time of Dr. Hawes (Jordan Gelber), who brought Holmes and Watson in for a not-so-tasty case involving a man who had- wittingly or unwittingly- eaten another man who had, in turn, ingested a horse sedative, which had killed him. After getting a whiff of the man’s stomach contents, much to everyone’s disgust- which you couldn’t pay me enough to do- Holmes detected the smell of anise.

Recognizing that one butcher shop in particular- the hilariously-titled “Brooklyn’s Wurst”- used it to add flavor, Holmes and Watson headed there to question the owner. He dismissed any notions of cannibalism or the like, but did tell them that someone had broken in recently, but that they didn’t seem to have taken anything. Further investigation of the area that was broken into indicated that someone had been dragged down some stairs into the area, probably an albino.

A look at security footage in the area shows someone who fits the bill talking to a nurse, who Bell tracks down to a local hospital. She IDs the person in the video as Joaquin, and says that, if he’s hurt, it might involve a faux meat he’d been working on to compete with the real deal and put a dent in the “Big Meat” market. After confirming that the hair and skin Holmes found at the shop was indeed Joaquin, Holmes and Watson head to his place of employment.

There, they meet his boss, Werner Platz (Jeff McCarthy, “RoboCop 2”), his second-in-command, Brendan Farley (Fran Kranz, “Dollhouse”), and Holmes almost immediately susses out a corporate spy, Corrine (Ito Aghayere, “Unforgettable”). She admits it right away, and says she’s working for Midwest Cattle Ranchers, aka one of the aforementioned members of “Big Meat,” and was hired to keep a close eye on the competition, but that she didn’t kill anyone.

After that, Holmes and Watson hit a wall, so he has to resort to seeking out help from Everyone again. Naturally, Everyone being Everyone, they have to force Holmes to do something humiliating in public, so this time they make him do intentionally bad stand-up in a comedy club, which I would have loved to have seen. (Someone should totally do an article on all the crazy stuff Everyone has made Holmes do throughout the previous seasons- hint, hint- which I’ve always gotten a kick out of.)

Elementary 7

Everyone points Holmes in the direction of a “corporate hit man” by the name of Thomas Cockburn, who had so far remained elusive to authorities. Holmes notices that his daughter Grace (Rosie Benton, “Return”) was in town at the same time as a lot of the hits Cockburn was hired to do, and suspects that she might be helping him, which proves to be true when ample evidence to that end is found in her apartment.

Bell has her brought in, and her father is tracked down as well, thus closing a big case on his end, which the Captain congratulates him on. Grace admits her involvement, and says that MCR did indeed hire her father and her to take out Joaquin, but that they cancelled the hit, after discovering that the “schmeat” wasn’t much of a threat to their livelihoods after all, and was likely to end up a pricey specialty item relegated to the vegan section at best.

Holmes, however, suspects that they are wrong, and that someone smart enough to have predicted such a thing could be an issue intentionally doctored the data on it in the FDA report to throw people off the fact that they were onto something. Bell discovers Holmes is right and Brendan is brought in, as he was the likeliest suspect for the crime.

He admits to fudging the numbers, but denies any involvement in the killing itself, having an alibi for the night of the murder. This leads Holmes back to the drawing board- or to the dining table, at least, where he invites over a host of religious types, including a rabbi and an imam, as Jewish and Muslim faiths are the most inclined to ban meat from one’s diet for religious purposes.

They confirm that, if this “schmeat” was found to be “kosher,” as it were, it could be a game changer, as it would be the first meat-like substance to be allowed and passable for Muslims and Jews and the like to eat ever, opening up a huge untapped market that could be worth millions to the people responsible for inventing said faux meat.

How The Sausage Is Made

A closer look at the aforementioned security footage in the surrounding area of the butcher’s shop reveals sight of Platz in the area at the time of the murder, so once again, Brendan is brought in, in the hopes he’ll flip on his boss if he knows anything or was involved in any way beyond doctoring some stats. This seems to be the case, as the police find out that his mortgage was paid off in full, and he doesn’t normally make the kind of money to do something like that on his own.

Once again, Brendan refuses to cooperate, and this time calls in a lawyer and threatens to sue for harassment if they don’t leave him alone. It’s looking like the case is dead in the water and that Platz and Brendan alike are going to get away scot-free, but then Holmes has the bright idea to reconvene the group of religious types again and tells them about what is going on.

They all agree that “murder isn’t kosher” and will band together to see to it that everyone they can influence to do so will ban the company’s product, thus rendering it all but dead in the water, and essentially worthless to the untapped religious market, costing the company millions. However, if someone is brought to task for the murder, then the “schmeat” will remain untainted, so to speak, and all will be right again, and the potential for making a lot of money back on.

The third time proves the charm, when Holmes tells Brendan he will go free and not be charged with anything, thus freeing him to continue the process of refining and perfecting the “schmeat” undeterred. Further, Holmes will call off the religious dogs which would have cost the company millions, if he agrees to testify against his boss.

This time, Brendan bites, and though he gets away with wrongdoing on his end, at least Platz is convicted for committing the actual murder, so it’s better than nothing, which is what it was looking like beforehand. That was about it for this episode, which was a pretty decent effort overall, though I kind of figured that Brendan was involved, given he was the most recognizable member of the cast- to me, at least- having seen him in a lot of Joss Whedon efforts, including “The Cabin in the Woods” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”

How The Sausage Is Made

The whole notion of “schmeat” grosses me out, much like Joan, though, as Holmes points out, the way real meat is procured and dealt with is no prize, either. The devil you know, I guess. Still, the whole business with Holmes smelling stomach contents made me want to barf as well, not to mention the implied cannibalism and grinding up bodies, “Fargo”-style, so this was a bit of a gross-out episode all around for me. That said, it didn’t mean it was bad.

Indeed, the heart of the episode- the stuff with Holmes struggling with his sobriety- was quite rewarding, and I liked that Watson was able to steer him back in the right direction in the end, thus proving her work as a sober companion may not quite be done yet- or might not ever be, really.

Still, admitting one isn’t being helped by the very thing that supposed to be helping them is a big step in and of itself, so good on Holmes for recognizing it as the potentially bigger problem it could have been if left unchecked. All in all, it was this that truly made the episode worthwhile, as icky as some of the other stuff was.

Just to cleanse the palate, and since this is the final episode of the year, as far as I know, here’s an adorable picture of Clyde having some cake at the show’s 100th episode celebration party. You’re welcome.

Clyde has some cake

See you next year! Hopefully, it will be better than this nightmare of a year, am I right?

  • usedtobelucy

    Well, finally a reason to be glad the show gets delayed every Sunday, eh? Schmeat doesn’t bother me, I have to say. I’m with Holmes on the “Have you thought about slaughterhouses?” idea.

    Like you, I enjoyed the episode. Although since I’m not as sold as they are on the idea that 12 steps is the only possible approach to sobriety, the Holmes/Watson-friendship part of the show wasn’t my favorite part. That being the case, I always feel a little disgruntled when they hammer on the 12 step thing as if it’s the unquestionable single answer to Sherlock’s problem. But then I remember that, good grief, they have to have some set premises because their scant 40 minutes isn’t enough for them to do what they’re doing already, let alone undertake a more wide-ranging examination of addiiction remedies.

    Anyway, I still I did like that aspect of this week’s show because I always enjoy their personal wranglings. I especially liked the fact that he went to play the violin with a group in the park when he was skipping the meeting. And, of course, that he knew she’d tailed him. What was she thinking to imagine he wouldn’t see her, anyway? He clearly does have eyes in the back of his head.

    I actually enjoyed the case of the week at least as much as the personal story this week and, as I think about it, even more, I guess. I really enjoyed the way they worked through the several different possibilities of people having business and monetary reasons for wanting to bump off the smartest person in the biotech meat field — the Mozart of Meat. Nice logical progression there, I thought.

    And I loved the fact that they couldn’t actually solve this mystery to the point of securely pinning it on the murderers.

    That kind of ending is often a completely missing element in cop shows and detective fiction and it’s a rich vein with the right detective. As in this case. I loved the way Holmes came up with a not-entirely-just-but-juster-than-it-might-have-been ending by going outside the box of law and bringing the rabbis’ and imams’ ethical analysis into it. That was just totally Holmes, to me — both in the Elementary and the Doyle senses. And of course it goes with the ongoing theme of showing Sherlock’s complex, complicated, somewhat troubled but always thoughtful relationship to law and justice. Plus we got the great scene of the guys’ little coffee klatch. And to imagine them sharing the cherry danish.

    I also like this little theme of various people in the 12-step world owing Sherlock various favors. Just as in the Doyle stories, there’s so much to Holmes here that he just walks through the world solving problems for everybody he encounters.

    (On the coronet — I don’t think there’s anything in the Doyle stories like what happened here. But they also referred to the name “Musgrave” in the episode (I forget about what) and I vaguely remembered some kind of Musgrave Adventure story or something so I looked at it. A crown actually does play a part in that story. I think they just throw in words and objects and images from Doyle as atmospherics but without actual meaning or plot connections. They work that way.)

    Anyway, thoughtful review as usual. Enjoy your brief hiatus!

    • Mark Trammell

      I figured it was something like that (the crown), but I didn’t have time to do the research on it at the time, so thanks for that.

      I agree that the 12-step program isn’t or shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all to a recovering addicts’ problems, and I, too, liked the notion of him seeking additional outlets to keeping his mind off of such things, i.e. the string ensemble in the park.

      That said, I get that, as his former sober companion, it makes perfect sense she wouldn’t see it that way. I think she probably knew he’d be onto her following him, and hoped he’d bring it up accordingly, which he did.

      I also like the notion of people in the program “owing” Holmes, and hope it comes up again. And I agree with you that occasionally they should come up against a case they can’t get justice for. They’ve done it before, so it’s not unprecedented, but you’re right, it should happen from time to time, just because it would IRL.

      Oh, and BTW, it wasn’t so much the notion of schmeat that bothered me, as it was the notion of a bunch of people unwittingly eating other people- that’s enough to put anyone off meat, lol! But yes, it was a good point that slaughterhouses aren’t exactly handling things greatly on their end, either.

      See you after the holidays!

  • august2004

    Good points Mark and U2BL. Elementary will long be known for its blending of comedy and crime, and this episode tested the limits with the potential “schmeat” market being the motive for murder! I thought this episode was more logical too, following the clues wherever they led and then doing some bargaining or plea deals at the end to solve the crime. Reminds me. A couple of Doyle’s crime stories were not solved or Holmes let the murderer get away with the crime under the guise of justifiable homicide. Maybe the writers of Elementary could follow that reasoning in a future story. This episode did allude to at least two Doyle originals: “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” (mentioned in the opening letter from Holmes) and “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet.” Checking the online digital stories, I see Holder was a character from that past story, albeit another recovering addict in the present one. And maybe Holmes violin playing would be an effective way to help fight his heroin addiction. Who knows? Have a good holiday season!…

    • Mark Trammell

      The plot thickens! Always nice to find out about more allusions on the show to older Holmes stuff. I wish I had more time to research such things myself, but unfortunately, time is always a factor, so if I don’t recognize it off the top of my head…

      I completely agree that a case of “justifiable homicide” would be another interesting thing they could do moving forward.

      You have a great holidays too!

  • ptjackson

    Loved this episode – but we did watch it at dinner, since I taped it and we watched it last night… 8-(

    And, I may totally steal your idea for an article, but it would have to be after the holidays since it requires research! 😎

    • Mark Trammell

      That was the idea with the “hint hint” since I knew you did some others in that vein. Can’t wait to see it!

      • ptjackson

        I figured you were nudging me, but just wanted to be sure… 😎

  • uidph33r

    idk the anti drug rhetoric has gotten stale for me. also there are two more episodes to finish this season; december eleven and eighteen. i looked it up because i wondered why there wasn’t one on last night (the fourth). they probably skipped this week as westworlds finale was going on.. just my guess

    • Mark Trammell

      Really? Stupid imdb said that it wouldn’t be back till January! I should have known better than to trust them- they screw stuff up all the time. Oh well. That’s good news, though! :)

  • Mark Trammell

    Attention all: It has indeed been confirmed that “Elementary” will be back December 11th for two more episodes before the year ends. (The other airing the following week.) I take it that it was a last-minute decision on CBS’ part, likely bc they didn’t have anything major planned for that time slot. Whatever the case, it will be back sooner than later, which is good news for us fans! :)