‘Elementary’ (Season 5): Rockers, Pirates and Baseballers- A Motley Crew Indeed

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As we head into the homestretch of the fifth season of “Elementary”– which might be headed into a homestretch of its own of sorts if it doesn’t end up getting renewed- the show capped off a run of entertaining episodes that dealt with somewhat left-of-center professions, with lots of convoluted twists and turns.

Of course, space permits me from going too overboard with descriptions, so I’ll keep the synopsis to a minimum and instead focus on the ongoing plot-lines while giving an overall assessment of the cases at hand. The first, and arguably my favorite of the bunch, was entitled “The Ballad of Lady Frances,” and revolved around a missing guitar that supposedly belonged to none other than Eric Clapton.

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Fittingly, the entire case revolved around sound: specifically a murder that an employee of a newfangled company rigged to be alerted to gunshots in their area overheard. However, there was little evidence of a murder having been committed in the place in question, but it was clear from the taped audio that something nefarious went down, so naturally Holmes and Watson took the case.

(On a side note, for those of you wondering if such a thing as a gunfire locator exists, it does, and it’s known as “ShotSpotter” and can be found in roughly 100 American cities. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad, given what happens in this episode. Also, the title of the episode is a reference to the Holmes’ story “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax,” from which it borrows a few elements from, as did the previous episode “Be My Guest,” aka episode eleven from this season- the one about the kidnapped woman held hostage for years.)

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Without going too much into detail, it seems that the person who was listening to the murder was a musician that recognized that the “Lady Frances” in question was a guitar, not a person, and was able to get to it in hopes of selling it on the black market/dark web/whatever. Unfortunately for him, it proved to be his undoing, as it was used to beat the guy to death, the thought of which probably turned the stomachs of music fans everywhere, much as watching vintage cars demolished in a car chase/crash in a movie does the same to fans of old-school automobiles.

This is not to slight the fact that a guy was murdered, but you know, it is a fictional murder and all, so I think it’s allowed to cringe at the thought of musical history being destroyed in this case, lol. Even if it is fictional music history- there is no “Lady Frances” to the best of my knowledge, belonging to Clapton or anyone else for that matter, let alone one worth some five million dollars. Still, bonus points for the bemused reactions an obviously clueless Holmes got when he asked various people if they’d “heard of him.” (Especially Captain Gregson.)

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Also, lest we forget, the guy had been forging crimes to make his company look good and make a case for a councilman he worked for, who would be that much more justified in “cleaning up the town” if he had more instances of crime to back him up. Still, did they have to do it with a vintage guitar? It’s not the most practical weapon, anyway, and you’d think the murderer would have thought to sell it himself for a quick buck, but oh well, it is what it is, I guess.

I liked the supporting cast of this one a lot, including none other than rock opera pioneer Meat Loaf and former “Sons of Anarchy” star Mark Boone Junior, also a real-life rocker, here playing, appropriately enough, a guitar expert. All in all, a really fun episode, with some amusing lines and great reaction shots.

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In the following episode, “Dead Man’s Tale,” which was, once again, somewhat inspired by an original Holmes’ tale, “The Adventure of Black Peter”– which was referenced within the episode- the gang went along on a deadly search for pirate booty, which had claimed the life of a man who was among a host of others looking for said treasure around NYC. Which of his competitors did the deed, and why?

The answer, as ever, was a convoluted one, though the show wasn’t above making plenty of pirate-themed wisecracks, and even tossing in references to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the recently deceased Gene Wilder. I won’t delve too deep into the intricacies of the crime at hand and its solution, except to say that I enjoyed the episode for the most part, though not quite as much as the one before it.

The Ballad of Lady Frances

The final episode was last Sunday’s “High Heat,” which didn’t air in some parts of the country, due to the Masters Golf tournament, so you might want to skip this section if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s readily available online, though, so be sure and check it out here, if you haven’t had a chance to catch it.

It revolved around the murder of what Holmes considered to be one of NYC’s worst detectives, part of a coterie of private eyes that Holmes was horrified to find he was part of, thanks to Watson. Holmes wasted no time in trolling Watson about it, having a park bench ad made that proclaimed that Watson was available to solve crimes and find “missing cats,” lol.

The Ballad of Lady Frances

He also seemed more focused on bringing down the detective organization than the case itself, much to the chagrin of the head honcho (Dan Lauria, “The Wonder Years”). Watson quite correctly determined that it was borne more out the frustration with the whole Shinwell situation, which we’ll get to shortly, than his claimed reservations about being thrown in with that lot.

But in the end, he did reach a compromise, coming up with a no doubt ridiculously hard test to use to determine whether someone was worthy to be included in the group or not, which he gleefully drafted Watson into being the guinea pig for, as she marveled about the first question being an in-depth puzzler about feces! Because of course it was.

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The case itself was another fun one, nearly as much so as “Lady Frances.” I love a good wacky conspiracy theory and this one had a great one about Chernobyl, though it turned out to have nothing to do with the case, really. Instead, it was all about a Maury-like fixation on “Who’s the Daddy?” and the repercussions of genetically passed-down traits.

It also was all tied in with baseball, of all things, as the killer was a would-be pro pitcher whose throw velocity ended up being the thing that brought him down- not to mention a dubious toss of the ball-like murder weapon into a nearby dumpster. Note to all killers- maybe don’t toss your murder weapons in spitting distance of your crimes. Just saying.

The Ballad of Lady Frances

Running as a through-line to all of this was the ongoing Shinwell drama, as Holmes discovered there was a very good chance that Shinwell had killed an old friend of his, back in the day before he was sent to jail. This was brought to light when someone took a shot at Shinwell in a drive-by, from which he narrowly escaped with his life. But who had done so, and why?

Eventually Holmes tracked it back to the brother of an old friend of Shinwell’s, who witnessed what he was convinced Shinwell himself killing his brother and decided to take revenge after Shinwell was released from prison. Oddly, though, Shinwell wanted Holmes to stay out of it, saying his mission to take down his old gang should take precedence over everything else.

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Of course, this is Sherlock we’re talking about, so naturally he did no such thing, leading to a shocking sequence in which Shinwell viciously beat him down- not unlike Holmes himself did with that junkie a while back when he forced him to take heroin again. What goes around comes around, I guess.

In the end, rather than ratting Shinwell out, even though he was perfectly within his rights to do so, Holmes opted to indeed leave well enough alone, and let Shinwell go about his business of trying to take down the gang, seeing Shinwell’s past crime (or his assault on Holmes) as being lesser than the evil he was looking to defeat- at least in the short term. But once that’s done, I wouldn’t count on Holmes letting bygones be bygones.

The Ballad of Lady Frances

In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Shinwell finds himself in need of Holmes and Watson’s help at some point along the way. The question is, will they give it to him, even if it means Shinwell could end up dead if they don’t? Hard to say, but I certainly wouldn’t count on Holmes letting Shinwell get away with murder, least of all after Holmes broke the law to help him out another bind earlier on. IMHO, Shinwell is living on borrowed time.

Here’s the thing, though. At no point does Shinwell actually admit to the murder, so it’s still in the air if he even did it, or simply knows who did and part of his reasons for taking down his old gang are to get revenge for his former best friend’s untimely- and unwarranted- death. It could also be guilt for having been duped into doing it himself, of course, which he somewhat implies may be the case.

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In addition, I think that maybe Shinwell’s beat-down of Holmes might be to scare him- and by extension, Watson- off from interfering again, lest it make them targets of the gang as well. Granted, it was an extreme way to do so, but we are talking about a former gang-banger here, so you use what you know. Interestingly, though, as he does so, Shinwell also proves how much he has learned from Holmes and Watson, in spite of it all- their lessons have not gone to waste on him, to be sure.

Throughout the most recent episode, Holmes is clearly still upset about the turn of events, but he also opts to do just that- stay out of it. Likewise, Watson turns her back on her friend, clearly upset her judgment about his merits as a would-be detective were so wrong. Except that they weren’t really. Shinwell WAS a good choice, and he learned his lessons well- he’s just using them in ways the two of them couldn’t have anticipated- namely not just against his foes in the gang, but against Holmes and Watson themselves.

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How this will all turn out in the end remains to be seen, but I suspect it won’t end well for Shinwell, regardless. Whether his end is going right back to prison or ending up dead is hard to say, but I don’t foresee much of a happy ending, whatever the case. What do you think?

Well, that about gets us up to speed. Be sure and comment down below, especially if I didn’t mention something you loved about the episode, which given my limited space in which to write about this, seems likely. To be fair, it’s not like I couldn’t go overboard with the length of the article, I just choose not to, as too-long articles tend to scare off readers, and understandably so.

This one’s already over four pages long, so I’m opting to quit while I’m ahead- but I made sure to include lots of pictures to make up for it, lol. But that doesn’t mean you can’t comment on specifics down below, or that I won’t engage with you if you do. In fact, please do- the interaction afterwards is something I love about doing these in the first place!

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Thanks for reading, as always, and be sure to make your predictions down below as well. Join me in a few weeks for another overview of the season to date. See you then!

  • ptjackson

    So, I stopped reading – for now – when I got to High Heat. I live on the east coast, and was royally angry when we went to watch what I had taped at 11 was not Elementary. But, checking the listings for this coming Sunday, it is listed as being shown at 11, after the Bee Gee’s salute. I don’t trust CBS, but will try to tape it then and come back to read the rest of what you wrote after watching it. Watching it on the internet does not help because we watch as a family…

    • Mark Trammell

      Gotcha. Yeah, it didn’t show in my neck of the woods, either, but the last time it happened- and it seems to happen a fair amount with this show in particular- I checked online and there it was, so I assume it aired SOMEWHERE.

      My review was due this week, so I went ahead and watched it for that reason. It’s basically a stand-alone episode, so you don’t get much in the way of forward momentum on the side stories, but that actually worked out well for the article, which was getting long as it was. Anyway, looking forward to hearing your thoughts, as always!

      • ptjackson

        So, finally watched the episode from Sunday tonight. My understanding is that it did not show anywhere on TV two weeks ago when the Master’s ran late – they showed repeats on the West coast and in the Mountain time zone. But, they did air it this week after the Bee Gees’ salute.

        Your comment about the pitcher not disposing of the murder weapon so close is spot on, but then he was young, and not a practiced murder – it is just these types of mistakes that bring the breaks in most cases from what I have read. Luckily, for the law abiding citizenry, most criminals are not very clever.

        It was a fun case, especially since Chernobyl had us scratching our heads too… until …NOT. Poor Joan “and why do you have to test your theory in my bedroom?” LOL…

        As for Shinwell, I am not sure what to make of him! I do agree that he was likely tricked into killing the dude, and now part of his reason of taking down the gang is out of revenge and shame over it.

        It saddens me that CBS is treating Elementary like an illegitimate child – and that the treatment will likely lead to its demise. 8-(

        • Mark Trammell

          Agreed all around, especially on CBS’ treatment of the show. As I understand it, the show is yet again “on the bubble”- but that’s better than outright cancelled, so I’ll take it.

          I don’t know where these people got a hold of the episode, then, if it didn’t air anywhere else, but it sure enough was up online that night, and since I had a review due that week, I went ahead and watched it, for obvious reasons. Because it didn’t actually air in my region, I just assumed it did elsewhere since it was available. (They did end up showing it here last Sunday.) Anyway, if that was the case, as you said, I’m glad I included the spoiler alert!

  • ptjackson

    Hey – just heard the news – Elementary was renewed for a 6th season!!! Let the happy dance commence!