Elementary Season 2 Review “Solve for X”

On the latest episode of “Elementary,” Holmes got back to business stateside, after a sojourn to his native England on the premiere last week. In “Solve for X,” we got a math-themed plotline, as a group of determined mathematicians battled over who would solve a tricky formula first and reap the real-world benefits of such a feat- some to the death. Who knew math could be so cutthroat?

This was a reasonably entertaining episode, with a unique spin on things, thanks to the math angle, though fans of the show “Numb3rs” surely found this to be a bit of old hat, to a certain degree. I really liked the bit involving the invisible ink, where you could only see the formulas with a black light. It reminded me a bit of a similar bit of business on “Lost,” and was a clever spin on what we normally see on shows like this under the old ultraviolet, which is more typically blood.

I also liked seeing Lynn Collins as a super-smart but deadly femme fatale type that almost concocted the perfect crime, were it not for Holmes and Watson’s efforts. Collins is one of those actresses who’s been doing solid work for years, but never quite had that break-out role to change things for the better of her career. Not that she hasn’t had her shots at the brass ring, mind you, but when those big breaks include the likes of the notorious “John Carter” debacle and the first, somewhat misbegotten “Wolverine” movie, well, pardon the pun, but you do the math. (To be fair, she did land a recurring role on “True Blood” before it went off the rails completely, so there’s that.)

That said, she did a great job of disappearing into the role here, as I couldn’t quite place her at first before I checked the credits and saw her name and recognized it from the aforementioned sources. To me, that’s always the sign of solid work from an actor, when you know you’ve seen them before but you can’t quite place them right off. I think the best actors are like chameleons, so the more nondescript, the better.

There is such a thing as being a bit too nondescript, and that aspect of a actor’s recognition factor can often be the difference between them becoming a household name or not. Obviously, in Collins’ case, it hasn’t really done her any favors or she’d be a bigger star than she is now. On the plus side, television has been outdoing the movies in terms of being a great stomping ground for neglected actors, so there’s always hope for her yet, with the right project. Look what it did for, say, Rose Byrne (“Damages”), Diane Kruger (“The Bridge”) or Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”), to name but a few.

Hopefully, it’ll happen for Collins, too, eventually. As it stands, she did some solid work here, nicely disappearing into her role and keeping you guessing as to her level of complicity in the murderous events of the episode. I love smart female characters, and this one was a doozy. It’s almost a shame that she didn’t get away with it, as it would have been nice to see her as a recurring character. Though, like I said, they have sort of been there, done that, via “Numb3rs,” so it’s probably for the best.

Beyond that, there was some business involving Watson and the child of a former patient she lost on the operating table. Claiming to be on her side, the guy was basically extorting her, using her guilt as leverage, which did not go unnoticed by Holmes, who made Watson an offer she couldn’t refuse by offering her a substantial amount of money to use as she pleased. Watson wisely offered to invest in his future via his abandoned education, which he refused, thus showing his true colors in the process.

Well played on both fronts, I thought, by both Holmes and Watson. I also like the extra touch that Holmes asked to visit the fallen patient’s grave with Watson, recognizing that Watson’s loss was his gain, as the incident was part of what led Watson to go into her current line of work, aka serving as a sober companion to Holmes. That was a nice bit of plotting by the writers, I thought, and well done without becoming too maudlin in the process.

All in all, a decent episode, if not quite as fun as the premiere. But then, how could it be, really, what with the London locale and all the references to the Holmes stories? This was more of a back to business type episode, and as it stands, nothing too spectacular, but still pretty solid, all things considered. I liked the overall storyline, but I saw the whole time code fakery thing coming a mile away, so I can’t quite rank it among the show’s best by any means. Still, it’s always nice to see Collins, so I’m going to give the episode a pass on the whole.

What did you think of “Elementary” this week? Were you sad to see things go back to normal again for Holmes and Watson, or do you wish they’d stayed in London a bit longer? What did you think of the case? Do you have an actor you like that’s fallen through the cracks as well? Sound off on this and whatever else you’d like to in the comments section, and I’ll see you next week!