Elementary Season 3 Review “The Adventure of the Nutmeg Concoction”

Elementary Season 3 Episode 7 The Adventure of the Nutmeg Concoction 03

On the latest episode of “Elementary,” Watson landed a case of a sister that had been missing for years, with only the silver of a detail to go on- the smell of nutmeg at the scene of the alleged crime- in the oddly-but-wonderfully-titled “The Adventure of the Nutmeg Concoction.” With such a minor detail to go on, naturally Holmes was in, somewhat to Watson’s chagrin, though she ultimately would have needed his help on something this obscure anyway.

According to blowhard credit hound Blake Tanner (Peter Benson, “The Americans”), sister Jessica was but one of many victims of a serial kidnapper he called “Pumpkin,” whose one key detail was that he left behind the scent of nutmeg at every crime. After him for some ten years, Holmes isn’t impressed with Tanner and immediately dismisses him and his wacky theory, approaching some of his colleagues for all of the info Tanner has amassed over the years instead, coming to the conclusion that there is no serial kidnapper named “Pumpkin” after all, and that the cases seem essentially unrelated, save for the nutmeg thing.

Going back to the original case of the missing Jessica, the team investigates her stuff and Holmes discovers a mysterious third key on her keychain that looks to also be an apartment key from the same building, but not her own. Watson and Kitty further investigate and find that it belongs to a defense lawyer by the name of Kramer (Lewis Cleale), a married man who turns out to have been having an affair with Jessica, the missing sister. Though Kramer was out of town at the time of her disappearance, one of his clients was Ray Carpenter (Kevin Geer, “Law & Order”), who Holmes thinks might have killed her, or at least has info on the case.

Holmes arranges for Carpenter to be put on gardening duty in exchange for details on the identity of Jessica’s kidnapper, who turns out to be dead. He also confirms that Jessica is dead and that Kramer was involved in the crime, even if he didn’t actually do the deed. However, there’s still the nutmeg detail to contend with, which Carpenter can’t explain. So, Holmes seeks out the professional help of one of his oddball cronies, this one known only as “The Nose” (John Horton, “The Good Wife”) who has the powers of an acute sense of smell. He identifies the traces of nutmeg at the scene of one of the other crimes, but further distinguishes the smell of other chemicals as well, leading Holmes to discern that the smell is actually that of a special cleaning disinfectant of the sort used to clean crime scenes.

Holmes realizes that the cleaner must have worked all of the crime scenes at hand with the telltale detail of the nutmeg smell, and that the chemicals were likely used to get rid of any remaining bodies and the like. He surmises that the person must be a freelance cleaner a la “The Wolf” in “Pulp Fiction,” who works cleaning up less-than-legal crime scenes for a living. After an amusing stab at faking and photographing Kitty’s “death” and trying to contact the cleaner via an online solicitation which only ends up in his getting arrested, Watson has better luck when she opts to check out people who did the job legally, thinking that the cleaner might be among them, and was taking outside work for extra cash.

This proves to be the case, albeit the cleaner turns out to be a former cleaner for the police, now a freelance artist. Holmes recognizes the man’s work and immediately decides he’s a suspect worth looking into, despite his initial skepticism with Watson’s tack. The team goes to the man’s workplace, where they illegally discover a locked bin of containers with fluid emitting a nutmeg-like smell.

The artist, Conrad Woodbine (Jon David Casey, “Blue Bloods”), immediately lawyers up, basically refusing to cooperate, but Holmes is convinced he’s the culprit, so he comes up with an alternate way of getting their man: if they can get even one of the people who hired Woodbine to take immunity in exchange for giving him up, then they can get him for all of the crimes he cleaned up illegally. One does, but by the time they return to Woodbine’s someone’s already killed and cleaned him up, using the very same chemicals to do so. Oh well.

Once again, it’s Kitty who saves the day, when she notices that Woodbine’s associate was in a photo taken of Carpenter’s arrest. Further research reveals that it’s actually Carpenter’s son, and that he’s been working for Woodbine as a favor to Carpenter. His father fears that his son will be taken down by association for Woodbine’s crimes, so he advises him to kill the cleaner, which he obviously did. Carpenter and his son cooperate, in exchange for the son’s interment in a white collar prison and all’s well that ends well, at least to a certain degree.

This was another neat, twisty case of the sort I love, and I really enjoyed it, for the most part. However, there was almost too much going on to ably fit into the space of a roughly forty-five minute episode, so as a result some of it was a bit rushed and disappointing. For instance, it might have been amusing to see Holmes get arrested for his half-baked scheme to try and contact the cleaner by using Kitty’s faux death as a lure, instead of just hearing about it.

Even worse, the initial case that led to the main crime at hand- the missing sister- was never properly resolved with a scene involving Watson telling the sister who hired her in the first place what really happened and the pay-off for Kramer’s involvement was never addressed, either. I assume both of these things happened, but we never saw it, and if they were mentioned at all, I somehow missed it.

I’ll allow that maybe all of those things weren’t reason enough to, say, extend the episode into two parts, so I suppose they did the right thing in making it a single episode, but they could have easily jettisoned the whole Watson’s ex subplot in order to deal with it properly and that would have sufficed just fine.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the character moments that resulted from this plotline, especially the bit of business about Watson being a “romantic terrorist” and Holmes’ quips about “horizontal refreshment,” and that Holmes, rather than being judgmental of Watson, felt that she should be with someone who accepts her for who she is and not who she feels compelled to try and be because that’s how one is supposed to act in polite society or what have you.

I’m not saying this wasn’t valid and appreciated information, just that it took up crucial real estate in an episode that was already so stuffed with information that the case at hand couldn’t possibly be adequately dealt with in such a short amount of time. I think they would have done better to put this material in another, less complicated episode, where it wouldn’t have taken away from the case at hand as much, you know? Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, I really enjoyed the case, and overall it was a solid episode, it just could have been that much better, IMHO.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Elementary”? Did you also feel that the main case could have been handled better if they’d spent less time dealing with all of the Watson stuff? Or were you more interested in Watson’s romantic dealings than the case? Do you think it possible for the show to adequately deal with both types of things within the limited time span of a single episode? (I do- they have before in the past.) What would you suggest to make the show better? Sound off below and see you next week!