Elementary “The Games Underfoot” Review (Season 4 Episode 5)

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On the latest episode of “Elementary,” the long gone Alfredo made a return appearance and an alleged cache of rare videogames led to murder, in the aptly-titled “The Games Underfoot.” If the latter plotline sounds familiar, it’s because it was directly inspired by the whole “E.T.” videogame fiasco, in which a sizable amount of copies of the critically-lambasted game were buried in a landfill, allegedly along with an proposed Atari controller system prototype, which, if found, would be worth millions.

While there was some truth to the former, the latter turned out to be a hoax, as the prototype was, in fact, in the possession of the Atari museum owner, not buried in a landfill. Most consider the urban legend of this partially-true tale to have been fueled by the fact that the alleged landfill was located in New Mexico, not far from the famed Area 51 site in Roswell, lending the story a bit of a conspiracy theme to the proceedings.

However, most attribute the mass dumping of various Atari games and consoles to the brand’s failure in the early 80’s, as Atari’s business practices at the time led to their downfall, not one solitary, if overhyped, failed videogame. You can find out more about this amusingly insane event in the documentary “Atari: Game Over,” which is well-worth the watch. (Sorry about the subtitles, it was the only version I could find!)

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In the fictional version, a man was killed as he sought out a similar type of landfill, alleged to contain a rare videogame called Nottingham Knights, which was manufactured by the company Emeryvision, which was supposedly worth millions if found. Initially, Holmes and Watson thought that Eddie, the man in question, had actually managed to find said cache of videogames, and someone got wind of it and killed him in order to swoop in and steal the fruits of his labor.

However, that proved to be false, as it turned out that there was no landfill of priceless videogames in the first place, as one of the designers of the videogame in question, a man who went by the handle of “integeroverflow,” and who had been in contact with the deceased, had the copies in question- and had for some six years now.

It turns out that he had been selling them one by one over the years at an inflated price, withholding them on purpose to drive the market value up. Whenever he found someone online searching for the games in question, he simply pointed them in the wrong direction to ensure that no one was the wiser that he already had the games in his possession. Thus, there were no games for Eddie to find in the first place.

So, why had he been killed then? A visit to the landfill site in question that Eddie was scoping out and a little more digging on the behalf of Holmes and Watson, if you’ll pardon the pun, led to the answer. It seems that the site was also the dumping ground for toxic chemicals and that Eddie might have found evidence of it and planned to blackmail the company responsible.

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However, a visit to said company revealed that multiple people had tried to sue the company already and they had since changed hands, leaving the responsibility to clean up any mess to the respective owners of the land upon which said chemicals were found, which doesn’t seem fair. Nonetheless, clearly a visit to the owner was in order.

While the owner had an alibi for the night of the murder- he was, in fact, removing all traces of the chemicals from his property to avoid said lawsuit- Holmes and Watson thought it was entirely possible he had hired someone to do his dirty work for him, which indeed proved to be the case. In the end, it was the arsonist’s fingerprints on a smoke detector’s batteries that did him in, as he had taken the batteries out so that it wouldn’t go off when he set a fire in Eddie’s home.

Unfortunately for the arsonist, someone had smelled gas wafting from Eddie’s house and was about to call the authorities, so the arsonist had to switch gears and burn the body of his victim using gasoline instead of gas from the oven, only he forgot to cover his tracks with the smoke detector when he changed methods. Once confronted, he gave up his employer and all was well that ended well.

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As for the whole Alfredo storyline, upon his return, he informed Watson that he hadn’t seen Holmes at any meetings since he’d returned and was worried he wasn’t attending them at all. This proved to not be the case, and in fact, it was actually a sort of ruse on Alfredo’s part, as he had been the one who had been avoiding Holmes, not the other way around.

When Holmes confronted him about it, noting that perhaps they both needed a new sponsor, given their special circumstances, they opted to remain friends, rather than risk their mutual sobriety, as Alfredo admitted he’d been struggling ever since the Oscar incident and his kidnapping. So, both are in need of a sponsor, but they still are buddies, so that seems okay to me.

The fact that they admitted it was a problem and that they both needed help is nothing if not a good thing, and proof positive that they have come a long way since their initial addiction. I really liked that it turned out to be Alfredo avoiding Holmes and not the other way around, and that he only went to Watson with it because he knew that she’d confront Holmes about it and he’d figure out what was really going on, which he did.

In doing so, it not only forced Alfredo to own up to his own recent depression and fears that he might use again, but Holmes to reconnect with him to support him as a friend, even as both realized that Alfredo could no longer be Holmes’ sponsor, given the circumstances. It will be interesting to see who ends up being their respective sponsors, and might perhaps lead to some new characters in the process, which I wouldn’t say no to.

All in all, a decent enough episode, if slightly underwhelming. Although, to be fair, at least part of that was my familiarity with the whole “Atari”-based plotline. If I hadn’t happened to have seen that documentary I mentioned, it might have seemed fresher than it did, but because I had, it ended up being one of those “ripped from the headlines” affairs that are often kind of predictable if you know the case at hand.

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Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining enough, and it was a lot of fun seeing Lucy Liu relish being better at something than Holmes- and, I might add, this was the second week in a row in which her insight was crucial to solving a case. The Alfredo thing was also quite affecting and I liked that that plotline went in a different direction than one might have thought it would, and that it was doughnuts that got him busted!

That said, though, overall it was just an okay episode and nothing that special. As next week’s episode is the last of the year, let’s hope they kick it up a notch for that one. Either way, I hope this episode didn’t crush the momentum of the show after the whole Thanksgiving episode stunt- though their waiting an extra week to air this one might have already done so for them.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Elementary”? Were you aware of the Atari fiasco I mentioned? If not, did you enjoy the episode more as a result? If so, did you have the same reaction I did? What did you think of the whole Alfredo plotline? How about the fact that Watson was once again a big part of cracking the case at hand? (It could just be that Holmes is off his game a little in light of his recent slipping back into bad habits.) Sound off on this and more down below, and see you next week for the big winter mid-season finale!