Elementary “Burden of Blood” Review (Season 4 Episode 8)

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On the latest episode of “Elementary,” while Bell studied for his impending Sergeant exam with a little help from Watson and Holmes, a woman was found suffocated with a plastic bag outside an Asian takeout place, in “Burden of Blood.” The woman’s name was Ellen Jacobs, and in no time, Holmes determined that the killer must have been in her back seat. In addition, Holmes surmised after discovering that she had accidentally recorded the audio of the murder on her phone that she likely knew her killer, from the audible reaction she had to the sight of him, which seemed familiar at first before he attacked.

After a talk with the coroner revealed that Jacobs was pregnant, despite having her tubes tied, Holmes understandably felt a talk was in order with her husband, Ernie (Seamus Mulcahy, “Killing Lincoln”). However, not only was his wife’s pregnancy clearly a surprise for him, but Holmes realized that he had Kallman’s Syndrome, which inhibits puberty, which basically meant he couldn’t possibly be the father. This, of course, meant that Ellen must have been having an affair, but with who?

Ernie claimed to not know, but Holmes, not incorrectly, suspected he was lying. Watson paid a visit to Ellen’s doctor, who claimed to not know who the father was, and was generally uncooperative. So, Watson pulled a fast one and waited until she left the room and went onto her computer and found Ellen’s email address. She then investigated her email, only to discover that she’d eliminated most of her communication with the father, save a short one in which the two were supposed to meet at Sing-Sing prison, of all places. But why?


Turns out that Ellen was the daughter of the notorious Triborough Killer, aka Harris Wayland Greer (Michael O’Keefe, a long way from “Caddyshack”). She’d changed her name, for obvious reasons, and had never visited her father- until the scheduled meeting was arranged. However, she’d been murdered before she ever got there- using her father’s MO.

Greer confirms that he also has a son, Craig (Noah Bean, “Nikita”), who might could shed some light on the situation. Holmes and Watson pay him a visit, where Craig posits that perhaps the killer might be related to one of his father’s victims. He also confirms that he knew Ellen was pregnant and that Ernie couldn’t have been the father. Further, though he didn’t get a good look at the person in question, he and his wife saw Ellen with an unknown man at a particular restaurant before her death, who he suspected was her mystery lover.

Watson gets a hold of security footage of the restaurant in question, but there’s no clear view of the man there either. However, he does seem to be holding court somewhat, even appearing to pose for a photo, and Watson realizes she’s seen his pose somewhere- it’s Ellen’s realtor, Warren Clift (David Alan Basche, “War of the Worlds”), who strikes a similar pose in his picture on his realtor signage.

Clift is indeed married, and though he lies at first, when Holmes and Watson confront him about the nature of his relationship with Ellen, revealing that she was pregnant, he’s clearly surprised as well, not having known, either- or so he says. Once he realizes that he’s being questioned for her murder, he clams up, but not before Holmes spots a picture of a woman on his desk, who turns out not to be his wife, but his mother. (“A man with a picture of his mother on his desk is capable of anything,” surmises Holmes later on, which made me laugh.) The reason turns out to be the fact that his mother is deceased, and was murdered by none other than the Triborough Killer. Did Clift find out who Ellen really was and kill her for it?

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Clearly, another talk was in order, but before they can do so, an exchange with his wife reveals that he’s in the hospital, having been attacked with something akin to a baseball bat. He didn’t get a look at his attacker, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it must have been Ernie, Ellen’s husband, which Clift also believes to be the case.

Clift finally admits that he and Ellen were having an affair, but that he found out who she was early on and they’d gotten past it, and were even scheduled to meet with her father in prison so that Clift could confront him about what he’d done to Clift’s mother, which he’d never had the chance to do before, as her father had refused to see him multiple times previously. Unfortunately, she’d died before he’d gotten the chance.

Holmes remembers that Ernie and his wife were working on remodeling a house in order to flip it- hence the need for a realtor in the first place- and thus, had access to various pipes and scaffolding, which could have easily have been used to assault Clift. Ernie cops to attacking Clift, but swears up and down he didn’t kill his wife, having only known for sure about the affair after Holmes and Watson had essentially confirmed it in their previous visit. They search his house anyway, just in case.

Among the items found, is a scrapbook belonging to Ellen, which includes various family photos. One of them has the caption identifying her brother as “No,” as in short for Nolan, his real name before he’d changed it to Craig. Holmes realizes that the recording of the murder has yet another layer he hadn’t realized- when she said “no” on it, she wasn’t saying “No!” at first, she was saying the name of her killer- Nolan. But why?

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Craig, aka Nolan, is brought in for questioning, and after Holmes torments him with the recording of his sister’s death over and over, he finally cracks and admits that he’d killed her because she’d decided to go through with her pregnancy, after they’d both made a pact to not have children, thus ensuring that another Triborough Killer wasn’t potentially brought into the world. Hence Ellen having her tubes tied and Craig having taken measures to also ensure he didn’t have kids.

Furious she had reneged on their agreement, he’d taken matters into his own hands and killed her, making it intentionally look like their father’s MO, assuming it would make it seem like Clift or her husband had done it, what with both knowing who she really was and her having an affair and all. Alas, the whole “No” thing and the fact that he had a key to his sister’s car, as well as the bag used, which had traces of a substance found in the autopsy in Ellen’s body that was also found in Koi fish, which Nolan had at his home, sealed his fate and got him caught.

That was about it for this episode, save the whole business with Bell, which was good for a few laughs here and there, especially early on, when Holmes was out of the loop and became convinced that Bell and Watson were sleeping together on the sly. The whole business with the dummy, as seen in the pictures above, was also moderately amusing. Anyway, as it turns out, Bell was only studying for the exam in order to secure a pay raise that came with the promotion to Sergeant, as he wanted to help out his mother, who had been laid off, not because he really wanted the job.

Holmes being Holmes, he and Watson pulled a fast one by sliding him a “test” case to help him prepare for the exam, which proved to be real, and helped bag a fugitive, for whom there was a reward. Holmes collected the reward, took a Finder’s Fee for himself, and signed over the rest to Bell’s mother, thus keeping him from having to go through becoming a Sergeant, at least if he didn’t want to, which Bell had implied was indeed the case.

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I mentioned how I was hoping that Bell and Gregson would get some bigger character moments moving forward in the season, having been somewhat slighted in this department thus far, so this was actually appreciated, if even if didn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. However, it did show that Holmes and Watson alike were willing to go the extra mile for their friends, so there was that, which was something.

Yes, it’s a little maddening that they have continued to put the whole Morland thing on the backburner, after such a big reveal a few episodes back, but I suspect they’ll get to it sooner than later, though the preview for next week didn’t seem like a likely candidate for it, looking to be one of the more light-hearted episode of the show. (Can’t wait to see how Holmes handles a strip club! Or how Watson reacts to Holmes handling a strip club, for that matter!)

Overall, though, this was an interesting case and I definitely didn’t see the big twist coming this time around. I suppose I could quibble about the fact that they hired a relatively big name like O’Keefe and then barely used him, but it also would have been ridiculous if they’d bent over backwards to do so, given his character, so it’s a minor complaint. If anything, they simply should have hired a lesser-known actor for such a small role. Beyond that, though, I enjoyed the episode, as well as the stuff with Bell.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “Elementary”? Did you solve the case? Or were you also fooled? What did you think about the business with Bell? Are you frustrated that the whole Morland thing was put on hold for the time being? What do you think about CBS’ announcement that the show would be moving to Sundays in March? Sound off on this and more down below, and see you next time!