Elementary “Art Imitates Art” Review (Season 4 Episode 20)

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On the second of two back-to-back episodes of “Elementary,” Watson continued to deal with half-sister Lin (Samantha Quan) while investigating a bizarre crime involving a woman shot and killed in one state by a driver that left their car in another state for unknown reasons, a selfie that revealed more than someone intended, an artist of dubious merits, compromised DNA, crooked law enforcement officials and a lesbian love triangle gone horribly awry, in the wryly-titled “Art Imitates Art.” (See the review for the first episode here, in case you missed it.)

We picked up right where we left off with Watson confronting her half-sister Lin with what she had found out about her in the previous episode: that they shared the same father and that Lin had lied about being romantically involved with Mycroft at around the same time as Joan had been.

Indeed, it proved that Lin had known about Watson for some two years, ever since their father went off his meds and made mention of a “secret second family” he’d left behind before getting involved with Lin’s mother. Though at first chalking it up to crazy talk, Lin had looked into the matter and discovered it to be all too true, leading to a certain obsession with her father’s previous activities with this mysterious “other” family.

Finally caught and her true motives exposed, Lin reacted like a cornered animal and told Watson she wanted nothing to do with her, storming off in a rage. I guess having the shoe on the other foot didn’t sit well with her, but that’s what she gets for not only lying and taking advantage of Holmes and Watson’s hospitality, but trying to dupe someone that’s far better at unearthing the truth than Lin will likely ever be.

Meanwhile, a young woman in the Bronx who called an Uber-like car service got the surprise of a lifetime when the driver pulled up and shot her dead on the spot. Strange enough as it was, but then the driver inexplicably drove the car to Connecticut, before getting out and purposefully smashing it up with a baseball bat, setting off the car alarm and bolting out of there. But why all the rigmarole? Did the killer want to be caught?

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The woman in question was Phoebe Elliott (Victoria Janicki, “The Blacklist”), who just so happened to have a brother, Keith (Jason Dirden, “House of Payne”) who had been to jail for stealing cars- had he stolen one and posed as a Zouss driver? He denies it and claims to have long since gotten his act together since getting out of jail and having had his sister’s full support.

Keith points the team in the direction of “artist” Ephraim (Quentin Mare, “Body of Lies”), who has made a career out of taking people’s private photos from social media website and blowing them up in huge portraits and selling them for profit without the consent of the subjects in his pieces, which has understandably not gone over well with some people.

This led to some hilarious lines about Ephraim’s shenanigans, from Holmes and Bell alike. “So, this guy rips off other people’s selfies, blows them up and charges a hundred grand apiece for them? Surprised I’m not investigating his murder,” mused Bell. Meanwhile, Holmes tells Ephraim that he’d show him the crime scene photos of Phoebe’s death, but “you’d probably just ‘recontextualize’ them and sell them for profit.” Lol. Ain’t that the truth?

I’m quite sure I’ve heard of other people doing this, with similarly angered results from the people whose personal photos were used- or else I saw someone do it in another crime procedural and remember it as having been real, which is possible. With all these “ripped from the headlines” plotlines, who even knows anymore?

But I do know that nothing much surprises me anymore these days, when it comes to so-called “art.” The other day, I was on “You Tube” and saw that there was a new thing of taking other people’s so-called “mash-ups” and mashing them up into another massive mash-up free-for-all. So, yes, for those keeping score at home, it was a mash-up of other people’s mash-ups.

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It’s all so meta it makes my head hurt. My generation has a lot to answer for, that’s for sure. I think I liked it better when we were called “Generation Y,” because why a lot of this stuff is popular is beyond me- and yes, that includes selfies, so deal with it, Millennials! I was clearly born in the wrong time frame.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed this tweaking of what constitutes “true” art and when ownership leaves the hands of the subject at hand and becomes the “property” of someone else. It reminded me of my time in art school, when we would all argue about the worth of artists like Andy Warhol, who were also known for co-opting known images as their own and whether that was “true” art or not. It’s hard to say, but simply stealing someone’s selfies from online and blowing them up to sell in a gallery as art seems a bit questionable to me- but I digress.

Ephraim- which just sounds like the name of someone who would do this sort of thing, doesn’t it? – denies any involvement, but does tell Holmes that five of his portraits were stolen recently and that he thinks he knows who did it. He shows them an angry video message from one such person, Skyden (Lauren Culpepper, “Happyish”), that thinks his “art” is hogwash and Holmes pays them a visit.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more meta, she informs them that it was mostly an act and that she was simply “researching” for a role she was doing about an anarchist. However, Skyden- another name that sounds about right for the character in question- did take various photos at the gallery, one of which was of Phoebe standing in front of her own selfie, because of course it was.

Holmes notes that the selfie shown behind Phoebe in the photo is actually different from the one they saw in Ephraim’s gallery- there’s a figure in it, standing behind Phoebe that isn’t in the gallery one. Holmes surmises that the killer killed Phoebe over the photo in question because he was in it, and was also the one who stole the gallery photos, but had actually done so to cover up his real crime- replacing the one of Phoebe with a forgery, this time with himself photo-shopped out of the picture.

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Holmes tracks down the man in the original photo, who proves to be Louis Bowman (Evan Hall, “Hell on Wheels”), who was actually already in jail for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. As the photo goes a long way towards proving he didn’t do it, Holmes realizes that the real killer must have been the one who took Bowman out of the photo, in order to cover their tracks.

Bowman was in jail for murdering Marissa, a student that knew Phoebe and went to her same college. Holmes suspects that the real murderer must have also been part of their social circle and was therefore tipped off about the photo that way, which was how he or she knew about it and was able to cover it up. But Phoebe was a loose end that needed to be tied up, so they had ended up killing her as well.

The problem is, the evidence against Bowman is so overwhelming, it’s almost impossible that he didn’t do it, down to Marissa having his DNA all over her, including a substantial amount of saliva, as the prosecution claimed he spit on her corpse after he was done with her. Yikes! Talk about overkill! He was also known to be stalking Marissa, which he chalked up to a chemical imbalance, which he’d since gotten help for.

Bowman claims to have seen the real killer outside of Marissa’s place, and describes the suspect to Holmes, but said no one believed him, given the circumstances. Further stacking the deck against him is the fact that he claims to have dated a cop before Marissa, who he suspects might have set him up for the crime, as it had ended badly between them.

Holmes first talks to the prosecuting attorneys, including Christa, played by Christina Cox, of “Shadowhunters” and “Arrow” fame, whose last name I never caught. They are highly dubious of Holmes’ claims and say that the photo easily could have been faked, and that the evidence against Bowman is much more convincing than a lone photograph.

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Meanwhile, Watson and Bell talk to Bowman’s ex Amanda Neal (Margo Seibert, “Boardwalk Empire”), who just so happens to be a cop from Connecticut, and from a family largely comprised by other cops. Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all. Naturally, she denies everything as well, and also seconds the fact that Bowman is a stalker and that their “dating” is a questionable way of putting things in the first place.

Watson also fills Holmes in on the developments with her half-sister, admitting that she resents Lin for having gotten to spend quality time where she didn’t with her dad when he was still lucid. She later calls Lin’s mother for more information about the situation, which gets back to Lin, who storms into the precinct, livid about Watson’s having done so behind her back.

Lin claims that her dad only got involved with them because his own family turned their back on him and Watson’s mother took up with another man, aka Joan’s current stepdad, and that their father hated Joan and her mother for it, which is why he got involved with Lin’s mother and turned his back on them in return. Lin says her father hated Joan and her mother and that she needs to leave her and her own mother alone from here on out.

Bell informs Holmes and Watson that the car in which the killer killed Phoebe has been found- in Connecticut. A test for DNA proves that Keith, Phoebe’s brother, was in the car- indeed the car is lousy with his DNA. Keith claims he was set up, but Holmes finds it unlikely that cops in both Connecticut and New York planted evidence against two different suspects in two different cases- but that there might be another reason for it.

Holmes next talks to the supervisor at the DNA lab, Dr. Zoe Mercado (Lauren Luna Vélez, of “Dexter,” appropriately enough), who just so happens to have handled both cases. Holmes outright accuses her of falsifying evidence in multiple cases, in order to gain a reputation for herself and close cases. She naturally refutes it, but allows that she tends to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt, especially when the evidence is there.


Holmes suggests that she discovered about Phoebe’s photo and killed her to maintain her reputation and keep the many cases she’d worked on from being overturned. She denies it, but the Captain says just the element of doubt is enough that they will have to retest everything Mercado ever handled, DNA-wise. He suggests that perhaps she was in collusion with someone who knew that Mercado had a reputation for working with law enforcement to close cases quickly and used that to frame Bowman and Keith.

Lin seeks out Watson and apologizes for her earlier outburst, admitting that she had lied yet again about the nature of her father’s relationship with both her own mother and Watson’s. She says that their father never said he hated Joan and her mother and that he never came back to her and her own mother after leaving the first time like she’d said. Lin was just jealous that her father had this whole other family she didn’t know about.

Watson admits that maybe she was wrong to call Lin’s mother, but that she herself was jealous of all the time Lin spent with their father that she never got to while he was still lucid. Lin says that while it is true that she did have some good years with him, she also had to witness his deterioration when he went off his meds, which was tough. Lin gives Watson the okay to contact her mom again- and Lin herself, if she wants.

Holmes talks to Neal again, who admits she might have encouraged Mercado to strengthen the case against Bowman because of her personal experiences with him, but that she didn’t ever really date Bowman in the first place, being a gay woman. She also denies having anything to do with either death, but admits she was involved with Marissa romantically, which was why she took it so personally when she was killed.

Neal also says that Marissa never came out to her family, which she hopes that they will respect, as she was no longer around to do anything about it. Neal says that after they broke up, Marissa went onto to get involved with a married woman, and that they were scared about anyone finding out about it, suggesting that it was someone powerful, or someone connected to someone powerful. Neal didn’t know who it was, but suggests it might be what got Marissa killed.

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Watson figures out what happened, which is impressive given how much she had on her plate this episode. They go to prosecuting attorney Christa’s home, where she is nowhere to be found, but her wife Teri (Tijuana Hicks, “Law & Order”) is present and accounted for. Teri admits to having an affair with Marissa and that she killed her for threatening to tell her wife, Christa, fearing it would negatively affect her career. She also claims responsibility for Phoebe’s death and the subsequent cover-up.

However, Holmes and Watson realize that Teri is actually covering for her wife, Christa, who is really the one who killed Phoebe and moved the car, in order to cover up for Teri’s crime, having long since blamed herself for driving her to it. Christa was also the one who directed the cases to Mercado to help cover things up that way, having known about Mercado’s reputation for working with law enforcement to close cases by planting DNA evidence. She killed Phoebe after she unwittingly threatened to expose Bowman’s innocence with her photo.

The episode ended with one last meet-up with Lin and Watson, where the latter talked to the former and told her that she had talked extensively with her mother and the two were planning to meet up and Watson would like it if Lin joined them to do the same. Lin says she’d like that and that is where we leave things for now.

This was a great episode, with even more twists and turns than the one that proceeded it. I loved the meta-commentary on the Millennial generation, as aforementioned, and there were some great, funny lines and amusing touches, like the fact that Holmes submitted Clyde’s DNA along with various others to make sure that the rest of the lab also wasn’t up to no good when they were retesting all the evidence concerned in the case at hand! (Although, it’s a pity we never got to actually see Clyde, despite mentions in both this and the preceding episode.)

That said, though, it was overall a pretty emotional episode, with some touching moments with Watson and her half-sister, Lin, as they struggled to both make sense of a tough situation and come to terms with it. It was all pretty messy on both ends, but I thought that only made it seem all the more realistic. Great turns from both Lucy Liu and guest star Samantha Quan here, who nailed the part of a jealous sister trying to find out on the sly about the half-sister she never knew she even had until a few years ago and who was not above lying through her teeth to find out.

Factor in a great storyline about the secrets we keep and how they can have devastating consequences if left buried- and how they never stay buried- and it was the perfect backdrop to Watson and Lin’s own personal family drama. Nice touch having Watson essentially solve the case to boot, which makes up for that case a few weeks back that she probably should have gotten to solve but didn’t. Always nice to see Joan get a win, but even more so under these particular, oft-trying circumstances.

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What did you think about the two episodes of “Elementary”? Which was your favorite? Why? What did you think of Lin? Are you seriously considering never taking an Uber again? Are you excited for the final two episodes? Now that the show has gotten a renewal, do you think it will end on a big cliffhanger? Sound off on this and more down below and leave your comments- and selfies, if you must- down below!