Elementary “Ill Tidings” Review (Season 5 Episode 6)

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There was a LOT going on in the latest episode of “Elementary”– perhaps too much, TBH- but it was certainly never boring, at the very least. In “Ill Tidings,” we got a loose adaptation of the Holmes’ classic, “The Speckled Band,” but there was so much to deal with that a lot of things that could have been that much more interesting were left by the wayside in the process, resulting in a lot of Sturm and not enough Drang, if you know what I mean. But hey, at least Clyde made an appearance!

We began with a set-up that was more Agatha Christie than Doyle: when a grumpy chef in the Gordon Ramsay mold is taken out by a poison dish, it soon becomes clear that the real target was the group of diners in the dinner party the food was intended for, seven in all. One, a vegetarian who skipped the dish, emerges unscathed, as does a line cook, who tasted a bite of it, but not enough to be deadly. Everyone else is not so lucky.

It doesn’t take long to determine that the poison is snake venom, and that the diners all had something in common: they were members of a shadowy group known as the IAO, which provide core security for the internet. At first, it seemed to revolve around the theft of several key cards, but, as the lone survivor points out, even if the killer had gotten a hold of all of them, it was but the first step in a near-impossible series of them required to breach internet security protocol.

The action did cause one major issue: the shutdown of the stock market, in order to make sure all was well. Suspecting that this might have something to do with it, Holmes and Watson investigate, going through a host of data spreadsheets, looking for some sort of anomaly, but there is none to be found, at least at first glance. Then Holmes recalls having seen a host of valuable paintings near the entrance of the location, and goes to inspect them, only to realize they’re missing, meaning that this was all an elaborate art heist.

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Needless to say, that’s pretty cold, taking out an entire group of people in order to cause enough chaos in the stock exchange to steal a few paintings, but it wouldn’t be a Holmes tale if it wasn’t complicated, so there you go. Holmes convinces Gregson to put out a news report that the paintings have already been recovered, hoping to throw a wrench into the thieves’ plan to sell them on the black market, and perhaps draw them out online in the process, as they scramble to discredit it and sell the paintings anyway.

Sure enough, one emerges as a likely suspect, a cyber security expert named Brian Beale. Alas, when the team arrives at his place, he’s already dead, having been done in by the aforementioned snake whose venom was used to poison the diners, which is still on the premises. Holmes understandably thinks Beale has a partner, and remembers that the sous chef, Mateo Lima (Julian Acosta), that was seemingly inadvertently poisoned earlier had a bite on his hand which was similar to that of a snake bite.

Sure enough, they pay him a visit and find all sorts of creepy crawly critters about, as well as the paintings, which are cleverly hidden in the bottom of several cages. It seems that he intentionally took a bite of the dish to throw off suspicion of himself, and was largely immune to it already, from handling snakes on a regular basis and getting bitten from time to time. In order to secure a deal for himself, he gives up the buyer, but there’s no escaping another sort of cage for this one.

In addition to the main case, there was also a subplot involving Bell, who might have perjured himself on the stand, and seeks Holmes’ help in clearing himself. Holmes naturally does, though he doesn’t consider what Bell has done to be that big of a deal. Then again, this is a guy who, just last week, thought little of framing someone to get justice for a wronged victim, so…not that much of a shocker there.

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As it turns out, it was a bit of an elaborate ruse on Bell’s part, too, as he was actually looking to get closer to the ADA on the case, Chantal Milner (Chasten Harmon), who Bell had a bit of a thing for. It worked, so mission accomplished there. We also discovered that Homes was still involved with Fiona (Betty Gilpin), and the two were having issues of their own, thanks to her demanding job, which had her out of town a lot.

Fearing that he wasn’t discussing his job and what it entailed enough, Holmes sought advice from Bell and Watson, at one point comparing the relationship with that of his with Moriarty. Watson assures him the two are nothing alike, and that it is only natural to want to share what one does with their significant other, and encourages him, as does Bell, to do just that. In the end, we see him start to share the details of this episode’s case with her, via Skype, as the two make plans to meet halfway for a bed-and-breakfast-style date.

Like I said, there was an awful lot going on in this episode, and as such, it was probably inevitable that certain subplots would get short shrift, and such was indeed the case here, with the Bell one in particular getting resolved awfully quickly, when it could have easily been milked for more drama. Granted, that potential drama was instead diverted to the main case, which was admittedly pretty gratifyingly twisty and kept one guessing every step of the way, but still- Bell deserves better than what amounts to “I was just doing it to impress a girl.”

Likewise, the subplot with Fiona and Holmes was also a bit on the slight side, also by default. What we got was fine, arguably more intriguing than the Bell subplot, despite even less screen time devoted to it, but it could have been even more interesting had it not been competing with everything else for time. That said, you better believe my ears perked up when I heard mention of Moriarty- might this be a foreshadowing of things to come?

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One can only hope, especially as the show’s chances of renewal are rapidly diminishing, thanks to dwindling ratings, unfortunately. Chances are, it will stick around for at least the remainder of the season, as it will help with the inevitable syndication sales, but fans should begin steeling themselves for the beginning of the end. If so, then one could do a lot worse than ending it with a plot involving everyone’s fave Holmes’ nemesis. (Rumor has it that Kitty will resurface, however, so there’s that, for the few of us that actually liked her!)

So, overall, I really liked the episode, and it seems fitting that an episode that involved the stock market closing down should coincide with the recent election turmoil, but that said, it was a bit overstuffed. Still, one of the better episodes of the season thus far, nonetheless. Maintaining a balance between the main case and the more character-driven stuff can’t be easy, so that they manage what they do is to be celebrated, I suppose.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “Elementary”? How did you enjoy the case? Did you appreciate the nod to “The Speckled Band”? Did you figure out what was really going on ahead of time? What did you make of the Bell subplot? How about the one with Holmes and Fiona? Are they doomed? Or will they work it out? Sound off on this and more down below, and I’ll see you next episode!