Episode Title: “The Marchioness”
Writers: Christopher Hollier and Craig Sweeny
Director: Sanaa Hamri
Previously on “Elementary:”
Was it a need to rebel that led Watson (Lucy Liu) to have sex with Holmes or was it simply a case of two consenting adults acting on a natural impulse? Whatever it was, let’s just be glad it’s Mycroft (Rhys Ifans), and not the other Holmes brother Watson slept with.
When Watson first met Sherlock’s estranged brother Mycroft, she seemed determined to reject any advances he might make and as it turned out, it was a relationship with Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) that Mycroft was interested in, not Watson. And yet, in “The Marchioness,” when Mycroft comes to town in need of a favor, Sherlock correctly deduces that the two have had sex. It’s not like Watson to color outside the lines with Sherlock, whose well-being she’s so invested in, which makes him wonder why, exactly, she did it. And more importantly, will it continue?
But it’s not Watson that’s brought Mycroft to New York, but another former lover and ex-fiancée, Nigella Mason (Olivia D’Abo). Yes, the same ex-fiancée that Sherlock did his brother the “favor” of sleeping with. Nigella’s boyfriend, Dalton was murdered when a gunman attempted to poison her prized racehorse, “Silverblaze.” As Sherlock so wonderfully puts it, Nigella is Silverblaze’s “horsepimp,” selling his stud services at a high price. But who would want to poison a retired racehorse?
With Mycroft tagging along for the investigation, Sherlock and Watson uncover the truth about Silverblaze; he’s dead. After Nigella won the horse in a divorce settlement, she soon learned he suffered from a heart condition. Feeling cheated out of the money the horse’s stud services would bring her, she and Dalton concocted a plan to use Silverblaze’s near identical brother, instead. But the substitute horse was no champion and soon the drug cartel kingpin Nigella and Dalton ripped off figured out the scheme and went looking for revenge, sending a professional hitman known as “El Mecanico” to do the job.
It appears Sherlock and Watson have their man when El Mecanico is apprehended on a rooftop while stalking Nigella, but his fingerprints don’t match those found at the scene of the crime. As impossible as it may seem, Sherlock is certain the hitman used a fake set of fingerprints to avoid arrest. His theory leads the trio to the case of a missing homeless man involved in a liquor store robbery, where El Mecanico’s prints were found. When Sherlock and Watson figure out where the man’s body is buried, a wild theory becomes proof of the hitman’s involvement in Dalton’s murder.
The case itself, which involves everything from a drug cartel to attempted equinicide to a homeless man’s handless corpse, is a fascinating one. But complex relationships and in particular, Sherlock’s reactions to them are what make this episode great. While en route to a farm, Sherlock sits in the back seat of a car, asking Watson and Mycroft every question he can possibly think of to make them uncomfortable. Later at the farm, he suggests Watson keep herself busy by having sex with his brother, in front of a bewildered stable hand.
The episode also makes a point of exploring the more serious aspects of Sherlock and Mycroft’s relationship. Like the fact that Mycroft kept his illness a secret from his brother, who was naturally the first choice for the life saving bone marrow transplant Mycroft got from a donor Nigella found, instead.
And then there’s the matter of any meaning to be found in Watson’s “dalliance” with Mycroft. In an AA meeting, Sherlock suggests he wouldn’t have turned to alcohol to deal with the “punching drumbeat of constant input” in this “era of distraction” if he’d been born in a quieter time. Conversely, maybe things are a little too quiet in Watson’s personal life. And sleeping with Sherlock’s brother is definitely one way to break the silence.