The makers of Elementary are fixated on the idea that Holmes is trying to live without sleep. Even if he could, which isn’t possible for any human, would he be daft enough to try to impose this ruinous lifestyle on Watson? Yet we open this episode with the results of his experiments with arc-lamps – a brownstone blacked out by a blown electrical panel.
Maybe this is their way of introducing the theme of sleep, in this case the eternal sleep of suspended animation. When a shriveled corpse is found at the scene of a car-crash, it seems that a van carrying a banned refrigerant liquid is to blame – it’s not a long step from that to Sherlock finding an ice-rink which has been robbed of the precious substance.
Sherlock’s knowledge of locks shows that the owner’s in cahoots with the murdering robbers, so it’s not hard to track down a warehouse where ‘corpsicles’ are being stored, because the cryogenics facility supposed to be looking after them has run out of space.
Cryogenics boss Misraki (Mark Margolis, who we saw earlier this week as psychic Cicero in Gotham) admits buying the refrigerant, but says he knows nothing of the murder – so was it his creepy employees? They claim that the van was stolen, along with a body of a murder victim named Sullivan.
Watson is more concerned with the deteriorating mental health of her mother, who’s imagining her son is having an affair. Is Joan thinking of having her frozen? Certainly it would stop her nagging Joan to settle down. Sherlock expounds at verbose length on the advantages of cutting family ties, but there’s life in the old girl yet, as he discovers when he has to trick Joan’s mother into making an appointment with a neurologist by inventing memory lapses she hasn’t actually had.
Sherlock sees through the overly consistent testimony of Ford, an original suspect in the strangling of Sullivan; a leukaemia sufferer, Ford had tracked down Sullivan, an estranged relative, and killed him for his bone marrow. To confuse the cops, Ford swapped shoes with his victim – leaving aside whether you can actually squeeze into shoes two sizes too small, he thoughtfully left his real shoes in his wardrobe. Anyway, Ford is the next victim of strangulation.
Joan finally unmasks the murdering body-snatchers, Misraki’s assistants, by seeing through their spurious description of a non-existent assailant; actually they were describing actor John Reynolds, star of a notoriously bad cult movie, ‘Manos: Hands of Fate’. Fact: this movie actually exists, and is every bit as bad as it’s made out to be.
We’ll make allowances for Joan’s claim that she only recognized the star of Manos because her brother used to watch it; we’ll even forgive the fact that we never actually find out for sure who did the strangling – did Ford strangle Sullivan, or was it the unseen assistant ‘Ryan’?
What’s less easy to accept is that the murderer wanted the frozen body so that he could harvest its bone marrow for himself. What good would it actually have been after being pumped full of refrigerant? Nobody who goes in for cryogenic suspension believes that the body will survive the process, which is why sometimes only the head is preserved.
Sherlock admits that blunt force is usually the best way to get one over on his family, but his intervention results in a thaw in relations between Joan and her mother – see what we did there?
Unfortunately, this convoluted and implausible adventure left us needing a bag of frozen peas on our heads. If the idea was to argue that we should accept the ageing process, and not attempt to cheat our fate, job done – we certainly wouldn’t want to end up as a corpsicle. But we didn’t learn much about how to deal with the problems of families more conventional than Holmes’ and Watson’s.
So let’s just put this one on ice, shall we?
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