Elementary Season 7 Episode 11 Recap and Review: Unfriended
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Unfriended, episode 11 of the seventh and final season of Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
(Spoilers ahead for Elementary S7E11, and episodes prior to it)
Elementary sure is rushing towards the finale. I use the word 'rushing' on purpose. This week's episode, Unfriended, felt awfully rushed. I had several issues with it, which were then pushed out of my mind by that bombshell of a twist at the end that, in hindsight, I should maybe have seen coming.
To begin with, right at the outset this episode made me take back the brownie points I gave the show last week for the interesting twist which seemingly took away Sherlock and Joan's moral high ground. Elementary Season 7 Episode 11 wastes no time to paint Odin Reichenbach with the blackest black — turns out he had Conrad and his parents murdered and then made it look like a murder-suicide in order to prove that he was right all along — but to what end? Just to get Sherlock and Joan second guessing their interference in his plans, and so keep them out of his hair, presumably. Basically, he is a megalomaniac who will brook no opposition to his methods.
On the one hand, given Odin is a stand in for real-life tech moguls and the frightening, unchecked power they hold, it's nice to see the show call out how dangerous said power can be. But from a story standpoint, it's a bit too simplistic. After this episode, he's just the super villain who needs to be defeated by the end of the series. That's what happens when only 13 episodes are allotted to the final season, I guess. No time for exploring complicated characters or story arcs.
Returning to Elementary S7E11, right after the reveal about Odin's part in Conrad's death, the show quickly moves on to something I've been clamouring for for weeks now — the teaming up of Sherlock and Joan with Moriarty/Morland. No word of Moriarty yet, but Morland Holmes returns and offers his assistance. He tells them he will use his influence with power brokers on an international level ("puppet masters of the highest order," he calls them) to weaken Odin enough for Sherlock and Joan to get him convicted.
Given all his preemptive murders thus far are almost impossible to pin on him, Sherlock decides to orchestrate a new one that they can control. Odin and his lieutenant Antonia (whose name we still only know from the closed caption and credits) fall for the bait — a potential killer named Stewart Pringle, who is actually one of Sherlock's fake online identities. All good, except the scene where we learn all this is so badly written it hurts. Exposition-filled would be an understatement. Sherlock, Joan and the guy who pretends to be Pringle pretty much openly discuss their entire plan by the roadside for our benefit, spelling out every little part of it. Their plan, however, works and they manage to capture the woman who arrives to kill 'Pringle'. She turns out to be a third-grade teacher named Annie Spellman — the actor who plays this part is quite underwhelming, but Jonny Lee Miller manages to sell the scenes with her thanks to his performance.
While Spellman is held captive by Sherlock and Morland's guards, Joan and fake!Pringle go to her house to investigate. We get another scene filled with exposition masked as dialogue. I feel Miller does a better job with these exposition-heavy lines than Liu; she seems so decidedly more uncomfortable with them. And the actor who plays fake!Pringle is no better, making this scene feel like nothing more than an information dump. I would much rather have one of them just tell Sherlock what they found and get the information that way, to be honest.
Joan does get to do something interesting in this scene, aside from figuring out the communication channel and that Spellman has murdered thrice before (along with the dates of those murders) — she figures out who one of those victims was using a glove with a blue stain. The bit about horseshoe crabs and their blue blood being used by the pharmaceutical industry is quite interesting (to a science nerd like me anyway). It turns out to not have any direct bearing on the story in the end, but is a welcome inclusion.
Another welcome inclusion, and the best bit of writing in this episode for my money, is Sherlock saying "titillating tissue etude" — if someone doesn't make a meme out of Miller saying that line, I may have to make one myself. Joan and Sherlock doing some joint investigation is good to see also. And they figure out that Odin had the horeshoe crab scientist executed by Spellman in order to acquire her brother's company. Sherlock thinks Odin's motive is purely financial, but Odin, who pays him a visit at the precinct, tells him it was because the technology of that acquired company helped refine his process of identifying potential killers. Odin still killed an innocent person and Sherlock's contempt and disgust with that is quite apparent. Apparent enough to leave Odin no choice but to take the step that leads to the shocking end of this episode.
Meanwhile, Joan reveals the truth about her having been coerced into murdering an innocent woman to Spellman, who finally comes to her senses and confesses. When she explains how she got drawn into Odin's scheme it's hard not to see Spellman as just as bad as the extremists she claims she wanted to thwart — there's a potential lesson here about blind unquestioning hatred but the show again has no time for such.
Sherlock and Joan decide to finally let Marcus and Captain Gregson in on everything they know and enlist their help to proceed further starting with Spellman's confession. Gregson blames himself for being responsible for drawing them into all of this — because he got shot, it's his fault apparently. More Gregson sympathy creation, which makes me wonder if he will get taken out by the end of the series.
And speaking of characters getting taken out, the shocker in this episode is, of course, Morland's death. He seemingly successfully orchestrates things to make Odin have to step down as head of his company, only to have Odin undercut him by providing the Chinese(?) government with the information they need to arrest certain dissidents, thus making himself the more indispensable one. This concluding portion where Morland's fellow puppet-master explains how people like Odin control the information people see and have the kind of power that makes them, the old guard of 'influence-peddlers', obsolete feels less like part of Elementary and more like something out of Black Mirror. It is quite effective and Morland's death (which happens off-stage but is strongly foreshadowed at the end of this scene) packs quite the punch. And the scene of Sherlock finding out, from Marcus and Joan, about his father's death is gut-wrenching.
With Morland gone, the protection he offered Sherlock and all his friends is gone also. For all intents and purposes, Odin has Sherlock and Joan cornered. Will he go after them too? Or will Sherlock lose it and go after Odin directly? What about Moriarty? Surely, it's time to bring her into the fold. Who better to tackle a megalomaniac villain than another such?
One last note before I wind up: What happened to Patrick Meers and his wife? At the end of Elementary S7E4, he asks his wife to contact Joan and "tell" her. Nothing was told as far as we know. Will that prove to be the key to taking down Odin? Not long now before we find out, and I'm still excited to see how it all ends (the slight letdown of this episode notwithstanding).
(Elementary Season 7 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and will soon premiere on Indian television on AXN)