A professor and a group of students share a nice pot of psychedelic mushroom tea, only to die horribly because their mushrooms were tainted with death-cap toxin. And not just any death-cap toxin: super-duper concentrated synthetic death-cap toxin!
Maybe Elementary Season 4 Episode 13 served better as a PSA as to why using 'shrooms is bad, instead of an actual murder mystery.
I put this question to you: does it make sense for a guy to murder someone by spiking mushrooms with concentrated toxins of other deadly mushrooms? Wouldn't it have been ever so much easier to, I don't know, whack the intended target with a hammer, or shoot the person with a gun?
Now, I do acknowledge that very smart, intellectual people sometimes have a habit of over-thinking things, so it's not outside the realm of possibility. I will say that it's not very bright to use a murder weapon that can be easily traced back to you, such as one that requires key critical knowledge only possessed by a few people!
The case felt weirdly disjointed and strangely uninteresting once you got past the "ew" factor of Charlotte's fungus-ridden corpse. (That really was gross.) The resolution, especially, came off as abrupt, like they realized they were running out of time and had to wrap things up pronto.
Suddenly, there was the revelation that Charlotte was married! Why didn't the NYPD find out about this earlier? How would Austin Harper expect to claim his inheritance if the marriage wasn't a matter of public record, after all?
To make matters worse, Charlotte was behind a complicated scheme that involved producing and selling counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills so she could get real estate in order to extort money from her former employer! It was so complex that it was really hard to follow, even as they were spelling it out with maps and everything!
Plus, Charlotte came across as an unsympathetic victim, yet there wasn't much acknowledgment of this fact, muddling things even worse. Frankly, I liked the pharmaceutical rep a lot more – she at least had some strong character, being willing to burn her own employer to the ground if they had killed Charlotte.
The B-story with the vengeful next door neighbor was definitely entertaining, however; Trent Garby was played by the wonderful Richard Kind, who pops up in just about everything sooner or later. (I first remember him from the 1994 movie Stargate starring Kurt Russell and James Spader!)
It was a funny acknowledgement that Sherlock and Joan are definitely not what one would normally consider good neighbors.
Joan: ...I forgot about the roosters...
Trent Garby: I did, too. Eventually. By moving out.
In fact, this story pretty much cornered the market on the best quotes for this episode. Be sure to check out our Elementary quotes page for a rundown of some of the notable ones!
I really enjoyed how Joan resolved the story; she helped Garby prove that there was arson (ensuring he got the insurance money), gave him a tip on soundproofing, and even gave some honey from Sherlock's bees! "Good fences make good neighbors," indeed!
I'm still snickering about Sherlock and his chainsaw-oiling alibi, too.
A few final notes before I turn the discussion over to you:
- The title of the episode is a play on the first Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet. In that story, the German word "rache" was written on the wall as an intended red herring for investigators, but Sherlock ignored it from the off.
- A Study in Charlotte is also the title of the first book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy by Brittany Cavallaro, coincidentally to be released in only a few weeks.
- No movement on the investigation of the assassination attempt on Sherlock's father.
- Sherlock pointed out (quite rightly) that Garby could have just knocked on the door instead of relying on obviously ineffective email. And if Garby was scared of Sherlock (as Joan suggested), there's an easy solution: file a noise complaint with the police and let the cops handle it!
So, what did you think of "A Study in Charlotte"? Did you find the mushroom murder weapon novel or unnecessarily complicated? Did you like how Joan solved the noisy neighbor problem? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
If you missed this episode, you can always watch Elementary online to catch up. Elementary Season 4 Episode 14, "Who Is That Masked Man?" is scheduled to air on Thursday, February 25 at 10/9c on CBS.