A fairly uninteresting case of the week was made worse by the obviousness that the guy who owned the assisted living facility was somehow involved in Elementary Season 4 Episode 14, "Who Is That Masked Man?".
Not that I have anything against Kevin Kilner; he's a fine actor with an extensive filmography. Unfortunately, that's kinda the problem with casting him in such a seemingly-insignificant role!
This is an old complaint, one I've made before and certainly not just against Elementary. It's an unfortunately common problem with a lot of police procedurals. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that I spent half the episode waiting for our heroes to work their way back to Kilner's character.
I'm always happy when procedurals manage to surprise me. Make the name actor a red herring, a suprise victim, or even totally unrelated to the case. Or have the entire guest cast made up of name actors! Yes, it's obviously more expensive, but it makes it a lot harder to play Guess the Murderer Before the First Commercial Break.
One thing about the case of the week that did amuse me was Sherlock's insistance that there was no such thing as a master of disguise, coupled with the demonstrated difficulty Sven the mortician had with his mask-assisted impersonations.
Mythbusters actually tested this sort of Mission: Impossible-style mask gambit and found that it was, as shown in this episode, only feasible from a distance.
One of the problems is the Uncanny Valley phenomenon, whereby people are subtly disturbed by lifelike representations of human beings that just aren't quite accurate, such as computer generated figures, robots, or masks. I'm actually a little surprised the Uncanny Valley wasn't mentioned here.
Here's a question: if Sven was feeling all uninhibited and taking revenge following his terminal diagnosis, why didn't he also take revenge on Michael Haas (Kilner's character)? Obviously, the Triad guys were the ones who attacked him, but Sven must have known that Haas was behind it.
Frankly, the case of the week was far, far less interesting than the B-story, in which Sherlock learned some bitter truths about his mother, courtesy of Morland.
Sherlock: I am my mother's son.
Morland: You have more in common than you realize.
Morland revealed that May Holmes was, like Sherlock, an addict. This was ironically foreshadowed earlier in the episode when Sherlock assurred Watson that whatever good she saw in him, his mother was a purer version. Of course, the discovery of her demons did not seem to lessen Sherlock's anger towards Morland, and he still blamed his father for her death after their divorce.
The perverse part of me says that the former Mrs. Holmes faked her death and was the one responsible for the assassination attempt on Morland that resulted in the death of his girlfriend Sabine.
Speaking of Sabine, Sherlock made some progress in that investigation, too; he learned that her email account was tapped, and a hired gun was monitoring her (which was how he learned where Sabine and Morland would be that day). Something tells me that the gunman's incarceration in Russia won't prove much of an obstacle to Morland.
Really, I could pretty much watch Jonny Lee Miller and John Noble all day. They're awesome, and they play so well off each other. Even when they're being angry and cold towards each other, they're absolutely amazing.
I'm also gratified that the writers are keeping on top of this arc and not letting it fall by the wayside to be forgotten. It has the potential to provide so much insight into Sherlock (and his father, naturally), and I don't want to see it go to waste.
A few final thoughts before I turn the discussion over to you, fellow fans:
- When the killer was initially identified as an old woman, I immediately thought of Grimm Season 3 Episode 5, "El Cucuy," in which the brutal killer really was an old woman. I was actually a litle disappointed that Birnam Wood didn't come to Dunsinane in this episode!
- Joan versus Bai May-Lung was actually pretty funny, and I do wonder what it was that the old woman said that Joan didn't think was very complimentary! Be sure to check out our Elementary quotes page for some of the notable lines from this episode.
- Sven probably would have gotten away with the killing of the three Triad gangsters if he hadn't beaten the stuffing out of the other guy who tried to mug him while he was wearing his Bai May-Lung old woman disguise.
- Wittiness is all well and good, but whoever it is who comes up with the titles of the episodes should maybe consider names that don't give away significant plot points. Admittedly, this one is revealed relatively quickly, but "A View with a Room" (that's Elementary Season 4 Episode 12) had no such defense.
So, what did you think of "Who Is That Masked Man?"? Did you find the case engaging? Are you intrigued by the direction of Sherlock's investigation into the attempt on his father's life? Were you surprised to learn that Sherlock's mother was an addict, too? Let us know in the comments below!
If you missed this episode, or merely wish to relive it, you can always watch Elementary online. Elementary returns on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 10/9 on CBS with Elementary Season 4 Episode 15, "Up to Heaven and Down to Hell."