Liss and Ana Talk About Elementary

image of Lucy Liu as Joan Watson and Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes gazing at something together on a rooftop

[Spoiler Warning: All kinds of major spoilers from the season finale of Elementary are deducting the fuck outta shit herein. So please tread carefully if you haven't seen the episode yet!]


Ana: YEEEEAARRRRHHHHHGGGGGGRRRRRBBBBBLLLLUURRR. That is the exact sound I made on finishing this episode. And I did, like, happy jazz hands with it.

Liss: Okay, first of all, I need to TOTALLY NOT HUMBLE-brag that I have been predicting for months that Moriarty would be a woman, and I totally predicted to Iain weeks ago that Irene would be alive and she would be Moriarty! And even having suspected this would be the reveal, I was not AT ALL disappointed with how it went down. It was AMAZING. And I loved how having JOAN SOLVE THE CASE, or at least a key part of it, managed to simultaneously protect the integrity of Irene having been the only character to best Sherlock AND Sherlock defeating Moriarty in the end. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

Ana: I am impressed with your humble brag!! I honestly didn't really try to predict because I felt like I would spoil myself if I overthought it, so I was spending the first half of the episode simultaneously believing the PTSD and waiting for the terrible penny to drop when it was revealed that Irene was In On It somehow. And I really, REALLY liked the portrayal of the PTSD, although obvs I'm sad that it turned out to be fake since it was officially the best PTSD I've seen on TV in...maybe ever. I loved the conversations in the brownstone. I LOVED it when Watson was trying to help and offered to move out and he said, totally matter-of-factly, "this is your home." YES. And it was a perfect example of two friends COMMUNICATING instead of (in a worser show) Joan moping about wondering if she's unwelcome or whatever.

Liss: Also? Irene's lack of curiosity about Sherlock's and Joan's relationship was as dead a giveaway as the flower on the right bed. Only Moriarty would already fundamentally understand the nature of Sherlock's and Joan's relationship and ergo have no need to inquire about it. BUSTED.

Ana: I actually liked that Irene didn't ask about Joan, because I thought she was respecting his privacy (assuming she wasn't In On It). LOL, ANA, U R SO TRUSTING.

Liss: Natalie Dormer was amazing. The end.

Ana: I love Natalie Dormer SO MUCH. All the Emmys for her and Lucy Liu!! ALL OF THEM.

Liss: That scene at the restaurant between Lucy Liu and Natalie Dormer was TOO SHORT. It was like watching the best chess match ever. Joan isn't scared of Moriarty. Please.

Ana: Yes, the restaurant. "Do you want to sleep with him?" And Joan being all LOL-WHUT-NO I THOUGHT U WERE 'POSED TO BE SMART?? And then later, with Sherlock saying that she makes a better companion than a nemesis: I died laughing. Also: The "mascot" solved the case. Also-also, Joan is just as good as Moriarty. YES!

Liss: I love that JOAN SOLVED THE CASE with a combination of deduction (the yellow paint) and empathy (understanding that Moriarty was in love with Sherlock). And I love how we're seeing that Joan is teaching Sherlock as much about empathy as he is teaching her about deduction. It was such a little aside, but so fucking brilliant, when Sherlock mentioned empathy to Irene and she commented, "That's new."

Ana: Joan in the house with the paint, oh my god! "Feels just like Holmes is here." I love her. I love Joan. I love JOAN SOLVED THE CASE. And I agree with you about how she's using all the skills, and he is too—they're not doing some b.s. "he's the brain and she's the heart" gender essentialization. She's the "heart" because she's got training in it, but it's got nothing to do with her gender. Love it!

Liss: I am also very excited about the way that the show positions empathy as a type of deductive reasoning all its own, instead of the way that empathy is typically positioned as "emotional" and investigation as "objective." That is a crucial social justice message, because it subverts the narrative that identifying with oppression makes one too subjective to be capable of critically assessing it. Joan is teaching Sherlock that emotionality doesn't have to undermine reason, but instead makes him a better investigator. More sensitive versus the narrative of too sensitive.

Ana: I also loved when Irene was talking about Sherlock being better now, and he said he's SOBER now, but he'll always be an addict—I sobbed so hard. SO HARD. All the blubs. But they were happy blubs because I'm so proud of him. He's not afraid of his past or ashamed anymore; he's owning it and healing. MY GOD THIS SHOW.

Liss: I loved that Sherlock noticed the disparity in Irene's constellation birthmark. It was so terrible and so moving that it was his intimacy with her that revealed her betrayal.

Ana: That scene with the birthmark was SO painful. I felt really uncomfortable when she was already taking charge of the fleeing—something like "is that as far as you've planned? Well, that's alright," or whatever. It just felt so wrong, and then here she's In On It and I hurt for him so badly. And it was evidence, but not conclusive evidence, and I was SO worried that he might doubt himself. Only then we had Natalie Dormer's British accent (NATALIE DORMER) and she's MORIARTY OMG and she says she has to front as a man because clients "struggle with her gender." OH MY GOD THIS SHOW. Even the villains deconstruct sexism!!

Liss: LOL! Totally. Also: Captain Gregson! Detective Bell! I adore these guys. I cannot say that enough.

Ana: Detective Bell's "Spock eyebrow" when Sherlock tells him he's happy his ex-girlfriend turned out to be his nemesis. LOL FOREVER. I love Bell and Gregson so so much.

Liss: Loved all of the flashback scenes of how Sherlock's and Irene's relationship developed. "You're not boring at all, are you?" "I try very hard not to be." And the scene where he approaches her and asks why it is she's not interested in meeting again, and he's so careful to convey his interest while assuring her he's not pressuring her. Again, this show's centering of boundaries and agency and consent is extraordinary.

Ana: The flashbacks were AMAZING. He made it very clear he wasn't blackmailing her when he was talking about the paintings: no rapey overtones! And then when he spoke to her again, he stressed that it was her right to not see him again: no mopey you-owe-me Nice Guy overtones! LOOK AT THE FEMINIST RELATIONSHIP! LOOK AT THE ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT! LOOK AT THE COMMUNICATION AND BOUNDARIES! YES!! I am blown away at this—when was the last time I saw this in a crime drama? NEVER.

Liss: Did not like Joan referring to Moriarty as a bitch. It wasn't even the slur I objected to (although I object to that as well!) as much as the fact that it didn't even seem in keeping with Joan's character for her to say such a thing.

Ana: That line. *that face* COMPLETELY hurled me from the scene, because that didn't sound like Joan. Sounded like she was freaking quoting a summer movie blockbuster. Stilted, out-of-character. And, of course, SLUR. *that face*

Liss: THE BEES. All the blubs in the known universe during the scene with the bees. I am literally crying again just thinking/writing about it, lol. The symbolism in that scene was EVERYTHING. The lone bee given to Sherlock was not supposed to be able to find a partner, but somehow, among the entire hive, there was one bee who was able to be the lone bee's partner—and together they made a thing that was wholly new and different from each of those bees individually. AND HE NAMED THE NEW BEES AFTER JOAN. Good fucking god, this show. THIS SHOW. That scene was beautiful. The perfect end to the season.

Ana: THE BEES. I didn't pick up the subtext you got—mostly because I was still HYPERVENTILATING after the overdose, because I HONESTLY THOUGHT they would end the season there as a stupid reset button to cover old familiar ground again and THEY DIDN'T and I was SO RELIEVED because I didn't want that either for the show or for poor Sherlock and Joan—but that doesn't mean I don't LOVE the subtext you picked up. LOVE LOVE LOVE.


Ana: OH! ONE MORE THING!! Did you see the episode title? "The Woman/Heroine." The Woman being a reference to Irene, but Heroine = Joan???? AWESOME.

Liss: I cannot even wait for Season Two. BRING IT ON.


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