Liss and Ana Talk About Elementary

image of Watson and Holmes from the latest episode of Elementary; Joan Watson is wearing slippers and a tray of breakfast items sits on the floor between them
I love this: Breakfast and slippers.

Ana: Lady, I seriously think the writers are trolling me at this point, lol. I have so many conflicted feels about last Thursday's episode.

Liss: Ha ha! Go on then. You start.

Ana: To start, and I meant to mention this last week, but last week after we turned off, Husband said to me, "Remember when the cases were just good instead of easy ripped-from-the-headlines stuff?" I mean, I know this is a YMMV thing, but I feel like we're watching CSI now or something. We've had 3D printing and P versus NP and now this week we get to have Edward Snowden / Julian Assange with a thinly disguised Anonymous. NEAT! Remember when we actually had victims who were people and we cared about them? The writers don't!

Liss: Yeah. And, I have to say, I always find the thin veil stuff really distracting because of its inevitable silliness. "Everyone" instead of "Anonymous," etc. It just doesn't work for me. It comes across as cutesy, even if it's not meant that way.

Ana: Moving into the actual episode, I was almost ready to give up when Sherlock was all "gee, I wonder why he only used single-source journalism since that's usually not a good way to leak secrets" and Joan was all "oh, hey, the reporter is hawt, so." Really?! That's what we're going with? Our SUPER AMAZING DECTECTIVE LOGIC has boiled down to the delightfully misogynistic opinion that no one would deal with a lady reporter if they don't have a boner for that lady reporter. Thanks, Elementary! It's not like that's an actual accusation that gets leveled at lady professionals all the time, that we only get ahead because of Boner Magic.

Liss: I didn't mind that quite as much, only because they'd already established that Ezra had used his blog to make complaints about a lady not liking him or whatever, like he was being written as a Nice Guy, and so Joan was deducing from that piece of information that he went to Lady Reporter with the hope of trying to get something from her in return. It seemed to me that it was a criticism of Ezra which then filtered into precisely who he turned out to be—a guy who killed a woman who didn't give him what he wanted and felt he was owed by her.

Ana: That makes sense. I think (to riff off what you said earlier) I was distracted by the Thin Veil Problem. I started the episode thinking Snowden, and I remembered that Snowden had an established relationship with a steady girlfriend. So when the "single/unpartnered Ayn Rand blogger who hates ladies who won't date him" bit was, like, two sentences before the "ZOMG HAWT REPORTER" bit, I hadn't had time to switch my Snowden gears. So the wink-nudge that she only got the scoop because of boner felt very sudden to me. I do wish, if it was intended as a criticism of Ezra, that it could have maybe been established as more of a flaw on his part as opposed to a strength on her part (since lady professionals do labor under that presumption of Success Via Sexy).

Liss: Absolutely.

Ana: I also didn't like that Sherlock knew the Belgian guy wasn't Belgian because all Belgians are badass at backgammon. Oh my god, is this really the show now? It's not some delicate obscure detective knowledge like Sherlock noticed his Belgian accent was, I dunno, too urban for the rural area he claimed to have been born in, or something, NOPE! It's stereotypes about how people from European places are a monolith. YAY. And it's not like this isn't something that an actually British person like Sherlock might run into once a day in America.

Liss: For real. Particularly because Sherlock is a contrarian in so many ways, I feel like he wouldn't at all be surprised by someone who didn't fit a national mold in one way or another. He tends to be really delighted by exceptions, but not surprised by them. Can we talk about how I was SO RELIEVED the writers did not go the route of making Julian Assange Ezra a really neat guy who totes got framed? I don't think I even would have had that fear in Season One, grumble.

Ana: YES. I will grudgingly give credit for the writers not making it a frame-up like I was afraid they were, which would have all the worst implications for the very real rape accusations against Assange—but when we actually do get a victim, we never hear from her and we see all of two seconds of her face. I know we can't always meet the murder victim in every episode, but we had LOTS OF GREAT EXAMPLES OF THAT in Season 1. Whereas in Season 2, all three episodes have had dead people with almost no exposure to the audience at all. I really miss the Season 1 choices to let us get to know them and understand why this was a tragedy instead of a Neat Puzzle. I mean, remember in the pilot when Sherlock was all sad to find the dead woman and said, "Sometimes I hate when I'm right?" There was pushback there on the puzzle (for the detective and for the audience) being worth more than empathizing with real victims.

Liss: Yes, yes, yes. There's something really different about the tone this season so far. And a lot of it is centered around the body-on-the-ground vs. a-person-who-died framing. I don't watch shows whose victims are never anything more than a body on the ground. And hey—know what other kind of shows I don't watch? Shows where the writers can't imagine a woman and a man interacting in the same space without inviting the audience to root for them to do it! Not only do I not need any dialogue about whether Joan will do it with Sherlock, or his brother, because she can't do it with Sherlock blah blah fart; I also do not need to explore whether Joan and/or Sherlock are dating and/or fucking anyone in every single episode.

Ana: OH MY GOD YES. THEY MUST STOP TALKING ABOUT ROMANCE. I am SO with you on this, lady, and it is making me have all the rageies. Because, YES, Sherlock needs to talk to someone about Irene, and YES, Joan needs to have a life outside of Sherlock, but hey, REMEMBER WHEN Joan had a counselor and Sherlock had Alfredo for, like, five minutes? Maybe Sherlock and Alfredo could talk about romance a little, and then maybe we wouldn't have this uncomfortable will-they/won't-they build-up with Sherlock and Joan WHICH NO ONE WANTS. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Liss: And which the producers promised us last season we wouldn't get. Much to my relief. But I also foolishly thought that meant I needn't expect Sherlock to wax Freudian about Joan fucking his brother or police her use of a dating website. Whoops!

Ana: Right. Also, Joan knows enough about addiction to understand that she needs to have a talking outlet other than her pressure-y friends and equally pressure-y roommate—even if they couldn't get the same actress as last season, they could explain Joan getting a new counselor because she wanted someone who didn't know all about Sherlock's past or something. Handwave it, I don't care. Just give me more characters than a guy and a gal living together constantly talking about how they are NOT in love and they are NOT fucking each other. NO. DO NOT WANT. (And, hey, remember when we had Ms. Hudson? BRING HER BACK, DAMMIT.)

Liss: Yep. And I'm not sure what happened to the show that was so awesome about consent and boundaries last season, which now has Joan's friend BUYING HER A DATING PROFILE without Joan's permission (although, sure, she did qualify it by saying she hadn't set up and Joan didn't have to use it if she didn't want to), which is just pressury and weird to me—and something I'd never do to a friend. I did, however, like that Joan made the point to Sherlock that he has more to offer people in the world besides being their boyfriend or their business partner. That was nice. But so fleeting! That was one line of what I felt like was the overwhelming quality of the dialogue last season. I miss it!

Ana: I also liked the bit where the guy came to check on Joan and then apologized for being maybe-creepy. That was a glimpse of the feminism I saw in Season 1. But it just makes me sad, because it reminded me somehow of all the times Joan was awesome and made awesome faces and solved things with empathy instead of now, where Sherlock says stuff and then Joan makes the OBVIOUS connection the audience has already made:

Sherlock: Oh, that stencil? That represents some underground bunkers in the city, perfect for hiding fugitives. Oh well. *stares at table*


Joan: Oh my god, he's hiding in the underground bunkers in the city that are perfect for hiding fugitives.

Sherlock: My god, you're right!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. It comes off like the writers can't think of ways to make Joan smart in DIFFERENT ways from Sherlock so instead they've just stupided him down so she can make the same TYPES of insights that he makes. I has a sad.

Liss: LOL! I didn't think it was quite that bad—didn't she actually make the connection between the stale crackers and how he'd just carried an old box with him?—but I do know what you mean. It's less complementary, as before, than copying Sherlock's style. See also: The pickpocketing scene.

Ana: Finally, the hell was that "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" thing at the end, on Joan's computer? WE GET IT, WRITERS, YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT MAKING AN ORIGINAL STORY EVERYONE LIKES AND INSTEAD WANT TO DRAG US BACK TO THE FEET OF DOYLE. Like, you couldn't have been more clear about that in your Season 2 pilot. Please for the love of god, do NOT demote Joan from Equal Detective Partner to "writes a biography on Sherlock because the guy with the 5,000 page manuscript somehow inspired her to". PLEASE. The point at which Joan starts being Sherlock's biographer is the point at which she stops being his equal, in my opinion. Also? We had a Female Villain last season whose defining villainy was that she biographied Sherlock without his consent and that gave him massive Trust Issues. I FEEL LIKE JOAN MIGHT REMEMBER THAT. But nope, too busy building a shrine to Arthur Fucking Conan Doyle to remember anything from Season 1! Let's just declare the whole thing non-canon and move on! (I look forward to the Big Reveal that the REAL Moriarty is Jamie's dad or brother or evil uncle or something because a Girl Moriarty isn't in the books and WE CAN'T HAVE THAT. THAT WOULD BE EVER SO DREADFUL.)

Liss: All of that. I also feel like, GIVEN THAT THEY HAD JUST HAD THEIR COMPUTERS HACKED AND PRIVATE INFORMATION STOLEN AND MESSED WITH, Joan would be particularly sensitive to storing personal information on her computer, no less personal information she's detailing about someone else. Surely, that would be the last moment in which Joan would launch a digital diary of Sherlock's work without his consent. I mean, is her character very clever and sensitive, or is she COMPLETELY DAFT AND INSENSITIVE? I was under the impression it was the former, but MAYBE NOT.

Ana: Oh my god, I didn’t even think about the hacking threat. WOW. So, to sum up, the only thing I genuinely liked about this week's episode was the Online Dating Guy apologizing for being possibly-creepy rather than being all Entitled Nice Guy about it, and I also liked the little awkward shoulder-pat that Sherlock gave Joan. I did not like the sexism, the racism, the victim-blaming, and the shrine to dead white guy authors that the writers are busily building in the brownstone's parlor. Because humorless feminist, etc.

Liss: Yeah. I miss Elementary Season One. I'm still holding out hope that it'll get back on track, but my good faith is nearly stretched to its limit, I regret to say.

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