Last week, we saw Sherlock and Joan solve a case while Joan was being investigated by the police because of a certain Detective Cortes’ personal grudge.
This week’s episode is tied a little more into the seasonal arc. And by that I mean ALFREDO IS BACK!
And Sherlock seems to be skipping meetings, or at least avoiding him ever since last season’s finale. Ostensibly, he feels guilty because of Alfredo’s prior kidnapping. He claims it’s not guilt, but a need for a fresh start after his relapse.
But while all this not-guilt is marinating, Sherlock and Joan get to investigate the murder of an archaeologist, killed by a spade to the chest. His ex-girlfriend’s spade, to be exact.
The archaeologist, Eddie Ross, had been searching for something in landfills and former landfills, going so far as to impersonate city employees. He was looking for games, for one in particular called “Nottingham Knights”. In the Elementary universe, it’s the worst game ever, buried in an undisclosed landfill and probably worth quite a bit of money.
It’s clearly aping from the tale of the ill-fated E.T. Atari game, thrown into a landfill after being notoriously awful.
Ross wasn’t the only one looking for it. Every once in a while, rumors of the game resurface, until he thought he found it, chronicled his exploits, and abruptly stopped. Perhaps the killer found the games, took them, and killed him.
Sherlock can’t help but note the similarities between digging for nostalgia in video games and Alfredo’s restoring of classic cars, a way to regain a former age. So he visits Alfredo to explain himself, that his scarcity hasn’t been about guilt but about shame. Going to his old meetings, seeing all the familiar faces and locations serves not as a strengthening agent for Sherlock’s sobriety but as a reminder of his relapse. That extends to Alfredo: in the context of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Sherlock’s former sponsor is no longer his friend but a reminder of the fact that he fell off the wagon.
He needs a new sponsor, but also wants to keep Alfredo’s friendship. The problem there, however, is a lack of commonality. Alfredo and Sherlock hardly share anything—sure, Sherlock can pick damn near any lock and solve any crime, and considering Alfredo is a former criminal, they have that bond… but not much else. Their connection was largely about being sober, which presents them with the conundrum of how to continue.
Not a conundrum, though, is how to connect the dots between Eddie Ross and other members of a gaming forum: “Everyone” is always there to help Sherlock. Provided, of course, that he plays a video game to completion. And we get to see Sherlock and Joan attempt to play games, which is hilarious. They’re better at pretending to play games than they are pretending to drink coffee, that’s for sure; Sherlock’s frustrated expression definitely mirrors my own when I’m losing. Joan’s expression at winning the game herself, though, is fantastic and made the episode worth it all on its own.
Ross wasn’t killed by someone wanting the games, though—those had been found years prior. Instead, he found proof of a chemical company illegally dumping toxic waste into landfills. They weren’t at fault, though—instead, it was the owner of the land in which Ross was digging. Toxic waste is a property value killer, you see.
So the property owner hired an arsonist to kill Eddie Ross.
And with the mystery out of the way, Sherlock visits Alfredo, having realized that Alfredo had been attending many more meetings than usual. It wasn’t because of the kidnapping, but a hard time nonetheless, and the lack of communication made Sherlock worry. He offers to help Alfredo, who refused to come clean about his problems in an attempt to save Sherlock’s renewed efforts toward staying sober. But therein lies the solution to their friendship: give and take.
Sure, it still relies on sobriety.
But it’s friendship.
Image courtesy of CBS