Here we are, the finale at last. I know I’ve been criticizing the writers for a rough build up to the finale, but wowee, they delivered a whammy in the end.
The episode opens with Sherlock alone, a closed box in front of him. Sherlock lists ordinary objects out loud, then tears the box open to find those items inside. When he hears Joan entering the brownstone, he hastily conceals the items inside a wooden chest that contains more identical boxes.
He’s all nonchalant with Joan, but she doesn’t buy it. Her thought process is running the same as mine in the last episode, because she outright asks him if he’s been using drugs again. He’s been distracted, absent, and sleeping more than usual. Sherlock denies it and angrily shows her the inside of her elbows. No track marks. That’s one theory I’m more than glad to be wrong about.
Joan, not fully satisfied, tells him that she still needs his help on the SBK case and heads off to bed, both of them frustrated with the other.
Elsewhere in the city, SBK members are holding a street party. There’s unease in the ranks with their leader, Bonzi Folsom, in the hospital and unlikely to recover. Two gang members fall to talking, and one mentions the arrest of Tall Boy, the SBK member that killed Shinwell. Tall Boy was able to get a message out on who he thinks convinced Shinwell to snitch: Joan Watson. The SBK gang members conclude it might be wise to pay Joan a less-than-friendly visit.
But their attack is thwarted when several men wielding what I believe are technically called “big fricking guns” crash the party. Joan’s would-be attackers are taken down in a blaze of bullets.
The next day at the morgue, the captain and Bell update Sherlock and Joan on the slaughter. They think it’s more gang violence, originating with a group called Mara Tres. You may remember Sherlock has had previous dealings with them. Mara Tres and SBK are long time rivals. No doubt with Folsom in the hospital, Mara Tres saw the chance to move in on their territory. The city could be facing open gang warfare.
Obviously no one wants that to happen. The captain plans to speak with Tyus Wilcox, the secret leader of SBK, to warn him off. Sherlock decides to use his Mara Tres connections to do the same. But before he leaves, he takes a snide shot at Joan. The atmosphere is decidedly frosty.
Wilcox seems to only know the one tune and continues to deny being remotely involved with SBK. The captain and Joan deliver their warning nonetheless. Wilcox’s continued denials are a little boring and do little to move the plot along.
Sherlock delivers his message to Mara Tres via a confession box and a corrupt Catholic priest. He returns to the brownstone, where he finds our old friend the mysterious Flower Dress Lady waiting. He’s unsurprised to see her, but not exactly happy either.
She’s found his mysterious boxes. She cryptically warns him it’s too late for that, and says that she loves him, but if he doesn’t tell Joan about her, he’ll never see her again. A buzz at the door interrupts their conversation.
Mara Trace is waiting at the door for Sherlock. They take Sherlock to meet with their leader, Julio “Halcon” Zelaya. Halcon is waiting with a large wooden crate, which Sherlock suspects to contain a body.
It does, but rather than an SBK member as Sherlock expected, it contains the body of Halcon’s sister Carmen. She’s been in there two days, so we can’t blame Sherlock for looking horrified at the site, although I can’t help but notice he looks distinctly unwell too.
Halcon tells Sherlock he’s got things all wrong. Mara Tres didn’t start the gang war with SBK; it’s the other way around. Two days ago Carmen’s body was delivered to Halcon, along with a DVD in which SBK takes credit for the killing. Halcon won’t stop until he’s had his revenge on SBK.
Halcon gives the DVD to Sherlock but won’t give up his sister’s body. Back at the precinct, the detectives watch the footage. It shows a bound Carmen tearfully delivering a message she’s clearly been forced to read, in which SBK takes credit for killing her.
Joan is skeptical, and (somewhat to her surprise) Sherlock agrees. SBK has been a mess the past few days due to the police investigation. Why would they choose now to start a gang war? Perhaps another gang is framing them, or factions within Mara Tres are trying to stir up a fight. Either way, the next move in the war belongs to Wilcox, and the captain decides he wants to speak to him again.
Initially Wilcox tries to play his same old game of denying it all, but the captain and Sherlock must be getting tired of this too. They point out they can’t arrest him just for acknowledging he might be the SBK leader, so he finally gets honest.
Originally Folsom alone really was the leader of SBK. But when he got over his head, he turned to his brother for help, eventually leading to the two of them becoming partners. Wilcox always warned SBK to stay away from getting personally involved with Halcon. He’s too dangerous. Wilcox didn’t order the hit on Carmen. But he knows that some SBK members weren’t happy about SBK’s hands off policy with regards to Mara Tres, so perhaps one of them acted on their own.
Joan, pursuing leads of her own, meets up with Carmen’s roommate. She’s reluctant to talk, having been warned by Halcon to keep her mouth shut, but Joan changes her mind. She was with Carmen when she was abducted, so she got a good look at the abductor. He was wearing a face mask, but she noticed that although he was dressed like a gangbanger, he didn’t carry himself like one and his arms and neck were bare of tattoos.
Sherlock and Joan meet up again at the brownstone to update each other. Joan is unconvinced by Wilcox’s theory that it was a rogue SBK member. She’s been going through photos of known SBK members, as well as other gang members, and can’t find one without any neck or arm tattoos.
On a different topic, she mentions that Shinwell’s memorial service is later that afternoon and asks Sherlock to go with her. It seems like an olive branch. Sherlock hesitates, then says that of course he’ll go along.
A phone call interrupts this tentative reconciliation. It’s the captain, with shocking news. Wilcox has returned to the station, and not only does he have information on who he thinks killed Carmen…but on every member of SBK. In exchange for immunity, he’s giving up all the crimes of every single member of his own gang.
The assistant defense attorney is having a field day. Not only can he take down a whole notorious gang, but he also has the chance to prevent violent gang warfare. Coincidentally, the ADA intends to run for defense attorney in a few years. This will sure look good on his resume.
Wilcox is claiming that Carmen was killed by one of the SBK members killed at the party at the start of the episode. But Joan knows there’s no way that can be. That particular individual was covered with tattoos. No, Joan has a new theory. It was Wilcox all along.
Alone with the captain and the ADA, she explains how she thinks it went down. Would the ADA have ever offered Wilcox immunity if it wasn’t for the threat of gang warfare? No, and Wilcox knew that. He intentionally engineered the whole situation, killing Carmen and pinning it on SBK in order to create a situation in which someone would be willing to offer him immunity.
Unfortunately, she can’t prove it. The ADA isn’t willing to deny the deal just for Joan’s suspicions. The captain reluctantly tells Joan there’s nothing they can do, and she furiously leaves the precinct to head to Shinwell’s memorial.
Things only get worse there. The memorial is depressingly empty. Not a single person other than Joan and the minister showed up…including Sherlock. To add insult to injury, a gloating Wilcox picks that moment to call her. He knows her number because he found it in Shinwell’s phone; that’s how they knew Shinwell was a snitch. He tells Joan it’s all her fault that Shinwell died, that the whole situation is her fault. Joan doesn’t take it lying down and warns Wilcox she isn’t going to let him get away with this.
Later that evening, Sherlock is playing his memory game again. But this time when he opens the box, he finds that he only got some of the objects within right. He angrily swipes it all off the table.
He finds Joan in the TV room, watching the footage of Carmen’s death on every single screen. Freezingly angry, she asks him where he was that afternoon. Sherlock is puzzled, and she specifies the memorial. He tells her that he lost track of time. Joan is justifiably enraged, but the look on Sherlock’s face suggests he genuinely forgot.
Joan storms out of the room and Sherlock follows her downstairs, where they proceed to have a shouting match. She doesn’t find his excuse of forgetting convincing, and accuses him of having been distant and unsupportive the last few weeks, suggesting that played into Shinwell’s death. Sherlock, in turn, says she’s projecting her anger at Wilcox onto him. He refuses to be repentant about Shinwell’s death and repeats his argument that Shinwell was an unrepentant criminal and murderer, just as bad as Wilcox. Joan whips out Shinwell’s confession and, sounding as if she’s on the verge of tears, denies that Shinwell was as bad as Wilcox.
Side note, if Joan ever openly cries I’m pretty sure I’ll cry too.
Sherlock has really pushed Joan too far. She arranges a meeting with Halcon and tells him she knows who killed his sister, although she’s smart enough not to use names. Wilcox is under high security protection as a key witness, so Halcon’s chances of getting to him aren’t great. But if Joan can prove that Wilcox is the killer, he’ll end up in prison, and, well, Joan is sure that Halcon has plenty of friends behind bars. Joan can be shockingly ruthless. But in order to prove Wilcox’s guilt, she needs something from Halcon. She needs Carmen.
The confession from Shinwell must be convincing, because back at the brownstone, Sherlock is reading it and looking miserable. His phone rings, and he answers to find the mysterious FDL on the other end. He’s willing to talk to her this time, and confesses that he’s realized that he was wrong to accuse her of sending that mysterious text last episode. He was the one to send it, and then somehow he forgot.
But FDL tells him it’s too late for that. She has to go away now, and she’s sorry he’ll be alone for what’s coming. That’s not ominous at all. Nor are the flames that begin to burn around her.
Hey, remember who else in Sherlock’s life died in a fire? (If you don’t remember, it rhymes with shmom.)
Sherlock, in a panic, runs downstairs to find the room next to the kitchen locked and in flames. Assuming that FDL is in the room, Sherlock throws a chair through the glass doors, only to ignite a burst of flame that knocks him to the ground.
Carmen’s body revealed the evidence that Joan thought it would. After repeatedly watching the footage of Carmen’s message, she noticed that she had blood on her lip that didn’t come from any cuts. She was able to bite her attacker and swallowed some of his blood. The lab techs were able to recover DNA evidence.
As part of Wilcox’s immunity deal, he had to give the ADA his DNA. It also turns out that his deal is void if he perjured himself while giving testimony, which he did when he claimed that someone else in SBK murdered Carmen. Joan got him at last.
In the final shots of the episode, Sherlock is shown, fortunately unharmed (and unburned) in a nondescript waiting room. FDL is with him, also unharmed. She apologizes for frightening him with the fire, but she was willing to do anything to get him to listen. And he finally has. The camera pans out to show he’s in a clinic waiting room. He acknowledges that he’s been having memory problems, among other things. After all, Flower Dress Lady looks suspiciously just like his mother, who died when Sherlock was young. She tells him that she’s the part of him that wants to get better.
Interspersed in this are shots of Joan coming home to find the house empty. She discovers the broken door and the chaos in the room beyond. But there’s clearly no fire damage. There was never a fire. Frightened, she runs through the house looking for Sherlock.
A man at the clinic tells Sherlock they’re ready for him now, and he climbs into an MRI. Scans of his brain appear on the tech’s screen.
I always think that a finale is pretty good if it leaves you thinking, “Wait, I have to wait months for the next episode?!” Well, that’s certainly how I feel. Good thing Elementary is confirmed for another season, because I’m absolutely dying to know where they’ll go with this.