We’re back on solid ground this week with a good old-fashioned murder. Except one without, you know, a body or a crime scene. Who needs those anyway, right?
The episode opens with a man working alone on a dark city street. He is unexpectedly assaulted by two men, who throw him in the bed of his truck and begin shooting non-fatal but very painful body parts. They demand to know where he took “the Lady Frances,” and eventually kill him for the information. Without any witnesses, this should be a smooth getaway, but the camera pans away to reveal a small device nearby labeled “Bullet Point.” Elsewhere, a technician with headphones on with the same logo listens in shock and horror to the crime.
Bullet Point turns out to be a new technology that the city is test driving in a handful of neighborhoods. When these devices hear the sound of a gunshot, they map the location, record the incident, and send the information to the police. Unfortunately, by the time the police and Sherlock and Joan make it to the location of this particular shooting, the truck has driven away, and with it, their murder victim and crime scene. The only thing that remains is one bullet casing.
The team goes to talk to the people working at Bullet Point, including the tech, Cosmo, who first heard the shooting. They aren’t the only ones to show up; there’s also an aide to the mayor and another aide to Councilman Slessinger, who is running against the mayor on a platform of “law and order” (dun DUN) and thus are very interested in a case related to a controversial new crime stopping technology.
As they leave Bullet Point, Joan gets a call from Detective Guzman, the police officer working with Shinwell on taking down the SBK gang. It turns out that Shinwell was shot at by a green Chevy in a recent drive-by, but luckily was unharmed. But for some reason, Shinwell neglected to tell Joan about this. When she confronts him on it, Shinwell insists it was SBK business and asks her to leave it alone. And that’s the end of that! Haha, just kidding. Why would you even bother asking your detective friends to not, you know, detect?
The audio clip from Bullet Point of the shooting contains the sound of a car driving away, and Sherlock is able to determine from this that the car in question is a truck, probably one involved in construction. Following this tip, they discover that a man named Darren Azoff went out on a drywalling job the previous day but never came home.
Azoff’s wife confirms it’s his voice in the audio clip. She doesn’t know who Frances is, but she was sure that Azoff was having an affair, so she guesses it’s his girlfriend. Clues found in the house help lead them to a second home that Azoff owned.
They find the proverbial Other Women in Azoff’s second house, but her name isn’t Frances, it’s Marjorie. She’s initially reluctant to let them in the house, but eventually gives in when Bell points out it’s possible Azoff could still be alive and that clues in the house could help find him. Inside, the home is full of stolen goods taken from homes that Azoff was doing construction work in. There’s also signs that someone recently broke into the house. Marjorie doesn’t think anything is missing, but Sherlock finds evidence that shows that Azoff was recently doing research into a guitar that’s no longer in the house.
This isn’t just any guitar, though. It’s a vintage guitar that once belonged to Eric Clapton, now worth millions of dollars. And like many famous and expensive objects, it has a name: Lady Frances.
This turns the direction of investigation, obviously. Without the drama of a woman’s life at stake, the various political parties jockeying for power are disappointed, much to Gregson’s scorn. He particularly criticizes Slessinger for being highly dismissive of the police, not just in this case but in all his campaign talk. Sherlock, being Sherlock, is fairly disinterested in the politics of it, but he thinks that the guitar gives them a lead. Whoever last owned it must be the one who sent out the hitman against Azoff, so if they can find that individual, they’ll find the culprit. Joan heads off to speak to an expert in vintage guitars for more information.
Sherlock, meanwhile, unexpectedly runs into Detective Guzman, who has some troubling new information on Shinwell’s drive-by. The ballistics on the bullets in the drive-by match the bullets from a twelve year old murder of a man named Jameel. Jameel was also a member of SBK, and was buds with Shinwell. Looks like there’s more to the shooting than they initially thought. Sherlock keeps this new update to himself.
Joan’s guitar expert confirms that the pictures of the stolen guitar match the Lady Frances. He also gives them some clues on who might own it now, eventually leading them to musical producer Herman Wolf.
Shinwell’s old friend, Jameel, turns out to have had a younger brother and Sherlock goes to talk to him. He was very young at the time of his brother’s murder and he denies knowing anything. Sherlock doesn’t believe him, but can’t get any more information out of him.
So he and Joan go to talk to Herman Wolf. Wolf talks a big game at first, angrily denying it all, until Sherlock uses the sound equipment in his music studio to play the clip of Azoff being tortured. Wolf is visibly shaken, and admits to hiring a man to retrieve his guitar. But he insists he never wanted anyone to be hurt. He helps the police to get in contact with the men he hired, and the police soon pick the hitman up.
So that ought to be that. But it’s Elementary, and we’re only partway through the episode, so naturally it isn’t that easy. Wolf never got his guitar back, after all, and a new scene shows someone else with it: Cosmo, the tech from Bullet Point. He’s speaking in a familiar way to a second person standing in the shadows, telling him the whole story. When Cosmo heard the audio clip, he immediately know that Frances was the guitar, not a person. Azoff actually did give the address where he was keeping the guitar when he was being tortured, and Cosmo realized he was closer than Azoff’s assailants. So he deleted the part of the clip where Azoff gave the address, stole the guitar himself, and then reported to the police. He timidly offers to share the profits of selling her to the unseen man he’s speaking to. But instead, the man uses the nearly priceless historical guitar to beat Cosmo to death. So, oops. We should have known Cosmo was going to bite it when they bothered to give his character a name.
Cosmo’s killer did a good job of cleaning up the scene of his murder, but they find a broken, bloody piece of the guitar hidden at the scene. This suggests Cosmo wasn’t killed for the guitar, so why?
While pondering this new twist, Sherlock decides to speak to Shinwell about his own puzzling case. He tells Shinwell about the ballistics and asks who would have wanted to kill both Jameel and Shinwell, but Shinwell doesn’t have a good answer. His best explanation is that, shortly before Jameel’s death, Shinwell and Jameel were involved in a robbery gone wrong at a liquor store in Atlantic City. A man died, and the brother of the victim blamed Shinwell and Jameel. But somehow Shinwell can’t recall a name for this man. Neither Shinwell nor Sherlock look happy walking away from this conversation.
Joan and Bell decide that a possible suspect for Cosmo’s killing is the head of Bullet Point. They were vying for a contract to go citywide with their technology, a contract that would have landed them a lot of money. Cosmo’s abuse of the technology could have put that contract in danger.
But the Bullet Point…I’m not sure they ever said what her precise job was, so let’s go with president, tells them there’s more going on here than they realize. In order to delete part of the Azoff audio clip, Cosmo needed illicit editing software. He used that software for more than just deleting clips; he was also making fake gunshot clips and planting them in the software in order to lead cops to shootings that weren’t really happening. The Bullet Point president, a former cop herself, was just about to confess this to the city when Joan and Bell arrived. If she wasn’t going to cover up this larger scandal, why hide the smaller one of Cosmo stealing?
Joan has a more important question. Why was Cosmo doing this at all?
Sherlock and Joan spend the night considering this question, giving Sherlock the opportunity to engage in his favorite hobby of Waking Joan Up, this time by repeatedly playing clips of gunshots. He at last tells Joan about the new information in Shinwell’s case. He thinks he’s found the culprit, but he’s reluctant to tell Joan before he’s made sure of it all.
Then came a small but truly wonderful moment. I was expecting Joan to be irritated he had and was continuing to hold information back. But instead she nods and tells him to do whatever he has to do. You know why? Because she trusts him. They trust each other. The writers could have made this into a moment of Drama but instead they quietly and beautifully demonstrated how much these two dorks love and trust each other. I was so emotionally moved by their pure friendship that I completely spaced out and missed what they said next, which was actually really important so then I had to rewind.
What Sherlock said next was that he had totally solved Cosmo’s crime, no big deal. He sends Joan off to the police station to speak to the culprit as he himself heads out to finish up on Shinwell’s case.
At the station, Joan finds…I won’t say who so as to not ruin the surprise, but I totally called it like halfway through the episode. It was, in fact, a twist that was demonstrative of much of this episode. If you were paying attention and were familiar with how Elementary plotlines usually go (pro tip: if a random and seemingly irrelevant character is introduced early on and then vanishes, they’re probably going to be important later!), then you could figure out who-dun-it pretty quickly. Nonetheless, this was a solidly written episode and it was fun to watch it all unfold. I usually get some things right and others wrong, so there’s the satisfaction of vindication and the surprise when I’m wrong. For instance, I had totally guessed that Lady Frances was not going to be a human being, but I was predicting something like a dog or a computer program, so I was both pleased and surprised when “she” was really a guitar.
But there’s one last surprise waiting. Sherlock corners Jameel’s brother again, with more information this time. Sherlock hadn’t bought Shinwell’s story at all, and sure enough, although it was a real incident, it wasn’t one that had happened to Shinwell. Sherlock had also discovered that Jameel’s brother had access to a green Chevy, just like the one used in the drive-by. So why would Shinwell lie, and why would Jameel’s brother try to kill him? Well, Shinwell’s little lie had one helpful clue. A man will do a lot to avenge the murder of his brother.