Elementary has gone from CBS' most controversial and talked about show to, well, steadily churning out pretty run-of-the-mill content. Don't get me wrong: I adore the show and always will, but it's no secret that season 3 suffered from a descent in viewing figures (going from an average of 10 million per episode in season 1, to 7 million in season 3). Is Elementary losing its edge? And could introducing John Noble as Sherlock's father shake things up enough to get audiences interested again?
Season 1 of Elementary was perhaps its best series to date. It was a fresh approach to what was, in 2012, a fairly overdone story. With the immensely popular BBC Sherlock as its rival, Elementary faced criticism from fans of the British series. The buzz surrounding the show's conception definitely helped get people interested, and with unflinching themes of drug use and addiction balanced against a heartwarming companionship story, Elementary kept audiences enthralled.
By season 2, however, the episodes had become procedural, with some missed opportunities for developing side characters such as Detective Bell. And season 3 was much of the same, dropping mysterious newcomer Kitty Winter just as she got interesting. However, the final episode saw Sherlock taken on an obsessive wild goose chase designed to trigger his drug use and drag him back into depression, which was a thrilling conclusion to hints laid at the end of season 2 that he would inevitably relapse.
So what could Elementary do to liven up season 4? The show has plenty of strengths they could play off, as long as they do it right. Here's what we want to see next season...
We've already had a look into the Holmes clan with Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes making an appearance in season 2. His story was complex to say the least, with suspicions flying around all other the place: was he really a restaurant owner? Was he involved with the mob? Yes! Wait, no, he was actually a secret agent all along. And after getting tangled up in romantic knots with Joan, the situation was a bit awkward by the time he departed the show.
Hopes are high for Holmes senior though: he has been a major player from the show's beginning, as he was the one to hire Joan Watson as Sherlock's sober companion. With the entirety of Sherlock's detective operation financed by family funds, his father has been pulling plot strings for years. As ominous as his arrival is, however, producer Rob Doherty is keen to remind us of Holmes snr's caring side.
"When Sherlock has described him, he hasn't painted a picture of a very loving father... and yet it's worth noting this will be the second time he's taken steps to help his son during a difficult time."
The threat of his visit has been used before, and as Sherlock seems to have plunged back into his drug using habits, we can't wait to see what the head of the family will have to say about this.
Joan Watson: master detective
Responding to fears that Joan would revert to her sober companion role following Sherlock's apparent relapse, Doherty assured fans that Watson would be keeping the consultancy running in this trying time.
"What Joan cannot do and will not do is revert into a sober companion. Even as she grew into a partner and detective, she was still sensitive to Sherlock’s needs with respect to recovery, and that’ll remain the same."
Joan's development has been one of the highlights of the show, as she went from companion to detective, using her considerable intelligence along with her skills as a doctor to solve the mystery of the week. Lucy Liu does fantastically in the role, and her initial casting was one of the ways Elementary grabbed and held its audience's attention. With Joan taking up Sherlock's mantle in season 4, Elementary are definitely playing to their strengths.
One of Elementary's greatest moments was the astounding plot twist in season 1 that revealed the tragically murdered Irene Adler was not only alive, she was also her own killer. After a long cat and mouse game between Sherlock and Moriarty, the sleuth's nemesis and his lost love turned out to be one and the same person. And with Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer in the role, Jamie Moriarty was a quick fan fave. Her diabolical genius and vicious manipulation is a joy to behold, and her brief return in season 2 left us all wanting more.
There's the potential for a fantastic plot here, as Sherlock clearly still loves his worst enemy. How could Moriarty affect Sherlock's recovery? Could her reappearance tempt him to succumb to his darker urges? Seeing more of her obsession and bitter rivalry with Joan would also be fantastic: as the only person Moriarty can't figure out, Joan might be the only one to be able to save Sherlock from his foe's grasp (again).
Of course, with Dormer's role in The Hunger Games Franchise, as well as her recurring role on Game of Thrones, she is very much in demand. It's probable that her role in the show was intended to be much larger, but thanks to scheduling conflicts we may have to wait a while before seeing Moriarty again.
A return to form
Elementary, with its mature and realistic approach to the age old Sherlock Holmes story, is among the best adaptations of its source material. Instead of putting the detective on a pedestal, Elementary has Sherlock slowly appreciate those around him, building newfound friendships and nurturing his relationship with Watson. With a focus on character development, and exciting mysteries each week, at its best Elementary is an intelligent, phenomenal show. And if they play their cards right, season 4 could see the show rise to popularity once again.
What do you want to see in Elementary season 4?
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