Let’s talk about two Law & Order franchises for a minute. Criminal Intent features a crack detective with an uncanny ability to solve murders based on the smallest bits of evidence. This detective was admittedly inspired by none other than the great Sherlock Holmes. Special Victims Unit explores cases about, well, special victims, mostly children who have been abducted or abused.
This episode of Elementary felt like a combination of the two, but that’s not really fair because aren’t all police procedurals the same show anyway? It may sound like I’m complaining about the entanglement between these shows, but I’m praising it. How long has SVU been on? How long did CI last?
These shows draw in a certain type of viewer: one who loves intrigue and mystery, someone who likes to solve puzzles. That’s why Criminal Minds is such a successful franchise on the same network that produces this Holmes adaptation.
“Child Predator” begins in 2005 when a young boy named Adam is abducted by someone he recognizes. The assailant leaves behind a bouquet of balloons for his parents exclaiming “thank you” on each and every one of them.
Fast forward to the present and yet another girl has been abducted, sending Holmes into a sleepless frenzy. Holmes is determined to reveal that the father is lying about why he left his daughter unattended while his wife worked. He says it was to buy a bottle of wine from the bodega down the street. But his bottle of wine has the price tag on the bottom of the bottle, not on the cap. And bodegas place it on the cap, obviously.
It turns out he was meeting a mistress, which has nothing to do with the plot other than the fact that the mistress saw a big brown van speed through the stop sign that she was parked near. Holmes correctly deduces that the van is the Balloon Man’s, and after seeing a scraped car with brown paint, along with blue and white, he realizes it used to be a police van, which helps narrow down the search.
Typical Elementary twist number one: it’s not the Balloon Man driving it when they find it, it’s Adam! The original victim had been kept alive all this time and raised like a son. He won’t talk to anyone other than Holmes. Adam had been emotionally scarred, and it is Holmes’ job to break through to him.
Now, Holmes is smart. There’s no denying this. He cracks Adam and the two begin a dialogue that really carries this episode. The police investigation and Holmes’ relationship with Watson develop further in this episode, but they took a back seat to Holmes as a character. Jonny Lee Miller is a huge standout this season. He takes a traditional character and adds a certain amount of charisma to him. There are subtle nuances that continue to build three episodes in that add to the greater mystery of the show—that mystery being what exactly the great detective is hiding and who he really is as a man.
Holmes’ ability to crack Adam leads to him agreeing to sign an immunity deal his birth parents insist he deserves after being brainwashed, which lets the boy give up the location of his “new father.” Case closed, right?
Typical Elementary twist number two: Balloon Man was weak and feeble, and Adam turned the tables and is now the assailant on little children! The fact that this episode was so straightforward meant there had to be another twist coming. It was obvious, sure, but it meant that Holmes was defeated. He was bested by a 19-year-old, and he doesn’t take too kindly to that. In the end he finds a hole in the immunity clause that will put Adam behind bars.
It results in another win for Holmes and provides another win for the show thanks to an intriguing and well-produced episode. Of course I would have liked to see more development between Holmes and Watson, but there continues to be enough each week to keep me satisfied until there is that inevitable character development episode where the case takes a back seat.