{TB Talks TV} Elementary Review: “A Stitch in Time”


Tweetable Takeaway: Elementary stalls with an episode focused on the wrong character.

Airtime: Thursday at 10 pm on CBS

By: , Contributor


I had thought, before I started this review, that there were only 22 episodes in this season of Elementary. Had that been the case, “A Stitch in Time” would have been the antepenultimate (that’s third-to-last, for those of you who never asked for a thesaurus for Christmas) episode of the season. I was extraordinarily confused, since by that point in time, Elementary has usually kicked off its season-ending arc. But “A Stitch in Time” does nothing of the kind.

It turns out there are 24 episodes in this season (so look out for the plot to pick up around April 30), but my confusion is a pretty good indicator of the kind of episode “A Stitch in Time” is. It’s not bad, just… inessential. Sherlock and Joan’s professional parity places it firmly after first season, but other than that, you could move it to pretty much anywhere in the show’s timeline, and it would still work — and on a show with an emotional throughline as strong as Elementary‘s, that guarantees that it’s not particularly tapped in to the story’s more important elements.

Joan and Sherlock’s relationship has been on a clear trajectory in the back half of season three, with each of them taking on a little of other’s role in the fallout of Andrew’s death. This has been causing tension, to put it lightly, and will likely figure somehow into the season’s endgame. But “A Stitch in Time” doesn’t deal with that tension explicitly, and it’s debatable whether it does so implicitly; the spat between Joan and Sherlock over Hannah’s detective skills doesn’t feel particularly germane to their current issues, and wouldn’t have felt out of place earlier in the season, or indeed in season two. There have been other episodes in the back half of season three that haven’t dealt with Joan and Sherlock’s role reversal — the exquisite “For All You Know” and well-intentioned if uneven “T-Bone and the Iceman” come to mind — but those episodes instead delved into intensely personal stories that revealed something new about the main characters. “A Stitch in Time” doesn’t do that either.

The problem is that the character who “A Stitch in Time” is really about, Gregson, is hardly in the episode. Joan carries the weight of the B-plot, as she investigates a case for Hannah Gregson and then confronts her about its handling, but Joan has no real stakes in the story, aside from professional pride. That might have worked, if this had been a story about Joan’s professional relationship with Gregson, which at one point it seemed like it might be. But in the end, Joan never even has to decide whether to tell Gregson about what his daughter’s done, because Hannah beats her to the punch. “A Stitch in Time” is not about the delicate balance of Joan and Gregson’s working relationship. It’s about the fight for Hannah’s integrity. And Joan quite simply has no business being in as much of that story as she is.

It’s a shame, because Gregson’s been on the backburner all season, and he could’ve used a really good showcase episode. But he only gets two scenes in “A Stitch in Time,” which is about as many as he’s had in every other episode this season. Don’t get me wrong; I love Joan, and I want to see more of her all the time, but this episode needed more space for Gregson. It needed scenes where he talked to his daughter, scenes where he learned what she’d done, scenes where each of them made decisions. If  this was going to be an episode about Gregson and his daughter, it needed to really show us something about them. If it had, it probably wouldn’t have been inessential.

Case of the Week

Not a bad A-plot, all things considered. Eric Bogosian’s presence anchored the mystery, and kept it from turning into the revolving door of guest stars that a lot of Elementary episodes have been this season. The moment you see him, you know he did it (or anyway, is involved), so the question becomes “what was the plan” rather than “who did it.” Of course, that also means that the mystery’s even less fair than usual — the crucial four-millisecond gap doesn’t show up until the moment Sherlock figures it out — but there’s still a pleasant puzzle feeling to the whole thing.

Random Bits

– Today, in the politics of Sherlock Holmes, an Edward Snowden reference. Of all the Sherlock Holmeses out there, Elementary‘s is the only one who I’d believe is a registered voter. I mean, I’m not wedded to the idea, but if the show had a scene where he mailed an absentee ballot to the U.K., I’d buy it.

– Man, the guy who pushed the car off the railroad tracks is like, the best person in the world. He should get a medal. And a spin-off.

– If Joan and Sherlock sicced Everyone on the Church of Modern Atomicism and then gave a DUG Chat about it, the resulting storyline would send out shockwaves that would destroy trademark law for all time.

Quotes Are Experiencing a Four-Millisecond Lag

– “My thoughts were concerned with colony collapse. I failed to see the more urgent threat of table collapse.”

– “At one time or another, every great religion has been attacked as a cult.” “So have most cults.”

– “The full spectrum of commerce and communication flows through her optic fibers. As well as the requisite glut of pornography and cat videos.”

– “I fear that I, too, may be cursed with a literal mind.”


Contributor Byline (Please insert your byline here and make sure it’s italicized)
 is a freelance writer based in LA. She shares her generally unpopular opinions about television at stopitshow.blogspot.com.
Twitter: MadelynTheRose

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