“People like him walk through the raindrops, they don’t get wet. People like you do. People like his ex-girlfriend do.”
And Moriarty and Sherlock’s oddly civil phone conversation continues in the very beginning of this episode. Moriarty seems very fond of excessively wordy speeches, and Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) has no time for that – he wants to know about Irene Adler. Moriarty promises him answers if Sherlock does him a favor: Moriarty wants to hire him to investigate the murder of a man named Wallace Rourke. But can Sherlock work for a man who may or may not have had the love of his life killed?
Apparently he can, because the next we see Sherlock he’s on the computer doing research on Wallace’s case. Joan (Lucy Liu) wants to pause and discuss what the fuck just happened, but Sherlock thinks there’s nothing to discuss. From that one conversation alone Sherlock was able to glean a bunch of different details about Moriarty. He wants to keep in contact with the guy so he can figure out even more.
Sherlock and Joan reconvene at the police station to look into Wallace’s files. While they’re there, Gregson (Aidan Quinn) calls Joan in for a private chat. He wants her to become a sober companion again so she can help his friend’s daughter out with her drug problem. It’s a job that would take at least a few months to complete, and it would definitely take her away from her and Sherlock’s work, so Joan says she can’t. As she leaves, she offers to recommend some good sober companions to his friend, but Gregson still looks troubled. Maybe he’s concerned about how co-dependent she and Sherlock have become recently?
A while later, Sherlock and Joan go to question Wallace’s widow. She’s never heard of a man named Moriarty, though. She lets Sherlock and Joan bring some of Wallace’s old things with them so they can “get a fresh perspective on the case”, and pleads with the two of them to find out who killed her husband.
Back at their base of operations, Sherlock muses on the connection between Wallace and Moriarty. Why does Moriarty want Sherlock to solve this case? Was Wallace an employee of Moriarty’s? On the other side of the room, Joan is inspecting crime scene photos when she notices something odd: Wallace didn’t struggle or even move while he was being stabbed. They figure out that Wallace had been immobilized by a blow to the neck before he was killed – suggesting that Wallace was attacked by someone who knew exactly what they were doing and who their target was.
Sherlock then pads off to the kitchens to find dinner. After minimal prodding from Joan, he begins to open up about Irene – which, if you recall how completely he shut her down the first time Joan asked about Irene, is a complete change and pretty indicative of his growing trust in Joan as a friend and confidant – but their impromptu bonding session is interrupted when Sherlock finds a new lead.
Turns out Wallace was being followed by an unknown entity before he died. A company called Sutter Risk Management had arranged for Wallace’s phone to be traceable, so that is Sherlock and Joan’s next destination. Mr. and Mrs. Sutter, who own the firm, eventually own up to having tracked Wallace’s movements at the behest of one of their clients, who had accused Wallace of threatening them.
Sherlock isn’t buying it, though; he thinks Mr. Daren Sutter is the killer. Based off of what was probably a five minute purview of Sutter’s book while he was waiting in the firm’s lobby, Sherlock has determined that Sutter suspected Wallace of murdering his sister some years prior, and so had killed Wallace in revenge. Sherlock then theorizes that Moriarty’s motive in getting involved in this is that Moriarty wants them to bring Sutter’s firm – the best Risk Management firm in the country – down, so he can carry on his evildoing in peace.
In the morning, Sherlock and Sutter meet for a more private and secretive chat. After sweeping Sutter for bugs, Sherlock jumps straight to the point, asking Sutter how he’s feeling since he killed Wallace. Sutter denies it, of course, as he denies knowing Moriarty, and Sherlock tells Sutter about Moriarty’s plan to take the firm down. Though Sutter is obviously very skeptical, Sherlock convinces Sutter to sweep his office and home for listening devices as proof of the plot.
Meanwhile, Joan goes to confront Gregson about the sober companion job he keeps offering her, asking if he’s unhappy with her work and if this is just a way to get rid of her. Gregson says her growth as an investigator is going extremely well, but he’s worried about Joan’s safety if she continues to hang around Sherlock-the-danger-magnet.
Their conversation ends abruptly when Sutter swans into the station and confesses to the murder of Wallace – he found the bugs Sherlock said would be in his office, and now that he knows there are people out there with information about his actions, he’s trying to confess so he can get the best deal that he can. Sherlock is frustrated that Sutter didn’t follow his instructions, but what’s done is done. Now all that’s left is to wait for Moriarty to call.
It takes awhile for that to happen, and Sherlock gets super antsy as he and Joan wait. When Moriarty finally rings, it’s not to congratulate Sherlock on a job well done. Sherlock only figured out half of the case; Sutter killed Wallace, yes, but Wallace had an alibi for the crime he was accused of – he was innocent of Sutter’s sister’s murder. Moriarty wants Sherlock to figure out that part, as well.
Sherlock works through the night and comes to the conclusion that Moriarty might be right after all – that Wallace might have been out of the country during the time of the Sutter Sister’s murder and thus innocent of the crime. During his explanation to Joan of how he came to that conclusion, he gets a little worked up; Joan reasons that after twenty years, Sutter’s memories of his sister’s killer’s face may have been distorted, and he just killed Wallace by mistake, to which Sherlock replies, “No! Not the memory of the person who took your sister, who took someone you loved from you!” When he realizes what he’s said, he excuses himself from the room and runs off. Aww, Sherlock. Jonny Lee Miller’s acting is sublime in this moment.
Joan follows to check up on Sherlock and see if he’s okay, and they have another bonding moment. Joan is worried by the singleminded way that Sherlock is pursuing this case, seemingly not caring if he gets hurt if it’s going to get him closer to Moriarty. “There are ways to hurt you that do not involve hurting you,” Joan whispers. Sherlock turns to look her in the eye as he tells her that their jobs come with risks, but that Sherlock promises to make sure Joan won’t ever be harmed.
The pair of them then split up, with Sherlock and Joan interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Sutter separately. Sherlock isn’t really getting anywhere with his choice of interviewee, since Mr. Sutter is reluctant to believe that he might have killed the wrong man. A few miles away, Joan is playing the recording of Moriarty’s voice to Mrs. Sutter hoping she’ll recognize it or at the very least allow Joan to look at the firm’s client files, but Mrs. Sutter says no to both.
Sherlock and Joan return home, with Sherlock extremely angry and frustrated that he’s so close and still so far from getting answers that he’s sought for ages now. Joan makes a connection, then: Sutter’s situation is very similar to Sherlock’s in that they both were looking for answers for the murder of someone close to them. The only difference is that Sutter got what he wanted. So what if someone manipulated Sutter into killing Wallace not because they wanted to ruin him, but because they wanted to help him?
Answer’s right in front of us, folks: Daren Sutter’s wife was the one to frame Wallace and manipulate her husband into murdering him. Sherlock, Joan, and the cops go to confront her at the Sutter firm, and the whole story comes spilling out. Mrs. Sutter had been having an affair with Daren Sutter at the time of his sister’s death, and it was her who had witnessed the murder and seen the murderer’s face, not her husband. But since she couldn’t come forward as a witness without owning up to the affair, Daren Sutter had to claim her eyewitness report and remembered details as his own. But when the police were unable to find his sister’s killer based on her information, it ate away at both of them.
After the twenty-year anniversary of his sister’s death, Mr. Sutter fell into a deep depression and even tried to kill himself. So his wife did the only thing she could think of – frame a random man for the murder of Sutter’s sister. The cops take her in, and the case is solved.
Sherlock and Joan aren’t pleased, though. Sherlock reasons that this was Moriarty’s fucked up way of teaching him a lesson – that a man who seeks vengeance can end up destroying the lives of all those around him. Sherlock decides to go visit Mr. Sutter at prison and tell him everything that had happened, and that he’ll do his best to find out who really killed Sutter’s sister and bring them to justice.
Sutter replies that unless Sherlock brings the real killer to Sutter so he can strangle them with him bare hands, there will never be true justice for his sister’s murder. Sherlock leaves the prison looking rattled. That’s when he gets a phone call from Moriarty – Sherlock has “earned his answers” after all. He’s given an address.
Sherlock unwisely decides not to bring any back-up and to go confront his answers alone. When he gets to the address, he finds a big white house in a secluded area – and out pops Joan from absolutely nowhere! She cloned Sherlock’s phone after their “I promise never to let you get hurt” conversations, because she knew he would pull something like this. She calls him out on excluding her from this and going into a dangerous situation on his own. “I have been with you every step of the way these past few weeks. Whatever answers he’s got in there for you, I deserve them too.” Good job, Joan.
They enter the seemingly empty house to find… Irene Adler? Alive?!
DUN DUN DUN.
Thoughts + Verdict
The case of the week would have been stale if not for the great parallels being drawn between Sutter and Sherlock. Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu’s acting this week was sublime, though – they really brought their characters’ insecurities and their inner strengths to life in this episode.
As curious as I am about Moriarty’s face and identity, I’m also really enjoying him being in the shadows and puppeteering everyone around him. I would definitely not mind remaining in the dark about who he really is – even after the season finale. And I’m super excited to find out the truth about Irene Adler in next week’s episode.
Moriarty: Consider me a spider. I sit motionless at the center of my web. That web has a thousand radiations, and I know well every quiver of each of them. I do little myself, I only plan. My agents are numerous and splendidly organized. If there is a crime to be done, a paper to be obstructed, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed – the word is passed to me, and the matter is planned and carried out.
Sherlock: So, you’re a pimp and assassins are your girls?
Sherlock: [Irene] was highly intelligent. Optimistic about the human condition.
Watson: Do you mean that as a compliment, too?
Sherlock: I do, oddly enough. I usually consider it a sign of stupidity, but with Irene it seemed… almost convincing.
Sherlock: That’s why in the morning I’ve arranged to speak with Sutter in private.
Joan: In private?
Sherlock: It’s going to be a very delicate conversation. For what it’s worth, he’s not bringing his wife, either.
Joan: You’re in the danger zone also.
Gregson: I’ve been a cop for 30 years! I carry a gun!
Joan: -muttering- And a penis.
Sherlock: As far as Moriarty is concerned, I will never allow any harm to come to you. Not ever.
Joan: You can’t promise that.
Sherlock: And yet I have.
Elementary airs Thursdays on CBS at 10/9 central.