Elementary: Solve For X (2×2)

Synopsis: The murder of a mathematician reveals a deadly race to solve the great mystery of P vs. NP. In the midst of the case, Sherlock learns more about Joan and why she is no longer a surgeon.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I should know better by now than to form an opinion on the interestingness of an Elementary case before the episode is over. Any time a suspect’s gun has been conveniently “stolen” and reported as such, it’s pretty much case closed. But Tanya Barrett is caught in lie after lie before finally, the math catches up to her.

Sherlock closes the case after weaving through Barrett's lies.
Sherlock closes the case after weaving through Barrett’s lies.

It all begins with a murder of a mathematician named Felix, and attempted murder of an eyewitness, and a room full of equations that can only be read by blacklight. Sherlock consults a mathematician to work out the equations the victim had written all over a room in his home in invisible ink, and they find that he (and likely a partner) had been working on solving P vs. NP, a veritable skeleton key for computer coding. From there, they find the connection to Professor Tanya Barrett, who had written about P vs. NP and interviewed the victim.

Another interviewee of Barrett’s named Cyril starts looking good as Felix’s partner and murderer until he shows up shot dead by the same gun. Surveillance on Cyril’s house leads to a company that was funding his work on P vs. NP, which leads back to Barrett, who had lied to the company and told them that Felix and Cyril were nowhere near a solution when they very much were. Factor in Barrett’s “stolen” gun, and it’s all but a closed case. Except for the fact that Barrett has an alibi.

But the solution was simple, really. Barrett had been close to her own solution for P vs. NP and decided to get rid of the competition. With her own code, she forged the time stamp on the video that confirmed her alibi. Sherlock and Joan only realized when they noticed that the video took place not in the late evening, as the time stamp suggested, but at happy hour.

Even if I’d ended up unimpressed with the case overall, this still would have been a four-star episode for me because we finally get the story of Joan’s deceased patient, Gerald Castoro. It comes out after Joan runs into Gerald’s son Joey while she’s visiting his grave the day after his birthday and Joey asks Joan to invest in the bar he wants to open. Joan asks Sherlock for a $5000 advance on her salary so she can help. Sherlock, of course, is concerned that Joan is being taken advantage of.

Joey and Joan catch up.
Joey and Joan catch up.

Joan reveals that Gerald Castoro had a tumor in his adrenal gland. It was a rare condition, but should have been a simple procedure. Joan accidentally nicked his vena cava, and Gerald bled out immediately. His wife sued, but his son, Joey, later wrote to Joan to say he didn’t blame her. Joan did also admit, however, that she’s given him money before.

Sherlock handles the whole thing in, well, Sherlock fashion. He pried until he had the facts, and then gave Joan well over the $5000 she asked for, so she could buy Joey out of her life, because, as someone who thinks his own past belongs in the past, he believes Joan should be allowed to go on with her life. And Joan, to her credit, offers Joey the money for school instead of for the bar, while also pledging her support if he did open a bar.

And let’s not forget the lovely moment at the end, where Sherlock asks if he may accompany Joan the next time she visits Gerald’s grave. Let’s never forget how much these two have come to care for each other.

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