Elementary: The Five Orange Pipz (03×02)

Synopsis: Kitty becomes a threat to a case when her jealousy of Watson overcomes her good judgment. All the while, two men are dead and the man who confessed definitely didn’t do it.

Rating: ★★★★★

Fun fact: this week’s episode is loosely based on an actual Sherlock Holmes tale! The more you know.

This week’s episode also gave viewers the Kitty background I had been hoping for, as well as showed us what the future looks like with two consulting detectives taking up residence in New York City. It helped that the case of the week was interesting and complex enough to keep my attention even after I had to go back a couple of times to full understand the different layers.

The episode started and ended with Kitty. First, she had to be vetted by Captain Gregson before she would be approved to work with Sherlock on cases for the NYPD. She passed, and Sherlock clued Detective Bell in on some of what led her into Sherlock’s care. Apparently someone at Scotland Yard had suggested her after she provided some insightful information regarding the abduction of a young boy. Turned out that’s how she caught Sherlock’s eye and the rest is history.

With Kitty cleared to work, the episode really started. A man returned home from grocery shopping to find a package delivered with his mail. Inside were five orange plastic beads and he immediately picked up the phone and called someone. Unfortunately, the person he called ended up being dead and it was Gregson who answered. As he talked on the phone with Gregson, someone entered his house and killed him. It ended up with two men dead, connected only by five orange beads.

Turned out the case was directly related to the beads. One of the men killed was the owner of a company which produced the plastic beads that apparently were infused somehow with GHB. There had been multiple deaths as a result of their production since children swallowed them and the drugs turned out to be too much for their body. There’d been a case, and the other man found dead had been the owner’s lawyer. With both of them dead, any hope of a case disappeared.

Naturally, the first suspects were the parents of the dead children. The case had been assigned to Joan but since Sherlock expressed an interest, Joan let him and Kitty in on it too. Kitty suggested that a father of one of the victims may have been the perpetrator due to the postal stamp on the packages coming from his zip code. They investigated, but Sherlock was convinced the man didn’t do it, and the man insisted he didn’t. For a moment it seemed like they would have to move on.

Unfortunately, the father showed up at the precinct later and said that he was guilty. He had all of the evidence in his car and he had killed the owner and the lawyer in order to get revenge. Sherlock still doesn’t believe him, especially when he can’t give details about the murders. He’d been set up and something led him to feel like he had to turn himself in for it. Turned out part of what had destroyed his marriage was his inaction in response to their son dying. In some sad way, claiming he killed the man responsible brought him a sense of closure even though it wasn’t true.

During the case, Detective Bell began to question Kitty’s ability to work. He claimed she seemed “intense” and wasn’t exactly sure how he felt about her. Joan seemed to have some of her own reservations about Sherlock’s latest mentee, so she decided to do a background check.

With that going on, Sherlock, Joan, and Kitty go to talk to the assistant US attorney who happened to be working on the case about the poisoned beads. Naturally, Sherlock and Joan lock into step together and begin to probe into the case to try and win favors with the chance to look at security footage. Angela White, the assistant US attorney, has natural objections but still had the potential to agree to view the footage. However, Kitty shoved her foot in her mouth and outright accused Ms. White of trying to cover something up. Being an attorney, Angela immediately clamped down and pretty much told them to get out and not let the door hit them on the way out.

Sherlock was understandably furious and as they leave the building he takes Kitty aside and reminds her she is not competing with Watson. Of course Kitty doesn’t really see eye to eye with Sherlock because she continually acts out whenever Joan is around. Sherlock pointed out that they were accompanying Joan, and if Kitty would have shut her mouth and observed the situation, she may have been able to learn a thing or two about investigating with a partner.

It shut her up pretty quickly. It also made her even more unlikeable, though I know that’s not entirely fair and my opinion changed at the end of the episode. At this point, though, she seemed like a ticking time bomb just waiting to screw up something huge.

After that incident, Joan finally confronted Sherlock about Kitty. Apparently Kitty Winter hadn’t existed until five years previous. Sherlock appeared conflicted, one part protective, the other part empathizing with Joan’s position. They were working with a wild card and it wasn’t exactly fair to keep things from them. At the same time, there’s a reason no one but the Captain knew about Kitty. It was revealed that Kitty had, at one point, been abducted. Therefore, five years previous, she’d taken on a new identity to try and leave that part of her life behind.

Sherlock handed Joan an envelope that contained the story and told her she could read it. They then continued on with the case.

The suspicion ended up falling on Angela White, all thanks to an FBI agent who insisted they had been observing her taking secret meetings with the owner of the bead company. He suggested that she was in on it and then, after putting the NYPD on their tail, booked it out of town. When Angela was confronted with the information, she admitted to playing a part, but pointed the finger right back at the FBI agent.

Turned out, in the end, the FBI agent had seen an opportunity with the beads and took it. By killing the two men responsible, therefore eliminating the case, the beads would be moved to some sort of lockup. However, since the beads weren’t considered drugs they wouldn’t be heavily guarded and he paid someone off to let him take them. Everyone else saw the beads in light of the case pending against their creator. The FBI agent saw the beads as sellable GHB for the taking.

As always, they caught the bad guy and everything worked out.

Perhaps the most profound part of this episode came at the end. Joan approached Kitty and let her know that Sherlock had given her the envelope containing her story, but she hadn’t read it. Out of respect for someone who had once been a victim, she made the choice to not go behind her back and read the information for the sake of having it. Kitty, in the end, tells her to read it anyway because it may give her some insight into her mind.

It was such a short scene but extremely touching. This scene demonstrated something that has appealed to me about Elementary since the show began. It is the most humanistic take on the Sherlock Holmes story I’ve seen. Some of the other adaptations seemed to have erased the compassion from the work Sherlock Holmes and Watson do. Elementary however has proven itself time and time again to be a show about people. From dealing with Sherlock’s addiction in a real way, to allowing for Joan to act as an individual apart from Sherlock, to landing on how we should be responding to victims.

Elementary is every bit a social commentary as it is entertaining television. Instead of using something like abduction for cheap, meaningless drama, they made a new character who had moved on from her victimhood. In the same way, instead of belaboring the point of Sherlock’s addiction, they presented him in his post-addiction recovery. Elementary has shown throughout its time on air that there is more to life than living in the past. As someone who works in social services, this is a beautiful concept I don’t often see on television.

Instead of letting the characters be defined by their traumas, the writers have created an environment where trauma is left behind in favor of healing. Of course struggle is not eliminated completely, but it is shown in light of recovery. In a world where we see a lot of dark things on television week after week, it is refreshing to get to see some dark issued tackled from the perspective of the light, so to speak. I went from greatly disliking Kitty to greatly empathizing with her, because I understand a greater part of her character now. She’s a young woman who is trying very hard to not be defined by her past, without ever trying to cover up it happened.

Her willingness to let Joan read it and have her understand where she’s coming from resonated with me. I’m a fan of people’s stories, and I know so many people who want to share their story with the world without being defined by it. Kitty is a character I expect great things from, though I expect she’s going to frustrate me for a while longer. However, I think the journey the writers are going to take her through is ultimately going to be a story of hope and a story of moving past trauma. The fact it is going to be broadcast on network television is all the sweeter.

Major props to the writers of Elementary. I’m excited to see where this season will lead.

2 thoughts on “Elementary: The Five Orange Pipz Recap”

  1. Thank you.

    This episode has been betting so roundly bashed everywhere that I was beginning to think I was the only person who sees the show this way. Glad to know I’m not the only one who sees and appreciates the humanity, depth and exploration of human growth episode after episode. A tribute to the writers and the actors, since it’s not easy to combine that with the procedural format and *humor* in 43ish-minute episodes. Shows their real commitment to these themes, I’d say.

    1. I’m sad people are bashing the episode. I think it, as you said, addresses the depth and exploration of human growth. That’s the most important part of television, I think. Especially to have quality, thought-provoking shows on network television.

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