ELEMENTARY 1.04 ‘Rat Race’

Sherlock and Watson uncover a murderer who's trying to kill her way up the corporate ladder.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

Episode Title: 'Rat Race'

Writer: Craig Sweeny

Director: Rosemary Rodriguez

Previously on “Elementary”:

Episode 1.03 "Child Predator"


Watson (Lucy Liu) meets a friend for coffee only to be set up on a blind date. After getting a text from Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller), she learns that he's been hired by a investment firm after the company's COO, Peter Talbot disappeared before an important conference call.

While casing Talbot's office, Sherlock finds a menu hidden in a book for a high-end brothel. After searching Talbot's computer, Sherlock schedules a meeting with Talbot's private accountant, Martin Rydell (Stephan Plunkett).

When Rydell arrives, Sherlock explains that he's investigating Talbot's disappearance and brings up his hooker expense account. Rydell prepares to walk out when Sherlock threatens to expose his shady accounting operation to the press. Rydell reluctantly tells Sherlock about Talbot's secret apartment where he entertained women.

Inside the apartment, Sherlock and Watson find Talbot dead, with a heroin syringe dangling out of his arm. Though it looks like an overdose, Sherlock suspects Talbot was murdered, as his apartment doesn't look like that of a typical junkie. After finding a half-eaten salad on the counter, Sherlock suspects it was laced with heroin to subdue Talbot.
While interviewing Talbot's wife, Sherlock learns that the company's previous COO died of a peanut allergy, despite his fastidious avoidance of the legume. Sherlock learns that a number of company employees also died of odd causes over the past few years.

The police lab confirms that Talbot's salad was laced with heroin. Sherlock visits the company boardroom again and shares his theory: someone inside the company is taking out high level execs. Company exec, Jim Fowkes (Craig Bierko) becomes irate, as he is the only one who would benefit from the deaths. That night, he visits Sherlock at home and provides an alibi for one of the murders.

After Fowkes leaves, Sherlock looks over his file and spots his secretary, Donna (Molly Price) listed under "emergency contact." Onto a new theory, Sherlock confronts Donna at the office. Donna explains that she's worked with Fowkes for many years, as he's taken her with him whenever he changed jobs. Sherlock accuses her of committing the murders to advance Fowkes' career and thus hers.

When she realizes he's onto her, Donna tasers Sherlock and handcuffs him in the backseat of her car. Watson texts Sherlock, afraid that he's had a relapse after not hearing from him for so long. Donna texts back which tips Watson off, as the message is not in Sherlock's usual abbreviated form. Donna brings Sherlock up to Fowkes' country house, where she plans to kill him and pin the murder on Fowkes. However, moments later the police arrive, thanks to Watson, and arrest Donna.

Back at the apartment, Watson tells Sherlock that her date blew her off after she found out he married a refugee from Kosovo so that she could stay in the country. Sherlock reminds her that the ability to solve puzzles isn't always so rewarding.

Not only is Sherlock Holmes smart, he's also pretty funny. The way our recovering heroin addict cop consultant worked the room at a high profile investment firm proved that "Elementary" isn't just another dull "he said, she said" procedural.

With each episode, I'm increasingly convinced that this modern day male/female take on Sherlock and Watson actually works. Lucy Liu's wry humor and dogged dedication to her charge mesh nicely with Jonny Lee Miller's self-congratulatory arrogance and unpredictable outbursts. There's some funny stuff there.

What also works in the relationship is their mutual vulnerability. Sherlock doesn't want to talk about rehab and Watson doesn't want to talk about dating or her former career as a surgeon. Yet each is helping the other with the healing process for their respective wounds. And it's actually way less cheesy than it sounds.

In “Rat Race,” Sherlock got sentimental over the smell of heroin and Watson was disappointed when a man she claimed little interest in seemingly ended their courtship before she could. In a case of iron sharpening iron, Watson's deductive reasoning skills have vastly improved thanks to time spent with Sherlock. But as he reminded her at the end of the episode, we don't always want to know the truth of things.

The truth of “Rat Race” is that behind every great man is a great woman. Or rather, behind every wealthy corporate executive is a killer secretary with a taser. The episode was clever, funny, and surprisingly, kinda poignant. However, the flash forward at the open seemed pointless as it didn't create enough suspense to justify its use. Otherwise, “Rat Race” was the best episode of “Elementary” to date.