After a premeditary run of same-old episodes, the season finale of Rob Doherty's Sherlock Holmes series packs in a wallop of emotions as the story leads our heroes into dark and difficult places.
As season three of Elementary comes to a close, we are presented with an upsetting new twist in the lives of Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his partner Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). After two years of hard work in maintaining his sobriety and championing his addiction to drugs, Sherlock is suddenly forced into a case that will challenge him more than anything he’s faced before.
In this final episode, entitled ‘A Controlled Descent’, we see the return of Oscar – a pitiable drug addict who acted as an enabler to Sherlock in the days of his addiction, and was last seen mid-season refusing an offer of rehabilitation from Sherlock. It is revealed that Oscar has abducted Sherlock’s former sponsor Alfredo, and hidden him in an unknown location. In order to find and rescue Alfredo, Sherlock must re-enter the underground drug dens of his past, and help Oscar in the search of his sister, Olivia – a fellow addict who has escaped from rehab. Meanwhile, Joan and Detective Bell are left to hopelessly search for clues to Alfredo’s whereabouts.
Obviously, this episode acts as something of a tightrope for Sherlock’s character – testing him on both the newfound strength that he has found in his partnership with Joan, and the most profound weakness that is at the heart of his addictive personality. As the title suggests, Sherlock is put into a situation where he can only spiral downwards, and – to the dismay of many regular viewers – that is exactly what he seems to do. Angry, tormented and without the guiding voice of Joan beside him, Sherlock appears to succumb to his addictive nature and break his long-held sobriety.
After the hinting temptation he experienced upon seeing a sachet of heroin in the Season 2 finale, it could be argued that Sherlock was bound to relapse at some point – but to have him break on the final episode of this season only makes the tragedy of it more dramatic. It will inevitably mean that in the upcoming fourth season, we will see a re-broken Sherlock, reminiscent of the fresh-out-of -rehab characterisation we met in season one. As his former sober companion, Joan naturally wants to help Sherlock, but given that she is now a thriving detective in her own right, the role she plays in the show looks set to become more complicated.
At the very end of the episode, it is revealed that the enigmatic Mr. Holmes – Sherlock’s father and benefactor – is finally coming to New York. Fans of the show will know that this news will inevitably spell trouble, as throughout the series, Sherlock has been nothing if not vocal about the complex and despondent relationship he shares with his father. Trouble aside however, it will no doubt be thrilling to see how Sherlock responds to the physical presence of his dad.
Ultimately, this is a strong and engaging season finale, that shatters the illusion of security that all previous episodes this season have come to suggest. Sherlock and Joan are no longer sitting easy in their consultancy, and when the show returns next Autumn, they will have to pick themselves up and start all over again.
Elementary Season 3 will be available to buy on DVD from 21st September. The show will return to Sky Living for a fourth season in Autumn 2016.
Episodes 20-24 are available to watch on Sky Go for a limited time.