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'Elementary' finale fan recap: Is Sherlock off the wagon?

Season 3 | Episode 24 | “A Controlled Descent” | Aired May 14, 2015

Holmes is forced to confront his addiction on this week’s Elementary finale, after Alfredo is abducted and held hostage.

The first season of Elementary culminated with the reveal of Holmes’ archnemesis, Moriarty. Season two unfurled a plot involving Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, working as a double agent for the MI6. For season three, there’s no big bad or manipulative puppet master who emerges from the shadows. Instead, our hero is forced to confront what is, perhaps, his most sinister adversary: drug addiction.

Season three has been building toward a relapse. On several occasions, Sherlock expressed his frustrations with sobriety, and for a time he stopped attending group meetings. Firing Alfredo as his sponsor a few weeks ago may not have been a negative impulse, but it still left with him without critical support—especially when his friend and former sponsor is captured and threatened.

The finale starts with Sherlock and Alfredo on the Brownstone’s roof, enjoying an Abbott and Costello movie night.

“In truth, I’m moved nearly to tears,” Sherlock says, basking in the comedy. “‘Who’s on First?’ is the most nearly perfect joke ever told.”

The next day, Sherlock stops by Alfredo’s shop and finds a distraught customer calling the police. The man’s Charger is missing, and he suspects Alfredo stole it, but Sherlock worries that something even more sinister has happened. The shop’s doors were left open and Alfredo’s phone is left sitting on the ground, crushed.

Before long, Sherlock gets a call from Oscar Rankin (Michael Weston), the unpleasant character we met in “For All You Know,” who once supplied Holmes with drugs. Rankin’s sister, Olivia, has gone missing, and he is holding Alfredo hostage in order to force Sherlock to help find her. It’s a bizarre move, made even stranger by Rankin’s demands that the NYPD, and the resources at their disposal, not aid in the search.

To make matters worse, Olivia is a fellow drug addict; locating her requires Sherlock to retrace many of the footsteps of his former life. They start by going to Hemdale, Sherlock’s old rehab center, and then to a heroin den in search of a man named Beta Ray. That leads them to Jonathan Bloom, an unsavory character who admits to bringing Olivia to his home before she ran off with his stash of drugs.

During all of this, Watson and Det. Bell are looking into Oscar, trying to find Alfredo before it’s too late. They find the stolen Charger, with fresh fast-food wrappers inside from a burger chain on Long Island. That leads them to Oscar’s uncle and a headstone-engraving business, where Alfredo is tied up and near death from dehydration.

Sherlock and Oscar find the car service that took Olivia from Bloom’s. They get dropped off where she was, at a remote and abandoned rail station. Sherlock follows the tracks and finds Olivia, dead from an overdose, and the bootprints that prove Oscar had already been there and was already aware of his sister’s death. When Sherlock confronts him, Oscar says he found Olivia and wanted to prove to Sherlock that he was still one of them—an addict—by forcing him to live how Olivia did while searching for her.

It makes no sense. This is a man whom Sherlock hadn’t seen in years, but because he felt disparaged the last time they ran into each other, Rankin’s reaction to his sister’s death is a desire to crush Sherlock’s sobriety. Thus, he concocts an elaborate ruse that borders on murder in order to lure a person unrelated to his sister’s death into relapse. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m baffled at how Rankin got from point A to point B.

Oscar refuses to tell Sherlock where Alfredo is and produces a case of drugs, implying that Sherlock will have to relapse in order to save his friend. Just then, Watson texts, letting him know that Alfredo is safe; this prompts Sherlock to relieve some stress in the form of several sharp kicks to Oscar’s face.

Relieved, Sherlock doesn’t walk away. Instead, he picks up the case and walks back into the underpass where Olivia died. The final scene shows Watson approaching Holmes on the roof of the Brownstone. She says Sherlock’s father learned about “what happened” and is on his way to New York.

What happened? We don’t know exactly. We’re clearly meant to assume that Sherlock relapsed, but the lack of specificity seems too intentional, like the fake-out of Moriarty during season one’s finale. But if not drugs, what would be important enough to herald the arrival of Sherlock’s father after all these years? In real life, Rankin would likely be dead from so many stomps to the head (on top of a train track, no less). But this is television, and nobody dies unless they are meant to—and even then, they come back from time to time (see: Irene Adler).

We’ll have to wait until next season for answers, but in any case, things look grim for Holmes.

Stray Thoughts

  • After the cryptic threat against Capt. Gregson last week, I assumed that element would be at least part of the finale, if not the main plot. Instead, Gregson wasn’t in the episode at all. It’s an odd thread to introduce in the penultimate episode and leave hanging.
  • I was also surprised to see Oscar Rankin take center stage in the finale. If anyone were to come back, I assumed it would be Kitty.
  • Does this mean we’ll finally meet Sherlock’s father? My dream casting would be Hugh Laurie, although he might be busy on Veep. Plus, he’s technically only 13 years older than Jonny Lee Miller.
TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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