Elementary Recap: 'M.' Marks the Spot

M.Has Elementary finally introduced Sherlock’s infamous foe? What really happened to Irene Adler? And will Joan be sticking around to help solve crimes with the P.I.? Thursday night’s episode of the hit CBS drama delved into the show’s mythology to answer those big questions.

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This week’s case is a familiar one for Sherlock: It involves a killer, simply known as M., who was responsible for 37 deaths in Britain. Now the elusive criminal who escaped Holmes’ clutches back in the motherland has made his way to New York and claimed a victim. After M. breaks into Sherlock’s home to leave a note, the investigator catches his image via hidden cameras and tracks down his whereabouts.

In a rare moment, Sherlock opens up to Watson and reveals that M. was responsible for the death of Irene Adler. “I was quite smitten [with her],” he shares. “Up until that point in my life, I found women quite boring.” Before losing her, drugs were just something he did recreationally. Then he “lost control” and turned to opioids, making him useless to Scotland Yard as they attempted to catch the serial killer. Now, thanks to Watson’s help, Sherlock is of a clear mind, and he plans on making M. pay.

“I have no intention of capturing M.,” he states. “I have every intention of torturing and murdering him.”

And he means it judging from the arsenal of weapons on display as his strings M. up for an interrogation session. “You made me a shambles of a man, and now I’m simply returning the favor,” Sherlock tells him.

But things quickly take a turn when M. reveals that he was incarcerated for a different crime at the time of Irene’s murder. “Something’s not right. I’m not what you think I am,” he argues when Sherlock refuses to accept the truth. “I’m not a serial killer. I’m an assassin. I have an employer.

“He sold me out,” he continues. “He never told me he was here.”

The man pulling all strings, the one who’s really responsible for Irene’s death, is the infamous villain from the Sherlock Holmes canon, Moriarty!

“Moriarty said you’re obsessed with puzzles, but he’s the greatest puzzle you’ll ever come across,” M.  declares. “You kill me now, and you’ll be killing the best clue you ever had.”

So M. manages to get himself spared, but Sherlock still gets in one stab into the killer’s stomach. Now the question remains if these two will be able to work together towards completing their own personal agendas: For M., getting justice against Moriarty for selling him out, and for Sherlock, capturing the man who killed his great love – if she’s even really dead.

Come on, I can’t be the only one thinking that!

We’ve gotten no real proof that cements her demise. A criminal as sharp as Moriarty could have easily faked her death. And it was noted that not all of the victims’ bodies were found, so perhaps Irene is really alive somewhere out there under threat or in capture or simply laying low.

Meanwhile, in another unusually vulnerable moment — Jonny Lee Miller really nailed this episode, didn’t he? — following his confrontation with M., Sherlock nearly repeats Joan’s words back to her: “I’m going to miss this. Maybe not this so much, but this. Working with you. I think what you do is amazing. I’m so sorry our last days together had to go so poorly.”

That was enough to make her call Sherlock’s father and ask that she be allowed to stay longer. Her explanation: She’s worried about him presumably falling off the wagon, but it’s clear that her decision – and the one that follows – is about far more than just that. In a surprise twist, the elder Holmes denies the request. What?! Why?! When Sherlock inquires about his father’s response, Joan lies and says he approved it.

Elementary fans, what did you think of the show’s first taste of Moriarty? Are you with me on the Irene-is-alive conspiracy train? And what do you think Sherlock’s dad has against Joan staying on as his son’s sober companion?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Barbie says:

    I haven’t watched it yet, but OMG, I kinda want to strangle his father! It seems like the best episode, really!

  2. taliesin says:

    I’ve been working under the idea that Sherlock doesn’t really have a father. The father’s a ruse and Sherlock’s been behind everything: the hiring, etc. Saying no to Watson in the text was a test. That’s just my theory, anyway.
    I really enjoyed the episode. It’s a bit nice to see the more viscous side of Holmes at times. He’s not as dispassionate as we like to believe.

  3. Sabrina says:

    I think his father is exactly what HOlmes has always said. That he doesn’t really care. This was the best episode yet! Jonny Lee Miller brought so much to this I can’t even put it into words.

  4. Ashleigh ZiDillon says:

    I am so with you on thinking she is alive. No way they wrote her off so easily. She will show up either during a sweeps or finale.

  5. taliesin says:

    As far as Moriarty. It will probably turn out that Irene is Moriarty, and that she got close to Holmes to mess with him.

    • Ann says:

      No, I don’t think the writers would do that. Moriarty and Irene have to be two separate people. In the Sherlock Holmes book, Irene Adler was a love interest for Holmes…but she was cunning. Perhaps she and Moriarty are real lovers and they are both messing with Sherlock Holmes. Irene Adler was an actresss in the book, afterall.

      • Grace says:

        Have you actually read A Scandal in Bohemia (which is the only Doyle story that Adler appears in)? Even the first paragraph? She was most definitely not a love interest.

      • TVDIVA says:

        @Ann – Read the original A Scandal in Bohemia. Other writers have taken Irene and made her a love interest in movies. You may also want to read Carole Nelson Douglas’ Irene Adler series where she portrays Adler as a detective (complete with sidekick) who sometimes works with Holmes. So everyone has a different take on this character after the original story.

        • Stranger says:

          I don’t think it matters what Guy Ritchie movies or the BBC Sherlock did with Irene Adler as character, in Elementary she is the [very dead] love of his life and Joan Watson the woman who wins Holmes’s unquestionable admiration. Joan takes the role Adler had in the books, and Elementary’s Adler the motivator for Holmes feud with M.

    • tvdiva says:

      How can Irene be Moriarty when Sherlock has seen her body – without an ounce of blood in it? If they were lovers he would know every scar and birthmark. No, Moriarty is like Red John on The Mentalist – someone who will torment from afar and we will not hear more from until sweeps week, the first season finale or next season.

      • taliesin says:

        The episode does not say he saw her body. The episode states that over a dozen of the victims were never found. That’s the only information we have about her death. And since Irene fakes her own death in the novels it should be assumed that she’s also faked her death in the series; even if it turns out she ends up being a spy or some-such. If your only link to her being dead is a pool of blood, well, that’s not difficult to do. Irene could have been collecting blood for months or years just for that occasion.
        And I agree that Moriarty is the series Red John, or more accurately Red John was written to be The Mentalists Moriarty, that does not mean that Moriarty cannot end up being Irene in the series and torment Sherlock from afar.

  6. M.K. says:

    Several things come to mind:

    1) name at top of watson’s phone = M. Holmes. As in Mycroft? Perhaps it hasn’t been his dad at all? Wouldn’t put it past either brother to mask dad being dead the whole time.

    2) seriously, does ANYONE think the network would let them get away with having Irene dead before season 2 esp. when they’ve gone out of the way to avoid sexual tension with Watson? Plum casting role for an actress to play will-they-wont-they a la Castle, etc. no way they get a full series order without promising producers theyd be catering to shippers somewhere along the line.

    3) interesting interpretation of fellow Holmes villain Sebastian Moran. Shows they’re okay with more overt mythology shout outs.

    • Ann says:

      Irene Adler was a character in one of the books too. They’ve made several references to the Sherlock Holmes books. His interest in bees, drug addiction, etc.

  7. Lauren says:

    I think Moriarty is Irene. Such an awesome episode!!!

  8. Hussain H says:

    The email to Joan from Sherlock’s dad was signed ‘M. Holmes’ could this M. be the infamous Moriarty, is it possible Sherlock’s dad is in fact Moriarty?

    • M.K. says:

      I’m not certain they’d delve THAT deep, interesting twist though either the dad or Irene angle would be. Sadly I imagine that typical network practices would dictate a more conventional explanation – m. Holmes is mycroft, Irene is alive, likely having faked her death and if so possibly in some sort of explosion (s.o.p. for crime dramas these days is a car bomb, but who knows), and moriarty shows up for sweeps and/or season finale – see embedded article link above.

    • Adanzante says:

      I had the same thought about Holmes’ dad being Moriarty. I don’t know why, but it just seems like a possiblity to me.

    • Molly says:

      Idk about Mr. Holmes but Sherlock does have a brother named Mycroft; perhaps it’s his brother, not father, pulling the strings and hiring Watson.

    • Pearl says:

      I actually think that his dad might be Moriaty. The way Sherlock talks about him, seems like the man is a piece of work. If he’s alive, maybe he blaimes his son for the death of his wife, so take the loved one of sherlock Homes would suit him very well.

  9. Professor Moriarty is not going to show up for a LONG time. He will be like Red John on The Mentalist, always pulling the strings of the villains that Holmes will face.

    • Alichat says:

      Oh my god!! I hope he’s not the Red John of this show. If it takes 5 seasons before we even see what this man looks like, I will pull out all of my hair!

  10. Kali says:

    Amazing episode!! Amazing Miller!! A very intelligent and surprising storyline coupled with great perfomance.

  11. S says:

    This episode was brilliantly put together, if Irene is alive, she couldn’t have faked her death in any explosion why else would Holmes hold M responsible clearly because her death was made to look as if M did it. (which is revealed in this episode). I have a strong feeling that Sherlock’s father might be M who else knows sherlock loves puzzles (aside from Irene) and why would he say no to Watson’s request to stay on longer? something just isn’t adding up. Can’t wait for more :)

    • M.K. says:

      Valid point about Irene and m. Forgot that part. I suppose the methodology gives a hint though… Only a pool of blood left behind, no body, so you figure if you “donate” a little bit at a time for a couple weeks/months/whatever, keep it on ice – seems like a stretch but this is a show that likes playing the long game.
      Still wondering why a master criminal would bother draining the blood at all. No other evidence left behind, so what, he’s just showing off? Could just take a bucket and dump it all in the sewer. Must be a point and they never really covered the function of the kills, or did I miss that?

  12. Wynne says:

    I’m afraid I fell asleep after Holmes’ statement about torturing and then murdering M. I woke up when Watson is lying to Holmes about his father’s keeping her on. Sorry, but this seems to be devolving into the worst kind of soap, and in being forced to watch what murderers like M do to their victims, is nudging into Criminal Minds territory. No thanks.

    • soundscene says:

      Funny, since Criminal Minds (and a ton of other shows wherein detectives or other investigators “think through” the mind of the criminal and the crime) owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sherlock Holmes. The character of Holmes made criminal profiling a popular form of entertainment. So to say that a show with the character of Sherlock Holmes is somehow nudging into the territory of a show that may not have existed without the character of Sherlock Holmes, is rather funny.

      What you must dislike is the mythology of Sherlock Holmes, of which Moriarty and Irene Adler are a part. This latest version of Sherlock is simply adding in characters from the original books. There’s nothing “soap” about what they’re doing (“soap” would be Revenge or Scandel). A recurring storyline in a procedural doesn’t mean it’s acting anything like a “soap.”

    • linc says:

      Stay asleep, Wynne, we’ll all be better off.

    • Morisot says:

      Wynne — I didn’t fall asleep and I felt exactly the same way. I have been enjoying this show — until this episode when they turn it into Criminal Minds. (I know what you mean about the “soap opera” –the interminable villain arcs — that make our “heroes” just look stupid. Hate Red John, M./Moriarity, Gormagon, Beckett’s mother’s killer, the lady assassin on Person of Interest, The Master — they all look like sharks to me!)

      • madMaddy says:

        I also felt the show was moving into Criminal Minds territory. I am so not interested in torture porn.

        • Rocki says:

          They didnt even show him actually slitting the guys throat so I’m not sure what everyone is ‘torture porn” -ing on about. They show him hoist the dude up, and bend down to cut his throat, with the woman they show him grab her from behind. Hardly anything to even blink at there people.

      • Claire says:

        So… you hate anything that elevates a procedural to an actual show? That’s a shame.

        • Morisot says:

          No, I hate an over-arching plot device that turns a hero into a bumbling idiot week after week and takes an actual show with characters I care about and turns it into a joke.

          • Rocki says:

            So you’d prefer monster on the week format where the main character never thinks beyond the case /body that is currently in front on him? That would insult the character more, I should think.

          • Claire says:

            Elementary has been a pretty dull show up to this point, so I’d say it’s already a joke. An over-arching plot is exactly what this show needs to prove that it’s the real deal, and not the latest knock-off of Sherlock Holmes. It may or may not succeed, but if it doesn’t try, then it’s already failed. What hero doesn’t have a foil?

            Also, calling Moriarty a mere plot device is like calling Sherlock Holmes a rent-a-cop.

          • Morisot says:

            Funny, Claire, that you are watching a show that you consider pretty dull and a joke…

          • Claire says:

            Funny, Morisot, that I have more faith that this show will get better than you do. If I didn’t think it had potential, I wouldn’t be watching it. It’s not a bad show. But so far, it’s been ordinary. Sherlock Holmes, as the original from which so many characters and shows take inspiration, deserves the extraordinary.

  13. Dee says:

    I was also of the mind that Moriarty might be Holmes’ father. Test him and make him sharpen up his detective skills.

    What a horrible thought that is, though.

    • aurycherry says:

      I’m kind of thinking that Moriarty is the one that hired Watson and that’s why he said no to Watson staying with Sherlock a bit longer. There’s no way that this M making an appearance just as Watson is about to leave Sherlock because he’s doing better is just a coincidence. Now he’s got Sherlock back on track in full use of his abilities and completely engaged in finding him

  14. oshimaida says:

    Vinnie jones is perfect for M
    bullet tooth Tony from SNATCH he fits in great

    • Nichole says:

      it was a fantastic casting pick, loved him at the end in the interrogation, excellent spoil to how his character had been during the episode!! really hope we get to see more of M at some point :)

  15. Cassandra Elise says:

    Jonny Lee Miller is the MAN! For me, he is the quintessential Mr. Knightley, and now he is putting in a superlative performance as Holmes, one of my other favorite literary characters. I will continue to watch this show just for Miller and Lucy Lieu. :) I’ve been suspecting from the beginning that Irene Adler is not really dead. The announcement that half of M’s victims were never found cemented that suspicion. I strongly believe Irene faked her own death. The Irene from the books was not a “good” person. She was a criminal that Holmes was trying to take into custody when she escaped. One of the reasons Holmes admired her so much was because she outwitted him. Faking her own death would definitely make her a cunning opponent for Holmes. I’m also wondering if she is working with Moriarity.

  16. Molly says:

    Moran was Moriarty’s right hand man, the brawn to Moriarty’s mad genius. Makes sense they’d introduce Moran as a build-up. And Irene is notoriously hard to pin down; I’d bet good money she’s alive.

  17. dhg says:

    So why is there no Person of Interest recap?It was a powerful and profound episode full of things to talk about.It was as good or better than this one.

  18. Carol says:

    This is by far the best show on television right now. I await anxiously for each new episode. Great writing and fantastic acting. The mystery is very intriguing. Love this show.

  19. gandalf15 says:

    Have anyone of you noticed that sherlock’s father is ‘M. Holmes’ in Joan’s phone?

    • taliesin says:

      Sherlock’s older brother’s name is Mycroft. There’s no mention of his father’s name in the novels but it’s quite possible that Mycroft is a junior, meaning that Sherlock’s father could also be named Mycroft. Thus the reason for the M.

    • tvdiva says:

      In the original stories, only his brother Mycroft and an uncle Vernet (?) are mentioned. He never mentions his parents by name. People who created further stories, novels, movies and TV shows are just taking liberties to further their stories. Just go along for the ride.

  20. John Moshier says:

    did you ever think elementary and the mentlist are the exact thing you could swith the charecters red john for moriarty holms for jane watson for lisbon there enterchangeble

    • taliesin says:

      Most deductive shows draw from Holmes at some point with main villain foes and the like. Heck, even the TV show House was just a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes: House/Holmes, Watson/Wilson, etc. So while the Mentalist came first he does draw some parallels with Holmes. CBS also likes to follow some tried-and-true patterns so I don’t think we’ll see huge diversity until the 2nd season. The 1st season’s about capturing an audience.

    • tvdiva says:

      The Mentalist and Elementary are both murder mysteries with complex lead characters. I love both shows and enjoy the difference in the writing and acting. Every show you watch that has a detective in it that is different, quirky, suffered greatly – is going to have something in common with Sherlock Holmes. Go back and watch Columbo or even House. They are all a nod to Sherlock.

  21. When Watson said “This isn’t a joke.”, and Sherlock replied “No, this is revenge.”, was I the only one who was thinking “No, this is Elementary.”?

  22. TanjaR says:

    Did no one else laugh during this scene?
    Moran “You”
    Sherlock “Me–Baton” *Whack*

  23. Romeo says:

    No, Irene Adler is not Professor Moriarty. I akways thought that Sherlock’s ‘father’ was Mycroft.

    • taliesin says:

      In the novels Irene is not Moriarty, but I could see them merging the 2 characters together in that manner for the TV show. And in the books Mycroft is Sherlock’s older brother; and he has deductive abilities exceeding Sherlock’s, but he’s lazy.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Loved this episode! I agree about Sherlock/Watson scene, Jonny Lee Miller is incredible in this role! I absolutely loved his expression when he talked about Irene, Joan said “you loved her”. He says NOTHING but the look in Sherlock’s eyes made me wish that I was Irene in that very moment.
    I do think Sherlock probably already knows Watson’s lying about text and a few other things, I suspect he probably even knows where Hoffa is buried at this point. And even though this episode made him look boarderline obsessive, he is FAR to observent not to figure this out. He clearly knows alot more then he lets on.

    • tvdiva says:

      I think Sherlock will find out later that Joan is not being paid. But since it says M. Holmes, how do we know that his brother Mycroft was not the one paying the bill? The Sherlock Holmes stories never mentioned his parents by name.

  25. Romeo says:

    I know that Mycroft is the elder Holmes. I was stating that for the show I always thought Sherlock’s ‘dad’ would turn out to be Mycroft.
    Also, the BBCs SHERLOCK has Moriarty and Irene in it and I would expect nothing less from this show. To even think that they would merge the two characters… SACD is rolling in his grave at the mere notion of such absurdity.

    • taliesin says:

      Do you have any idea how many novels, movies, and TV shows have been made about Sherlock Holmes that have no real bearing on anything SACD did have been made over the last century? SACD rolled over in his grave a long, long, long, long, long time ago. :)

  26. Lisa says:

    Honestly, I don’t think that his father doesn’t exist. I think that his father is truly Moriarty. It stands to reason that since Sherlock loves puzzles so much, he would be the offspring of “the greatest puzzler”. Also, if Sherlock’s father IS Moriarty, then it would explain why he doesn’t want Joan to stay on. He likes to taunt Sherlock, but he also wants to keep him off balance. Joan is helping him to keep his balance better. Also, Sherlock’s father knows he is in New York and exactly where he lives, and of course, so does Moriarty.

  27. Raymond says:

    I cannot for the life of me think of the episode, and I have tried to go back to episode one and watch them all again. There was a scene it was out doors and the police were talking to witnesses, there was a young lady who “said” her last name was Moriarty. Now I know I wasn’t mistaken when I heard it and it was just a quick blurb scene. I remember it well thinking to myself “Heh, female Watson, why not a female Moriarty”…

    • taliesin says:

      In the episode “Flight Risk” there’s a female named Miranda Molinari. That might be the person you’re thinking about. I remember the first time I heard her name I thought Moriarty as well.

  28. MJD says:

    When the father replied in the email, he wrote M. Holmes.
    In the books, there is no father. There is only his brother Mycroft.
    I believe we will see Mycroft being the person who hired Watson.

  29. Andy Tran says:

    MYCROFT IS SHERLOCK’S FATHER. Ever since they mentioned Sherlock’s father, I’ve known was gonna be Mycroft, to twist the show abit from the stories

  30. Mzd says:

    Looks like @taliesin was right. Well done