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'Elementary' Season Two Recap: 'Solve For X'

Michael Huard |
October 3, 2013 | 11:54 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


With Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) adventure across the pond complete, “Elementary” returns to New York City to solve a murder with major implications. “Solve for X,” Season 2’s second episode, starts with a mugger counting his loot before he witnesses a murder and consequently is shot. The murder victim is a mathematician who hides his work by using special ink that can only be seen with an ultraviolet light. Naturally, Sherlock sniffs this out…literally. 

The opening sequences of “Solve for X” also revisit Watson’s (Lucy Liu) past, as she completes an annual ritual by visiting the grave of the patient who passed away under her care. At the grave she happens upon the man’s son, Joey (Jeremy Jordan). The pair catches up over coffee and he conveniently mentions a bar he plans on opening with his friend. Predictably, he offers Watson the opportunity to invest in the bar. 

The common theme outside the murder revolves around guilt and controlling your past instead of letting it overwhelm you. When Watson requests an advancement on her salary to help start the bar, we see Sherlock take the protective role. He finds the convenient meeting to be a dubious encounter and shows his skepticism over the authenticity of the request. 

ALSO SEE: "Elementary" Season Two Premiere Recap

Meanwhile, the murder investigation discovers the crime occurred as a result of an impossible equation known as “P versus NP.” The body count continues to rise when Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) finds another mathematician murdered in an alley. After consulting various scholars, a solution to the equation turns out to be worth one million in the mathematics world and tens or hundreds of millions in the tech world. According to “Solve for X,” the solution to “P versus NP” would make modern encryption obsolete. In other words, the solution to this problem would provide an algorithm that would make hacking into any database or computer incredibly easy. A technological Skeleton Key.

The main suspect arises in the form of Tanya Barrett (Lynn Collins, “John Carter”), a former mathematician who has written extensively about the “P versus NP” problem. Her dog’s hair is found at the crime scene for the second murder, the mugger identifies her and she owns a handgun of the same caliber as the murder weapon. A cut and dry case typically, but her alibi is substantiated by security footage and a dinner partner corroborating the time stamp. 

Sherlock and Watson bounce ideas off one another and find the inspiration that leads them to the solution: an excessively cheap beer ($2.50!!!). We are seeing a continuing stabilization of the investigative process in “Elementary.” Watson is no longer considered an apprentice or tag along to Sherlock’s deductive tomfoolery. He views her as an equal—an emotion excellently portrayed by Miller—and treats her opinions with the highest regard. 

After closing the book on the case (the aforementioned time stamp was tampered with), Watson and Sherlock partake in a deep conversation about her past. He admits to knowing too much about poisons. “There is nothing on this planet quite so toxic as guilt.” Creator Robert Doherty deftly adds a little to the Sherlock-Watson relationship each episode. The final sequences of “Solve for X” bear down on the mutual respect and admiration between the duo. Miller and Liu maintain a solid rapport that hints at romantic inclinations, but never crosses the line to overt expression. For now, the relationship is building organically without incessant pandering to romantic tropes. If “Elementary” continues along its current path, the growing relationship between Watson and Sherlock will far outshine the complexity of the murder investigations. 

Reach Staff Reporter Michael Huard here.



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