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Cult Recap

Elementary 'Flight Risk' recap: 'I know about Irene'

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Season 1, episode 6 | Aired Tuesday, Nov 27 2012 at 21:00 GMT on Sky Living

Even a detective as great as Sherlock Holmes can't always expect cases to fall into their lap. Sometimes you have to go looking for trouble... and in this week's Elementary trouble comes in the form of a suspicious plane crash on a New York beach.

After hearing of the incident on his mass of police scanners, Sherlock's natural curiosity sees him wandering amongst the bodies and deducing through looking at the wounds and wreckage that one of the passengers was killed before the plane was downed.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



Watson isn't sure why he's poking around and spouting crazy theories, since if there was a murder on board the plane the murderer would have died in the crash too. But Sherlock doesn't care. He's hellbent on finding out who of the four victims - a pilot and three attorneys from the same law firm - is the perpetrator and what was their motivation.

It's a puzzle to be solved and he simply has an unstoppable compulsion to solve it. The case is a reminder of the obsession Sherlock has with getting answers that in recent episodes has been pushed to the side as solving crimes just becomes his job. Additionally, his later revelation of being apprehensive about flying - a rare admission of weakness - makes this probably his most revealing case so far.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



At Police HQ, Detective Bell establishes through a lovely chunky bit of exposition that murder victim Hank Gerard was having a bit of a spat with his boss, another one of the passengers. The recovered black box seems to confirm Sherlock's suspicions of a conflict breaking out on board, but the sleuth is unconvinced. He wonders why Gerard never says a word when apparently 'arguing' with his boss and picks up on the pilot's comment to air traffic control of there being three people on board the plane.

His new theory is that Gerard was killed at an earlier time and dumped in the cargo hold, the argument was in fact an angry voicemail and the plane crashed when its passengers inadvertently caused a weight imbalance by shifting on top of Gerard's body. It appears there's a living, breathing murderer still to be caught.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



After reaching a dead end chasing up an employee of the food company being sued by Gerard and his colleagues, Sherlock instead focuses on some unusual sand at the crash site that he discovers was dumped into the fuel tank in order to cause it to crash. He suspects that Gerard was murdered because he caught the saboteur in the act.

With the apparent target now identified as the man in the cockpit, rather than the passengers, Sherlock confronts another pilot named Owen Bates over some dodgy weight measurements in his logs that out him as a drug smuggler. He suggests that he sabotaged the crashed plane when its pilot found out what he was up to. Bates claims to have an alibi, but by the time the cops realise that it's fake, the pilot has already fled - leaving behind the bloody wrench used to kill Gerard at his home.

Sherlock, as ever, is suspicious. Marks on the wrench suggest it has recently been in brackish water, and cans of motor oil incompatible with Bates's car hide hundreds of thousands of dollars of smuggling profits, which he never would have left behind if he was going on the lam. Sherlock and the cops realise that there is one more person that could have profited from the smuggling ring, had the know-how to crash the plane and knew that Bates was a top suspect - the airline's boss Charles Cooper.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



The cops call Cooper in, but he refuses to admit that he had anything to do with any of the murders. Sherlock analyses the suspect's pale complexion and his constant downing of water and deduces that Cooper is suffering blood loss from an injury caused when he killed Bates. Holmes also realises that the stench of modelling glue emanating from Cooper is a result of him trying to seal up his wound. After gently reminding Cooper that his fondness for dumping things in brackish water leaves only two places in New York to search for a body, Sherlock and the cops finally get a confession.

While Sherlock's been busy piecing together the murder, Watson's objective in this week's Elementary is to tear down her detective pal's protective walls and discover more about him. She sees an invitation to dinner with Holmes's father as the perfect opportunity to do this, but Sherlock doesn't believe he'll show.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



Undeterred, she meets with Sherlock's father alone and finds him to be a charming English gent - a proper 'spit spot' and 'what what' type. Or at least that is until he asks how the "shagging" he's paying her to do is going. Watson soon realises she's been set up and the man guffawing at the table opposite her is an actor hired by Holmes to teach her a valuable lesson - that dad never shows.

When Holmes later lets slip that a story the faux-father told from his childhood was true, Watson realises that the man is not just a stranger, but a friend of his. She tracks him down and they have a frank chat - he warns her that she can never have a normal friendship with Sherlock, while Watson pushes him to recall a traumatic memory of the great man being so high on drugs that all he could do was keep muttering the same name over again. What was that name? Irene.

Elementary S01E06: 'Flight Risk'

© CBS



For a B-plot, Watson's own quest for knowledge sure ticks a lot of boxes. The dinner scene is giggle-inducing, the relationship between the two main characters is developed and, most importantly, it sets up a return to the Sherlock Holmes mythology by namedropping the character's greatest romantic interest, Irene Adler.

This then is an episode that is more about the man behind the deducing machine. It covers Sherlock's daddy issues, his personal fears, his past problems with addiction, his ongoing battle against temptation (he is forced to cover his nose when he smells glue from a model airplane) and, in its final moments, prepares to reopen old wounds.

Combined with a mystery more intricate and twisted than in previous episodes, 'Flight Risk' should leave Elementary viewers satisfied, particularly those who have been wondering whether the show will edge back closer to its source material.

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