Elementary S2 Ep7 – The Marchioness

Sherlock, Joan, Mycroft and Marcus in the police station.

When we first met Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in the season premiere, he revealed to us the reason for his and Sherlock’s falling out was because Sherlock slept with Mycroft’s then-fiancee. In this episode, we not only get to see more of Mycroft, but we also get to meet the former fiancee, one Nigella Mason (played by Olivia D’Abo).  She has, since last seeing Sherlock, become wife to a Marquis of England, making her the titular Marchioness.

The Marchioness and Sherlock have an awkward dinner.The case of the week involves Nigella’s retired champion racing  horse Silver Blaze, that, along with her title, she got to keep after divorcing her husband, the Marquis. It appears that someone is trying to poison him, and is also after Nigella. As per usual, the case takes a back seat to the character interactions, revelations, and development.

It turns out that Nigella had planned on breeding Silver Blaze after moving him to New Jersey, and charging horse owners exorbitant prices for his “studly services.” However, before Nigella could start her “horse pimp” business, as Sherlock so bluntly put it, Silver Blaze died. In order to keep the deals she made, and therefore the money from them, Nigella painted up Silver Blaze’s brother and passed him off as the real deal. The head of a drug cartel, who had paid the exorbitant fee she charged, found out about her scheme and hired a hit man to do in both the horse and Nigella. Luckily for her, Sherlock and Joan caught him before he caught her.

Obviously Nigella does more than just present the consulting detectives with a case. One of the key questions this episode asks is about trust and betrayal, and whether a person can really change themselves for the better. Nigella stirs up all the bad blood between the two Holmes brothers regarding these questions.

Mycroft tries to make amends with Sherlock.It’s clear that the brokenness in Mycroft and Sherlock’s relationship stems from more than just the fact that Sherlock slept with Nigella, all those years ago. They’re two very different people, and likely clashed over a lot of things when they were young. They also have very different relationships with their father. Much of the episode deals with the strain between them, and Mycroft’s desire to connect with Sherlock in a meaningful way. As far as we know, Mycroft hasn’t ever directly betrayed Sherlock’s trust, but his decades of living an arguably charmed life at the hand of the father whose love Sherlock cannot seem to earn (and likely never sticking up for him or being concerned with him troubles) would build enough resentment for Sherlock’s suspicion to be understandable. Why the sudden interest, after years of not caring? Sherlock unexpectedly learns about Mycroft’s bout of leukemia a few years ago, and while he seems genuinely sad that Mycroft never told him about it, he still remains unreachable.

Mycroft, in the meantime, seems very honest in his attempts to repair the relationship between him and Sherlock. He cooks them a nice meal, tries to understand Sherlock’s work, life, and choices, and even drops in on one of Sherlock’s Narcotics Anonymous meetings to gain a better view into Sherlock’s psyche (a well-intentioned intrusion on privacy). When he insists that Nigella has changed (from being the social climbing cheater Sherlock had last known her as), he is also subtly insisting that he’s changed. He compares the process to that of recovering from drug addiction, in that one has good days and bad days, but is always in process.

And then things get really messy. Joan reveals that she and Mycroft did sleep together when they were in London. Now, I’m glad that Joan is given some agency in this matter, and tells Sherlock to suck it up and deal with it, because they are two consenting adults and don’t need his permission to do whatever they please. But I’m wondering why it was Mycroft the writers chose for Joan to sleep with. Parallels are easily drawn between Joan’s situation and the one Sherlock was in a couple episodes back with Joan’s friend, Jen, and it does seem like a bit of metaphysical payback for what he did. However, it seems a little bit out of character for Joan to sleep with her housemate and companion’s brother, especially when she knows that Sherlock and Mycroft haven’t ever really gotten along, and she claims to believe Mycroft’s efforts to bridge the gap between him and Sherlock are sincere.

Joan considers whether or not to pursue a relationship with Mycroft.Perhaps we can chalk it up to a bit too much wine? No, because by the end of the episode it’s clear that there is at least a chance of Joan and Mycroft becoming a thing. Joan’s first instinct when Mycroft asks her to be his plus-one on the opening night of his restaurant is to say yes; she only pauses because it might complicate things all over again between him and Sherlock. Still, when Mycroft expresses his interest in becoming friends with her, we don’t get to hear her reply. He’s charming, funny, sarcastic, and smart, but I’m not sure how I feel about Joan starting a relationship with him quite yet. At least, since Mycroft is slated to appear in the next episode as well, it has a chance to grow on me.

It’ll also be interesting to see where the two very different brothers go to find common ground. In general, though, I like Mycroft, and I think the “sliminess” some people feel from him is residual, a part that he’s seeking to change, or at least is aware of and trying to scale back on. I’m hoping this weird little dysfunctional family figures out a way to, well, function again.

What did you think of the latest episode? Let us know in the comments below!

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