Elementary S2 Ep8 – “Blood Is Thicker”

The team stands on top of a delivery truck, studying the body of a young woman found there.

I have to admit it: the last few episodes of Elementary have been somewhat disappointing. While the season started out very strong, exploring more of Sherlock and Joan’s respective pasts, “Ancient History” and “The Marchioness” felt very much like placeholders while the crew of the show figured out what direction they wanted the narrative to take (“An Unnatural Arrangement” was only slightly less “filler-y,” by virtue of focusing on a character other than either of the consulting detectives). I think, however, that they’ve finally found their stride for the season.

Sherlock and Mycroft face off with their singlesticks.This episode, “Blood Is Thicker,” is very appropriately titled, since it pits Sherlock’s familial bonds and friendships against one another. In the opening scene, Sherlock and his brother Mycroft are hitting each other with sticks. No, it’s not a flashback to their childhood. They’re fencing on the roof of the brownstone, and Mycroft expresses his disappointment in Sherlock’s failure to show up at his new restaurant, Diogenes. Sherlock is still very reluctant to allow Mycroft to get closer to him, but eventually promises to have dinner with him, provided Mycroft continue to let Sherlock try to hit him with his singlestick.

Sherlock breaks his promise to Mycroft for various reasons, but his most recent one is because he’s chasing down leads in the case of a young woman’s body found on top of a delivery truck. Joan  does finally manage to get Sherlock to go. After Sherlock reluctantly admits the food was delicious, Mycroft reveals that their father wants Sherlock back in London, and might go so far as to evict him from the brownstone to get him there. Sherlock’s immediate reaction is of course a very eloquent “screw you, Dad,” but then Mycroft points out that Sherlock is now “making decisions for two.” Joan’s happiness and comfort is very tied up with Sherlock’s fate, and before he gets himself thrown onto the streets, he has to consider if she would want to live with him there.

Joan considers moving to London with Sherlock.Sherlock discusses his predicament with Joan as they are looking through the dead woman Haley Tyler’s apartment. He makes it clear that, while he admires and loves London, he values the support system he has in New York more than anything across the ocean. But he will go along with whatever Joan is most comfortable with. Her reaction is a much more literal “screw you, Dad,” and she assures Sherlock that they’ll stick together and find somewhere else to live.

Now, I’ve heard complaints that Joan and Sherlock are too wrapped up in each other, and I can understand why people are concerned, especially for Joan. Whenever Joan is out with anyone who is not Sherlock, all she talks about is her work and Sherlock. Doesn’t she have any other interests or hobbies? Well, I’d argue that she does have other things going on in her life, but her new part of her life as a consulting detective and Sherlock’s partner is the thing she is choosing to devote the most time to at the moment. It intrigues her. She’s good at it and wants to get better at it. Do I have other hobbies besides squeeing over Joanlock friendship and character development? Yeah, but that’s just the thing I’m choosing to devote a lot of my time to, because it’s a-freaking-dorable and makes me happy.

In the meantime, since Sherlock is somewhat distracted with his family troubles, Joan takes point on the case, and it is her medical expertise that allows her to catch a killer that otherwise might have gotten away. Hayley Tyler was actually the estranged daughter of mega multi-billionaire technology CEO Ian Gale (think  Steve Jobs), who felt the need to reconcile with her after he found out he would be undergoing major heart transplant surgery. He also needs the very rare blood type she shares with him, to help him survive the surgery itself. However, after the surgery, Gale’s body begins rejecting his new heart, and the prognosis for getting another one is not good.

Joan notices that Hayley was fighting a bad cold when the blood to be used during Gale’s surgery was drawn, and the stab wound that killed her was surgically precise and would’ve killed her in seconds. In addition, she knows that the procedure Gale underwent has an 80% success rate. This leads her to suspect Ian Gale’s wife, Natalie, who is a retired pediatric surgeon. Joan questions a lab tech, who reveals that he had given Natalie a tiny bit of her husband’s biopsied heart, which she injected into Hayley, calling it a “booster shot,” to force her body to create antibodies that would fight Ian’s new heart once her blood was injected into him. After Hayley’s antibodies had forced Gale’s body to kill its new heart (and itself), Natalie killed Hayley to tie up all the loose ends, but didn’t count on Hayley falling from the hotel balcony and onto the roof of a delivery truck. All of this for a little extra money in the will for her.

This brings us full circle. The popular quote from which the episode takes its title doesn’t mean what most people think it means. The full quote is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” which means the exact opposite of what the modern version of the quote means. Even though Hayley is biologically related to Ian Gale, that connection doesn’t stop Natalie from taking advantage of her. Sherlock’s chosen network of friends, the people he’s made promises to, mean more than anything London could offer. In fact, he realizes that it’s those connections he’s forged himself (rather than the ones conveniently given him by his birth) are the ones that have helped him flourish in New York. So, even though there we never actually believe Sherlock might be going back to London, the letter he gives to Mycroft to deliver to their father signifies the fact that Sherlock himself has realized the value of those relationships, and he’s not about to let anyone tell him to give them up.

Mycroft reveals he has ulterior motives for getting close to Sherlock.

Mycroft, what’s your game?

I’m a little sad that Ms. Hudson and Alfredo weren’t among the ones Sherlock mentioned when he was talking about the relationships he’d built since getting clean, but I’m very happy that he’s finally digging his heels in about something, because that means that someone or something is going to start trying to yank his chain. Of course, the writers wait until the very last seconds to reveal who that someone is. Mycroft pulls out the letter Sherlock gave him to deliver and then rips it up before phoning a UK number and speaking to an unknown someone about how Sherlock won’t be returning to London, and they will have to approach their mysterious “problem” from a different angle.

Who is this someone? What is this problem? What do Sherlock and Mycroft have to do with it? Is Holmes Sr. even still alive? We’re just going to have to keep watching to find out!

What did you think of this weeks episode? Tell us in the comments!


If you missed the episode, you can find it on Amazon Instant Video.

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