Elementary S2 Ep20 – No Lack of Void

In this episode: ANTHRAX! That is all.

Recap!

While Sherlock meets Alistair (the actor he hired to be his father in the first season) for breakfast, Joan examines a pickpocket in an NYPD holding cell, only to find him dead from anthrax. After the haz-mat team declares the station clean, it’s up to the detectives to find out where the pickpocket was poisoned and if there’s any more of the infamously deadly bioweapon out there.

Elementary S2 Ep20 - Joan and Gregson listen to Sherlock in a hospital.Security footage around the pickpocket’s favorite hunting ground shows he stole the anthrax from a passerby, and swallowed the baggie of white powder before the police arrested him, thinking it was cocaine and not wanting to get caught with drugs. The man he stole it from is one Charlie Simon, who did time for stealing equipment from the Columbia University medical lab where he was once a tech.

While visiting his home, Joan sorts through his mail and finds out he is renting a storage unit nearby. After hearing from Simon’s roommate about his on-the-dot half-hour long walks every four hours (even in the middle of the night), Gregson sends a unit in to investigate.

They discover Simon’s body and also enough supplies to make 40 pounds of anthrax (enough to infect half a million people), but no actual anthrax. Suspicions fall onto Eugene McIntosh, Simon’s prison buddy with ties to a radical group called the Sovereign Army, who appears to have killed Simon and taken the anthrax. Joan attends the briefing at the station, while Sherlock visits Alistair’s home.

As it turns out, Alistair missed breakfast with Sherlock because he died a week ago. Sherlock told Joan it was from a heart attack. He talks with Ian, Alistair’s partner, and learns about Alistair’s final days. Sherlock’s pointed questions tell of his suspicions about Alistair’s death.

Elementary S2 Ep20 - Bell and Joan question Bert McIntire.In the meantime, Joan and Marcus visit Eugene McIntosh’s brother, Bert, who runs a diary farm in upstate New York. They receive an address where the Sovereign Army operates from, and as Sherlock is closer, he elects to stake out the house a bit before the police gets there. However, he’s haunted by a vision of Alistair, who offers quips and jokes, and also a little warning when Sherlock decides to investigate the moving van in front of the house all by his lonesome. He finds jars full of white powder, but is discovered by the men inside the house.

After a scuffle, Sherlock subdues the two Sovereign Army soldiers and is exposed to the white powder in the jars, but realizes it’s not anthrax at all, just a decoy. They question the two men and find that Eugene conned them, getting them to invest the money needed to make the anthrax, but selling them fake stuff while keeping the genuine article for himself. Both Eugene and the anthrax are, metaphorically, in the wind.

Joan receives a visit later on at the brownstone, from Alistair’s son, Jeremy, who explains to her that Alistair didn’t die from a heart attack. He died from a massive heroin overdose. She brings it up to Sherlock the next morning, and he finally admits that he has been working on trying to understand what could’ve caused Alistair to overdose after living 30 years clean. It’s clear that Alistair was a sort of hero/fatherly-figure for Sherlock, for both his kindness and his daily victory over his addiction. Just then, Gregson calls Joan and tells her they’ve found Eugene.

Well, Eugene’s body, at any rate, and about half the weaponized anthrax. According to his brother Bert, Eugene visited the dairy farm and poured the anthrax into the cattle feed, claiming he wanted anyone who drank the milk to be infected. Bert shot Eugene in self-defense, and tells the police the rest of the anthrax may be smuggled into Canada.

However, Joan and Sherlock make no progress in connecting Eugene to any Canadian terrorist groups, and Sherlock notices the rash on Eugene’s left ring finger. Further digging reveals Eugene married just a few short weeks ago in Delaware, by a Justice of the Peace in a state courthouse, which support his widow’s arguments that Eugene’s radical days were behind him.

Joan is doubtful about Sherlock’s thought trail, and they argue, with Sherlock smashing a plate on the floor in a fit of frustration. Joan retaliates by also smashing a plate and cuts straight to the point: Sherlock is still upset about Alistair. She reassures him that though Alistair’s passing was sad, it doesn’t mean that Sherlock is doomed to the same fate. He still has the power to decide every morning whether or not he’s going to use drugs again.

Elementary S2 Ep20 - Gregson hangs out in a barn.Sherlock apologizes for his behavior, just as Joan receives a text from her mother directing her to throw away her milk due to the news about the Eugene McIntosh case going public. Joan tells Sherlock about Bert McIntosh’s financial struggles with the farm, which gives Sherlock an idea.

The gang confronts Bert McIntosh and unravels his whole plot: he and his brother needed the anthrax to kill all the dairy cows on their father’s farm, which has been floundering for years. The massive insurance payout would then be theirs to keep, instead of going towards the inspection, transport, and auctions which they would’ve needed to go through to sell their cows legally. But when the feds began closing in on Eugene, Bert shot him in order to cover up their insurance scam and hid the rest of the anthrax he would need to kill his cows in his mother’s attic.

Later, Sherlock visits Alistair’s grave before an AA meeting to collect his thoughts. He speaks to Alistair’s ‘ghost’ about how he’ll be missed, but when he turns around the next time, Alistair is gone.

Analysis!

I’ll admit that while Sherlock’s reaction to Alistair’s death was heart-string-tugging, and the conflict he experiences over Alistair’s overdose after such a long battle against addiction was really great insight to his character, I didn’t feel it was earned. Their relationship was presented to us in only this episode, with almost no build up at all in any previous episodes, so the emotional impact of Alistair’s death is filtered only through Sherlock. We as the audience don’t care (very much?) about him, because we haven’t seen him since his first appearance, but we do care about him a little bit, because Sherlock cares about him.

Alistair’s ‘ghost’ floating around and haunting Sherlock only made it clearer that he was a character that wasn’t exactly memorable enough for us to care about without being immediately present, because Sherlock isn’t the type of man to hallucinate anything when not under the influence. His interactions with Sherlock, while sad, were similarly ‘watered-down’ by the fact that we simply didn’t know him enough.

Meanwhile, Joan does her surgeon thing and looks fabulous while doing it; it was great to see her utilizing her previous skills in her present job, and the way in which she discovers clues so naturally is encouraging. I’m hoping to see more of her family though, from her mention of her mother. This season she’s been massively focused on her career as a consulting detective, but there’s still a lot to be explored within her personal life.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below?

 

Watch “No Lack of Void” on Amazon Instant Video.