If you weren’t sure whether Joan Watson could really hack it on her own, last night’s Elementary premiere wasn’t just a reminder. It was a slap upside the head.
When we last left the plucky protagonist at the end of Season 2, Holmes family drama had forced Watson’s hand, pushing her out on her own once more and into a new flat. With Sherlock gone to London to sort out his own problems and Mycroft in the wind, what would become of Joan?
The opener of the CBS drama’s third season wastes no time in proving that there was absolutely no doubt that Watson is more than just a sidekick or a dilemma to be solved. Jumping straight into one of her own personal cases (the mysterious elevator shooting of two police-protected individuals), audiences are quickly brought up to speed: following the events of last season’s finale, an embittered Joan has taken up her own business as a private contractor and continues to function as a consultant with the NYPD. During a routine investigation, Joan notices that she is being followed and finally confronts her tracker, learning that the woman is an associate of Sherlock’s, who has arrived back in New York City after an abrupt departure from MI6 in London.
Apologetic, Sherlock attempts to win back Joan’s favor by admitting that he left New York after being tempted by his addictions once she had moved out and explaining that his potential re-partnering with the NYPD is solely dependent on Joan’s approval. In the end, Joan agrees and the two work through the particularly taxing case separately, only sharing tidbits of knowledge as they come across them.
The remarkable part of last night’s episode was the relative absence of Jonny Lee Miller’s exquisite Holmes. Acting only as a sounding board and a set of fresh eyes, Sherlock spends most of the hour-long episode making amends and currying favor along the sidelines. Even when he solves the case, the focus is left on Joan to figure out how to bring the criminals to justice. Leaving room for the possibility that the two might someday end up working alongside one another once more, “Enough Nemesis to Go Around” turns out to be a fresh take on the usual Holmes/Watson dynamic, putting the focus solely on Joan’s successes rather than her assistance and proving, once again, that she has snipped the suffocating cord that had long bound them together for good. And with the introduction of a new major character, Holmes’ protege Kitty, the future of the once-unstoppable original duo has been thrown into a maelstrom.
Though the first half of Season 3 looks to be a bit fragmented, it should be interesting to watch Joan and Sherlock rebuild their once impenetrable partnership from the ground up. As Sherlock explained to Joan after she questioned his return, “I belong here … As do you.” With next week’s episode hinted to further delve into the complexity of their new relationship, viewers can only cross their fingers and hope that the two kiss and make up. And soon.