The "Elementary" episode "Lesser Evils" was the most blatant example of poor guest actor placement imaginable. For anyone who has never seen "Breaking Bad," "Suits," or anything else with David Costabile, this may not apply to you. This actually happens on U.S. mystery shows quite often, but they usually have the "great guest star" play an important role that could conceivably be one of the good guys, or at least conceal them until a bit later in the episode. The mystery in the episode could have actually been pretty good. It's too bad we knew "whodunit" before the full mystery was even revealed.
Sherlock strangles two men
The episode opens with the jarring vision of a man being strangled. It turns out that Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is strangling corpses who have donated their bodies to science. It is actually quite a humorous scene to witness, until Sherlock realizes that one of them may have been murdered just over an hour before.
The way-too-obvious janitor
Watson (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock run over to the hospital room where the man died, and there they find the murderer! The end. OK, not really, but close. The janitor (David Costabile) is the only person in the room, and he just happens to be played by the terrific actor David Costabile. We don't even know the mystery yet, but the crime is already solved. The least they could have done is introduce him later in the episode.
Watson meets up with a "frenemy"
The rest of the episode was somewhat entertaining, but mostly a waste as far as the mystery goes. The one mildly interesting thing we did learn, however, was that Watson is a fantastic medical doctor. We learn this fact after she has a hunch about the patient of her friend Carrie (Anika Noni Rose), with whom she'd had a falling out.
Carrie gets annoyed, basically warning "Joanie" (Watson) to stay away from her patient. Watson protects her friend by having a test done in secret after Sherlock convinces her that first instincts are almost always correct. It turns out Watson is correct, and Carrie is very grateful to Watson for not allowing her to accidentally kill the patient.
Some humorous lines worth noting
A few points stood out while the "mystery" was unraveling. The first was that Sherlock believes the "Magna Carta was less complicated" than ordering coffee these days. The next was that only "idiots rely on luck." The final humorous moment was when Dr. Baldwin (David Harbour) explained that he was too indifferent about his patients to be the "angel of death" who had killed nine people at the hospital. Sherlock believes this to be a "novel alibi."
Confirmation that the janitor did it
Surprise! The janitor did it! OK, so there was a little more to the story, but the rest was also suspected early on. Over the course of the episode, Sherlock and Watson learn that one of the nine victims was actually getting better. But the janitor seems positive that the patient was dying. It turns out that the physician jerk (Baldwin) who said he was "indifferent" to the well-being of his patients was brilliant enough to have figured out what the angel of death was doing. Baldwin faked the patient's papers so the angel of death would believe she was suffering a painful death.
Baldwin wanted her dead because he had made a mistake while performing her surgery and was about to suffer a third strike that would cause him to lose his job. So the question becomes, if he was so brilliant, why did he make such horrible mistakes in the first place?
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