Thursday night's "Elementary" episode "The Red Team" picked up from the previous episode, "M" -- which aired before the winter hiatus. Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is still an unwelcome presence in the police department. Gregson (Aidan Quinn) still feels betrayed by Sherlock's willingness to take revenge by killing a man after working with the detectives and using department resources to find him. Sherlock has a new case for them, however. Although they no longer have a desire to ever see Sherlock's face again, they are forced to take his case.
The conspiracy theorist
Sherlock has no need for conspiracies, but he loves conspiracy theorists. In fact, he loves to create conspiracies just to watch the theorists try to solve them. Sherlock gets a kick from having tremendous control over other people. He even admits to creating the conspiracy that the CIA invented crack cocaine. All this despite feeling that there is no such thing as a conspiracy, because the truth always finds a way into the public.
Unfortunately, Sherlock finds Len, one of his favorite conspiracists, dead. Sherlock calls Bell (Jon Michael Hill), but gets no love. Bell doesn't initially believe the hanging is worth his while. But it is not a strange autoerotic strangulation as Bell first suspects. The conspiracist has been murdered. Sherlock finds a bug left in Len's tortoise tank, as well as spyware on his computer.
Sherlock explains to Watson (Lucy Liu) that all of Len's conspiracies were ridiculous except one: The theory that a military college found a way to take down New York in 2009, and the person with classified names would be killed to keep it covered up. The military college used to have "war games" to test how various parts of the infrastructure could be destroyed -- had the team members been the bad guys. The results had been released to the public each year, except in 2009. Len found one of the names on the Red Team (the team that concealed their records).
Sherlock and Watson discover that one member of the Red Team had been murdered, as well. Another was incapacitated with fake Alzheimer's. The pair eventually trace the bug to a man named Bill who works in a nearly empty building. He says they do market research, but he grits his teeth slightly at hearing some of the names Sherlock suspects of being on the Red Team. Sherlock now knows who the members are.
Sherlock gathers the members in a room together, but they refuse to speak. One of the members seems willing, however, and leaves a code name on a crumpled piece of paper he then throws in the trash as the group leaves. The name leads back to Bill, but Bill is found dead.
It turns out that one of the other team members, Dresden, has been killing off the other team members. Now he wants to kill the remaining three, including himself. If their secret ever got out, thousands of innocent people could die. He just wants to prevent that from happening. During a standoff with the police -- in which Dresden is demanding the remaining team members be delivered to him in exchange for a cop he is holding hostage -- Sherlock speaks with Dresden. He convinces Dresden to give up by claiming to have figured out the plot anyway. The secret is already out -- except it is only an educated guess to avoid being murdered.
The Watson aftermath
Watson speaks with her therapist about the fact that she is now working for free and never told Sherlock that her contract as a sober companion was not renewed. Her therapist believes that Watson's lies could cause Sherlock to relapse if he ever discovers the truth.
The Gregson aftermath
Watson tries to convince Gregson to take Sherlock back, with no results. He eventually is forced to in the end, simply because Sherlock gives them results. But Gregson is not happy about it. He'd rather not ever have to deal with his ex-friend ever again.
Sherlock also refuses to give a true apology, because he's not sorry. At one point in the episode, he even tells Watson how he really feels: "I'm smarter than virtually everyone I meet." After explaining that the police department works toward the greater good, he says, "My work is the greater good." We already knew he was this arrogant, but it's interesting to hear Sherlock spell it out.
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