"Elementary" Pilot (TV Episode 2012) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Sherlock Holmes, fresh out of rehab, is teamed with a sobriety partner, a former surgeon named Watson. They have to learn to work together even as they tackle their first case, the mysterious death of a doctor's wife.

  • NYPD detective Javier Abreu is delighted to have his weird English friend Sherlock Holmes on the case of robbery-victim Dr. Richard Mantlo's apparently missing wife, whom Sherlock finds slaughtered in a safe room she has installed secretly. Sherlock, recently out of drug rehab, makes the best of his sober companion, Doctor Joan Watson, hired by his wealthy London father, actually a disbarred surgeon whose people skills he can use. Sherlock quickly proves it's the work of a trophy-hunting serial killer, but finds his prime suspect the next victim.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Elementary" - "Pilot" - Sept. 27, 2012

    In slow motion, a glass drops and shatters, a red haired woman is pursued through a house, up a staircase, and into a bedroom. On the bed she struggles to reach for something behind the lamp.

    Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is fresh out of rehab and all tatted up. He has been given an ultimatum by his wealthy father: stay sober and he can stay in the rundown--but still fabulous-- brownstone in NYC that his father owns. (It is one of many and not the best but still, a fabulous brownstone.)

    His father has hired Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) as his sober companion. She is a whipsmart former surgeon, who, we learn through Holmes' deductions and Google skills, lost a patient and subsequently her medical license.

    Holmes, quirky to say the least, wants no part of this sober companionship. When she first arrives he is watching a whole bunch of televisions in his house. He stops Watson dead in her tracks with a serious, eye-to-eye declaration about true love at first sight. He then clicks one of the paused TVs and reveals he has just repeated verbatim a schmaltzy monologue from a soap. She's so flustered she drops her purse, which will be important later.

    She says his dad hired her and where he goes, she goes, but he can introduce her however he wants to protect his sobriety anonymity. So off they go, naturally, to a crime scene where he introduces her to police captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) as his "valet." Gregson explains to Watson that when he was in London doing some post-9/11 stuff, Holmes was helping Scotland Yard as a consultant and his sleuthing skills blew Gregson away. Now that Holmes is in NYC they plan to use his services.

    The case is a missing woman reported by her husband. It looks like the door was kicked in, there are glass shards in the kitchen, and there was a struggle in the bedroom. This is the home of the red-haired woman. Holmes deduces she knew her attacker because there were two broken glasses-- something overlooked by the police-- and the blood in the footprint on the door shows it was left afterward by someone who wanted it to look like it was busted down. Holmes also figures out that there was a panic room in the house. He finds the button behind the lamp and it reveals the red-haired woman lying in a pool of blood, dead on the floor. The husband, apparently, didn't know about the panic room.

    The husband, of course, is questioned at first but his feet are too small for the footprint and his hand too small to have left the choking marks around his wife's neck. (A fact confirmed by former doctor Watson in a show of observation that Holmes clearly appreciates.)

    Together the pair chase down more leads and come upon a flower delivery man who they think might be a serial killer attracted to red-haired women. Once it looks like they've got it all sewn up, the flower guy turns up dead of an apparent suicide and his cell phone is missing. At his house, a washing machine is turned over with clothes spilling out of it, and a glance at his pantry includes a bag of rice on the door.

    The cops still think they have their guy but it's not sitting right with Holmes. The flower guy had been going to see a psychiatrist and recording his sessions. Then his shrink died and there is no record of seeing another doctor even though it was clear the flower guy was very disturbed. Holmes begins to suspect the husband again because he is also a psychiatrist and the flower guy was obsessed with redheads. He notices that the wife had once been a pretty blonde with a mole but when she died she was a flaming redhead who had undergone extensive plastic surgery.

    Meanwhile, Holmes is trying to put off Watson by dimestore psychoanalyzing her past, unplugging her alarm clocks, and basically saying he will pay her to go away. He pisses her off so much at one point that she leaves to go to an opera she had planned for them to attend together. Full of new revelations, Holmes shows up, is generally a loud pain in the ass, and convinces her to leave to continue work on the case.

    Holmes and Watson confront the husband again and Holmes lays out his theory that he wanted to off his very wealthy wife but couldn't do it himself. He had been treating flower guy who was obsessed with redheads and violent. So he started making his wife get plastic surgery and dye her hair. He started ordering flowers for her every week so the flower guy would see her and become obsessed. Instead of prescribing sedatives, he gave him steroids to agitate him. He basically made the guy into a loaded weapon aimed at his wife. The smug doctor basically admits this is true but knows Holmes has no evidence so he blows him off. Holmes promptly gets into Watson's car and rams the doctor's fancy sports car and is arrested.

    When Watson comes to see him in jail he apologizes for wrecking her car and generally being an ass. She asks him what happened in London that sent him to rehab. He answers that it's a false premise that if she knows something personal about him that they will be closer. She notes that he has very few mirrors in his house, she thinks this is because he knows a lost cause when he sees one.

    The next day they confront the doctor in Gregson's office. Holmes breaks it down: when he saw the overturned washer and noticed the missing cell phone he realized what happened. When Watson noticed the bag of rice in his pantry, even though she saw in his medical records that he was allergic to rice, she helped put two and two together. The flower guy accidentally washed his cell phone, ruining it. In a rage he overturned the washer. He then went to the store and bought some rice, which can act as a dessicant and save waterlogged electronics. Holmes produces the phone and hits a button: out comes the sound of a therapy session that flower guy recorded with the smug doctor as his shrink. Bullseye.

    Later, back at the brownstone Holmes and Watson are planning to go to dinner but Watson wants to finish watching the Mets game. Holmes succinctly predicts how the last three at bats are going to go and how the game will end with a double play and says he'll wait for her downstairs. The game then ends precisely this way much to Watson's aggravation. They head out to dinner.

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