Get ready to dive into Sherlock Holmes’ daddy issue when Elementary returns for season 4.
In the wake of Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) falling off the wagon, his father Morland Holmes (John Noble) comes to town with an apparent aim at actually caring for his estranged son — though that’ll raise a few red flags with Sherlock and Watson (Lucy Liu). To find out what’s in store, EW caught up with executive producer Rob Doherty:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where is the new season picking up?
ROB DOHERTY: The new season is picking up right where we left off at the end of season 3. We are approximately three days after Sherlock’s relapse and one day after the news that Sherlock’s father is coming to New York.
Are we going to see any of Sherlock’s missing time once he went into the tunnel after attacking Oscar (Michael Weston)?
No. Maybe that’s something we would explore at another point during the season, but what we’re going to try to make clear is that Sherlock didn’t go missing for three days. He suffered his relapse. He sobered up. He contacted his friends. He has spent the bulk of those three days in quiet, if somewhat tortured contemplation.
How is this Sherlock different than the one we’ve seen the last few seasons after going off the deep end?
He’s been in a program for over three years now, and he resisted it at first, but over time we see that he gets something out of it. I feel like Sherlock is much better equipped today than he would have been two or three years ago to face down a relapse. Relapses happen. You do everything in your power to avoid them and stay on the path that you’ve settled on, but part of being in the program is recognizing that once they happen, you have to put them behind you and get right back on that path. So, as we startup season four, we’re going to see Sherlock taking new positive steps. with respect to his recovery. He’s able to put everything into perspective and renew a sober lifestyle.
How does he then feel about his father coming to town?
The Holmes men are such curious creatures. He doesn’t buy it. Something you’ll see as we start into the premiere is he just doesn’t believe dad is going to show. We’ve established in seasons past that dad talks a lot about being involved in Sherlock’s life, but we’ve never really seen him take a legitimate step in that direction. We’ve cast John Noble, so you know Dad will eventually be coming. Once he arrives, Sherlock does not appreciate the attention or the distraction that his dad represents. For him, it’s too little too late. This is a father and a son with a very complicated history and I’d say for at least a couple of decades, Sherlock’s father has been out of sight out of mind. It’s true that several years ago dad did find a way to force Sherlock into some decisions that would help him stay sober, but he was never a part of his life at that time. So, this is going to be a huge adjustment for Sherlock to have dad nearby.
What kind of person is Sherlock’s father?
In a lot of respects, I think he’s the man Sherlock has described over the years. He’s someone who can be quite cold. He’s the very opposite of a warm and fuzzy guy. We’re going to find out that he is an international consultant. Sherlock is a consultant to the police, his father Morland, is a consultant to governments and massive corporations. So, dad is someone who tends to work from the shadows and grease the skids for much larger entities. He has a personality that fits with that kind of work. He’s certainly very smart, he’s very stern, and ultimately he knows how to get things done.
Will Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) return so we can see all the Holmes boys together?
That is a distinct possibility. It really has everything to do with the availability of our buddy Rhys Ifans. It’s come up, I think that would make for a great episode, but there’s no official plan for that. It’s definitely something that I’m interested in doing.
What’s Sherlock’s post-replase mindset when it comes to work?
In so many respects, it’s his replacement therapy. The work he does with the police is a kind of replacement therapy. In being able to throw himself into cases, he’s able to force himself to think about things other than narcotics. He gets a lot of satisfaction out of what he does on top of it. As we start the season, he’s waiting to hear if the district attorney is going to bring charges against him for what he did to Oscar Rankin in the finale. He and Joan have been very quietly sidelined. They’re both on pins and needles in that they don’t have a strong sense of what the district attorney is going to do. There’s a certain amount of sympathy for the situation Sherlock was put in, but at the same time, you just can’t lose your cool like that and work for the New York Police Department. He is resigned to the fact that, either way, the department will let him go. In this first episode, we will see him exploring other options. He’ll be looking for other agencies that might be willing to collaborate with him and Joan.
Is Oscar dead, or will we see him back this season?
No, he is definitely not dead. I was live-tweeting that episode and I was surprised when more than a handful of people thought Sherlock had committed a murder. The intention was absolutely to make it look like Sherlock had committed a violent crime, but no, Oscar is not dead. That will be made very clear in the first episode. At the moment, we don’t have plans to see him again, but I think the actor is fantastic and obviously the character had a huge impact on Sherlock.
What does Sherlock falling off the wagon do for his partnership with Joan?
I don’t want to make this sound like it’s about Sherlock again, but if there’s an expectation that we’re going to see a devastated Sherlock who has to climb up from rock bottom again, that’s not correct. As I said, he’s equipped to deal with a relapse and move past it. So, we’re certainly not reverting Joan to sober companion status. They remain partners and she certainly cares about him and is sympathetic to everything he went through, but the two of them are continuing to move forward professionally.
What’s Joan’s reaction to Morland Holmes?
When Joan does meet dad, there will be some friction. For anyone who’s watched the series from the beginning, they really only have Sherlock’s take on dad. They’ve really only heard Sherlock’s side of things and Sherlock’s in the habit of comparing his dad to Satan and Dracula and all sort of bad guys. But when Moreland arrives and makes a genuine and surprising attempt to help Sherlock, Sherlock has to rethink his relationship with his dad and who they were and who they are now.
Joan, in the past, was always the first to remind Sherlock that dad helped him get where he is. Dad forced him into rehab, dad paired him with Joan and without him, they wouldn’t have this partnership that’s become so important to the two of them. As the season progresses, we’re going to see that Joan has some suspicions. Joan is worried that dad is a little more like the guy Sherlock has described versus the guy he seems to be now. She’ll be keeping a careful eye on him.
What kind of reactions will we see from Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and Gregson (Aidan Quinn) in regards to Sherlock’s sobriety?
There’s a lot of sympathy. Gregson, who has been more of a father figure to Sherlock than his own father, is very sympathetic to Sherlock, and thinks what happened is a real tragedy. He feels like Sherlock has been victimized and Sherlock can agree to a point, but no one made Sherlock use heroin, that was totally his decision. Bell, meanwhile, feels the same way. As far as our cops go, they think Sherlock got a raw deal and there is concern that it’s going to affect Joan as well.
As I said, Sherlock is already pretty resigned to the fact that he won’t be able to consult for the department anymore and if he’s going, will there really be a place for Joan? Sherlock hasn’t put the department in a position to keep any consultants after the events of the finale. It’s hard to lose one and keep the other.
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Elementary returns Thursday, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.