Surprisingly enough, this week’s Elementary doesn’t start with a case but with Alfredo’s return. He’s come to visit Joan, but also to check in on Sherlock. He hasn’t seen him at any meetings all week long, so he’s worried that maybe he’s not doing so well. Joan assures him he’s fine, but it’s still a worrisome pattern that she needs to ask him about.
Then, we get to this week’s case. A man in a hoodie sits inside an apartment listening to a message from a neighbor saying she can smell gas. The man gets up and turns the gas stove and space heater off. As he walks around the couch, the camera reveals a body lying on the floor, some sort of tool driven into his chest. The man in the hoodie begins pouring gasoline over everything and then burns the place to the ground.
The next day at the crime scene, the body is revealed to be that of Eddie Ross, an archaeologist who was stabbed with a digging tool, his body charred beyond recognition. Judging by the way the tool is inserted into his body, Watson and Sherlock believe they’re looking for a left-handed murder.
The question is why did someone want Eddie dead? They interview his ex-girlfriend, another archaeologist, who says that she loaned a bunch of digging equipment to Eddie not that long ago, though she doesn’t know what he was looking for or where he was digging.
Sherlock and Watson discover, from perusing everything he’d pulled up, that he was likely digging in an old landfill looking for some sort of treasure to label “vintage” and then sell. Perhaps, then, Eddie found something that somebody else wanted badly enough to justify killing him.
Sherlock and Watson manage to track down potential landfill sites where Eddie was digging. It turns out that he was digging up people’s backyards under the guise of being an employee of the city. When the detectives find another man digging in the same hole that Eddie was, they bring him in for questioning.
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It turns out that he has some information that they need. He says that Eddie was looking for a videogame called Nottingham Knights, a vintage game that was pulled from the market and buried before anyone could even buy a copy. He says copies of the game can go to the right buyer for $10,000, and while there’s no evidence that Eddie found some of the games, the hole he was digging in certainly suggests he was perhaps close to finding something.
That leads the detectives to analyze the message boards where Eddie was updating his search results. They find a user by the name of IntegerOverflow who, after failing in a past dig, was sharing information and tips with Eddie. Maybe if Eddie found the games, IntegerOverflow would feel entitled to some of the money, giving IntegerOverflow motive to kill Eddie.
When they finally find the man who goes by IntegerOverflow online, after Watson helps Sherlock complete a videogame that gives them a clue as to his identity, they head to his house to question him. He’s amused by their theory, and here’s why: He found the games six years prior and was leading Eddie on a wild goose chase. That puts the detectives back at square one.
NEXT: Reminder of failure
While the investigation is going on, Watson confronts Sherlock about missing meetings and about Alfredo’s visit. Sherlock says he has been going to meetings, just not the same ones anymore. He wants to switch up his routine and start fresh. But at what cost, to both him and Alfredo?
He goes to see Alfredo and tells him openly and honestly why he hasn’t been to the same meetings. He says that seeing those same faces just remind him of his failure and that it’s too hard for his sobriety. Alfredo understands, saying that you have to be selfish to stay sober, but it still hurts to see their friendship slip away. As Sherlock puts it: They don’t have much else in common other than not doing drugs.
Getting back to the investigation, Sherlock questions what Eddie may have found, if it wasn’t the games, that would have gotten him killed. He and Watson find that what the landfill sites have in common, in addition to the games, is a company called Corrigan Chemical, which was charged with dumping illegal toxic chemicals many years ago.
When they approach the company that bought Corrigan, they find out that they’re hardly responsible for the company’s past problems. In fact, past lawsuits have seen other owners pay for the chemicals in the land, from the state to the actual owner of the property. That’d be some serious buyer’s remorse.
That leads the detectives to question the building manager, Mr. Byrne. Despite his reluctance to being questioned, the detectives have all the facts already. Eddie found some toxic barrels while he was digging and informed Mr. Byrne for one reason or another. Records show multiple barrels in the landfill, and yet Mr. Byrne’s property is two barrels short.
He admits to having moved the barrels to avoid responsibility of paying for Corrigan’s dumping, but he has an alibi for the night of Eddie’s murder: Video shows him hiring men to move the toxic barrels for him, so he couldn’t have killed Eddie.
Sure, he couldn’t have killed him, but he could have hired someone to do it for him. His past record shows that his buildings have burned down and then been rebuilt by insurance money, meaning he could have done the same thing this time around, especially after Eddie found out about the chemicals.
Thus, Sherlock and Watson track down the arsonist whom Mr. Byrne originally hired and get him to flip on Byrne. He was hired to burn the place down and make it look like an accident, but when Eddie showed up, he had to kill him and then torched the whole place with gasoline instead since it wasn’t going to look like an accident anymore.
With the case solved, all that’s left is for Sherlock to visit Alfredo again. It suddenly clicks, after seeing a few of his favorite donuts at another meeting, that if Alfredo didn’t see him during all of the week’s meetings, that must mean Alfredo is attending more than usual. Sherlock checks on him to make sure that he’s okay, and Alfredo admits to being down, but he didn’t want to burden Sherlock with it.
Sherlock lightly reprimands him for being so selfless, when it was him that said being selfish is the way to stay sober. Thus, the two stay in for the night, cook dinner, and chat. Their friendship may be built on not doing drugs, but their bond seems to run deeper.