This week’s Elementary, “The Cost Of Doing Business,” features one hell of a cold open. A man walks down the street in the financial district of New York City and puts earbuds in his ears. As “Little Green Apples” plays, the man encounters one, then two people running by him in a panic. As he rounds the corner, he sees bodies lying on the ground. He takes out his earbuds and hears gunshots.
From inside a building, a man is murdering people one by one. Once finished, he takes off his gloves and leaves everything behind. It’s a stunning, scary sequence that immediately injects this episode with a sense of urgency. The other thing that does that is the presence of Morland Holmes.
While paying off his debt to a few hackers, Sherlock is interrupted by his father, who’s come to the brownstone to give Sherlock some information about the sniper. He believes he knows who’s responsible for the killings. His theory? The killer is a man named Pierre Gagnier, a for-hire assassin whom Morland previously encountered in Mumbai.
While Sherlock is wary of the lead, Morland provides some hard evidence to back up his theory. He says the man has a pattern of not only killing victims, but also injuring others with leg wounds so as to hide his motives and skill. When Sherlock looks through the evidence, he sees that his father is right, and that pattern is too big a coincidence to ignore.
While combing through the list of victims, Sherlock and Morland, who’s managed to work his way into the investigation by telling his son about his connections, figure that Ethan Paris, an executive working on a negotiation for a hydro-electric dam in Peru, must have been the target. He’s the most high profile of the bunch, after all.
That leads Sherlock and Morland to question the people he worked for, and the head honchos there agree to hand over some documents after a little persuasion (a.k.a. a threat) from Morland. The evidence suggests that a Mr. Pruitt, a junior executive who was working with an opposing party on the deal, was part of the assassination plan, or at least reported to someone who could have hired a killer.
That theory is quickly debunked, though, as the spot where Ethan Paris was killed doesn’t make sense in terms of hiring a killer. It was hardly reliable for him to be in that specific spot that day, so why would someone post a killer there? That means Ethan must not have been the target of the hit.
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The only person to regularly visit that place is Frank Bova, a plumber who eats his lunch in that spot almost every day. But what could the motivation for murdering a plumber possibly be? Sherlock and Morland go to visit Frank’s widow, via Morland’s helicopter no less, and determine that while he did a lot of work on Wall Street, she can’t imagine him having any real enemies.
Still, when looking through Frank’s possessions, Sherlock notices a tracking program on his phone. He manages to find out where that program was first uploaded, leading him and Morland to a Turkish bath where Gagnier first started tracking Frank.
A little bribe from Morland leads to more information about Gagnier, including the location of his apartment. The NYPD sets up a raid on his place, but things don’t go as planned. A shootout ensues and in the chaos, Gagnier falls from the fire escape and dies, the mystery of why he killed Frank and who hired him still unsolved.
NEXT: The face behind the mask
Back at the station, Sherlock and Joan are going through all of Gagnier’s possessions, hoping that something will point them in the right direction. After Sherlock reveals that he knows about his father’s role in the dropped charges and even goes so far as to suggest that maybe he’s not all bad, Joan finds a sudoku in Gagnier’s possession that’s partially filled out with completely wrong answers; a little weird for a guy with focus and intelligence.
Sherlock determines that the numbers in the sudoku are bank account numbers for an offshore Swiss account. The authorities would have no way of getting any information from those banks, so Sherlock once again turns to his father for help that may fall just outside the law. Morland uses his right-hand man Lucas to do some digging, finding that the company that transferred the money to Gagnier was a subsidiary of Dynastic Energy, the company whose big wigs Sherlock and Morland questioned earlier.
After a little more digging, Sherlock determines that it must have been Joel Fitzgerald who hired Gagnier on Dynastic’s dime. He assumes so because he discovers that Frank the plumber was sleeping with Joel’s wife. The assumption is wrong, though, as Joel had no idea about the affair and therefore didn’t hire Gagnier, although his shouting of “I’ll kill her!” in the interview room certainly doesn’t help his case.
So who did hire Gagnier? The next best guess is biggest of the big wigs, Bill Wellstone, the seeming head of the company. Morland pays him a visit and leverages him a bit but only gets so far. Still, he can see that Bill is protecting himself, that he must be connected to the hiring of Gagnier somehow.
It’s up to Sherlock to make that final connection, though, and it comes in the form of a blade of grass. When he and Joan determine that someone had to get past security in the building with a bagged sniper rifle, they begin to look at the surveillance video for anyone who could easily get that job done, as Gagnier came in empty handed.
A blade of grass in a crime scene photo is the tip off. Sherlock connects the grass seen at the crime scene to the type typically grown for golf courses. Then, when going through the security footage, they see Wellstone carrying a golf bag past security. If there’s anyone that could slip by security without much interrogation or suspicion, it’s the biggest of the big wigs.
But why did Wellstone hire Gagnier to kill Frank the plumber? Well, because Frank wasn’t the only man Joel’s wife had an affair with. Wellstone had been the “other man” for a time as well and, jaded by their breakup, wanted Frank killed. He might have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for the fact that the sniper rifle had to be dismantled to fit in the golf bag, leaving gun-oil residue in there and linking Wellstone to the murder. Morland and Sherlock contemplate how it’s pretty crazy that Wellstone would construct an elaborate coverup involving a dam in Peru worth billions of dollars for an ordinary murder, but hey, there’s no explanation for what people with power and money will do.
After watching Morland legitimately help solve this case and work so well with his son, it’s heartbreaking (and infuriating) to watch the end of the episode, where it’s revealed that Morland is probably up to more shady tricks again. Lucas pays him a visit and demands payment for something, saying that he doesn’t buy that Morland is only here to help Sherlock. He suggests he has ulterior motives, and let’s be honest: He probably does. This is Morland Holmes, after all.
What those motives might be, though, is a mystery left for later. All we know is that Morland may have had a man killed in the past and he’s not above threatening children. It looks like Sherlock’s shifting perspective toward his father is only going to get him in deep trouble.