Elementary‘s season 3 finale left off in a dark place. After beautifully and disturbingly framing a violent interaction with Oliver, a former heroin “pal” of Sherlock’s, the episode moved to the rooftop of Sherlock and Watson’s brownstone. It’s days later, and Watson is wondering if Sherlock finally wants to talk. He doesn’t, but she informs him that his father is on his way after hearing about what had happened. The camera pans to reveal Sherlock with his eyes glazed over, clearly having relapsed. Quite a way to end the season.
The season 4 premiere does something interesting in that it skips the traditional relapse narrative. There’s no big scene where Sherlock is confronted by his friends and told to get clean. There’s no heightened drama. Instead, the show goes low-key, presenting a now-clean Sherlock — just days after the events of last season’s finale — as embarrassed and guilt-ridden more than anything else.
Even with all of that weighing Sherlock down, he’s really just trying to get on with his job. He’s re-creating old (very old) crime scenes and trying to solve them, probably to distract himself from the fact that the D.A. will soon be deciding whether or not to charge him with “felonious assault,” a charge that could see Sherlock sent to prison.
As if that’s not enough, while on his way to a meeting, Sherlock is confronted by Jonathan Bloom, the man who allegedly killed his wife, made a few other women disappear, and is an all-around scumbag who Sherlock is more than familiar with. After admitting to Sherlock that he did kill two women, even going so far as to tell him where he buried the bodies, he tells Sherlock that he didn’t kill his wife, Elissia. Then he shoots himself in the face.
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That admission of guilt, followed by the suicide, intrigues Sherlock and he begins to investigate the claim. He tells the NYPD what happened, and they find the two bodies buried, leading Sherlock to believe that Bloom likely didn’t kill Elissia. He discovers, through a crazy amount of work involving his own “personal documents” pertaining to Bloom and the disappearance of Elissia, that a woman named Maribel Fonseca went missing from a motel the same week that Elissia did.
As Sherlock points out to Watson, both women are originally from Honduras, are attractive, and in their early 30s. The connection between the women goes further though. When Sherlock and Watson look through all of Maribel’s things from the motel where she went missing, they find a photo of Maribel and Elissia together when they were teenagers.
After doing some digging, Sherlock discovers that in 1995, Elissia and Maribel were being smuggled from Central America through Mexico with the hopes of reaching the United States by a “coyote” or smuggler. While the girls eventually made it to the United States, they were almost killed by a cartel in Mexico, leading Holmes to believe that perhaps someone involved in that violent interaction had come after them.
He asks Watson to head to a restaurant where Elissia was known to frequent and question the owner. The owner (played by Dexter‘s David Zayas) says he’s never seen Elissia but that Maribel looks familiar. He says she came in a long time ago showing him pictures of a tall, handsome Latino man and asking if he’d seen him. When given this information, Holmes decides that it wasn’t that anyone was coming after Elissia and Maribel, but that they were going after someone — that they were trying to find this man and kill him.
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