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Elementary boss on that surprising death

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CBS

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday’s episode of Elementary. Read at your own risk.

Shinwell paid the ultimate price in his quest to take down SBK during Sunday’s episode of Elementary.

After beating up her partner, Shinwell Johnson (Nelsan Ellis) had the audacity to ask Joan (Lucy Liu) for help in getting an SBK lieutenant arrested so Shinwell could ascend in the ranks, thus bringing him closer to his ultimate mission of dismantling the gang. However, shortly after being promoted, Shinwell was found dead in his apartment.

EW turned to executive producer Rob Doherty to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why kill Shinwell now?
ROB DOHERTY: We wanted an opportunity to watch his death wash over Sherlock and Joan. It affects them in very different ways. Each had a very different relationship with Shinwell as of his passing. So in the last two episodes of the season, it’s going to be a point of friction. Over the last 10 or so episodes, Shinwell’s been exposed, for better or worse, as someone with problems we can’t really solve or get past. It puts Sherlock and Joan in an interesting place as we get into the finale.

Presumably, this is someone within SBK figuring out what Shinwell was ultimately trying to do. Are Joan and Sherlock now even more determined to take up his mission?
Yeah, they’re more motivated than ever to solve the problem that is SBK. They pickup Shinwell’s gauntlet and run with it. For Shinwell, it was his raison d’être, and Sherlock and Joan were willing to help as much as possible, even in the wake of the discovery that Shinwell himself was a killer. SBK always represented the greater evil and he would do virtually anything to see them undone. Shinwell’s death changes things. They lost their greatest wedge into that organization. In a lot of respects, Sherlock and Joan are starting from scratch as we get into the last two episodes.

How much does his death set them back in their quest to take down SBK?
It sets them back quite a bit. SBK recognized a problem in Shinwell and they took care of it the way they take care of lots of things. But at the same time, it gives Sherlock and Joan an opportunity and a motivation to put the group under a magnifying glass. At different times this year, they’ve left Shinwell to his own devices. They’ve trusted that between him, with the assistance of the gang unit, SBK will go away. So they’re knocked back emotionally and procedurally, but one thing they have to look at is a fresh crime. It’s tragic that Shinwell was killed, but it’s a fresh crime and it’s a new opportunity for Sherlock and Joan to attack the group.

Going into the finale, a gang war will erupt. What can you tease, because the logline seems to indicate that Joan and Watson discover that a familiar face is pulling the strings?
Yeah, I should clarify that somewhat. It’s a familiar face in that it’s someone we will meet in the penultimate episode. It is not, in fact, someone we’ve crossed paths or gone up against over the course of the season. So in the second to last episode, Sherlock and Joan will realize they’ve underestimated a certain shadowy member of the group. They’re going up against a very different kind of gang leader, to say the least.

Are we finally going to meet the brains behind SBK?
Yeah, one of the things we really wanted to do is put a face to the gang. We’ve talked about SBK all year, but more often than not, it was in general terms. With Shinwell’s passing, it was absolutely time to look at the individuals that he was going up against. He said repeatedly that he’s one of the shot callers. It wouldn’t be enough to bring down a few lieutenants or a handful of soldiers, he wants the head of the snake. It would certainly appear, as of Sunday’s episode, that he got too close to someone that powerful. It is time for Sherlock and Joan to really swivel to gang itself and look for the same parties that Shinwell was trying to identify to bring down.

Elementary airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.