'Elementary' season 3 finale recap: 'A Controlled Descent'
“A sickening means to a sickening end.”
Boy did those words echo loudly throughout the season finale of Elementary on Thursday night. The episode followed Sherlock as he went to the darkest places of his past habits to find his old sponsor/new friend Alfredo, who was abducted. The culprit of the Alfredo-napping was discovered extremely early in the finale—because that wasn’t really the point of the episode. No, Elementary clearly set out to prove that the strong, hyper intelligent Sherlock Holmes was still capable of reaching to the very depths of his tattered soul. Sherlock’s struggle to stay clean reared its ugly head from last season when he discovered the pack of heroin and almost used it in London, but this time the triggers are just too “abound” for him to resist with the usual strength we’ve seen him attempt to apply.
Things didn’t start out so dark and depressing in the Elementary finale, but they sure did deteriorate quickly. The episode began with Sherlock and Alfredo watching the seminal “Who’s On First” routine from Abbott and Costello, but Alfredo was much too concerned with hearing back from his lady friend. Sherlock basically told him it’s never going to happen, but Alfredo takes off. The next morning however, Alfredo was gone and Sherlock quickly got his game face on. The investigation went along as any normal one on the show until Oscar made his triumphant return by calling Sherlock and admitting he was the one who took Alfredo. Why? He needed Sherlock’s help to find his sister Olivia.
Sherlock asked him right off the bat the question I’m sure we were all wondering, why on Earth didn’t Oscar just ask Sherlock in the first place rather than kidnap Alfredo as leverage? Here Oscar utters the line that stuck with me through the rest of the episode. The last time they spoke, Sherlock called Oscar a “sickening means to a sickening end,” and he knew from that line alone that Sherlock would never willingly help Oscar with anything. Considering what Oscar does later, can you blame him?
Oscar takes his old “pal” back into the darkest holes of his past to find Olivia. They visit a heroin den that Oscar says reminds him of the one he once took Sherlock to get over Irene. When Oscar debates with Sherlock that he was his friend as he “took care of him” that night, Sherlock harshly but fairly responds with “You were a cancer to me Oscar, and I to you.”
Meanwhile Joan and the NYPD were stuck without Sherlock to find Alfredo a different way as Oscar wouldn’t allow Sherlock to contact them during their journey. They located Oscar’s uncle who lived in Long Island through some pretty crafty detective work from Joan that proved she knows her New York fast food companies. I now respect her even more.
While waiting for a heroin addict named Beta Ray (sidenote: awesome name) to come back to the heroin den where they are located to get answers from him about Olivia’s whereabouts, Oscar decides to use right in front of Sherlock, who is so wrought with pressure that he has to physically turn his back from Oscar. He swipes a phone from another user in the den to let Joan know where he is (because of course he was always going to find a way to contact her), and he discovers the ID of a man with a history of doing despicable things to women. They go to his house to discover him with a broken arm and when he attempts to lie and say he didn’t know Olivia, Sherlock gets real violent, real fast. He twists the man’s already broken arm and demands answers which he gives: Apparently Olivia took a car service from his place and stole his heroin.
After having the same car service drop them off where Olivia was last scene, Sherlock and Oscar find themselves at an abandoned railroad tunnel where Sherlock discovers Olivia’s body… and Oscar’s boot print. Oscar knew the whole time that his sister had died from overdosing on the stolen heroin, and he finally reveals his true purpose of this whole charade: He was the one whose bad habits rubbed off on Olivia. He was the reason she overdosed and died. And now he wanted Sherlock to feel the darkness Olivia felt before she died. He wanted to show Sherlock that he wasn’t too strong to resist his demons. “I wanted to show you that I’m right about you too… I was gonna watch you realize that this is where you belong. In a place like this, with people like me. I was gonna be there to watch you fall.”
When Sherlock asks Oscar to let Alfredo go, Oscar replies that “He’ll die just like Olivia died. And it’ll be your fault this time.” I think it’s fair to say all of this is Oscar’s fault, but that’s beside the point. Eventually Joan and the NYPD find Alfredo and she texts the news to Sherlock asking if he’s okay and if he can talk. He immediately kicks the living crap out of Oscar, drops his phone, picks up the tin of heroin that Oscar was hoping to make Sherlock use, and heads into the dark tunnel fulfilling his physical and mental descent into darkness. The episode picks up three days later to Joan telling Sherlock that his father is on a plane to New York as the music playing the background echoes the lyrics “the devil’s got nothing on me, my friend.” Things certainly aren’t looking up for Mr. Holmes now.