When two bodies that look exactly alike turn up, Sherlock and Watson must wade into the weird world of doppelgängers.
“Tag, You’re Me” begins with one of the more fascinating opening segments I’ve seen on Elementary. A killer is stalking a man as he walks to his apartment; he’s looking at a picture of the man on his phone before confirming his kill, follows the man into his apartment, tells him to get on his knees, and then says, “I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” before killing the man.
Usually that’s where the procedural kicks in, but Elementary has a curveball ready to throw: another man, who looks exactly the same, walks into the apartment and, when he sees the assailant, pleads for his life. The shooter, completely confused, shoots and kills the other man, as well.
The next morning Holmes and Watson are brought back as consultants to the NYPD, and what a case to snag as a comeback. Based on the killings, it’s clear the shooter is a pro, and there are two sets of IDs for the victims: one for Timothy Wagner and one for Otto Neuhaus. The police can’t tell who’s who, but thankfully Sherlock has an in-depth knowledge of the smell of German brands of cigarettes and manages to match the identities to each body, because of course he does.
Back at the morgue, Watson and Holmes meet with Tim Wagner’s father to get him to confirm the identity of the body. Mr. Wagner can’t tell them apart at all but informs them that Tim has a birthmark on his right side. The only other thing they want to know from Mr. Wagner is whether there’s a possibility that Wagner and Neuhaus are related. He says he can’t know for sure because Tim was adopted.
After confirming that the victims are, in fact, not related, Holmes and Watson find that there’s a single contact in common in both of the victims’ cell phones. The man’s name is Dorian Moll, and when they visit his apartment, from which he’s currently missing, they find a number of lookalike photos posted on his walls.
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Just when it looks like they’ll have to search hard for Dorian, Sherlock determines that he’s likely hiding out in his neighbor’s vacant apartment next door. They catch him coming down the fire escape, trying to evade the police, and question why his hair is a plethora of colors and his face covered in all sorts of strange paint.
He tells them that a company called Countenance Technology is hunting him after he exposed a flaw in their facial-recognition software. You see, Dorian stole and modified their software to start a website called Doppelhunt.com, where users could search for their exact yet unrelated twin.
Thus, Tim and Otto had been clients of Dorian’s, but he hardly has the profile of a stone-cold killer. Still, Sherlock isn’t sold on his crazy theory about Countenance, even when Dorian tells him that he was mugged only a few weeks ago, a mugging that he interprets as an assassination attempt. When Sherlock looks into the company, though, he finds that an employee there named Curtis Tofano once used Doppelhunt under a fake name, lending credibility to Dorian’s story.
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While this investigation is underway, Sherlock is also dealing with his father. He’s confronts him to ask why he’s still in New York, and when Morland tells him he’s finishing up a project, Sherlock is eager to help and get rid of him. He accompanies his father to a local benefit gala, where Morland attempts to schmooze a woman building a resort, but realizes that she’s playing him and that his time is being wasted.
With that dinner done, Sherlock gets back to the case. After questioning Tofano, Watson and Bell figure that he’s not the top suspect. He admits to using Doppelhunt but says it was only to get into Dorian’s apartment and steal his modified code. Countenance wanted to use his code to make their product better, he says, a crime that’s a far cry from murder.
A wrench is thrown into the investigation when a man named Evan Farrow shows up at the precinct with potential information pertaining to the case. He also looks exactly like the two victims and tells the police that Tim Wagner, after finding him on Doppelhunt.com, offered him $10,000 to take a DNA test for him at an undisclosed lab.
After Watson gets a good night’s rest and Sherlock wakes her with an accidental Say Anything reference, Sherlock details why Wagner may have been looking for a man to do a DNA test for him. He considers that perhaps Wagner was looking to cover up a murder of his own, and when he looks through the files of jurisdictions where Wagner lived, he finds a murder from 11 years ago at Oriskany Falls University, which Wagner attended at the time.
Howard Cudlow was the man murdered. He went missing 11 years ago, but his body was only discovered recently, the autopsy revealing that despite his death looking like a construction-site accident, he was actually strangled to death. So the question is not only who killed Cudlow, but also who wanted Wagner dead as revenge for Cudlow’s murder?
The NYPD captain finds out that Cudlow’s brother is a police officer in Oriskany Falls, but what’s most surprising is how quickly the cop admits to the killings. He says he became a cop to avenge his brother, and while killing Neuhaus as well wasn’t his intention, knowing he was into some shady business makes him feel better.
Still, Cudlow’s brother has no idea who Dorian Moll is, and as Sherlock eventually discovers through preserved DNA evidence, it wasn’t actually Wagner’s DNA under Cudlow’s fingernails. So who went after Dorian, and who actually killed Cudlow?
Watson puts the pieces together and figures out that there must be another name on the original suspect list that was looking to clear his name and therefore needed a doppelgänger, and that man must have been Tofano, the Countenance employee who also happens to be an OFU graduate. Watson, Sherlock, and Bell put together that Tofano was there when Cudlow was pushed into the construction site. When his friend discovered Cudlow’s back was broken and started to panic, Tofano strangled him to death to cover up their crime. Add to that the shin bruises that signal a struggle with Dorian a few weeks earlier, and you have the man who killed Cudlow all those years ago.
With the case solved, it’s back to Morland for Sherlock. After Sherlock helps his father deal with a strange problem involving the habitats of squirrel monkeys (and no, I’m not kidding), Morland comes to the Brownstone for a visit and to perhaps tell the truth for once. He tells Sherlock that he hasn’t been staying in New York because of his business, but rather to be close to his son. He wants the past to be the past, but Sherlock isn’t exactly receptive to it. “I wish to move forward,” says Morland before he tells Sherlock that he’ll be staying in New York indefinitely. Morland may be ready to move forward, but it’s clear that Sherlock still doesn’t trust his once-absent father.