When the body of a retired FBI agent turns up in a wood chipper, Sherlock finds clues in a 10-year-old kidnapping case
From the moment “Miss Taken” begins, it’s easy to tell that Elementary is about to deliver a stunning, fun episode. That’s because the episode begins not only with some workers finding the shredded body of a retired FBI agent in their wood chipper, but also the reveal that Watson’s father has apparently written a book based on the lives of his daughter and Sherlock. That’s the type of setup that Elementary usually has success with, and “Miss Taken” is no exception.
While sniffing through the bagged remains of FBI agent Robert Underhill — seriously, Sherlock is so gross — Sherlock picks up the scent of pepper spray. Coupling that with other evidence found, including a wrapped condom and some remains on a worksite chainsaw, he concludes that the wood chipper victim must have known his killer. That would explain the pepper spray and intimacy of the crime. Thus, the first person to question must be Underhill’s wife, Sheila.
Sherlock quickly rules out Sheila though, as she has an alibi for the night her husband was murdered. She says they’d been separated though, and that he was spending a ton of time with old cases of his, despite his retirement. She said that only a few nights before he’d said he was close to solving a case that had been bothering him for years. Sherlock thus believes that if he can figure out what case it was and who Underhill was investigating, perhaps he can find the killer.
Meanwhile, Joan confronts her father about the book that he wrote. She’s livid that he based a book on her and Sherlock, and she’s convinced that if Sherlock knew, he’d flip. She orders him to call his publisher and get the books recalled.
Back at the brownstone, Sherlock fills in Watson on all the details of the case. He’s sorted through some of Underhill’s old case files, solving three of them, and has eliminated a number of suspects. There is one mysterious case left though, one that wasn’t even on anyone’s radar in relation to Underhill. Years ago he investigated the case of a 10-year-old girl, Mina Davenport, who was kidnapped and then, 10 years later, escaped and was returned to her parents.
Sherlock believes that Underhill was getting close to figuring out who kidnapped Mina, and that he must have killed the FBI agent. Sherlock, Watson, and Captain Gregson head over to the Davenport’s house to question them. They speak very highly of how Underhill handled their daughter’s disappearance, but can’t think of anything shady happening recently. When the detectives ask to talk to Mina, her parents are hesitant, wanting to shelter her from all the bad memories. Still, they get a very brief word with her when she passes through the room.
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It’s after that moment when things start to get really interesting. Sherlock drops a bomb: that girl is not Mina Davenport. Gregson isn’t sure how that could be true, but both Sherlock and Watson present him with photo evidence that shows a difference in her ears. Still, Gregson isn’t totally convinced, and her parents are going to be hard to convince, too.
That doesn’t stop Sherlock from questioning Mina while her parents are talking to Gregson and Watson. Sherlock applauds her for her ability to lie so convincingly, but he doesn’t get far in his accusations before her parents storm into the interrogation room and take her home.
NEXT: Strange as it ever was
Back at the brownstone, Sherlock reveals to Watson that he’s known about her father’s book for some time. Elementary gets a little meta after that, with Sherlock saying his success as a detective has inspired all sorts of fictional characters, and that he’s used to it by now. It’s charming and funny, and just the right amount of cheeky. It also leads to Watson forgiving her father, after reading his proposed sequel, and mending that bridge.
Shortly thereafter, Mina shows up at the brownstone and asks to speak with Sherlock and Joan. She admits to not being Mina — she says her name is Cassie, but Sherlock doesn’t believe that’s her real name either — but says that she didn’t kill Underhill. Plus, she knows who did. Her theory, which she says is foolproof: Richard, Mina’s father, killed Underhill because he was getting too close to discovering that Richard killed his own daughter.
It’s crazy, but it could be true. Cassie says that she’ll continue to help Sherlock and Watson so long as she’s allowed to get to her/Mina’s 21st birthday so that she can gain access to the $5 million trust fund set aside for her. As Cassie puts it, she may have done something bad, but what Mina’s parents did is worse.
Sherlock, to his credit, doesn’t believe her story for a second. He feigns belief, giving her two listening devices and telling her to put them on two separate floors of the Davenport’s house. Sherlock then reveals to Watson that one of the “listening devices” is actually a flash-bang. When he hears that all three Davenports are on the top floor, he’ll remotely detonate the bomb on the first floor, forcing them to call the cops and giving Sherlock and Watson free reign to poke around their house for evidence.
While searching the house they find some blood on the brake pedal of a car. Considering how far the seat is pulled up, Sherlock posits that it must have been Cassie in that seat, and that she most likely killed Underhill because he was close to proving her true identity, revealing her as a fraud and screwing her out of Mina’s $5 million.
Still, nothing is matching up. A DNA test shows that Cassie/Mina is in fact the Davenports’ daughter, and just to make things even messier, Richard decides to admit to killing Underhill in order to save the girl he thinks is his daughter.
In order to prove that Richard didn’t kill Underhill, they need to prove that Cassie isn’t Mina. Thus, they figure out that Cassie’s cheek was never swabbed for the DNA test; rather, Cassie gave some hair for testing.
Searching assaults filed, Sherlock stumbles upon a strange case where a young woman was attacked and her head was shaved. Living in that area is a man named Norman Ott, a man who lived near Mina’s school before she disappeared. When the police go to his house to ask him about the case, he’s not home, but Mina Davenport, the real one, is. Everything starts to come together for Sherlock: Mina was allowed out of the house every now and then by Norman, her kidnapper, and Cassie discovered her. Rather than report her to the police, she attacked her, stole her hair, and having seen a police composite of what Mina might look like now, realized that she could possibly trick the Davenports into thinking she was their daughter.
It worked for a while, but eventually the ruse comes crumbling down. Sherlock and Watson reunite Mina with her parents and put Cassie behind bars. What’s interesting though is that “Miss Taken” doesn’t end on a positive note. Rather, Sherlock still doesn’t have enough evidence to prove that Cassie killed Underhill.
Furthermore, when he visits her in a holding cell, she basically laughs off the charges. She tells Sherlock that she has six different ways to explain the blood in the car, and that she’ll lie her way through the whole trial and be set free. As she lays back down on the bench and Sherlock walks away, the camera focuses on her face; it’s all confidence. Sherlock outed her as a fraud, but whether or not he connects her to Underhill’s murder is left unanswered.