Elementary 3.04 Review: The Computers Are Taking Over

by Mel BiJeaux / November 21, 2014

Elementary is again trying to find it’s balance between case of the week and more character driven storylines, while creating an atmosphere where three detectives can work under the same roof. As far as the atmosphere is concerned, things seem to be working out a bit more smoothly. Kitty is still abrasive at times, but then, so is Sherlock. And the new girl seems to have deflated her ego a bit where Joan is concerned, which is a good thing.

This episode dealt with the possible existence of true Artificial Intelligence – a computer that can think for itself and use human-like reasoning. The problem is that the supposed AI in question, named Bella, is really nothing of the sort. She’s mildly interesting and having the computer talk through a semi-creepy doll is a nice touch, but it really doesn’t make sense why she’s/it’s a draw for Sherlock at all.

Sherlock takes it upon himself to try to disprove Edwin Borstein’s theory that Bella has become self aware and is asking for things like internet access (kids today), by asking her a series of questions that require a humanistic answer. All he gets is a “I do not understand the question” reply for most of it, proving that this so-called AI is about as useful as a Magic 8 Ball. The ONLY time Bella gets interesting is when Sherlock poses the question “why is love important?” as a human construct. Her answer is somewhat vague, but its better than “I do not understand,” and thus, Sherlock is intrigued.

It was far more interesting form a character standpoint to hear Sherlock’s personal feelings on having felt love for certain people in his life, including Watson. For Sherlock to admit out loud, even to a computer, that he loves Watson in his won way is pretty big. He’ll have to admit a bit more to her later in the episode as well.

When Borstein is killed by an induced epileptic seizure seemingly caused by Bella, Sherlock calls in every computer AI nerd he knows to prove that a virus did it, not a self aware machine. Even the teenage variety. And you can’t have a discussion about self aware machines rising above their human masters without a few Terminator quotes in there.

Kitty and Sherlock are still finding their footing together but at least she’s working better with Joan. And Clyde the tortoise’s living status is finally addressed – Sherlock and Joan share joint custody.

It would have been really creepy and neat if Bella had somehow figured out how to kill her creator, instead of a rival anti-AI professor sending the virus to cause the seizure and kill Borstein. But Bella just isn’t that cool and can’t seem to answer any real questions of import.

One favorite moment was of course a character driven one – wherein Joan discovers Sherlock has been in contact with her boyfriend and has accidentally managed to get him a job in Copenhagen. Joan thinks Sherlock did it so no other man will have designs on her time, but Sherlock admits he genuinely liked the guy and wouldn’t deprive her of her boyfriend. He also admits, in his own way, that Watson is far too important to him to risk screwing up again and pushing her away. I really wish he’d have let Joan hug him.

But if you are a BBC Sherlock fan, as I am, you might have had a moments pause when you hear that Joan’s boyfriend’s job offer is from someone named Magnus – who is in Sherlock’s network. Magnus = Magnussen? Eek! Maybe I’m reading more into it than I should but damn, it’d be cool if Magnus turned out to be a villain.

The character moments out shined everything about this case, as Bella the AI turned out to be little more than an interactive computer game and far from worthy of Skynet.

Elementary returns on Thursday November 27th at 10/9c on CBS


Mel is a writer, blogger and TV fanatic whose work and celebrity interviews have been seen on Popstar.com and 50Undercover.com. She fears no fandom or social media platform and you can follow her on Twitter @Melapaloosa.