Previously on Elementary: All in the Family.
Ancient dinosaur bones aside, this new episode presents you with the conundrum entitled, “Sherlock Holmes and the Caring Lark.”
Although being a sponsor is obviously different work from being a sober companion, it’s also apparent that Sherlock compares how he fares with Randy to how Joan handled her clients.
Being a sober companion entails a different set of rules: when Randy goes offline for a bit, Joan encourages Sherlock to give him space, because he’s currently not the only person in Randy’s admittedly small support network. When she and Sherlock were still companion and client, the rule — strictly enforced by Joan — was that Sherlock could have no more than two hours to himself without supervision or at least checking in with Joan via email or telephone/text. It’s a different sort of relationship.
With Sherlock being Randy’s sponsor, the circumstances dictate that course of action, simply because it’s not a contract. Randy may choose to go AWOL, Sherlock may choose to track him down or wait for Randy to make that call. It’s the first really tough spot Sherlock found himself in here, not only dealing with a near-stranger who he’s at least partially responsible for, but also with his own aversion to caring & sharing. Ever since Moriarty, Holmes has been aggressively pushing the ‘romance is stupid twaddle’ agenda, and that’s why what’s happening with Randy is so extraordinary. Yes, Sherlock might also be vain, refusing to let Randy slide back into addiction on his watch. But he also decides to jump his own shadow in order to hear him out. Sherlock’s particular brand of giving advice might not be for everyone, but apparently being an ass did the trick this time. Cutting through the crap there is clearly something Sherlock learnt from Alfredo, whose own approach is usually really effective in forcing Sherlock to see past his own bullshit.
Sherlock cares for Randy, in the way he would for a fellow addict. He clearly also takes a hint here and there from Joan, although his way of sponsoring is still very different from her way of helping a client trying to stay sober. Being forced to engage with another human being for no merit other than helping them — not to solve a case, not to solve a puzzle, just to be someone that another can rely on — is something that Sherlock has learnt mostly from Joan, but they are mutually dependent on each other now. With Randy, it’s an alternative power dynamic, and it surely reminds Sherlock of the way it used to be with Joan before they became equal partners. Dealing with feelings and fears is something that Sherlock does his best to avoid, but being Randy’s sponsor and, now, confidant, makes him reconsider his unwillingness. With Randy, Sherlock is forging a relationship that’s unlike all the others we’ve seen him have. It’s new and it’s unusual, and it makes him hellishly uncomfortable. But I think Sherlock is smart enough, even in this, to know that it’s also going to help him grow, get better. Joan and Alfredo did this for him — now it’s time for him to pass it on.
Next: Corpse de Ballet.