Previously on Elementary: Enough Nemesis to Go Around.
With Joan and Sherlock co-consulting again, tension arises between the former partners and Kitty, Sherlock’s new protégée.
It’s difficult enough for Sherlock and Joan to sort through their emotions on their own, but with Kitty in the mix, the endeavour becomes more volatile than either of them are at all comfortable with. Kitty is jealous, yes, albeit not on a personal level. She fears that the importance of having another chance to work with Watson will eclipse Sherlock’s objective of effectively training her, she’s scared that she’s being benched. In London, Sherlock gave her proper work to do, actual assignments, and now, he and Watson are doing all the heavy lifting — so Kitty becomes reckless with the Assistant U.S. Attorney, which is a bad idea even on a good day. Kitty knows that full well, but insecurity makes us say and do things that we know are strategically unsound. It helps that she isn’t there when Marcus, Joan, and Sherlock later drive the nail into that coffin for good.
The thing is, Sherlock isn’t benching her — at least not consciously. She’s not in competition with Joan, or so he says. And she isn’t, not on a professional level. It’s difficult sorting all of this out, and I’m sure that the relief and novelty to be with Joan again are doing a number on Sherlock’s brain, too. The point is that Sherlock doesn’t see Kitty and Watson in a professional competition, but he’s giving Kitty mixed signals because of his strong emotional connection to Joan. He favours Joan. Personally. Those two facts are operating on completely different levels, but Kitty’s experience with Sherlock being what it is, how is she supposed to know that?
Yes, some of her behaviour was childish — such as the muttered, sulky, ‘We?’ in the middle of that meeting; and I really have a problem with people being passive-aggressive and snide. But I also understand her because Sherlock is giving her mixed signals — he may differentiate between his professional and his emotional relationship with Joan (in that he ignores that he is hopelessly emotionally attached to her), but by bringing up Watson at every turn, be it professional or personal, and not making that distinction clear, he’s plainly inviting Kitty to be distrustful and jealous. I expect her to get past it, but Sherlock also has to realise that he has to actually help with that.
The thing is, during his time with Joan, Sherlock needed someone to keep him stable — just as Marcus says. But part of the recovery for Sherlock has to be not just to accept help, to be helped, but, simply, to help others. He didn’t do such a great job of it when sponsoring Randy (are we ever going to see him again? Or Alfredo?), but he’s in a better place to help Kitty now.
How the show handles Kitty’s past is impressive. Sherlock may have breached her trust by giving the envelope to Joan, but it’s Joan who declines, at first, to read it because she believes that if Kitty doesn’t want her to know her past, it’s on her (Joan) to get to know her as she is now, warts and problems and defences and all. But Kitty has a peace offering of her own, she wants Joan to read it. She will continue to have trouble with being snippy with Joan as with anyone else (the “oh, you want me to run that back to Sherlock now?” comment is proof enough of that), but trauma doesn’t just go away. It’s not like an addiction — the writers could have easily given Kitty a drug problem, too, to create a shortcut for the narrative to “fix” her, but they didn’t do that. They gave her a whole new set of issues and needs and characteristics, and it’s going to be an exciting ride. She won’t let her victimhood define her in this new life she’s trying to build, and that’s a caution as much to the other characters as it is to us, as an audience. Yes, what happened to her is part of the reason for the way she acts, but it’s not her only motivation for doing things, and it’s not all she is. She was a person before that happened to her, she’s more than this. Part of her changed, but other parts survived. She needs to rediscover those parts of her, and we should keep that in mind, and keep looking with her.
Next on Elementary: Just a Regular Irregular.