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“this seven years and never a word of complaint” [HOUN]

[Editor's note: When the author refers to Sherlock he means Jonny Lee Miller's (or occasionally another actor's portrayal) of Doyle's original; when he refers to Joan he means Lucy Liu's (or John meaning another actor's portrayal) of Doyle's original doctor. When the author writes Holmes or Watson he refers to the actual personages.]
The seventh and final season of Elementary will premiere on Thursday, May 23, 2019 for a 13-episode season, taking its run to the end of August barring any interruptions.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, John Clayton lamented,"seven years and never a word of complaint." This could just as easly be an ironic counterpoint to Elementary’s final season.

When CBS first announced the show in the shadow of BBC Sherlock’s worldwide fame seven years ago, the hue and cry was largely negative from the fandom: crass corporate exploitation for money not love was the prejudgement. (I will not point out that the BBC is a corporation which also does nothing for love and that the lucre raked in from Benedict Cumberbatch’s curly locks puts CBS to shame. [Insert wink here.])

But instead of being the pale rip-off of its British cousin that some proclaimed it would be, creator Robert Doherty and company have given us a mostly fresh re-imagining of both the pop culture Holmes and Watson and the Doylean canon. So much so that the same critics who were afraid of a Sherlock-copy now decried Elementary as not being Sherlock Holmes at all. (Of course, now that BBC Sherlock has shot itself in the foot and limped off screen, HBO Asia’s carbon copy Miss Sherlock is beloved exactly for its crass corporate exploitation of the BBC series. Go figure. Wink wink.)

From the beginning Doherty has stated he wanted to tell his own Sherlock Holmes stories, not to rewrite Doyle. At the TCA press tour in the summer of 2012, he said:
"I think that’s actually one of the upsides to the character. If so many people couldn’t put their own spins on it, I don’t know that he would exist in the popular culture, in the way he does. So, I was intrigued, but also wanted to make sure that, if we were going do this, I could have my own take on it. It took a little time. For me, it was absolutely about his drug use, which I know has been mentioned and acknowledged, once or twice, outside of the books. One of the things that jumped out at me from the books was that it never really dictated plot. It never really informed or altered the course of the story. Some of them are just throwaway lines. And his relationship with women was not great. It was very complicated. Understandably, he’s a very complicated guy. The more handholds I could find, the more excited I got about our take. Everything came together quite nicely."

What if Holmes did not have the stabilizing influence of Watson at the beginning of his career? “The original Sherlock dabbled with cocaine and opiates. Our Sherlock had those same problems, but one of the big differences is that our Sherlock hit a serious wall,” said Doherty in 2012. “Something terrible happened to him in London, and he spiraled out of control.”

Sent to rehab in New York City, Sherlock is paired with former surgeon and present sober companion Joan Watson. This premise—Holmes without the stabilizing influence of Watson—is explored in the second season episode “The Marchioness” with Sherlock addressing a support group (in a sly bit of meta and one of my favorite non-Canonical "canonical" scenes):
Sherlock: I often wonder if I should have been born in another time. Sorry, my name is Sherlock, and I'm an addict.
Group: Hi, Sherlock.
Sherlock: My-my senses are unusually—well, one could even say unnaturally—keen. And ours is an era of distraction. It's, uh, a punishing drumbeat of constant input. This-this cacophony which follows us into our homes and into our beds and seeps into our—into our souls, for want of a better word. For a long time, uh, there was only one poultice for my raw nerve endings, and that was…copious drug use. So in my less productive moments, I'm given to wonder if I'd just been born when it was a little quieter out there, would I have even become an addict in the first place? Might I have been more focused? A more fully realized person?
Member of Group: What, like Ancient Greece?
Sherlock: You any idea what passed for dental care in the Hellenic era? No, no, I'd, um, I'd want some of the wonders of modernity. Just before everything got amplified.

Season One saw the evolution of the friendship between Sherlock and Joan, something that’s not present in the Canon and very rarely shown in films and television to the extent that Elementary did it. That of course, is where it stays: as a friendship.

As Doherty has remarked on more than one occasion, Holmes and Watson never slept together in the books; Sherlock and Joan never will either. While having its ups and downs, theirs is a deep platonic love, with each sacrificing for the other. This wouldn’t work as well if Sherlock were depicted as gay or asexual. Elementary’s Sherlock is actively heterosexual.

This aspect of the character is handled less successfully, in my opinion, as Sherlock considers sex as exercise, while the Canonical Holmes eschewed exercise for its own sake. Having Sherlock engage in sex for it scientifically posited cognitive enhancement would have been more in line with the character. Also, Sherlock’s frequenting of prostitutes posed ethical questions the series ignored, especially when the series has been nominated or won awards for its portrayal of drug addiction or LGBT characters.

The Returns

Season Five ended with the cliffhanger of Sherlock suffering memory loss and hallucinations and the closing scenes of him on an MRI scanning table without alerting Joan of his condition and her concern for his wellbeing after seeing the delusion-induced destruction wrought in the spare bedroom. This was a bold move of faith on the showrunner’s part as the series had not been renewed for a sixth season. Elementary was not on CBS’ May 2017 lineup of new and returning 2017-18 shows. It wasn’t until late summer when fans found out it was coming back as a 13-episode midseason replacement series.

At the time, Doherty said:
“There’s always a chance we could [return] earlier. If we were, it stands to reason there might be additional episodes ordered. We are in ‘wait and see’ mode at the moment.” [This] “could be our last season. We’re not sure yet. We want to do everything we can do to keep it from being the last season. But we’ll see where we are in a few months.”

Season Six aired on April 30, 2018 and the series story arc centered around two plots points. One concerned post-concussion syndrome (PSC). At the end of Season Five Shinwell Johnson hit Sherlock over the head with a bottle and gave him a severe beating.

In "An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains," the opening episode of Season Six, Sherlock said:
“But many of my life choices leading up to this moment are likely factors—the boxing, the continually putting myself in harm's way, heroin. All of them have likely contributed to this moment. So, as for what to expect, the doctor is loath to make any promises. Things could get worse before they get better. He's putting together a regimen to aid in my recovery, but, uh whether that recovery takes weeks or months or, uh if I'll even get better at all he couldn't say.”
Usually a blow to the head is little more consequential that a stubbed toe in the TV and literary mystery and private eye world. Take for example the nearly indestructible PI Joe Mannix (Mike Connor) on CBS’s 1967-1975 TV show Mannix.  “[A]ccording to one count, he was shot 17 times and sustained 55 concussions during the series’ 194 episodes.” Ironically, Mannix made a TV appearance in a 1997 episode of Diagnosis: Murder (“Hard-Boiled Murder”) suffering from a life-threatening cardiac risk not CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The seriousness of brain trauma is all-too familiar to the public these days through the stories of athletes in contact sports and military veterans. The showrunners of Elementary again deserve some credit for highlighting a serious ailment with sensitivity and humor rather than just another TV trope.

The second plot point; serial killer Michael Rowan (Desmond Harrington) encounters Sherlock at support group meetings and has his own twisted ideas for Sherlock’s PSC therapy and unfortunately puts them into action.

In late November 2017, CBS ordered up eight more episodes of Elementary on the heels of the cancelation of The Wisdom of the Crowd following star Jeremy Piven’s sexual harassment allegations. This was well into the filming of Elementary. In fact, “it became this very unique challenge once we finally did get an additional order to tell stories that could be placed in front of the finale that we had already written and produced,” Doherty said.

The finale and the whole of Season Six was produced to be the series’ swan song, bringing the main characters to a satisfying (or not) evolution point. Serial killer Michael is murdered and Joan becomes the prime suspect in FBI Special Agent Malik’s eyes. Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) is ready to move to the U.S. marshals. Sherlock uncovers the fact that Hannah Gregson actually killed Michael in revenge for murdering her roommate and that her father, the once incorruptible Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) manipulated evidence to protect his daughter.
Gregson: And that's when [Hannah] told me everything.
Sherlock: You have to tell the FBI.
Gregson: I can't. No. Hannah's a cop. She can't go to prison.
Sherlock: And Watson can?
Gregson: You gotta understand—everything I did, I did before I knew that the Feds were trying to pin this on Joan.
Sherlock: Are you under the impression that that makes it okay?
Gregson: Malik's got nothing. Her whole case is circumstantial. It's going to blow over.
Sherlock: Let's just imagine for a moment that it does. What about the damage to Watson's reputation? Do you think she'll ever be able to consult for law enforcement ever again? What about the families of the women who Michael murdered and then disposed of? What about the mothers and fathers who are never going to be able to find their daughters, never going to be able to give them proper burials? Is this gonna blow over for them as well? Or do you think perhaps they might start bringing civil lawsuits against Watson? How exactly do you imagine her quality of life moving forward?
Gregson: You're the door that this lunatic walked through, okay? Not me! He cozied up to you. He got to know everything about you, including the fact that I have a daughter. He killed her friend to get your attention.If it weren't for you, Maddie Williams would be alive today and my little girl wouldn't be a killer. [Sherlock gets up and starts to walk out. Gregson pleading.] She's my daughter.
Sherlock: She's my best friend.
[S6 E21 "Whatever Remains, However Improbable"]

Sherlock confesses to the murder to protect Joan and through a deal with MI6, who both Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) and Sherlock had worked for in the past, a proxy from the consulate relays Sherlock’s confession. MI6 confirms that Sherlock killed Michael while working for the British government. Sherlock is now in England.

Joan finds this out when agent Malik calls her to her office: “The Brits won't extradite him. They made that very clear. And he isn't allowed to set foot in the U.S. ever again. Not without being arrested and tried for everything he alleges he did. Your little partnership—it's over. Cheer up, Joan. You just got away with murder.” However, Sherlock is at the brownstone when Joan goes home.
Joan: Thought you were supposed to be in England.
Sherlock: I am. Supposed to be, that is. The terms of the deal I agreed to are quite binding. There's a plane waiting for me at Kennedy. But couldn't leave without saying good-bye. You surprised me last night. Your willingness to protect the captain. Then I was surprised that I was surprised. Helping others before yourself is your nature. Always has been. And yet, in this instance, I found the risk to you unacceptable.
Joan: You thought I was throwing my life away, so you decided to throw your life away instead.
Sherlock: Well, in point of fact, I've sacrificed very little. With respect to my freedom, that is. MI6 owed me. Not you, not the captain, certainly not his daughter. Me. I'm the only one who could confess without going to prison….
Joan: We could have fought this together.
Sherlock: We could have failed.
Joan: That doesn't sound like us.
Sherlock: I wanted to thank you.
Joan: —Don't.
Sherlock: —I wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me over the last six years.
Joan: Sherlock—
Sherlock: I was dying when we first met. I mean, I looked well enough. Just got out of rehab and all that. Thought that I knew everything, but I didn't. I didn't realize how much how much work I would have to put in and how much time it would take. But most of all, I—I didn't realize that things could get better. And that I could actually be—Yes, I was dying. And no one could see it but you. You saved my life, Joan.
Joan: We’re partners.
Sherlock: No. We're much better than that. We're two people that love each other. We always have been. [S6 E21]

The show ends with the perfect coda for the whole series; Sherlock back at 221B Baker Street in London and Joan next door at 221A. (Note: one of the things I like about Elementary is that they did not give their Sherlock a stated address, just the nickname "the brownstone" for his residence, respecting that Holmes’ address will always be 221B Baker Street, London. There is a shot of a letter from Jamie Moriarty to Sherlock sent to 42 Stamford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11209)

Doherty says of the finale:
“I have lifelong friends that I love like family, and yet it’s not so often I put it to them that way. If I thought it was the last time I was going to see someone I cared about, I think I would say that with great ease. It’s why Sherlock was able to say it in that moment. He really thought it was goodbye, and you don’t walk away from even a platonic relationship without telling your partner how you feel. I wish there was an even more appropriate word than ‘platonic.’ It’s fraternal. There’s great love, and there’s great respect, but there’s no romance.”

"The curtain rings up for the last act"

Two weeks after Season Six premiered and the finale was in the can CBS renewed the series for a seventh season. “A lot of parties came together and talked about their positions on the show — both in terms of business and in terms of creative — and we all decided that this was an opportune time to say goodbye to a show that has been very, very good to us,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said.

Den of Geek offered the business reasoning behind the seventh season renewal:
"Well, for one thing, Elementary's ratings have never really been up to the level of a lot of the other shows CBS airs. CBS, a network that specializes in middle of the road procedurals and shows that are allegedly comedies and bad spinoffs of those alleged comedies does tremendous numbers. And while Elementary ratings would be considered great by other networks' standards, on CBS, it's perpetually on the bubble, despite being the best thing they air."
But Elementary is a consistent earner for CBS, especially overseas. It's also old-fashioned in that the network owns the series itself, which makes it extra profitable. So its ratings only tell half the story.

Deadline also mentioned a few pieces of the renewal puzzle:
"... the series has remained a solid utility player for CBS, airing on Thursdays, Sundays and, most recently Mondays. While the bulk of Season 6 aired over the summer, it still ranked No. 21 in viewers. Elementary also has been a solid gainer in delayed viewing, with the most recent sixth season growing 65% in viewers and 80% in adults 18-49 from Live+same day to Live+7 ratings."

Of course, Elementary does not make Cumber-bucks for the network. In 2016 former CBS Corporate CEO Les Moonves told an investor conference that Elementary made $80 million in profit for the corporation in 2015. For “The Abominable Bride” (2016), the limited theatrical release of BBC Sherlock’s Christmas special, international box office alone was $39,111,922; just about half CBS’ 2015 profit.

The Financial Times in August 2014 wrote that while the BBC will not break down specific numbers for each series, it did concede that Sherlock made a “huge amount of money.”
"Nevertheless, Sherlock’s global success has broken many records. The BBC says the third series – where Mr Cumberbatch’s detective miraculously returns to sleuthing after seemingly plunging to his death from the roof of Bart’s Hospital at the end of series two – has received more than 70m hits on the Chinese digital platform Youku. The DVD of the third series received the most pre-orders ever for a BBC series yet to be broadcast – at a time when the format is dying – and the final episode was the most tweeted about television programme when it was first aired on UK screens."

Doherty talked about the challenges of writing a finale and then having to tell more stories:
"You’re talking about a scene that killed me to write because it was my goodbye, too. I had to assume this was the end for the series. So I thought it was time for Sherlock to stop beating around the bushes and let the subtext be the text for once. When you look at any of our seasons, what you see or feel between them is love. I think that’s the way it is for all Watsons and Holmes, or Holmeses. I don’t know what the plural is… Yes, there’s respect and friendship, but I think a Watson loves his or her Holmes, and vice versa. It’s underneath everything we do, and yet I didn’t want the show to end without somebody making that explicit. The challenge, of course, now that there’s a seventh season, is continuing to explore that and expand upon it. I don’t think it was any great revelation to Joan that Sherlock felt that way, because she feels the same. There’s nothing embarrassing about it. I don’t think it’s anything Sherlock regretted saying. But it’s something that they’ll both compartmentalize, and put away as they continue to move forward together."

Some of the Elementary Season 7 episode titles are known and they are:
E1 The Further Adventures
E2 Gutshot
E3 The Price of Admission
E4 Red Light, Green Light — directed by Jonny Lee Miller
E5 Out of The Woods
E7 From Russia With Drugs
E9 On The Scent — the 150th episode of the series
E11 Unfriended — directed by Lucy Liu
E12 Reichenbach Falls

Episode Five will introduce the nemesis for this series arc, Odin Reichenbach (James Frain), an evil tech billionaire. A rich corporate baddie on Elementary? Who'd have thunk it? Actually, Elementary, like Doyle's canon, is set in the world's capital (then London, now New York City) and tells stories touching on government, the military, class and finance and uses this setting as a secondary character to explore how the protagonists react to the challenges of ethics and family with society and with each other. The Canon also presented those challenges to Holmes and Watson in a number of cases (CHAS, BRUC, ABBE, SCAN, SIGN and others).

So how will the show deal with Gregson's descent as the mostly-moral center of the Elementary unit? Joan had forgiven Gregson for protecting his daughter at the cost of Joan's reputation and possible freedom, but will Sherlock? “Sherlock, Joan, Gregson and Bell form this very non-traditional family unit, and as the seventh season begins, there’s going to be a ‘family’ crisis. Events will transpire that will force them to put smaller problems behind them and really come together again as that unit,” Doherty opined.

Spoilers: The following are from published sources about Season Seven and may contain information you may not want to read if you want to go into the series with a blank slate.

Elementary started filming in New York City-dressed-as-London in July 2018, but do not expect any episode to be entirely set in England as both Sherlock and Joan will be heading back to the Big Apple as one of their "inner circle" is gravely wounded. Bell, who was set to be a U.S. marshal “will be on a certain path as the seventh season starts, and by the end of the first episode, a lot will change for everybody,” according to Doherty.

Ophelia Lovibond will be making an appearance as Kitty Winter with son Archie in tow.

As with the last episode of Season Six and the first episode this season, the second series finale will also have a time jump. As Doherty said,
"Something that I knew I wanted to do was move forward in time a bit with the characters by the very end. There was a period [in the Canon] when Sherlock and Watson were not together; they went down very different paths, and their lives were very different from having been apart. We felt that would be appropriate for our show. A lot was Season 7 working towards that: How can we tell a larger story that would allow us to devise a finale that sets in not-so-distant future?”
Which makes the naming of the series seven badman "Reichenbach" appropriate.

MAJOR SPECULATIVE SPOILERS! If you've been with me so far, you may want to reconsider as the spoilers will be huge.

The Liunatic Fringe Tumblr, in a post called "Things We Know/Suspect About #ElementarySeason 7," posted a screen shot from the scene list of the Lucy Liu directed episode “Unfriended” that states Morland Holmes’s dead body is found at the brownstone. This should not come as too much of a surprise to careful viewers as Morland’s mortality was discussed in various episodes in Season Six. In E6, Sherlock came to cease-fire agreement with Moriarty on her attempts to assassinate Morland that will last, as Sherlock told him, “Until you die of old age. I persuaded her that won’t be long.” However, nature may have had a helping hand.

This spoiler is speculation on my part. In TVLine’s Ask Ausiello there was posted this interesting item: “ELEMENTARY: Rumor has it that a pivotal deceased character will loom large-ish in the forthcoming series finale. Guesses?!”

The Business Times made this interesting slip in an April 4, 2019 post: “Also, it has been recently revealed that Rhys Ifans will return as Detective Bell and Aidan Quinn as Captain Gregson.” Of course, Jon Michael Hill is Bell, Ifans is Mycroft.

And in a since deleted post on the Elementary|Natterings Tumblr a picture of an empty brownstone room was captioned by the Elementary writers as “Mycroft—you were at Reichenbach Falls?” It was revealed in S6 E9’s “Nobody Lives Forever” that Mycroft had died at Leffen Trust Hospital, Timaru, New Zealand, ten months previously. “Apparently,” said Sherlock, “an intracranial hemorrhage is not unheard of in leukemia survivors. They say it was instantaneous. One minute he was all right, and the next minute, he wasn't.”

The next two episodes seemingly confirmed the reality of Mycroft’s death (but only through conversations, not physical evidence). So, is Mycroft dead and only being seen on the show in flashbacks? Or like Holmes after the Canonical Reichenbach Falls, had faked his own death?

A Terrace View

The cast of Elementary has moved on. Jonny Lee Miller on stars on Broadway in Ink, Lucy Liu continues on with episodic directing, most recently Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and starring in the upcoming CBS All Access series Why Women Kill. Her recent honor of having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was no doubt given a boost by Joan Watson. Robert Doherty is an executive producer of Alive II, a TV movie in pre-production about a dead San Francisco cop brought back to life. In sum, it's highly improbable that Elementary will be back for an eighth season.
I suspect that Season Seven will not be Elementary’s The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of weaker Holmes stories written in Doyle’s twilight (although I think it’s a much stronger batch of stories than is popularly perceived). 

Rather, Season Seven will be as strong as any of the previous seasons. I look forward to this second Last Bow. 
[Editor's Note: We're aware that "His Last Bow" occurred not in The Case-book, but in His Last Bow.]