Warning: major spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of Elementary on CBS.
Only one season of Elementary is left before the show comes to a permanent end, and the Season 7 premiere proves that all bets are off about whether the major characters will emerge unscathed. The main action of the episode took place across the pond, where Sherlock and Joan are now based after Sherlock confessed to a murder to take the heat off of his partner in New York. He was extradited to the United Kingdom, and the dynamic duo are now solving crimes in London.
They were plenty busy investigating the attack on a young woman with acid as well as dealing with Joan's dissatisfaction living in London. Back in New York, however, Detective Bell and Captain Gregson had some very interesting interactions. Bell figured out that Gregson's angry reaction to Sherlock's fake confession was because he knew what really went down with the murder, and he wanted Gregson to reach out to Sherlock and Joan. Gregson agreed to call them.
At the end of the episode, it seemed like he was making good on that statement, as his number showed up on Sherlock's caller ID. When Sherlock answered, though, it was Detective Bell on the other end of the line. Captain Gregson had been shot, and doctors can't guarantee that he'll survive. Bell was just calling people in Gregson's phone to fill them in on the situation.
Now, Sherlock and Joan have a choice to make: do they stay on the British side of the pond, or risk Sherlock's freedom by going back to the States? Well, Elementary showrunner Rob Doherty revealed that the attempted murder of Captain Gregson isn't a story that will wrap up quickly. In fact, it will in many respects "drive the season." He went on to explain how Sherlock and Joan will react to the tragedy:
[Gregson's] prognosis is something that will hang over Sherlock and Joan and Bell, certainly, over the first handful of episodes. That’s something that’s going to resolve itself one way or another, and they need to keep their heads down and do the only thing they can to help him, which is try and find out who tried to kill him and why. It won’t be neat work. They’re going to have to exhaust a lot of resources to find the culprit and put themselves at great risk.
Sherlock and Joan aren't officially working with the authorities in New York anymore, so it's possible they'll have to struggle for the kind of access they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Fortunately, they will presumably be able to count on the help of Detective Bell, who knows Sherlock didn't commit murder. Is it really surprising that Sherlock and Joan would put themselves at great risk to help Gregson?
A big question is just what kind of risks will be involved in their investigation into the attempted murder. For Sherlock, even setting foot on American soil is risky, and neither Sherlock nor Joan is likely to back down from a situation because of any fear for their personal safety. Of course, things may change once they learn the secret Gregson is keeping from them.
At this point, I wonder if Bell will tell them. It's really Gregson's place to come clean, but his survival isn't even guaranteed at this point, and they could feel betrayed if they work with Bell for a while without him telling them the truth. It's inevitable that they find out, right?
Rob Doherty went on in his chat with TVLine to explain how Sherlock and Joan may need to adapt to solve this crime:
As far as they know, they’re coming home to help with ‘a family problem.' The circumstances don’t necessarily dictate them staying in New York forever, and in fact, Sherlock is not welcome there... [A] return for Sherlock is dangerous. If he’s detected, he could go to prison for the rest of his life. So he’ll have to consider the possibility of working with Joan remotely, or risking a life sentence in the U.S.
If this crime is going to take a handful of episodes to solve, Sherlock may not be able to stay in the mix with Joan like he once would have. Whether this means returning to London to cool his heels somewhere where he won't be arrested for murder or just laying low in New York while Joan works the crime scenes remains to be seen.
I can definitely see him struggling with not being able to evaluate scenes himself, examine clues himself, and watch Joan's back. I'm also curious about how Sherlock will get into the country undetected. It's not like he can just hop over the border to get from the U.K. to the U.S. How far will he go to protect the people he loves, and what is he willing to risk?
Sherlock gave up his whole life in New York to protect Watson, although the Season 7 premiere made it clear that he's actually quite happy in London, and not just because he gets to eat ice cream at 10 a.m. with Kitty's son. Joan is less happy. Is it possible that working crime scenes in New York again will make her want to stay? She clarified to Sherlock in the premiere that not being 100% happy in London didn't mean that she wants to leave London, but circumstances have changed.
Find out what's in store next for Sherlock, Joan, and Gregson with new episodes of Elementary on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Who will live and who will die in the final season? Will Sherlock be arrested in New York? Will Joan keep her blonde hair? Only time will tell.
Fans are undoubtedly somewhat disappointed that Elementary is coming to an end, but the upside is that the show had a full season to use to end the series. There's no risk of Elementary ending on a cliffhanger that the showrunner and producers intended to follow up on. If it does end on a cliffhanger, it was by design. Elementary is just one of several long-running shows coming to an end on CBS. Hey, at least NCIS isn't going anywhere!