Performance of the Week #4: Jonny Lee Miller
Sherlock Holmes has always been a complex character, especially in the most recent television adaptations. The BBC’s version of the character is a socially inept, awkward and intellectually superior mastermind whose heightened sense of awareness and perception enables his tendency to look down on those inferior to him–and Benedict Cumberbatch puts his all into making Sherlock still sympathetic and likeable despite having all the qualities to persuade you otherwise.
However, CBS’ interpretation on Elementary is quite the stark contrast. This version of Sherlock is still superior in intelligence and the ability to see things that others can’t, but it’s not something that he uses to position himself above those around him, namely Watson. Rather, he pushes her to be able to see the things he sees for herself, and rarely–if ever–uses it as an excuse to belittle her. He doesn’t look down on those around him, but at them. But while Sherlock has a mind far greater than anyone else’s, he’s a completely broken character, and it all stems from the loss of his one true love, Irene Adler.
It’s been alluded to before about how Sherlock has only ever loved one person in his entire life, and how this person was cruelly ripped from him by a faceless entity he’s never seen nor even knew about until earlier in the season–Moriarty. The loss of Irene destroyed him, dragging him down into the depths of hell with his addiction, and leaving irreparable scars behind after he managed to climb back up. It may have been years since Irene’s death but the loss still haunts him all these years later, even if he wouldn’t acknowledge it so easily.
But this week, all that changed. After being forced to carry out a task set by Moriarty with the promise of answers about Irene’s supposed murder being given afterwards, Sherlock–accompanied by Watson–finally got those answers at the end of the episode, as Sherlock came face-to-face with the woman he’s been mourning for such a long time–and he crumbled at the sight of her, all those shakily reassembled pieces of his emotional psyche collapsing.
All season, Jonny Lee Miller has provided his version of Sherlock with a deeper sense of human connection and depth than his BBC counterpart has, but that scene at the end of ‘Risk Management’ was the strongest of them all. His ability at playing Sherlock in super-sleuth mode is unparalleled, as is the way he portrays Sherlock when he feels defeated, but this scene gave Miller the perfect opportunity to show just how broken Holmes really is, and he delivered tenfold.
You can criticize Elementary for a lot of things, and I daresay most of them would be warranted, but Jonny Lee Miller’s exquisite portrayal of a character as legendary and tricky to master as Sherlock is undeniable. For all the character’s charm and sarcastic wit, underneath lies a tortured soul, kept at bay but never gone. We’ve seen Sherlock in a vulnerable state numerous times this season, but we haven’t had the chance to see him completely destroyed until this week–and Miller thrust everything into making it a truly stunning sequence that nobody is going to forget any time soon (except for Emmy voters).
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
‘For Immediate Release’
When you tell me that Christina Hendricks has still yet to win an Emmy for her role on Mad Men, I cry a little inside. I cry because it dumbfounds me. This week, we had another moment from Joan, where she pretty much tells Don to screw himself, that could go in the ‘why Christina Hendricks needs an Emmy’ scrapbook that’s practically bursting at the seams at this point. The event that Joan put herself through last season, namely the self-prostitution, was a defining moment for the character, and one that Hendricks has played on wonderfully since. Now, can she win that goddamn Emmy for once? Please?