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"The Long Fuse"

Season 1, Episode 8

The-Long-Fuse
Air Date 29 November, 2012
Writer Jeffrey Paul King
Director Andrew Bernstein
Viewers 10.46 million (U.S.)[1]
Previous "One Way to Get Off"
Next "You Do It To Yourself"
"The Long Fuse" is the eighth episode of season one of Elementary. It first aired on CBS on 29 November, 2012.

Summary

Sherlock helps the NYPD investigate the bombing of a small web design firm that led to a pair of deaths. After combing through the debris, he makes an interesting discovery – the bomb was planted in 2008. With that knowledge, Sherlock attempts to solve a crime that had been lying dormant for almost four years. In the meantime, Watson reminds him that their time together is almost up and he needs to finally pick a sponsor.

Plot

Part One

At The Brownstone, Sherlock is running through the same mnemonic exercise he was doing when Watson first met him: watching the feeds from seven different televisions at once, he tests himself to make sure he can recall one perfectly: a clip of dialogue from The Invisible Man. Watson comes in and reminds him that, before her time as his sober companion is up, she wants him to pick a sponsor - a permanent acquaintance to monitor his sobriety and advise him when necessary. Sherlock insists he doesn't need a sponsor, any more than he needed a sober companion, but sullenly agrees to meet Watson's candidate for coffee.

At the offices of a Web design firm, someone is surprised to hear a beeping noise coming from an air vent, but thinks no more of it. Behind the vent, a concealed bomb beeps to life, and explodes, blasting through the wall.

Part Two

Gregson conducts Holmes and Watson through the crime scene, explaining that the bomb killed two employees of the company and injured eleven others. Detective Bell is currently looking for anyone with a grudge against the firm. Looking through the debris, Holmes finds a small motherboard that seems curiously antiquated. They are surrounded by the remains of space-age computer equipment, yet he is holding the innards of a pager in his hand. Holmes theorizes that the pager was used as part of the bomb, and, since it's not too badly damaged, it may yield a clue. He also finds shreds of newspaper, which he deduces were used as packing material in a pipe bomb (paper in the vicinity of a bomb is usually incinerated, but paper used as packing materials is expelled from the bomb's blast radius before it has time to fully combust). Since it is newspaper, not wood pulp, Holmes deduces that the bomb must have been homemade, rather than military-grade.

Watson mentions that, since it will be a couple of hours before the NYPD bomb squad can pull any useful clue from the pager, it is a good opportunity for them to meet her proposed sponsor, Adrian. Watson is sure that Holmes will like the man, an officer with the SEC. But Holmes walks out of coffee within a few minutes of meeting the man, calling him a moron and "Peter Platitude." Watson is undeterred, saying they will find someone eventually. Then Gregson calls with a promising lead: the bomb squad identified the number of the pager, and phone records show that it was called three times on the morning of the explosion, by a man named Rennie Jacobs, who just finished a six-year prison term for arson - he burned down his apartment as an insurance scam.

Under interrogation, Jacobs insists that he didn't know anything about the bomb: he was trying to dial a local deli to order breakfast, the number of which is one digit off from the pager. He insists that he must have mis-dialed, because, when there was no answer, he pushed redial twice. Holmes and Gregson have confirmed the deli's number, but Gregson isn't convinced. Holmes, however, points out that bomb-making requires attention to detail, but Jacobs's wristwatch is nine minutes slow and his fly is unzipped. Watson reminds him that outward appearance isn't always conclusive: "Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) looked like a hobo puked another hobo."

Holmes walks in on a meeting between Gregson and the bomb squad experts and points out two important clues: the battery that was used to power the bomb is at least four years old, since the British company that makes it recently changed its logo to mark its centenary. Likewise, one of the scraps of newspaper used shows a photograph of then-Senator (not President) Barack Obama. Watson looks closer, and confirms the date of the newspaper: 2008. Holmes says that Jacobs may well have detonated the bomb in 2012, purely by accident, but someone else built it and planted it, in 2008.

Part Three

Holmes and Watson go to the corporate offices of Vanowen Strategic Communications, a prominent Manhattan public relations firm, who occupied the bombed-out office space in 2008. They meet with the company's founder and president, Heather Vanowen, and her CFO, Earl Wheeler. After explaining that someone at Vanowen was the likely target of the bomb, Holmes further explains that, whoever built and planted the bomb was unable to detonate it in 2008 because, at that time, the company that made the pager did not have any cell towers built within sufficient range of the building, but that changed in 2010, which is why Jacobs' wrong number call managed to go through in 2012.

Wheeler says that Vanowen has their share of critics and enemies - since they act as spin doctors for several big companies - but can't think of anyone who would go so far as to build a bomb. Vanowen, however, says that they received threatening letters from the ELM, an ecoterrorist group. She offers to provide the original letters, and Holmes accepts with thanks, plus a few well-chosen words to solve the crossword puzzle Vanowen has open on her desk.

To Watson's displeasure, Holmes examines the letters during their next addict group meeting. He remarks that tonight's gathering is a "bit of a motley crew," but takes a sudden interest in the next speaker, Alfredo Llamosa, a reformed auto thief who says he turned to drugs out of boredom. To Watson's shock, Holmes says he wants Alfredo to be his sponsor.

Continuing to examine the letters at home, the writer's style tics something in Holmes's memory. Standing in front of his blank televisions, Holmes remembers hearing a distinctive phrase from a guest on a talk show.

The man, Edgar Knowles, is brought in for questioning. At first, he denies everything, but Holmes points out that they have already lifted his fingerprint from the precinct's elevator button, and matched it to the component of a bomb that exploded at a lumber mill in Oregon. Knowles confesses that there is no ELM, it was just him, acting alone. He planted five nitrate-based bombs all over the country, and, having established his reputation, threatened several organizations, including Vanowen S.C. What he didn't do, however, is plant the bomb that exploded there.

That evening, on the roof of the brownstone, Watson finds Holmes detonating homemade bombs, inside tennis balls. He explains that the combustion action of an exploding bomb often makes it difficult to identify the chemical components used, but some chemicals leave behind a distinctive odor. Holmes has been "smell-testing" various mixtures of his own concoction. His homemade nitrate-based bomb gives off a very distinctive smell (manure), which bears no resemblance to what he smelled at the bomb scene. Holmes is convinced that the bomb was made from potassium chlorate (gasoline, bleach, and petroleum jelly), ingredients which "no self-respecting eco-warrior would use". Holmes now believes that Edgar Knowles is telling the truth, and someone else built the bomb. But when Watson asks who, Holmes admits, "haven't the foggiest."

Part Four

Holmes re-examines the shreds of paper used in the bomb and finds something intriguing. There is the impression of a pen writing the word "Novocaine", definitely not in Knowles's handwriting. But Gregson is convinced that Knowles is the bomber.

Holmes points out that Knowles's threats against Vanowen S.C. were never made public, meaning no one other than the police and the firm itself were aware of them. Holmes's new theory is that someone at the firm built the bomb, using the ELM threats as a scapegoat when it went off. But Gregson refuses to authorize a subpoena of Vanowen S.C.'s personnel records, saying that if Holmes wants to go digging deeper, he will be on his own.

Watson shows up for her and Holmes's coffee appointment with Alfredo, but Holmes fails to appear, and soon texts her to say he is held up at Vanowen S.C. Watson begins to apologize to Alfredo, but he shrugs and says the first lesson his own sponsor taught him is patience. Watson is surprised to learn that Alfredo, despite his rough appearance, has always wanted to be a sponsor, since he had a great one to help him through his own recovery, and is confident that he can help Holmes, once given the opportunity.

With Heather Vanowen's permission, Holmes is poring over their personnel records. She drops by and makes a few innocuous comments about her obsession with crosswords. Holmes cuts in and says that if she is flirting, then she might as well know that he is also attracted to her, and would be happy to pursue a liaison, but any relationship between them could never go beyond the physical. Nonplussed, she walks out as Watson walks in to collect him. Holmes breezily apologizes for missing their appointment with Alfredo, but is taken aback when Watson tells him that Alfredo was patient and willing to reschedule.

Holmes enters Vanowen's office to ask about a former employee, Pradeep Singh. Initially hired in 2003, he was promoted three times in less than 12 months, between 2007 and 2008, and was written up by Human Resources for engaging in a shouting match with Mr. Wheeler. Wheeler explains that Pradeep was a capable employee, but during his last months with the company, he became arrogant, demanding more power and increased pay. When they rejected his demand, he told them they "would be sorry." Holmes asks if that was when Pradeep was terminated, and Vanowen says no, that is when he disappeared: left work one day and never came back. The police tried to find him, but without success.

Holmes and Watson interview Pradeep's wife, Himali, who says that she is sure her husband is dead, because he would have returned to her if he were still alive. Noticing something about Mrs. Singh's house, Holmes asks Watson to take her outside for a few minutes, while he examines one of the walls in the living room.

Outside, Holmes takes Watson aside and tells her that Pradeep Singh is most definitely dead: after noticing a slight outward bulge to the wall, Holmes broke it open to find Pradeep's body, wrapped in plastic and sealed into the wall.

Part Five

At the precinct, a distraught Himali is being interviewed. Gregson has already confirmed with ICE that she was visiting relatives in India when her husband disappeared, so she is not the killer, but whoever killed him likely took advantage of her absence.

Gregson theorizes that Pradeep had a co-conspirator who built the bomb with him, and Pradeep was killed during a disagreement. Holmes says the theory is reasonable, but unlikely: Holmes is starting to think that Pradeep was the intended victim of the bomb, not its builder. A photo in a company newsletter from 2008 shows Pradeep standing next to his desk, which is positioned directly below the air vent where the bomb was found. Likewise, Pradeep's personnel records show that he didn't miss a single day of work before he disappeared. If he had built the bomb, then why would he have spent his last week at work sitting directly beneath it?

Bell comes in, reporting that Pradeep was killed by a single gunshot to the chest. The contents of his pockets include a key which Holmes recognizes as a safety deposit box key. After identifying the bank, they open the box and find a videocassette. Fortunately, Holmes maintains a bank of VCRs at the Brownstone, since he enjoys reviewing police interrogations from the 1970's and 1980's.

As Holmes is setting up the VCR, Watson says that she rescheduled Alfredo for the next day. Holmes does an about-face and says he doesn't think Alfredo will work out after all, and they should keep looking. Watson swiftly realizes that Holmes doesn't want any sponsor; he picked Alfredo because he guessed that Watson wouldn't approve of him, but now that she does, he has rejected him as well. Before she can pursue the argument further, Bell re-enters the room.

The tape shows a young Pradeep concealing a camera in a hotel room, then recording his assignation with a prostitute - who happens to be a younger Heather Vanowen. Holmes says they can keep watching if they like, but he is fairly sure they have identified the person who wanted Pradeep Singh dead.

Vanowen is called into Gregson's office and asked to sign a form consenting to be questioned. After she does this, Holmes confronts her with the tape, reasoning that when she was younger and less established, Vanowen did what she had to to pay her way through business school. Vanowen does not deny that she is the woman on the tape, but says that is not proof that she built a bomb or committed murder.

Imagine her surprise, Holmes muses, when she found out that her firm's new employee, Pradeep Singh, was one of the men she had slept with years ago. He realized it, of course, and swiftly blackmailed her into giving him more promotions and higher pay. Finally, when his demands became too much for her to meet, she built and planted the bomb, and, after it failed to go off, shot Pradeep at his home and walled up his body (her father, Holmes notices from her biography, was a contractor).

The proof? The word "Novocaine," which Holmes found on the newspaper used to build the bomb, was an answer to that day's crossword puzzle. They have already matched the handwriting to the consent form she just signed. Vanowen can say nothing, and Holmes invites Bell to do the honors and place her under arrest.

That evening, at the Brownstone, Holmes is surprised when Alfredo shows up at the front door. He says he understands if Holmes is not ready to accept him as a sponsor, but he is there for another reason. Alfredo points to a gleaming Ferrari parked on the street, and says that, because of his expertise as an auto thief, he is regularly employed by car companies to test their new security systems. He invites Holmes to try his luck with Alfredo's latest "job." Holmes demurs, saying he is already quite adept at defeating security systems. Alfredo raises his eyebrows and says his latest "job"'s systems aren't even on the market yet, so how could Holmes know without trying?

Holmes turns to Watson, deducing that she put Alfredo up to this. Watson shrugs and says, even if Holmes doesn't accept Alfredo as his sponsor, what is the harm in getting to know him, especially since, she knows, he is just dying to take a crack at the car. Holmes sullenly insists that "getting to know" Alfredo doesn't change the fact that he doesn't need a sponsor at all. Watson says, "of course," and Holmes eagerly heads to the street to examine Alfredo's car.

Cast

Regular

Guest

Season One navigation

Season One
#01 Pilot#09 You Do It To Yourself#17 Possibility Two
#02 While You Were Sleeping#10 The Leviathan#18 Déjà Vu All Over Again
#03 Child Predator#11 Dirty Laundry#19 Snow Angels
#04 The Rat Race#12 M.#20 Dead Man's Switch
#05 Lesser Evils#13 The Red Team#21 A Landmark Story
#06 Flight Risk#14 The Deductionist#22 Risk Management
#07 One Way to Get Off#15 A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs#23 The Woman
#08 The Long Fuse#16 Details#24 Heroine

References

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