• FemmeCritic

Lucy Liu: 5 Reasons I'll Miss #Elementary

#LucyLiu Day is finally here! As an unabashed LL stan who attended her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony back in May, I couldn't be more excited that we've finally arrived at our fave star's next major milestone. CBS has conveniently scheduled the finale of her long-running series #Elementary and the premiere of her new comedy-drama #WhyWomenKill on the same day -- today, August 15th.


As A.V. Club so cleverly put it, " "You know what they say: Whenever a door closes, a window opens so that #LucyLiu can climb through it and back onto your television." Thank the Lord that turned out to be true.



Thought I'd put together a little recap of the five reasons I'll miss #Elementary, even though I've fiercely criticized it for the writers' lack of attention to Watson's character. She should have been an equal partner instead of being forced into second banana status. CBS and the writers constantly pushed her to the background, focusing instead on Sherlock's struggles and triumphs, and leading to the oft-used hashtag: #JoanWatsonDeservesBetter. And she always will.


Still, #LucyLiu made the watch more than worthwhile.


1. Madame Director: I'll always fondly remember the show as the springboard to Lucy's directing career. Starting in 2014 with an episode called "Paint It Black," she's applied her artistic eye and performance-eliciting talents to seven episodes, and developed some interesting visual signatures along the way. For example, often she'll grab you with a kinetic, musical opening sequence, and she's been known to shoot scenes in one long shot, which keeps the actors' focus and energy up.



She's then taken those skills and shown them off to awesome effect on the season premiere of Luke Cage, an episode of S.V.U., and an upcoming episode of #WhyWomenKill.


2. The wardrobe: Lucy Liu in a suit and tie is truly a stunning sight to behold, and has launched many an appreciative meme. But Liu and Rebecca Hofherr, the show's costume designer, were always thoughtful about how the wardrobe reflected the character, going from her loose, easy style of the first couple of seasons to the buttoned up professional of the final four. And no matter what she wore, Watson always managed to look beyond perfect.



3. Character: Lucy's been given precious little opportunity to show off her acting chops, oh, for about the last five seasons of this show, mostly due to a male writing staff who cared much more about obtuse plot mechanics than character. BUT, whenever she was given the chance, she knocked it out of the park.


Television depends on the close-up, and her always active expressions gave much more of a clue to her character's emotional life than the scripts ever did. We never saw Watson completely break down (notwithstanding whatever happens in the finale tonight), but we've seen her become an expert at conjuring up tears that she never allows to fall. Her stillness and steeliness are a sight to behold.



My fave Watson move was lowering her voice to a fierce whisper and then coming out with a surprise comeback: "What's the hardest you've ever been hit?"


Liu's called Watson "the most patient" character she ever played. But her quiet intensity matched up perfectly with her acting partner -- the extremely talented Jonny Lee Miller. She made the often-interpreted character of Watson uniquely her own -- and created an intriguing portrait of a modern woman who chose to give over her entire life to an unconventional career serving and helping others. She's definitely the most selfless character she ever played.


I really wish the audience had gotten a better chance to know her -- so many questions remain unanswered. My primary one being: Why didn't Joan ever decorate her bedroom at the brownstone? She was still using a chair as a nightstand, right up until this season. (Though she finally did redecorate, we'll find out in the finale.) Did she always feel like she was an outsider while Sherlock was there because it was his house? Was she afraid to put down roots? Was she just following his lead? She built herself an office. It just seemed so strange to me that she never even put a mirror up in her bedroom.


4. JoanLock: In a long-running TV series, chemistry is key -- you've got to have the right combination, and by the end of the pilot it's evident that Miller and Liu had that "thing." It was a joy to watch two very smart characters (and actors) play off each other so beautifully.


There were always a lot of kudos for their portrayal of a platonic friendship, but I've always maintained that as the series developed, Watson and Sherlock absolutely fell in love -- deeply and fully, if not physically. It was almost as if their relationship was on a higher, more sacred plane than simple "lovers." And when showrunner Rob Doherty thought the series was ending with Season 6, he had Sherlock admit as much, as Watson tells him, "We're partners," and he responds, "We're much more than that -- we're two people who love each other."



The above has come to be known as "the proposal scene." Directed by Lucy Liu, Sherlock is handing Watson a ring once owned by his mother. He's sharing that most intimate detail with her, but there's nothing romantic in their discussion -- it's all in the brilliant staging.


5. Running gags: Another bonus to a multi-season series is the ability to build in and bring back some comic moments. We'll always love the Watson wake-up, their shared parentage of the tortoise Clyde, Watson's nerdy love of video games, Watson's annoyance at Sherlock's crazy experiments, Watson's annoyance at Sherlock's using her undergarments for said experiments, Watson's annoyance at Sherlock's "sex blanket," and more. Also, I always enjoyed following the crew's behind-the-scenes antics.


After all is said and done, I'm very happy for Lucy Liu to be moving on to a series where she scores top billing, and her character's need and wants are front and center for once, instead of being forced into the role of Basil Exposition. #Elementary had so much promise, and squandered so much of it over the years, solely due to the writing. Doherty et al never understood that no one cared about the cases -- we wanted character and conflict. Sigh.


Still, the show was beautifully produced, designed and acted -- and I'm going to miss those two knuckleheads, Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes like crazy. We'll see them in a reunion movie in a couple of years, though, I'm sure of it.




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