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Baker Street Wiki

Holmes: "Have you ever heard anyone say the CIA invented crack cocaine?"
Watson: "I have."
Holmes: "I started that."
Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson

"The Red Team" is the thirteenth episode of season one of Elementary. It first aired on CBS on 31 January, 2013.


"I'm smarter than everyone I meet, Watson. I know it is bad form to say that, but in my case, it is a fact."
Sherlock Holmes

After getting suspended by Gregson at the end of the episode "M.", Sherlock decides to spend some time pursuing one of his favourite activities: riling up conspiracy theorists on the Internet. When one of the theorists goes missing, Sherlock decides to investigate on his own. After finding that the man was killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident, Holmes looks into the victim's conspiracy theories in order to see if he had hit on anything that might have made him a target. While most of the theories are nonsense, Sherlock does find one that seems plausible. In 2009, a group of people were hired by the government to devise a terror plot for a war game simulation. In all other cases, these plots were made public after the fact, but the 2009 exercise was kept classified. Now, members of the 2009 "Red Team" have started to show up dead. Fascinated, Sherlock decides to see if the conspiracy theory has merit, and is dragged down the rabbit hole himself.


Part One[]

Days have passed since the events of "M.", and Sherlock is still staring at his evidence board, which has expanded from a single card bearing the name "Moriarty" to several clues and possible avenues of investigation. When Watson enters, he asks her, in an abstracted way, what time it is, and she informs him that he slept for two days straight. Mildly surprised, he says that would explain why he's so hungry.

While he is preparing breakfast in the kitchen, Watson offers to cancel her morning appointment if he's still feeling obsessed. He dismisses her with thanks, saying he will distract himself for a few hours with his hobby: conspiracy theorists. Watson is surprised, and Holmes explains that while conspiracy theories are ridiculous (since "large groups of people cannot keep secrets"), conspiracy theorists are an endless source of fascination and entertainment for him. Holmes himself has proposed several crackpot theories on message boards, then sat back and delightedly watched them being taken seriously (for instance, that the CIA invented crack cocaine). That morning he plans to "reveal" the results of a secret government study which has concluded that rising ocean waters will submerge most of the United States, and the government is already planning to move the nation's capital to Omaha, Nebraska, and a cabal of billionaires are secretly buying up future beachfront property.

In her regular therapy session with Dr. Reed, Watson admits that she still hasn't told Sherlock that she is technically no longer his sober companion, since his father refused to extend her contract. Dr. Reed wonders why Watson is staying with Sherlock, for free. Watson repeats that she is concerned about the rift between Holmes and Captain Gregson, and wants to see it repaired before she moves on.

Holmes summons Watson to a Brooklyn address. Holmes explains to her that "Zapruder", the moderator of the online chat room Holmes was planning on logging into, was mysteriously absent, and none of the other chat members know where. Holmes long ago identified "Zapruder" as Len Pontecorvo, and this is his home address. After Holmes picks the lock, Watson reminds him that they are trespassing, and Holmes descends the stairs and says that Pontecorvo is unlikely to press charges - seeing that he is hanging from an exercise machine in his living room, clearly dead.

Part Two[]

The NYPD, led by Detective Bell, is examining the crime scene. Bell takes one look at Pontecorvo's pants around his ankles and says auto-erotic misadventure, but Holmes pokes several holes in this hypothesis, pointing out that the belt Pontecorvo was hung with is the wrong size for his pants, and the index finger of his right hand (his "business hand") is broken. Bell rejoins that Holmes is no longer a consultant for the NYPD, which makes him a civilian. Holmes says, perfectly true, which is why he and Watson will be removing themselves from the crime scene immediately - that is, after he has examined the place thoroughly.

Aside, Watson protests, saying Holmes will only get himself in deeper trouble, but Holmes says that, whether they will admit it or not, the NYPD need his help, and he will share everything he finds with them. Noticing binders containing notes on Pontecorvo's various conspiracy theories, Holmes decides to take and read them - he is sure that there is some mundane reason Pontecorvo was killed, but his theories may nonetheless provide some clue as to his murderer. He also decides to take Clyde, Pontecorvo's pet tortoise (identified by a nameplate on his tank). He points out that Clyde will starve to death if someone doesn't take care of him. Watson is touched - until Holmes further explains that tortoises make a delicious soup. But as they are about to leave, Holmes notices something strange about Clyde's tank, and opens one of the fake rocks inside, revealing a listening device inside a hidden cavity.

At The Brownstone, Watson enters the living room just as Holmes has finished smashing the bug into pieces with his shoe. She is baffled - why remove the device from Pontecorvo's home and not examine it? Holmes says he already has, and doesn't want whoever is on the other end of the bug listening in. He has already confirmed that the bug is not commercially available, and a programming specialist in London just helped him find spyware on Pontecorvo's laptop. Someone was monitoring Pontecorvo, very likely someone connected to the government.

Watson wonders if Pontecorvo really had stumbled onto something sensitive or dangerous. Holmes says "Pontecorvo, rest his soul, was one of the laziest thinkers I have ever come across," and most of his ideas are laughable - except one. Holmes props up a binder labeled "The Red Team", which refers to the annual exercises performed by the U.S. Army's War College. Every year, the results of the exercises are published in the College's journal, but in 2009, when the exercise was designed to test the military's response to a terrorist sleeper cell going active in New York, the results of the exercise and the names of the participants were immediately classified. Nobody knows why, but Len Pontecorvo had developed a theory: the "enemy" players, code-named the "Red Team," created a plan that revealed a gaping hole in national security that, if exploited, could lead to the deaths of thousands of people.

Alarmed, Watson says that theory is much more plausible than Pontecorvo's others. Holmes says it gets better: according to Pontecorvo's notes, he believed he had identified at least one member of the Red Team, an Army counterinsurgency expert named Martin Nagowski, who died in a mugging last year. Pontecorvo believed the man was murdered, and the government is systematically eliminating the Red Team to protect national security. Watson has more trouble believing that, and Holmes says it should be simple to test the theory: he shall simply identify the other members of the Red Team and check to see that they are alive and well.

Watson points to a head of lettuce sitting on a bureau and asks how it fits in. Holmes thanks her for reminding him, and begins shredding the lettuce and dropping it into a drawer, Clyde's new home. He says Clyde will not make a good soup stock until he has been fattened up.

At the precinct, Watson pleads with Gregson that Holmes feels terrible about what he did, and will say so, if given half the chance. "You make it sound as if he borrowed my favorite shirt without asking," Gregson retorts, not that Holmes planned to use his quasi-police authority as a cover to abduct and murder a man. Moreover, Gregson wagers that, even now, Holmes doesn't feel the tiniest bit sorry about what he planned to do. Watson's phone beeps with a text message from Holmes, and Gregson sarcastically asks if Holmes is sending an apology. Naturally, he is not - instead, he is summoning Watson to a sanitorium in Queens.

Holmes says he has identified another member of the Red Team, an ex-military expert named Carlo Anillo. Anillo is now a permanent resident of the sanitorium, having been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's Disease. The odd thing, Holmes says, is that Anillo's family has absolutely no history of Alzheimer's. Holmes has a different theory: someone poisoned Anillo with an acid solution that destroyed the memory portions of his brain, leaving him with symptoms virtually indistinguishable from an Alzheimer's patient's. After all, if someone is trying to silence the Red Team, then there are other ways to do so besides killing them.

Holmes calls Bell with the clue, but is surprised to hear that Len Pontecorvo's murderer has already confessed, a friend who got into a heated argument with Pontecorvo over the Internet.

Part Three[]

At the precinct, Holmes interviews the man, Gary Sullivan, who says that he and Pontecorvo agreed that the Apollo moon landings never occurred, but got into a heated dispute over who was responsible for staging them. Gregson enters the interrogation room and pulls Holmes out, demanding to know what he is doing. Holmes says that a few minutes in Sullivan's company is enough to convince anyone that the man is not a mastermind of anything, but that doesn't mean Holmes is wrong about someone else targeting the Red Team. In a falsely hearty voice, Gregson thanks Holmes as a "concerned citizen" for the tip allowing them to arrest Sullivan, then threatens to have Holmes arrested for trespassing if he tricks his way into the interrogation room again.

In a rental car parked outside Len Pontecorvo's house, Holmes is fuming to Watson about Gregson's attitude. Watson gently suggests that an apology would go a long way towards repairing the rift, but Holmes says such an apology would be false. Holmes doesn't feel sorry about abducting and planning to murder Sebastian Moran, and he understands why Gregson is upset, but, like it or not, the NYPD needs him, and Gregson is only doing the public a disservice by trying to shut him out. Watson gives up the conversation as pointless for the time being, and asks Holmes what they are doing there. Holmes says it is simple: whoever was bugging Len Pontecorvo's apartment would have planted more than one listening device, and now that the police have vacated the crime scene, will be sending someone to retrieve the other devices.

Sure enough, a man wearing a telephone company uniform enters the house and leaves a few minutes later. Holmes and Watson follow the van to an office building, and follow the man in the uniform to a locked door. Instead of knocking, Holmes leans into the eye of the surveillance camera and waggles the plastic bag holding the pieces of the bug he took from Pontecorvo's house. The door opens.

In a spartan office suite that screams "U.S. government", Holmes and Watson are met by a man in a suit, who politely asks what they want. Holmes shares his theory that someone is targeting the Red Team, and the man says he has no idea what they are talking about, and has never seen the bug in Holmes's possession before. But he adds that if, hypothetically, the U.S. government was targeting the Red Team, it would certainly have the resources and the firepower to take care of all of them in a single night - why do it in such a piecemeal fashion?

Walking away, Watson glumly reflects, "that was either a total waste of time or I'm going to be audited for the rest of my life." Holmes says it wasn't a waste of time at all: during their conversation, Holmes threw out names of the suspected Red Team, and noticed for which names the man in the suit unconsciously clenched his jaw. Now Holmes has the other team members.

Reluctantly, Gregson and Bell apprehend the other members - Harold Dresden, Walter McClenahan, Sheldon Frost, and Veena Mehta - and bring them in for questioning. Holmes starts to tell them that they may be in danger, and wants to know who else might know about their plan. Dresden and McClenahan warn the rest that they are all sworn to total secrecy, and walk out. Mehta and Frost do the same, but Mehta drops a piece of paper into the wastebasket, with a significant look at Holmes. On the paper, Mehta has written a note to find their U.S. Army liaison, code-named "Yossarian."

That evening, Watson comes home and is upset to see Clyde lying upside down on a pile of Sherlock's papers. As she rights him, Sherlock chides her not to refer to "it" by name, as it will just make it harder for Watson to enjoy the soup. He also says he thinks he has identified "Yossarian," purely by accident. Browsing through the journal of the Army War College, Holmes happened upon a photograph of a Lieutenant Colonel Todd Clarke, who happens to be the man they met at the government office. Then the doorbell rings, and Holmes answers it to a man and a woman in nondescript suits, who inform him that Col. Clarke was just shot and killed outside his home, and they are taking Holmes in for questioning.

Part Four[]

The man and the woman question Holmes, finding it suspicious that he accused Col. Clarke of masterminding a conspiracy to assassinate the Red Team, shortly before he himself was killed. Holmes says he can supply an alibi quite easily, since his home is rigged with surveillance cameras. He then surprises them by asking for their whereabouts, since, if he is not targeting the Red Team, clearly someone is.

Watson arrives with videos from the surveillance cameras, confirming that Holmes was home when Clarke died. After Holmes is released, She grouses that he could have avoided the whole ordeal by showing them the videos at the house, but he says that would have defeated the whole purpose: he wanted to interrogate them as much as they wanted to interrogate him, and he has now established that the government knows nothing about who is targeting the Red Team, therefore, they are not behind the recent deaths. Holmes then telephones Gregson, saying it is time for the rest of the Red Team to be taken into protective custody.

Two uniformed police officers knock on Walter McClenahan's apartment door. When there is no answer, the superintendent opens the door - which has been booby-trapped with a shotgun.

A short time later, Gregson arrives, reporting to Bell that, mercifully, the shotgun was loaded with rock salt instead of buckshot, meaning the two uniforms and the super escaped serious injury. McClenahan is nowhere to be found, but Gregson and Bell find a small arsenal in his home. As they talk, Holmes texts urgently, asking Bell if the rest of the Team is safe. Bell doesn't answer, until Holmes texts to say he's found McClenahan. Bell picks up, only for Holmes to say that was a bluff, he just wanted Bell to answer the phone. Holmes informs Bell that he and Watson are on their way to meet Harold Dresden, and not to wait for them. Then he rings off. Bell remarks, "probably be a lot easier to fire the guy if we paid him in the first place."

At his home, Dresden welcomes Holmes and Watson as he is tending to his wife, Sheila, who is in a wheelchair and unable to speak due to a progressive motor neuron disease. Holmes says that McClenahan is looking likely as a suspect in the recent killings, and asks Dresden if he has any idea where the man could be. Dresden says that McClenahan was paranoid and had few friends, except for Dresden himself. Dresden also confesses that when Martin Nagowski was killed, McClenahan joked - at least, Dresden thought it was a joke - that that made one less person to worry about revealing the plan. Now, Dresden is afraid that McClenahan is planning to sell the Red Team's plan to a hostile power, and has been eliminating anyone else with knowledge of the plan in order to drive the price up. As to his current whereabouts, Dresden mentions that McClenahan bought some land in New Jersey, saying he was planning to build a bunker.

Holmes calls Bell with the tip, only for Bell to say that McClenahan's body has been found, and the man has been dead for at least twenty-four hours. While Watson stays behind to help Dresden prepare his wife to moving to a safe location, Holmes meets Bell at the crime scene. McClenahan is lying behind a dumpster in an alley, shot once in the head. Holmes notices something odd: the killer covered McClenahan with a blanket after shooting him, suggesting it was someone who knew him, even liked him. Alarmed, Holmes says that they need to get to the hotel where the rest of the Red Team is being protected, as Holmes believes the killer is already there.

At a small motel on the outskirts of the city, an NYPD detective shows the Dresdens into their room, mentioning that the department has reserved the whole floor, and they should be safe. Harold asks if the rest of the team members have arrived. When the detective answers yes, Dresden knocks him out and takes his gun.

Part Five[]

Dresden emerges from his hotel room, sees Veena Mehta at the ice machine on the balcony, and takes aim at her with the detective's gun. Before he can fire, a uniformed cop raises his own gun and tells him to freeze. Mehta screams and runs inside her room, while Dresden ducks back into his.

When Holmes arrives, the police have the hotel under siege. Gregson tells Holmes that his warning came just in time to save Mehta, but now Dresden is holding the detective hostage. Instead of demanding safe passage out of the hotel, Dresden has demanded that the surviving Team members - Mehta and Frost - be delivered to him. Holmes realizes that Dresden is not planning to sell the Red Team's plan, since he could hardly kill the other two team members at a hotel surrounded by police and expect to get away. Holmes asks that he be allowed to talk to Dresden. Gregson refuses to put his man's life into a "suspended consultant"'s hands, but Holmes insists that he knows what to say to make Dresden surrender.

Holmes enters the motel room, unarmed, and sits at the small table. Holmes has figured out that Dresden is killing the rest of the Red Team to prevent their plan from leaking out, and once Mehta and Frost are dead, he plans to kill himself. What Holmes doesn't understand is why Dresden became so sure the plan would leak. Martin Nagowski, the first victim, wasn't killed until two years ago, long after the war game ended.

Ruefully, Dresden remembers that Sheila was first diagnosed with her disease two years ago, and since then, Dresden has been unable to do anything except watch her get worse. All the members of the Red Team had been approached before, anonymously, about selling their plan, but Dresden hadn't given it much thought. Then one of these anonymous agents claimed he could help cure Sheila's disease. Dresden knew he was lying, but realized that, if the man had been able to do anything, Dresden would have told everything he knew. He came to realize that everyone has a breaking point, and believed it was only a matter of time before someone found his, or one of the other team member's. So he decided that the only way to safeguard the plan was to kill the Red Team, including himself, plus Clarke - "seven lives versus thousands - the math works."

Sardonically, Dresden congratulates Holmes for figuring out his plan, and thanks Holmes for helping him enact it. Having only one hostage, the detective, Dresden had no leverage, but after he shoots Holmes, the police will realize that Dresden is serious, and give in to his demands. Holmes doesn't blink, expressing amazement that Dresden hasn't yet figured out that "there really is no such thing as a secret." The Red Team's plan is written down in a memo, and it's been emailed back and forth. Any moderately intelligent person could gain access to it, and Holmes himself did so only a few hours after taking the case. Holmes has already sent another memo to an acquaintance - the secret is out, and Dresden will accomplish nothing by killing anyone else. Dresden says that if Holmes is telling the truth, "that's checkmate", then cocks the gun and demands that Holmes tell him the plan.

A few minutes later, Holmes emerges from the hotel room with Dresden, who surrenders. Entering the room, the police report to Gregson that the detective is alive and unharmed. Holmes admits that he didn't know the plan before entering the motel room, he just thought carefully and worked it out from the likely possibilities - "Gun to one's head... very powerful stimulus." Holmes says that he and Gregson owe each other a conversation. Gregson says he needs to clear up the mess at the hotel, but tells Holmes to meet him later.

At a bar, Holmes tells Gregson that he is sorry for lying to Gregson, even if he doesn't regret his actions with respect to Moran. But Holmes says they both know that the NYPD needs him. Gregson angrily says Holmes is missing the point: Gregson has cut Holmes a lot of slack in the past, because of his worth to the department, but Holmes crossed a line and abused Gregson's trust, and Gregson can never trust him completely again. Holmes rejoins that Gregson doesn't need to trust him in order to take advantage of his abilities. Gregson agrees, and also agrees that he needs Holmes on his cases - "but I do need to get something out of my system first." With that, Gregson slugs Holmes in the gut, leaving him gasping over the bar. "Welcome back," Gregson says on his way out the door.

At the Brownstone, Holmes is sipping from a bowl of soup when Watson enters the kitchen. She is almost afraid to ask, but Holmes places Clyde, alive and well, on the table, chiding her for thinking he would ever kill such a remarkable creature, and assuring her that Clyde will probably outlive both of them. "With you, I can never tell," she admits. She asks him if he is ready to talk about what happened with Gregson, and he shakes his head no.



Guest stars[]

  • Linda Emond – Dr Candace Reed
  • Richard BekinsHarold Dresden
  • Michael LaurenceWalter McClenahan
  • Ann SandersVeena Mehta
  • Reese MadiganSheldon Frost
  • Chris SullivanTodd Clarke
  • Tom Riis FarrellGary Sullivan
  • Robert C. KirkDetective Polson
  • Kathryn Meisle – Therapist
  • Philip HernandezCarlos Anillo
  • Tawny Cypress – Black suit
  • Kelly Aucoin – Grey suit
  • Nancy RinghamBonnie Dresden
  • Clifton Duncan – Uniform # 1

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