Episode still of Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes
|Episode number|| Season 1 |
|Directed by||Andrew Bernstein|
|Written by||Jason Tracey|
|Air date||April 4, 2013|
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Previous||Déjà Vu All Over Again|
|Next||Dead Man's Switch|
Snow Angels is the nineteenth episode of season one, as well as the nineteenth episode of the series. It was written by Jason Tracey, and directed by Andrew Bernstein. It premiered on April 4, 2013.
Sherlock and Joan try to prevent a robbery from one of the largest cash vaults in the country during the middle of a Nor'easter. Meanwhile, Sherlock tries to help his transgender friend who is recovering from her latest break-up.
Part One Edit
At the Flatiron, a security guard, Frank Dempster, is reading a book while listening to a weather report on the radio, warning of a major blizzard heading for Manhattan. Hearing a woman whimpering, he stands and sees a blond woman lying outside the door, pleading for help, saying she has been mugged. As soon as he opens the door and helps her to her feet, however, she jams a pistol into his ribs and tells him to open the door for her two accomplices. He grabs for the gun at his belt, and she shoots him in the chest. After opening the door herself, she and her two accomplices drag the body behind his desk and then head upstairs. But Dempster isn't quite dead, and manages to draw his gun and fire one shot at the thieves' backs.
At The Brownstone, Joan Watson comes back from a shopping trip for emergency supplies, and is surprised to see a woman, Ms. Hudson, standing in the living room, clearly distressed. Watson asks how they can help her, and Ms. Hudson hurriedly explains that she is not a client, she is a friend of Sherlock's who needs somewhere to stay, temporarily. Watson is disoriented, but offers the woman a cup of tea, and Ms. Hudson (who has expensive tastes) asks for White Darjeeling.
In the kitchen, Sherlock is measuring out his daily spoonful of cod liver oil, when Watson enters and demands the full story. Sherlock explains that he used Ms. Hudson as a consultant back in London - she has "an Oxford don's command of ancient Greek and Latin", which is all the more remarkable considering she is entirely self-taught - but her personal life is somewhat complex. She frequently finds herself the "muse" of several powerful, wealthy and creative men, who profess that they can't live without her, but find it all too difficult to actually include her in their lives. Case in point, her latest lover just turned her out of the apartment he was renting for her, at the insistence of his wife. Sherlock asks whether he was supposed to turn Ms. Hudson away on the eve of a snowstorm, and Watson says, of course not, but as his housemate Watson is entitled to a little more advance notice. This debate is interrupted by a call from Captain Gregson.
At the Flatiron, Gregson and Detective Bell are examining the scene of the crime, which Holmes begins to reconstruct: the entry of the thieves, the shooting of Mr. Dempster... then, per his new habit, turns it over to Watson. After a few moments of thought, Watson deduces that Dempster wasn't dead, fired one round that hit one of the thieves in the abdomen, and the thieves came back and finished him off with a single shot to the head.
Holmes asks what they were there to steal, and Bell shows them photos of a new cell phone model that was supposed to go on sale at midnight. The thieves took the floor models and about two hundred from the storage room. Holmes finds a strand of hair from a cheap blonde wig and guesses that at least one of the thieves was a woman, and there had to have been at least three, since a man or woman suffering from a gut shot could not be expected to have hefted that many boxes. Then Holmes surprises Gregson and Bell by asking why he is there - "with all due respect to Mr. Dempster", the crime is fairly prosaic and should be easy to solve. Then the lights go out as the storm hits, and Holmes brightly says that solving this murder "in the Stone Age" should add a level of interest.
Part Two Edit
At the precinct, Gregson introduces an assembly of sergeants and detectives to Denise Castor, a supervisor from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who has been sent to coordinate the authorities' response to the storm. She informs the assembly that the power is out and will stay out for the duration of the storm, and Gregson starts to brief the sergeants on their individual assignments.
In a corner of the squad room, Watson asks why Holmes is browsing Instagram on his phone, while charging it from a power outlet, when the entire precinct is running on a backup generator. Holmes says this is part of their investigation, and shows her and Bell a triumphant "gram" from someone who just bought one of the new phones, a full day ahead of their scheduled release. From a photo of the box, Holmes can deduce where it was taken.
Holmes and Watson interview Private Maggio, a street person who is selling the phones for $75 each to a line of eager buyers, assuring them that they are the genuine article. Holmes asks for a few minutes alone with Private Maggio to ask about the sale of stolen property. Maggio swears that he didn't steal the phones, he found them: he was waiting behind a bakery that gives him their day-old goods, when he heard someone throw a heavy box into a dumpster. He saw a couple of white men running away from the dumpster, where he found the phones. Holmes gives Private Maggio some money to get a room and wait out the storm, while advising him that his price is too low, and he can get much more for the phones.
As they walk away, Watson asks in surprise why he is leaving the phones. Holmes says the thieves didn't care about the phones, so why should they? The theft of the phones was obviously a cover for something else, and they need to get back to the Flatiron right away.
At the Flatiron, Holmes deduces that the thieves used Mr. Dempster's key card to call the elevator to one of the locked floors. He also finds scratches on the key hole of a door to an architectural firm, which must have been picked by a woman with shaky hands (understandable after she was shot in the gut). As Watson starts to try her own hand at picking the lock, it is yanked open by an employee, who has been camping out there to get some work done. Examining the office, Holmes finds a drawer where a series of blueprints were stolen, and asks the employee to produce the duplicates.
That evening, the Brownstone is illuminated by candlelight. Watson tries, unsuccessfully, to start a fire in the grate, before Ms. Hudson offers some helpful tips. She admits that she has plenty of useful skills, but often finds herself depending too much on other people. As if on cue, her latest boyfriend knocks on the door, pleading to be let in, and swearing to follow through on his promise to leave his wife this time. Watson looks to Ms. Hudson, who asks her to let him in.
Upstairs, Watson finds Holmes examining the blueprints under a tent, which is there to trap the warmth generated by the rocks he has heated in the oven. He says it also muffles sound, which will be useful if Ms. Hudson and her boyfriend start arguing (or making up just as loudly). So far, he admits, he has had no success with the blueprints, none of which seems to show any sensitive project or valuables being stored.
However, the next morning, Holmes appears in his winter coat and tosses a pile of clothes at the still-sleeping Watson. He tells her to get dressed immediately, time is of the essence. When it's clear that he won't go away, she at least makes him turn around while she dresses, and he explains: his mistake was focusing on the blueprints for the projects the firm completed; among the prints for the projects they bid for, but were not hired to complete, were the electrical and plumbing design for EROC (East Rutherford Operations Center), the East Coast hub of the Federal Reserve, containing the world's largest supply of U.S. cash money. Holmes does not believe the timing is a coincidence: the criminals, whoever they are, have devised a plan that depends on a catastrophic storm striking the East Coast and severely handicapping the authorities' ability to respond. They cannot wait for the storm to pass, as the crime is likely happening as they speak. Coming downstairs, Watson asks if they can reach Gregson and the NYPD; Holmes says no, cell phones and landlines are out, and his CB radio is out of order. He and Watson will have to make their way to East Rutherford, New Jersey, on their own.
Donning their winter coats and scarves, they trudge out the door and down the snow-covered street, on foot.
Part Three Edit
Coming across a snowplow on standby, Holmes asks the driver, Pam, to let them into the cab to use her radio. He succeeds in making contact with the NYPD, but is told Gregson is unavailable. Holmes leaves a message, warning that EROC will likely be robbed, then says they need to get to East Rutherford anyway. Watson starts to object, and Holmes reminds her that someone has to rush ahead and warn the guards, and even if Gregson gets the message, there is no guarantee the NYPD can spare the manpower, so it is still up to him and Watson. Watson demands to know what they are supposed to do if they arrive and the robbers are already there with guns. "Well, I have my whistle," Holmes deadpans. Then he turns to Pam and informs her that they are commandeering the use of her snowplow to drive to East Rutherford. Unimpressed, Pam orders them out of the cab. Switching gears, Holmes pulls out a wad of cash and asks how much to rent her services for the day.
Bell takes time off from his storm-related duties to visit a Manhattan hospital, where a male nurse, Vince, confirms that they did not admit anyone for a gunshot wound. Bell asks if anyone came in with an injury in the lower abdomen, and Vince says yes, a young woman treated for a stab wound inflicted during a mugging. Bell interviews the woman, Alysa Darvin, who was about to be discharged. Bell looks at her coat and finds a blonde hair on it. Alysa claims that she lent the coat to a friend, but Bell holds the hair under a lamp and watches the end melt, proving it is not human hair at all, but from a cheap blonde wig. He asks Alysa if it was painful, having to stab herself in the belly to disguise her gunshot wound. He adds that since she was about to be discharged anyway, he will have to insist on giving her a ride to the precinct.
Riding in Pam's snowplow towards EROC, Watson sees her phone is getting reception and tries to call the Brownstone to check on Ms. Hudson, but there is no answer. She realizes that Sherlock didn't pay the phone bill, and he says landlines are useless these days. He asks why Watson cares, since she was complaining the day before about him taking Ms. Hudson in. Watson says she likes Ms. Hudson, but at the same time thinks it would be better for her to learn to take care of herself. Reaching EROC, they are greeted outside the gate by a guard, who says there is nothing going on.
At the precinct, Bell interviews Ms. Darvin in a holding cell, and tells her she will be better off giving up her partners in the heist, or else things will go badly for her. She doesn't say a word, and Gregson sticks his head into the room to relay Holmes' message about EROC being robbed.
In the control room of EROC, the supervisor tells Holmes and Watson that he cannot allow any outsiders onto the cash floor, but their system is fully automated and tamper-proof. Looking at his terminal, he notices something odd: the machines performed an unscheduled cash sort that morning. Holmes raises an eyebrow: "An unscheduled, unsupervised sort of nearly a billion dollars, run on auxiliary power?" The supervisor admits that it is strange, but all the money is accounted for and nothing is missing. Holmes asks if money is destroyed at EROC, and the supervisor confirms that if a bill is too worn out, it is sifted out during the sorting process and shredded. Holmes asks to see where.
The supervisor shows them a collection of bales of shredded money, about $33 million worth. Again, he says everything is accounted for, but Holmes and Watson look closer at the shreds and see they are ordinary paper, instead of the cotton-linen mix that real money is made from.
Holmes explains what happened: the thieves got into the facility while it was deserted, looped the security camera footage to "give themselves run of the place", ran the sort with the machines, but replaced the money meant to be shredded with counterfeit bills, taking the real ones. The supervisor says that doesn't make sense: if the thieves had gotten in, they could have taken much more. Holmes counters that stealing more would have instantly put the police on their trail; whereas, if the bales of paper shreds had gone to the dump, as planned, no one would know anything had happened. He concludes that they are too late to prevent the robbery, but hopefully not too late to prevent the thieves escaping with their stolen $33 million.
Part Four Edit
Even in a driving snowstorm, Holmes examines the grounds outside EROC and identifies where the thieves came and went, and also the tracks from a vehicle which he identifies as either an ambulance or a U-Haul truck - and he knows which he would prefer to be driving in a snowstorm to transport a load of stolen money. Noticing the rate at which the snow is falling, Watson checks the depth of the tracks and realizes that the thieves left less than an hour ago.
At the precinct, Bell and Gregson confront Alysa Darvin, whose real name, they now know, is Elle Bastien - she has dual French and Moroccan citizenship, and Interpol has files on her and her husband, who they now know was one of the two accomplices with whom she broke into the Flatiron. Again, they repeat their invitation for her to confess before they catch up with him. Alysa/Elle smiles coldly, and says, in her real French accent, that they will never find her husband.
Riding back to Manhattan in Pam's snowplow, Sherlock and Watson confer with Bell over the radio. He reports that Elle made two calls on her cell, one to an airline to book a flight the next day to Morocco, and another to a manager at a race track - an ideal venue, Holmes realizes, for laundering the old, worn-out bills. They both realize where the ambulance is likely headed.
As the storm lifts, the police stake out the manager's house, and sure enough, an ambulance pulls up outside. The police move in and arrest the drivers, but the ambulance is found to be empty, and the drivers insist they were called to the house for a possible heart attack. Then the manager comes out and asks what they are doing, since he feels fine and didn't call 911.
Part Five Edit
That evening, Pam drives Holmes and Watson to the door of the Brownstone. Holmes is chewing on the case, saying they followed all the right leads, yet the ambulance has still disappeared without trace. As they are disembarking, Pam surprises them by saying she had fun, and if they need to rent her services again, just give her a call.
Entering, Watson is stunned to see that Ms. Hudson has given the whole house a thorough cleaning. Watson is delighted, but Sherlock asks what has happened to his collection of books and papers. Ms. Hudson points out that she has organized them in a scholarly fashion, that meets with Sherlock's cautious approval.
Late at night, Watson enters the living room and sees Holmes pondering a map of Manhattan, with his collection of padlocks placed to represent road closures and police checkpoints, and Clyde bearing a cross of red tape on his back to represent the ambulance. With the padlocks in his way, there is nowhere for him to go, and Sherlock explains the problem: an ambulance was sighted driving past the scene of two medical emergencies, into Manhattan, but afterwards it disappeared, and did not pass any checkpoint - there was nowhere for it to go without being seen, yet... Watson says it only seems possible if the checkpoints and road closures were not there. Impatiently, Holmes says they were there, and one can't just wish them away... and just like that, he has solved the case.
The next morning, at the precinct, Holmes and Watson show Gregson and Bell the map, with colorful tape representing the blockages and a small stapler to act as the ambulance. Watson reads a series of entries from the previous day's duty log, as emergency forces were shifted around, and Holmes removes tape in sequence, showing that someone was re-directing the authorities to clear an escape route for the ambulance. Then Holmes looks out the glass at Denise Castor, who is wrapping up her duties. He informs them that, in spite of her job's heavy responsibilities, her salary is government scale, and thus she makes as much as a postmaster in rural Wisconsin - "perhaps she decided she needed a raise."
Gregson and Bell say there is no proof, and there won't be, as long as two of the three thieves have escaped, and the third, Elle, still refuses to talk. Holmes wonders aloud whether the reason Elle refuses to talk is because she still has faith that her accomplice will be able to spring her from jail. He then suggests that the police perform a modest bit of theatre...
Bell enters the interrogation room to talk with Elle again, but they are interrupted when the lights flicker - apparently the backup generator is still on the blink. Then they hear noises from outside, and Gregson rushes in, saying there was a stabbing in the holding cells when the lights went out, and the prisoners are rioting downstairs, he needs all the cops in the building. Bell, flustered, asks what about Elle, and Gregson tells him not to worry, the door will lock from the outside. Bell and a uniformed policeman get up and follow Gregson out, leaving Elle alone.
Holmes and Watson are watching through the two-way glass. In a whisper, Holmes remarks that Bell once told him he played the lead in a high-school production of Guys and Dolls, but "I had not until this moment supposed that he was any good."
On another part of the floor, a collection of detectives and uniformed cops are clattering chairs, banging on chain link fencing, and yelling to simulate the sounds of a riot. Once she believes the rest of the floor is deserted, Denise Castor slips into the holding cell, throws her jacket over Elle's handcuffs, and leads her out of the room. Watching from a corner, Gregson tells the other police to hold back, since the fugitives need to clear the floor to be guilty of escape.
Castor leads Elle into a stairwell, asking urgently whether Elle told the police anything. "Say anything about what?" Bell asks, waiting at the foot of the stairs with a trio of uniforms. Castor and Elle sag in defeat.
A few days later, as New York starts to recover from the storm, Sherlock is using a paintbrush to simulate blood splatters in the living room. Watson enters to report that Castor and Elle gave up their accomplices location, and the ambulance has been found with the stolen money inside. Hearing a beep, Watson looks out the window and sees Pam waiting in her snowplow. Sherlock explains that some of the roads are still blocked, and Ms. Hudson needs a ride to her cousin's in upstate New York. Ms. Hudson comes down with her suitcase, thanking them for their hospitality and mentioning to Watson that Sherlock has engaged her to clean the Brownstone on a weekly basis.
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes
Lucy Liu as Joan Watson
Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell
Aidan Quinn as Captain Tommy Gregson
Jill Flint as Elle Bastien
Becky Ann Baker as Pam
Frank Wood as EROC Supervisor
Candis Cayne as Ms. Hudson
Karl Miller as Squatter
Bill Buell as Private Maggio
Howard McGillin as Davis Renkin
Andy Grotelueschen as Nurse Vince
Christina Rouner as Denise Castor
Curt Bouril as FRP #1
Scott Aiello as Uniform #1
Daniel Loeser as Uniform #2
Slate Holmgren as Uniform #3
Samuel Smith as EMT #1
Nick Sullivan as Frank Dempster
Lonnie Quinn as TV Reporter
Mark Elliot Wilson as Joseph Leseur
- Penny by Hanni El Khatib is playing at the end of the episode.
- The opening scene was shot at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
- Jonny Lee Miller improvised Sherlock giving the homeless man cash so that he could find shelter.
- Sherlock tells Joan that Detective Bell played Sky Masterson in his high school production of Guys and Dolls. This biographical detail is in fact true of Jon Michael Hill.
- Sherlock's quote, "Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent" is taken directly from Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "A Case of Identity."
- Sherlock bluffs the employee at the Flatiron by claiming that Watson "holds several black belts." Lucy Liu has in fact trained in Escrima, a Filipino martial art, since her early twenties.
Every photo of Snow Angels on this wiki can be seen here.
Behind the scenesEdit
Pilot • While You Were Sleeping • Child Predator • Rat Race • Lesser Evils • Flight Risk • One Way to Get Off • The Long Fuse • You Do It to Yourself • The Leviathan • Dirty Laundry • M. • The Red Team • The Deductionist • A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs • Details • Possibility Two • Déjà Vu All Over Again • Snow Angels • Dead Man's Switch • A Landmark Story • Risk Management • The Woman • Heroine