Season: Six — Episode: 5 Director: John Polson — Writer: Tamara Jaron — Aired: May 28, 2018 — Viewers (millions): 3.94 Summary: Holmes finds himself in possession of a severed head and a temporary case of amnesia. Watson helps Holmes retrace his footsteps to put the pieces together.
I am tired of giving you a pass. This time, you want to keep working here, you're gonna jump through the same hoops as the rest of us.
— Captain Gregson to Holmes
Backstage of a Broadway play on the Midnight Ranger, Watson and Detective Bell question the show's producer, Ira Langstrom, about the murder of a critic, Victoria Garvey. Ira absolves himself by showing that he'd bribed Garvey to write a positive review about the play. At The Brownstone, Watson reports her lack of success to Holmes who is staring at a bag on the table in front of him. The bag contains a human head and Holmes says he has no memory of the last six hours nor how he came into possession of it. The last thing Holmes remembers is working on the case of the murdered critic but he can find no link between that case and the head. The head smells of embalming fluid indicating the body it was taken from had been dead for a while. Given the situation, Watson encourages Holmes to tell Captain Gregson about his post-concussion syndrome (PCS) which Holmes assents to do.
There is a head in there.
At the 11th Precinct in Gregson's office, Holmes apprises Gregson of the head and his PCS. Angry that Holmes didn't tell him about the PCS earlier, Gregson suspends Holmes from working with the NYPD until cleared by a department doctor. At the Brownstone, Holmes tells Watson of his suspension while she says that Dr. Hawes reported the head had the corneas removed, suggesting an organ donor. Watson recalls that Garvey had a skin graft weeks before her murder. Believing that the head may have belonged to Garvey's skin donor, she meets Bell at the surgical center where the graft was performed. Asking to see Garvey's file, the receptionist Maria says that Holmes was there the day before asking for the same thing. Looking at her file, she says that he asked to see Garvey's donor donation documents.
I thought we were past all this.
Watson sees that many of the donor documents are identical and Bell finds that another recipient from the same donor as Garvey, a Kareem Ludlow, died in a suspicious fire. They conclude that the tissue bank wanted to eliminate any trace of the donations make from the headless man. Later, Bell and Watson confront the head of the tissue bank, Dominic Voth, that he's responsible for the murders in order to cover up infected tissue. Voth denies this and mentions that "another guy" accused him of the same thing the day before. Confirming that it was Holmes, they also find that Holmes took the head from Voth's facility. Voth won't give them access to his records without a warrant. At the Brownstone as Holmes runs on a treadmill, Watson says that all she and Bell have done is retraced where he'd already been. Since the embalmed head can't be tested for infected tissue, Bell is reaching out to Ludlow's family.
They're all copies of the same form.
As Holmes discusses his appointment with the department doctor with Watson, Michael Rowan arrives. Holmes is surprised to see him as he's never given Rowan his address. Expressing concern for Holmes, Rowan's belief that Holmes' work keeps him sober is bluntly discounted. Rowan asks if Holmes has made any progress finding a woman who has been missing from his support group, Polly Kenner, but Holmes hasn't. Bell and Watson visit Dr. Nora Selsky of the Dept. of Health (DOH) as Bell found that Ludlow developed symptoms after his skin graft and a culture from Ludlow was sent to Selsky for testing. Selsky remembers the culture as it was deemed corrupted when it tested positive for a deadly bird flu from China, H7N5. She says Ludlow never travelled to China and three women who brought back the flu from China died within weeks, never donated tissue and they never came in contact with Ludlow.
It's been a weird day.
Bell checks the social media of the youngest of the Chinese woman, Meili, and finds that she was in a secret relationship with her ESL teacher who was Eric Russo, the headless tissue donor. A warrant to search Voth's facility is obtained and later at the precinct, he is accompanied by his lawyer for questioning where he denies killing anyone. Voth admits that after the DOH called him about the H7N5 found in Ludlow's culture, he embalmed Russo's body and burned the tissue harvested from him. Although he's tampered with evidence by destroying it, it shows that he had no motive to kill Ludlow or Garvey. Bell finds that Russo's brother saw him two days before he died and he was healthy enough to take a gym class. This confuses Watson who says that by that time, Meili was dead and Russo should have been extremely ill.
I did a lot of bad things, but I'm no murderer.
At the Brownstone, Holmes and Watson are stumped by the quandary that Russo showed no signs of H7N5 yet his tissue tested positive for the infection. Later, Watson tells Holmes that from Voth's records, Bell has found that Voth bought Russo's body from a body broker who forged Russo's donor consent forms. Watson also encourages Holmes to apologize to Gregson for keeping his PCS from him. The broker, Walter Petty, is brought to the precinct where he informs Bell and Gregson that he has deals with funeral homes and crematoriums for bodies. He was in Cancun when Ludlow and Garvey were murdered and since he keeps no records of his transactions, he provides a list of all the locations he buys bodies from. At a support group meeting, Michael talks about Holmes who he believes is struggling and says he's going to get louder until Holmes listens to him.
It's Schrodinger's bird flu.
The next morning, Watson wakes Holmes with a new theory that Russo's body was able to fight off the H7N5. She's discovered that Russo taught in China years ago and contracted a bad flu while there. If Russo's body had developed H7N5 resistant antibodies, his blood could be used to create a universal flu vaccine which would be worth millions. The medical expertise to develop the vaccine would be required which leads Watson to a strong suspect, Dr. Selsky. Bell joins them at the Brownstone where Watson tells him her theory and that the cells needed are in the spleen. Since there was no sign of a struggle at Ludlow or Garvey's murder scenes, Holmes believes she used her DOH ID to gain access and in the guise of a flu shot, killed them with potassium chloride. Bell and Watson confront Selsky who they believe learned of Russo's immunity from Meili on her deathbed.
She might have told them she could make them feel better.
On staff at a hospital, she used their facilities to cremate the people she'd killed. However, when Russo's body was sold instead of being burned and she discovered Garvey had H7N5 from a skin graft, she found out who else had received Russo donations from the tissue bank. She then killed Ludlow and Garvey to cover up the source of their flu. A search of her facilities at the hospital turns up a spleen which Watson believes will be found to be Russo's. Gregson calls Holmes to the precinct to inform him that he passed the department doctor's tests and has been reinstated with provisions. Gregson warns Holmes that if he doesn't follow the provisions exactly, it'll be the end of him working with the NYPD. Holmes tries to assure Gregson that he can be trusted but Gregson wants Holmes to prove it with his actions.