Season: One — Episode: 3 Director: Rod Holcomb — Writer: Peter Blake — Aired: October 18, 2012 — Viewers (millions): 10.91 Summary: Holmes and Watson consult on a child abduction case involving a serial killer who is nicknamed "The Balloon Man," because he leaves a signature batch of balloons at each of his crime scenes.
I'm beginning to find the chatter that accompanies your companionship extremely useful. A bit like white noise. It puts me in a state where I think, and I observe better.
— Holmes to Watson
In 2005, 12-year-old Adam Kemper is walking to school when he is picked up by a man in a car who he appears to know. They drive away and the man leaves a bunch of colorful balloons behind. In 2012 at The Brownstone, Watson comes down for her morning jog, expecting Holmes to join her, only to see that he has spent the entire night poring over his case file on "The Balloon Man". Watson is familiar with the case and relates that he's taken six children. Holmes reports that he heard on his police scanner that ten-year-old Mariana Castillo was taken from her bedroom in Queens that night. Holmes predicts Captain Gregson's call just before his phone rings. Holmes and Watson meet Gregson and Detective Bell outside the Castillos' house. Heading in, Holmes notices a broken piece of ivy, apparently snapped by Mariana as the killer carried her away.
New York's very own bogeyman.
As they enter the house, Holmes is aghast to see a camera crew setting up, preparing to film the Castillos' televised appeal to their daughter's kidnapper. Holmes sprays the lens of the camera with paint, indicating that The Balloon Man feeds off the public grief of his victims' families, and feeding that hunger will only make him end the child's life sooner. As Holmes examines the home, Watson's observations annoys Holmes who rudely suggests that she go outside or be silent. Before she responds, he removes a bottle of wine from the refrigerator and confronts Robert Castillo. Robert claims he was buying a bottle of wine from the bodega down the street when Mariana was taken which Holmes refutes from the label on the bottle. He also notices clues that the Castillos were separated for a time and that he was likely meeting his ex-lover. Caught in the lie, Robert admits he met his ex-lover at her parked car but only to talk. Holmes indicates that the woman may have seen something.
Keep him hungry, we might have two days.
The ex-lover, Lori Thomas, is interviewed at the 11th Precinct and is wracked with guilt. In the background, Watson questions Holmes who shushes her again. Thomas says she saw a van speeding away. Holmes indicates that The Balloon Man was in a hurry as indicated by the lack of chloroforming Mariana and caused by police sirens as Holmes had heard on his scanner that the police were called to an address near the Castillo's. Thomas is only able to recall that the van was dark brown. Holmes, Watson and Bell return to the Castillos' neighborhood. While Bell canvasses, Watson complains about the shushing from Holmes. He explains that thinking out loud helps his thought process as long as the subject is silent. As Watson protests and comments on his lack of sleep, Holmes takes back his comments. Watson's natterings have helped him identified a parked car which has been side-swiped, leaving brown and blue paint. He tells Bell to put out a BOLO on a decommissioned NYPD van which has been repainted dark brown and has a scrape on the right side.
A bit like white noise.
At the precinct, Holmes tells Watson to not to be offended by his earlier words and that having her as a sounding board is useful. Gregson and Bell run past, reporting that the van has been sighted. After trailing the van at a distance, the driver spots the tails and tries to escape. The van is cut off and the driver tries to escape but is tackled to the ground by Bell. The driver is revealed to be a teenager, too young to be The Balloon Man. By a birthmark on his neck, Holmes recognizes him as Adam Kemper. In "the box" at the precinct, Bell unsuccessfully tries to get an apparently traumatised Adam to talk. While watching, Watson tells Holmes about similar cases where kidnapped children came to care for their abductors and even helped them in subsequent crimes. Holmes thinks he can get Adam to open up as he's not a cop. Gregson believes Holmes is too blunt but finally relents and allows him to talk to Adam.
That's Adam Kemper.
Holmes talks calmly to Adam and builds a repoire by telling of his time in an English boarding school where he was victimized by bullies for being a know-it-all. He claims that he came to be grateful for the attention and that in their own perverse way, they were trying to correct flaws in him. Miraculously, Adam opens up a bit and describes his kidnapper as a caring man, who brings home donuts after work every morning and bandaged his hand when a few days earlier, he cut it trying to open his bedroom window. Gregson ends the interview as Adam's parents have arrived with their lawyer. Watson is impressed with Holmes' interview technique and asks if any of his story was true. They watch as Gregson and Bell meet with the Kempers and their attorney who indicates that they are working on an immunity deal for Adam with the DA in exchange for information on Mariana's location. However, this may take a day and Mariana may be dead by then.
Of course he did. He loves you.
Holmes tells Gregson that he has a lead from Adam. He now knows that The Balloon Man works at night. At the Brownstone, Holmes lays out all of his case files on The Balloon Man, preparing to scour everything for a clue. Watson anticipates that he's going to stay up all night again and surprises Holmes by understanding and offering to help. Remembering a trick from her medical school exam days, she starts doing full-body squats. Holmes is dismissive at first, but eventually, joins in. The next morning Holmes wakes Watson and reports that the FBI believed The Balloon Man was an exterminator until not finding any strong suspects. Holmes believes he changed jobs between the third and fourth victims to delivering a nightly newspaper. On the phone with the newspaper, he's given the name of the deliveryman on the Castillo's route and matches a name to the FBI list - Samuel Abbott.
I was valedictorian.
A ESU team storms into Abbott's home and finds it empty except for a cluster of balloons. Attached to the balloons' string is a flash drive which contains a video from Abbott. He demands the return of Adam or he'll kill Mariana who is seen crying in the background. At the precinct, the Castillos unsuccessfully plead with Gregson for the exchange. Robert angrily points out that Adam may have participated in Abbott's crimes and that if Mariana dies, they'll denounce Gregson to the press. Gregson asked Holmes to speak to Adam again as the police are forbidden to. Adam expresses confusion whether to protect Abbott and fear of being prosecuted for helping Abbott. He asks if signing the immunity deal so he can reveal Mariana's location will make up for helping Abbott. Holmes truthfully says it won't but he should try and save Mariana. Adam says he will sign the deal and reveal Mariana's location.
You have something that's mine.
A CSU team breaks into Abbott's apartment where he grabs Mariana, holds a gun to her but then says for them to tell Adam he's sorry before shooting himself in the head. Later with Mariana safe, Holmes looks over the crime scene, unsatisfied. Abbott wore a back brace, had back surgery scars and isn't the virile figure Holmes was expecting. Holmes notices the large bedroom is generously furnished, while the other only has a filthy mattress. Watson assumes that the latter is where Adam slept, but in the larger bedroom Holmes looks at the pillow on the bed and notices a broken window. Later, in Adam's bedroom at his parent's home, Holmes is waiting for him in the dark. Holmes accuses Adam of becoming The Balloon Man. The broken window that Adam cut his hand on and, Adam's hair on the pillow in the large bedroom shows he's the dominant one and has been killing those that he forced Abbott to kidnap. After mild protests Adam smugly confirms what Holmes has said and reminds him of the immunity deal for any crimes he committed in concert with Abbott.
Are you here to kill me Mr. Holmes?
At the Brownstone, Holmes throws a knife repeatedly at a copy of Adam's immunity paperwork taped to the wall. Watson tries to console Holmes that he saved Mariana but he rues Adam's freedom. Watson suggests more squats to blow off steam but Holmes grumbles that he can't as the squats the previous night gave him a backache. This provides him with a breakthrough. The next day, Holmes approaches Adam who is sitting on a park bench watching children play. After taunting Holmes, Adam answers questions about his fifth victim. Holmes recounts that Adam's DNA was found under the victim's fingernails and that the abduction and killing occurred when Abbott was in hospital recovering from back surgery. Taken aback, Adam recalls the immunity deal which Holmes says only covers crimes Adam committed in consort with Abbott. Police cruisers arrive and Adam defiantly says that he won't be in jail for long. That evening, Holmes uses the success to delve into old cases over Watson's objections. (♫ My Morning Jacket - Outta My System ♫) After she closes the blinds and brings him tea, she finds him leaning against an easy chair sleeping.
The story Holmes tells Adam Kemper, that he was bullied in boarding school, he would confirm as true a year later to Watson. ("Poison Pen")
Angus the phrenology bust is a nod to the TV series House M.D.. One of the writers of Elementary, Peter Blake, was a writer on House M.D. and took it when the show ended.
Holmes' quote, "from a drop of water, a logician can infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara, without having seen or heard of either one" is taken from Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet.