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Elementary Wiki

I must say, Watson, I'm quite flattered. It's a lovely homage to my methodology.

— Holmes regarding Watson's first evidence wall

Dirty Laundry is the eleventh episode of Elementary's first season and the 11th episode overall.


Holmes and Watson investigate the murder of the general manager of a high-end Manhattan hotel whose body is found inside an industrial laundry machine. Meanwhile, since Watson's time with Holmes is almost up, he offers her an apprenticeship.


S01E11-Crime scene

"No way to tell 'cause there aren't any prints."

Watson rebukes Holmes for the mess in the Brownstone which he indicates is an environment favored by geniuses. As she continues to pester him, he counts down the time she has left as his sober companion. In the basement of an upscale New York hotel, two maids hear a clatter from inside a washing machine. One of them opens the door revealing a dead woman inside. At the crime scene, Captain Gregson tells Holmes and Watson the dead woman is Teri Purcell, the general manager of the hotel, who died of a blow to the head. The security cameras aren't working and all evidence on the body was washed away. Detective Bell found a broken fountain pen on Purcell but there's no ink on her body. The hotel staff speak highly of Purcell and her office displays awards from many charities. Holmes observes a bloodstain on the corner of Purcell's desk and deduces that this is where the assault began.

In a New York suburb, Gregson and Holmes question Teri's husband, Oliver, and her teenage daughter, Carly, who both don't know who would want to hurt her. Holmes deduces that Oliver has recently lost his job and asks if he and Teri were having problems which he denies. In the kitchen, Watson learns Carly was accepted to the University of Michigan on a full athletic scholarship. Carly admits she suffered an injury and was addicted to painkillers for a time so Watson gives Carly her phone number. Outside, Holmes grouses that suburbia tends to conceal clues but Watson points to a woman who is likely the neighborhood gossip. The woman, Mrs. Dean, tells them she believes Teri was having an affair and shows them pictures of a man who visited when Oliver wasn't home which includes a shot of his car's license plate. The man, Geoffrey Silver, administers a charity that helps dismantle unexploded land mines. He admits Teri was heavily involved in the charity, but denies any affair and has an alibi when she was killed.

As they exit Silver's office, Bell tells him that Purcell banned some prostitutes from the hotel and received anonymous death threats. Bell invites Holmes and Watson to accompany him to the Vice Squad, but Holmes begs off. Instead, he and Watson stake out the lobby of the hotel to find an escort to get details about Teri. They speak to one who says all the woman and their pimps loved Teri as she'd sneak them into the hotel through the basement and she never asked for money. She did ban one prostitute who created a scene and asked them to keep a low profile. She leaves but not before offering her card to Holmes and Watson for some fun. Gregson confirms that Vice reported Purcell was the prime facilitator of escorts and arranged meeting with diplomats and rich clients. The woman Teri banned made the threats but as she's in jail, she couldn't be the killer.

001 Dirty Laundry episode still of Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes

"You know I'm not staying, right?"

Watson can't understand why Teri ran such as risk and Holmes decides to inspect her office again. While examining Purcell's desk, Holmes discusses Watson being his apprentice, but she insists she's not staying. Holmes can't find any hidden compartments in the desk but he does find a makeup compact which contains a wireless connector. This links to a private network comprised of feeds from a series of hidden cameras installed in the hotel's rooms. At the 11th Precinct, Holmes theorizes to Gregson that Teri was blackmailing guests. Gregson laments that it'll take a huge amount of resources to review all the tapes to find a suspect but Holmes doesn't agree. That evening, Holmes is watching the tapes on multiple TVs. He comments to Watson that little of the footage contains escorts and there isn't anything incriminating on it. Watson receives a call from Carly Purcell who says her mother wasn't who people thought she was. Carly hangs up when Oliver interrupts her.

The next morning, Holmes examines Teri's laptop and finds that her family pictures are over 1G in size. He recognizes that data is being hidden in them and with a decryption program he discovers video footage from the hidden cameras in them. He and Watson view the videos but they only contain men talking in French and Arabic. He tells Watson he's calling Gregson as what he's heard reveals what Teri was up to. Holmes and the police arrive at the Purcell's and confront him as being a spy. Oliver lied when he admits he lost his job, he quit when the firm won a government contract which would have required he pass a background check. Teri was using the escorts to attract clientele and the hidden cameras to record secrets from UN members and businessmen. Oliver demands a lawyer.

S01E11-Oliver in the box

"But you can't raise a spy."

At the precinct, Holmes and the NYPD wait to interrogate Oliver as the FBI are involved. Watson is worried about Carly who is missing, probably confused and alone. Holmes realizes that spies are never alone, they have handlers. With Bell, Holmes interrupts a meeting Geoffrey Silver is conducting and accuses him of being the Purcell's handler, using his charity as a cover. During the previous visit, Holmes noticed one of Teri's photo on Silver's laptop. In order to get Holmes to leave, Silver lets him look on his laptop but the photos are gone. Gregson calls and informs them that Oliver is willing to talk and the FBI has invited them to sit in. With his lawyer, Oliver confirms Holmes' accusation. Their marriage was in name only but the SVR (Russian Intelligence), wanted them to have a child to help their cover. They both loved Carly but Teri wanted her to serve the SVR and Oliver didn't. He threatened to expose their operation if Carly was forced to serve and confirms Silver is their handler. If Carly isn't prosecuted, he'll answer all questions.

During the interrogation, Watson gets a call from Carly and leaves to meet her. Carly knows her father is under arrest but she confesses to killing Teri. In Gregson's office, Carly relates that while in Teri's office, she and her mother argued over where she'd go to university, U of Michigan or Georgetown with Carly wanting the former. Teri revealed that she and Oliver were spies and that Carly needed to go to Georgetown so she could one day enter the US government and work for the SVR. Disbelieving, angry and frightened, Carly tried to run out but was grabbed by Teri and in the struggle, Teri fell and hit her head on the corner of her desk. Silver arrived and told Carly to go home while he disposed of the body. Silver warned her that she'd go to jail and never see her father again if she didn't leave.

S01E11-Watson evidence wall

"That is a boxer's fracture."

Silver is arrested, won't co-operate and smugly believes that he'll be traded for a US prisoner in Russia. Watson angrily tells him that he ruined Carly's life. At the Brownstone, Holmes enters Watson's bedroom to find she's created her own "evidence wall." He wonders why as the case is solved but Watson is not happy with the outcome for Carly and hopes to find something to help her. Teri's autopsy report arrives and Watson notices a fracture in one of her fingers. Carly never mentioned Teri punching her and as Holmes looks at a picture of the broken fountain pen on the evidence wall, he comes to a realization. At the precinct, Holmes confronts Silver and tells him that he's about to ruin his chances of being sent back to Russia. After Silver denies seeing Teri the night she died, Holmes relates what happened.

After Carly left, Silver dragged Teri's body down to the laundry room and placed it in the washer. However, Teri wasn't dead and she regained consciousness. Silver decided that Teri's death was the leverage needed to convince Carly to work for the SVR, a much better asset than Teri. However, Teri fought back, fracturing her hand in the process, and tried to stab Silver with his fountain pen, but only succeeded in breaking the pen in half. Holmes shows that the pen was filled with invisible ink, still used by spies. Under UV light, Teri's clothes are revealed to be covered in the ink as is Silver's shirt that he wore the day Teri died. Also on Silver's shirt is Teri's hand print. As the US will trade spies but not murderers, Silver will be jailed in the US.

Outside Gregson's office, Watson comforts Carly who learns that she and her father will be placed in the Witness Protection Program. Carly thanks Watson for all her help and says she knows who to call whenever she's in trouble. Later that evening on a bench, Holmes congratulates Watson for her doggedness which shows how keen she is to stay on as his associate. Watson interrupts and says she has already been engaged by her next sober companion client and she'll be leaving Holmes the next week. Holmes is shaken, but only because he believed Watson would want to become a detective. Watson asks if he's OK and he reassures her that he's fine.


Main cast[]

Guest cast[]


  • Paul Banks's "Arise, Awake" plays at the end of the episode.


Quite proud of you, Watson, your doggedness. I give you as much credit for solving this case as I do myself.

— Holmes


  • Carly Purcell's preferred scholarship is to the University of Michigan. Lucy Liu schooled there.
  • Watson builds her first evidence wall.
  • Holmes jokes with Geoffrey Silver that as a spy, he might as well have "a phone in your shoe." This references Maxwell Smart's Shoe phone from Get Smart.
  • The plot of this episode has much in common with the TV series The Americans, particularly the desire for Carly Purcell to become a "second generation illegal", paralleling the development of Paige Jennings into a KGB agent. This episode and the debut of The Americans both aired in January 2013.
  • Titled "Eine ganz normale Familie" (Ordinary People) in German.[1]



  1. Elementary (Fernsehserie) de.wikipedia.org. Retrieved May 20, 2013.