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Elementary Wiki

Flexing our deductive muscles, are we? I could burst with pride.

— Holmes to Watson

The Rat Race is the fourth episode of Elementary's first season and the 4th episode overall.


Even though he despises bankers, Holmes agrees to consult on a case involving the death of a Wall Street executive who appears to have overdosed on heroin. Meanwhile, with Holmes' encouragement, Watson tries to re-enter the dating scene.


Watson approaches Captain Gregson at the 11th Precinct, worried that she has not heard from Holmes for several hours. After reassurances from Gregson and attempts to explain why not hearing from Holmes is unusual, she admits that she is his sober companion, he's never supposed to be out of contact and she believes he may have relapsed. In the backseat of a vehicle, Holmes regains consciousness and discovers his hands and feet are tied. Two days earlier, Watson is at lunch with Emily Hankins who has arranged a surprise date for her with a work friend, Aaron Ward. Both feeling awkward, they laugh at the situation and begin talking until Watson is interrupted by a text from Holmes, filled with text jargon, demanding her presence.

S01E04-In Talbotts office

"Each of these girls is available for a price."

At the Brownstone, Holmes informs Watson they have been summoned to a meeting of the board of directors of Canon-Ebersol, a large investment firm. Holmes relates his loathing of bankers and doesn't care that he's not dressing to their standards. At the meeting, Chief Investment Officer Jim Fowkes informs them that a key executive, Peter Talbott, disappeared before an important investor meeting. Not being missing long enough for the police to investigate, Fowkes proposes hiring Holmes who is dismissive and demands a large fee. To prove his deductive skills are worthy, he quickly makes several personal observations about the board members and is hired. Fowkes' secretary, Donna Kaplan gives them access to Talbott's office and leaves. Holmes discovers that one of Talbott's books contains a menu of expensive prostitutes and after examining Talbott's computer, he learns Talbott used an accountant for secret transactions. Holmes has Kaplan make an expensive lunch reservation, at the company's expense, and invites the accountant, Martin Rydell.

Holmes ensures the lunch tab will be dear including ordering the most expensive wine offered which he has delivered to a young man who he has deduced is about to propose marriage to his female companion. Rydell arrives and after being confronted by Holmes, tries to leave. Holmes threatens to expose his questionable business practices to a newspaper which elicits details about his dealings with Talbott, including an apartment he rents for him. The woman at the next table he sent wine to joyfully accepts the marriage proposal, and then Holmes asks for the apartment's address. On the way to the apartment, Watson is angry to learn that while she was in the bathroom at the restaurant, Holmes used her phone to accept a date from Ward. Holmes gains access to the apartment by faking that he has a warrant. In the high-end apartment, they find Talbott dead in an easy chair, with a syringe sticking out of his arm.

S01E04-Talbott murder scene

"Heroin users are looking for oblivion."

With Gregson and Detective Bell on the scene, Watson worries about Holmes' sobriety as Talbott OD'd on heroin. Holmes insists that this is a murder as evidenced by the state of Talbott's apartment, his job and the lack of needle marks. He deduces that a salad Talbott ate was dosed with heroin and then he was given the fatal shot. Gregson is doubtful but has the salad tested and indicates they'll have to inform Talbott's widow, Alyssa, and that Holmes is to be quiet. At the precinct, Alyssa indicates Peter had no history of drug use but also that he was under enormous pressure and that his predecessor, Gary Norris, died from a peanut allergy. A Chinese restaurant used peanut oil in a takeout meal which triggered his death. Holmes believes this constitutes a pattern worth investigating.

That evening, Holmes speaks in Mandarin to the chef of the Chinese restaurant who indicates that Norris had a special arrangement with him to ensure his food was peanut-free and that he's positive he didn't use any in Norris' fatal meal. Watson asks Holmes about the impact the crime scene had on him and he admits the smell of heroin evoked bad memories. He evades Watson's further questions by reminding her of her date with Aaron. Later, Watson has a good time on her date but when she returns home, tells Holmes that she suspects Aaron was lying about having never been married. Reluctant to confirm her suspicions, Holmes does an internet search and discovers to Watson's anger that Aaron is currently married. He's also identified four other suspicious deaths of executives over the last ten years and has called a meeting with the Board of Directors for the next morning.

At the meeting, Holmes details the careers of the five executives who died suspiciously. Fowkes believes Holmes' work is done but he appeals to the directors that the company may be home to a murderer. Holmes demands access to the company's personnel files which Fowkes refuses. Holmes indicates he only needs to find the person with a career path that each death facilitated. Exasperated, Fowkes says he's the only one who was at the locations Holmes has uncovered. The board members shift uncomfortably. The next morning, Fowkes appears at the Brownstone to give Holmes his fee. To an unsympathetic Holmes, he conveys how much trouble he has has caused him. Fowkes then provides his medical file which shows he was in hospital when one of the five executives died. He also gives him the career file of Dan Cho, his biggest work competitor.

That evening, Holmes is loudly bouncing a basketball having failed to find connections from Cho to the deaths. Watson hypothesizes that killing, not any career benefits, motivated the killer but this doesn't fit a serial killer's profile. Frustrated, Watson leaves to have coffee with Aaron. Holmes looks again at Fowkes's hospital records and notices who signed him out. Aaron explains to Watson that his marriage was to save a woman from being deported and killed. They don't live together and plan to divorce once she can remain in the US on her own. Watson is impressed until Aaron asks how she found out he was married. At Canon-Ebersol, Holmes confronts Donna, Fowkes' secretary, who has been with him since the beginning of his career. Holmes maps out how Kaplan has benefited in the shadows from Fowkes' rise but she admits no wrong-doing. Alone in the parking garage, Kaplan mocks Holmes' audacity and tases him into unconsciousness.

S01E04-Watson Holmes saved

"I think that was a compliment, buried in a double negative."

Holmes regains consciousness tied up in the backseat of Donna's SUV. She informs him that they are going to Fowkes's country home, where she will bury his body. Fowkes will take the blame and she'll become Dan Cho's secretary. As they talk, Holmes takes a binder clip from a pile of documents and starts to pick his handcuffs. After meeting with Aaron, Watson can't get a hold of Holmes leading her to ask for Gregson's help. Kaplan sees multiple texts from Watson on Holmes' phone. He warns Kaplan that Watson won't stop and may even call the police so Kaplan replies a reassuring message on Holmes' phone in plain text. At Fowkes', Holmes refuses to dig his own grave and as he gets Kaplan to explain how she started killing, a police siren wails. Distracted, Holmes tells her that he picks locks and pockets and uses her taser on her. Hours later, Watson sits with Holmes after he's been treated by paramedics. He guesses that Kaplan's plain text made Watson suspicious and that Gregson was able to find the phone's location. She's able to draw a compliment from Holmes for saving his life but she says that she had to reveal Holmes' addiction to Gregson.

Later, a humbled Holmes speaks with Gregson in his office. He explains that he withheld the truth about his addiction due to embarrassment as Gregson has always thought highly of him. Holmes apologizes and is then surprised to find out Gregson already knew. He wasn't happy Holmes didn't tell him and affirms the quality of Holmes' work and since others may not understand, Holmes' addiction will stay between them. The next morning, Watson gets a text from Aaron, declining that they attend a party at Emily's together. Watson can't believe that he is peeved that she uncovered his lie. Holmes warns her that Aaron is probably intimidated by her developing powers of deduction and that people don't appreciate being treated like a puzzle to be solved. A consequence of developing this skill is isolation from others.


Main cast[]

Guest cast[]


Main article: List of songs
  • Gold Leaves' "The Silver Lining" plays at the end of the episode.


With all due respect, you know your boss is a weirdo, right?

— Captain Gregson to Watson about Holmes

I loathe bankers. They rigged the roulette wheel of commerce, very nearly destroyed the world economy, and they still think if they wear suits, they'll be treated like respectable folk instead of the crooks that they are.

— Holmes to Watson

Well done, Watson. Your deductive skills are not unworthy of further development.

— Holmes

You think there's a sociopath working for us? Let me let you in on a little secret, Mr. Holmes. We're all sociopaths.

— Fowkes

It has its costs, learning to see the puzzle in everything. They're everywhere. Once you start looking, it's impossible to stop. It just so happens that people - and all the deceits and delusions that inform everything they do - tend to be the most fascinating puzzles of all. Of course, they don't always appreciate being seen as such.

— Holmes to Watson


  • The episode appears to be inspired by the comedic horror film Office Killer.
  • Holmes speaks Mandarin in this episode.
  • Joan's brother, Oren, asks whether she really helped Holmes proved that "the CIO of Canon-Ebersol had a secretary who murdered five people?" referencing the events of this episode.[1]
  • In Peter Talbott's apartment, Watson names heroin as one of the drugs which Holmes used that landed him in rehab. One of Jonny Lee Miller's early roles was Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, a Scottish heroin addict in the film Trainspotting, a role he reprised in the sequel Trainspotting 2, based on Irvine Welsh's novel Porno.


In other languages[]

Language Title Translation
čeština Czech Nekonečná hra[2] "Endless Game"
suomi Finnish Oravanpyörä[3] "Rat Race"
français French Les Maîtres de l'univers[4] "Masters of the Universe"
Deutsch German Konkurrenzkampf[5] "Competition"
magyar Hungarian Szamárlétra[6] "Donkey Ladder"
italiano Italian Corsa al successo[7] "Race to Success"
日本語 Japanese 失踪[8] "Disappearance"
русский Russian Крысиные бега[9] "Rat Race"
slovenčina Slovak Nekonečná hra[10] "An Endless Game"
español Spanish Carrera de Ratas[11] "Rat Race"
українська Ukrainian Щурячі перегони[12] "Rat Race"


  1. Season 1, episode 10: "The Leviathan"
  2. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Sherlock Holmes: Jak prosté (Czech). Wikipedia.
  3. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Holmes NYC (Finnish). Wikipedia.
  4. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Elementary (série télévisée) (French). Wikipedia.
  5. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Elementary (Fernsehserie) (German). Wikipedia.
  6. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Sherlock és Watson (Hungarian). Wikipedia.
  7. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Elementary (serie televisiva) (Italian). Wikipedia.
  8. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). エレメンタリー ホームズ&ワトソン in NY (Japanese). Wikipedia.
  9. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Элементарно (Russian). Wikipedia.
  10. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Sherlock a Watsonová (Slovak). Wikipedia.
  11. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Elementary (Spanish). Wikipedia.
  12. Wikipedia contributors (n.d.). Елементарно (телесеріал) (Ukrainian). Wikipedia.