I'm on a serious time crunch and I'm behind on my reviews and also I have a life outside of watching TV, believe it or not, so this is going to be an exercise in speed-typing.
Joan is asked to examine someone who collapsed in a holding cell, and she finds that the man is dead, from anthrax poisoning. The hunt is on to find the people responsible. Through many twists and turns, Joan and Sherlock first think the anthrax is tied to a radical political organization, but eventually discover a simpler truth: two brothers wanted to poison their cows with anthrax so they could make millions on the insurance.
Meanwhile, Sherlock's friend Alistair dies of a drug overdose. Sherlock wants to figure out what triggered the overdose, because Alistair had been clean for decades, and Sherlock is afraid of what this means for his own future sobriety. He acts out, behaving recklessly on the case by following dangerous men into a mysterious dark space. At one point he even gets covered in a powder that he initially believes to be anthrax, but it turns out it was fake. Joan is really worried about him, but Sherlock assures her that he's not close to a relapse. In the end, he visits Alistair's grave and tells him that he loved him very much and that he will be missed.
I honestly don't know if I have a single complaint about this episode. You know, at first when the anthrax thing happened, I was wondering if we were going to have a plot thread where we thought Joan or Sherlock was in danger from the anthrax, and then we'd get to see lots of freaking out and worrying. And that's all well and good, but you know what I love about this show? It's a show about two consultants. They get in to some sticky situations, occasionally, but they're not in imminent threat of dying nearly as often as characters in procedural crime shows usually are. In a strange way, it's much more realistic. I love that.
Joan really took the lead in the anthrax case, in a certain sense. She's very well composed and very astute. She took on parts of the case without Sherlock at all, and was able to make some important discoveries. You go, girl.
Sherlock's emotional journey in this episode was actually a bit difficult to watch at times. My favorite bit was when he acknowledged that he was making Alistair's death all about him, and that he needed to work out his feelings about it all. Also, Sherlock's continued devotion to his sobriety warms my heart. He assures Joan that he would have talked all of this out with her eventually, even if she hadn't pushed him on it. He wants to be honest about what he's going through. And seriously - that scene at the end with the graveyard was really touching. I teared up a little bit!
Yikes. This is really short. Well, I did tell you I was in a hurry!