“Boom, now we’re cooking with salt!”
“Revenge” opens on what could actually be an exciting episode of Scorpion, as we see a bunch of criminals wearing Wes Anderson-esque animal masks as they put to task some high-tech equipment. Not only is the visual style a lot for the typically drab Scorpion, but this feels different from the moment the masked vigilantes start filling these innocents with bullets. The show is usually not this brutal and violent and these guys really love shooting people, going out of their way to land final bullets in fallen bodies as if the show is trying to validate its coolness.
Later on we see a mock torture sequence with Cabe and Toby, and as silly as it is, it’s still one of the smarter, more enjoyable sequences the show has pulled off in awhile. After that, we get the pleasure of Happy smashing a beyond-huge wrench down on a fire hydrant, knocking the target off his motorcycle. Regardless of any forcedness, the injection of testosterone is appreciated. Then, there’s the cherry on top of all of this machismo, Sylvester taking an explosion to the chest, being thrown across the room in the process. Maybe this episode is going to be different.
We learn that Sylvester took heavy shrapnel to his chest, nearly dying from the IED that he set off, with additional swelling and bleeding in his brain, keeping him unconscious in the hospital. And suddenly—gasp—everyone is acting like Sylvester might lose his genius superpowers! I actually kind of love the idea of the various members of Scorpion somehow losing their intelligence or becoming “normal” as much as I know this isn’t the route they’re going down. It’s an interesting story angle.
Team Scorpion tries to compartmentalize and focus their anxiety over Sylvester into their mission, which sees the culprits, known as Ghosts, stealing the heavy artillery (an IED) that we saw them take in the beginning of the episode. They’re going to set it off somewhere, and Scorpion needs to figure out where.
This spurs an interesting discussion that’s returned to several times, with most of the team wanting to just be by Sylvester’s side, with the obvious choices like Paige criticizing Walter’s callousness, as Cabe praises his dedication to the job. This is a welcome dynamic to the show, with Walter rabbitholing deep into his introspectiveness, which can help the job sometimes, but is eventually going to be a disaster. I’ve always said that Walter’s genius being used as a negative is his most interesting aspect, and while the conversation isn’t dwelled on for too long here, it works well. The reveal at the end of the episode that Sylvester seems to be consciously afraid of returning to work is another great piece of development that hopefully will actually be remembered and played with, as it’s a unique perspective to throw into the mix here.
This behavior in Walter culminates with him hesitating to help save the Ghosts leader, the one responsible for hurting Sylvester, right before he falls to his death. Cabe says he’s sorry for how he must be taking this but Walter is quick to correct him that he doesn’t have real feelings. It’s played as a joke, but the concern Walter has towards losing what’s left of the empathy he has, is compelling stuff.
I’ve never thought that Scorpion has known exactly what to do with their action sequences, with them mostly fond of just sitting there, being effective technically but not much more than that. Here we have people zipping around on motorcycles and firing guns and looking flashy, but it still kind of falls flat.
Even though it’s not really needed, and I doubt many people are clamoring for it, but we get more of Walter feeling inadequate towards Paige’s ex as they bond over backstory and move closer and closer together. So of course the prospect of Paige going on a date with him is the sort of B-plot stuff that drives him into a hizzy. Paige mulling over this date offer all episode though is stretching the credibility of this non-story. If you’re going to draw from such a transparent well, at least pull the trigger on it quickly. We even get Paige and Walter, both on “dates” of their own, before they remove themselves saying that they feel that they need to be elsewhere. Awwww, isn’t that contrived.
Scorpion takes a lot of steps in the right direction this week, but even if a lot of the smaller elements hit well, the larger story going on here isn’t much to write home about, and there’s still very fundamental problems going on with how they tell stories, but all we can do is hope that they learn a little from this, the character developments are felt, and we slowly keep eking towards a half-way decent show.