“We’re geniuses. All we do is think.”
The episode kicks off interestingly enough here. After messing up big on a case (which seems to have entailed the grand crime of setting a car on fire) the gang is forced to undergo psychological testing which is used more of a framing device than a piece of intellectual science. The team is then conveniently put in the position of recounting the past 24 hours, which we get told to us in a fragmented perspective through the members of the team. This is all done with a psychologist with as thick of a “Vat are you doing in here?” accent as possible just to remind you that you’re still trapped inside a cliché here.
The most frustrating thing about this is that as we move from act to act, team member to team member, absolutely nothing changes in storytelling structure. It’s just a lazy, convenient way to bookend the act breaks, whereas there could have actually been some interesting things done with storytelling and perspective here, even highlighting the deep-seated fissure that Walter could be poison to the group. But instead we get time eaten out of an episode for forced affability.
There’s some fun material as Walter and the members of Scorpion fail to be able to ascribe value to art as they get caught up in the imperfections and normality of the pieces. They try applying science to something purely personal and subjective and it’s an interesting enough way of hinting that these people are still flawed and without certain skills that are still desirable and human. This idea of course culminates in a scene where Walter tears off a piece of a priceless painting, as everyone is aghast. We’re all led to believe that Walter must be crazy, while meanwhile as viewers of television, we all know that of course he isn’t.
We see each Scorpion member’s ability being used to deduce that the painting is a forgery, like the human calculator seeing that it’s forty brushstrokes less than it should be. It’s the ultimate example of art being broken down into math and rigidity. This is actually an interesting topic that isn’t explored nearly as deeply as it could be in this episode, but simple opening matters up to this discussion is encouraging, as we at least go about watching a plot that you wouldn’t be seeing elsewhere on any of the procedurals on television. That’s something at least.
There’s some solid brainstorming being done on how the thief in question could have created such an accurate counterfeit and the leading train of thought is that a top-notch 3D printer was used, with someone of the highest skillset being needed to pull off the stunt.
It’s finally deduced that the smartest plan of action is to steal the painting in the middle of a giant party because it’s the heist-iest thing to do, as well as an excuse to dress the cast up in swank black tie attire as they “Aw, gee, shucks, do I look good?” their way through the scene. This naturally includes a beyond forced bit where Walter is forced to dance with Paige and have his hand on her lower back for the good of the mission but also the good of stomach butterflies (eee)! This act is also turned into a substantial plot point and a moment of loyalty in a pretty ridiculous scene as well.
Halloween is mentioned in the episode and they could have at least turned this into some sort of masquerade affair where we can have some fun with costumes and do anything a little more with this so it just doesn’t feel like the blandest segment out of a low-stakes Alias episode.
It’s also to the show’s credit that they do have Team Scorpion destroy a $100,000 painting and have to deal with the consequences (which there are none of by the episode’s end) rather than cheating their way around it. It still doesn’t amount to much though or have any real shock value to it.
We also finally get Paige’s child working into the story in a bigger picture, or at least getting a substantial plot of his own rather than needing to get through a recess without wi-fi. Actually, we don’t, but wouldn’t that be nice? He needs a Halloween costume. That’s it. In a flimsy piece of plotting that’s kind of just dropped in the episode to reminds us that Paige has a child.
We do get a solid gag where Toby knocks over an entire rack in a wine cellar on an incorrect assumption about the missing painting, but, that’s hardly worth the price of admission here. There are presumably hours of that on YouTube. And there’s a very flashy car explosion that you can afford to do when you’re a CBS show that is likely getting a full-season order.
Perhaps the most enjoyable scene in the episode is just watching the gang in their Halloween costumes at the end of everything (with Walter, in a pretty clever move, going as Agent Gallo). If the show had found the way to have kept this going all episode. For the group to have been in the middle of their Halloween party when they’re called into action, needing to execute all of this while dressed as Freud, as Super Fun Guy, and pseudo-Gallo, there’d be a lot more to be excited about this week, and it’d have been so easy to do it.
In spite of this being one of the more inventive, Scorpion-specific brand of stories that we’ve seen so fall, it kind of all just hangs there, never picking up the steam that it’s going after. It’s a perfectly fine hour of television, but it feels as by-the-book as they come, almost as if an algorithm or piece of science was used to construct this. Mathematically it has all the right pieces, but it’s nothing special.