SCORPION Recap: “Single Point of Failure”

     September 29, 2014

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Last week’s premiere of CBS’s action-drama Scorpion was so fast-paced that it didn’t have time to breathe, thus depriving its supposedly advanced collective brain of oxygen.  Thankfully, the follow-up episode calmed down on the l33t speak and took a bit more time between action beats and epiphanies.  The result: a much more enjoyable hour of television that is moved closer to earning its self-described level of intelligence.  The wisest movie Scorpion makes in its second showing is backing off on the braininess a little bit, and allowing each of the characters to show a little heart.  Hit the jump for our Scorpion recap.

Elyes-Gabel-ScorpionSo last week I was pretty harsh on the Scorpion premiere, and I stand by the D rating.  It promoted itself as an action-drama about a team of some of the world’s smartest people solving the most complex problems of modern times.  Then they drove a Ferrari underneath a passenger jet in order to plug in a laptop … That’s not smart, that’s Fast and the Furious.  But now that I know what Scorpion is, I can lower my expectations and enjoy it a bit more.

Honestly, I laughed out loud at last week’s preview for “Single Point of Failure,” which featured the threat of a “biohacker,” but the show actually made some sound (and scary) points about how accessible a lot of this tech can be.  The basic premise of tonight’s hour is that a disgruntled hacker/bioengineer has constructed a custom virus that targets the children of people who had wronged him in the past.  Which people?  Why, former employees of a pharmaceutical company that yanked a promising drug trial for folks suffering from SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) to focus instead on the more lucrative asthma market.  This modern threat certainly rings with authenticity as the words anthrax and Ebola have become commonplace in recent months and years.  But Scorpion goes a step further by folding in some emotional context for our protagonists as well as for the episode’s victims.

The flashback to Walter’s childhood reveals that his sister Megan is afflicted with MS and continues to battle it in the present day.  This painful memory of a past failure continues to affect Walter’s current state of mind, leading him to become surly with his team and tackle random hackers to the ground … a pretty excellent moment, let’s be honest. He also comes off as a bit of a jerk to the resident Governor, whose daughter just happens to be one of those afflicted with the custom virus.

Rather than focus exclusively on Walter, the rest of the team members get a bit of development in this episode.  Sylvester undergoes a “trial by virus” as he’s forced to exit through a bio lab after breaking into the pharma company’s records room (relax pal, it’s only BSL-2); Toby attempts to get past being dumped by his fiancee, and Happy, who was abandoned by her dad at the age of two, learns a valuable lesson that tools aren’t always more reliable than flesh-and-blood friends or whatever.  It’s all a bit spoonfed, but at least everyone gets a taste.  Paige and her gifted son Ralph continue to be the show’s model for balancing genius with grounded common sense, but perhaps most interesting (relatively) is that Cabe reveals a softer side in this episode.  Everybody has the feels!

scorpion-eddie-kaye-thomasSo it turns out that one Mr. Robert Richter (Erick Avari) is no hacker – he hired a guy to do that dirty work – but is a rather intelligent biochemist who can sample your DNA, piggyback it into a virus, and infect you with a custom killer cold.  Or, as it turns out, he can also program said virus to disrupt your heart’s electrochemical pathways and stop your ticker dead in ten seconds … which is just long enough to allow Walter to trigger a sprinkler system and wash that nasty virus down the drain. And the tech that allowed Richter to construct his disease also provided the key for other scientists to reverse engineer it and develop an antidote/vaccine.  Everybody walks away from this one, and some even get to have a barbecue!

Rating: B-

Miscellanea:

  • For those of you who missed the premiere, the show’s new intro sums up everything you need to know.
  • Can’t Homeland Security get them some nicer wheels than a dirty old pickup truck?
  • I’m glad that the team can construct an antidote to a custom cold, but not a common one… And the kids’ recovery was remarkably fast, wasn’t it?
  • Does no one recognize their own state’s Governor wandering aimlessly around the mall??
  • If you were worried that these occasionally anti-social and dysfunctional geniuses wouldn’t be getting an emotional pick-me-up, fret not!  Walter glues his mug together and promises to fix his sister (who looked to be in pretty good shape, no?); Paige invites Cabe to the cookout to help him get over the loss of his daughter, and Sylvester gives $3,000 to a local church/orphanage. Happy and Toby, however, still have some work to do.
  • We’ll give this one another shot next week, but it’s up to you whether you want to keep reading these recaps or not. How are you feeling about Scorpion? Stick with it or skip it?  Let us know in the comments!

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Television