Good tension and an emotional touch at the end.
Felt a bit silly at times which isn't what this series should be. Emotional depth has made the earlier episodes good, but this one missed on that a bit.
What happens in Vegas should probably stay in Vegas. Scorpion stalls a bit in it’s fourth episode, but finishes with emotional strength that gives us hope.
Team Scorpion heads to Las Vegas for a simple casino job despite advice from Cabe (Robert Patrick) that they aren’t ready to work without the safety net of government assistance. Convinced they can handle themselves and that they have every right to take private jobs when they can, Walter (Elyes Gabel) leads the team to The Crimson in Las Vegas to help discover why the casino isn’t making the money it should. When Walter is accused of facilitating a heist at the casino, it’s up to everyone else to prove it’s a setup and free him.
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Team Scorpion should probably have heeded Cabe’s advice and stayed in Los Angeles. Hijinx and dangerous stunts ensue that just don’t feel emotionally right for this show after warmth and building momentum of the first three episodes. Despite some questionable moments, there were quality ones as well. As the team struggles to prove Walter’s innocence, friendships will be tested when the chips are down (yes, we had to say that at least once in this review). Let’s dive in and sift through the rubble of this heist gone wrong in this latest episode of Scorpion!
Wrong place at the wrong time means there’s an “I told you so” coming later.
As the team prepares to head to Las Vegas for their first private job since joining Cabe, the tone of this episode felt a little off from the very start. The pressure Walter placed on everyone to “be professional” and get the job done was palatable after a tense confrontation with Cabe telling Walter the team wasn’t ready. We knew right from the start that the team was about to find themselves in over their heads.
“Now, we agreed to work with the government, and not for the government. We can take private jobs, so we are…” ~ Walter
As guests of the casino, the team finds themselves treated to every luxury by the owner’s daughter, Renee Connelly (Alicia Lagano). Despite the numerous distractions that no one takes seriously but Walter, they get the job done, but not without Walter demonstrating time and again his lack of empathy.
As it turns out, The Crimson isn’t loosing money from anything other than a dealer with slow hands. In an awkward confrontation between casino owner, Bob Connelly (Corbin Bernsen) and the slow-handed dealer, Ronny (Chris Mulkey), Walter confidently outlines that the solution to the casino’s problem is to let this man go. He’s not suited for the work. It’s at this point the emotional bank and momentum that this show had demonstrated up to now felt as if it took a slight step back. Paige tries to point out to Walter that a man’s life and livelihood are at stake but Walter is adamant they were asked to solve a problem and did so she lets it go.
An untimely robbery before the group can leave puts the blame squarely on Walter who has just updated the security system. With Walter in jail, it’s up to the rest of the team to clear his name. That’s no small task for a team of geniuses that can’t seem to agree on even the smallest of things to stay focused on the task at hand.
Always being right, doesn’t mean you are always right.
We knew a day would come when Toby’s (Eddie Kaye Thomas) gambling addiction would become a story, but we didn’t expect it to happen exactly in this way. The emotional tension and hurt when Walter tells Toby in front of everyone that he’d prefer Toby stay home for this job seemed a bit off-putting. Yes, it was clear that a person with a gambling addiction should probably avoid Vegas like the plague, but it still felt off to hear it play out. It’s Paige (Katharine McPhee) that urges Walter that they need to remain a team and all go. Every one of them had reasons to not feel 100% comfortable. We admired her intent, but the subtext of “in over their heads” was immediate and apparent.
Later, as Walter is drug away from court, his last words to Toby are to win his bail money and get him out of jail. Toby and Sylvester (Ari Stidham) get half way to what they need, but with time running out to post bail, Toby looses it all in an impetuous and impulsive move. In a harsh conversation where Walter expresses his disappointment in Toby for the failure, Toby lashes out, get’s defensive and accuses Walter of taking too much pride in always demonstrating that he’s right. But it’s Walter that really drops the emotional hammer.
“No. I’m not always right. I thought I could count on you. I sure wasn’t right about that.” ~ Walter
We do understand the emotional drive this scene was supposed to compel us to feel. Both Walter and Toby are in the wrong. It’s as much Walter’s arrogance as anything that has put him in trouble, and asking an addict to overcome his addiction in one fell swoop to rescue him isn’t the right approach to pull himself out of the fire. All those things came through, but what made the scene and episode up to this point feel disappointing was that we’d seen more emotional growth from Walter and team up to now and this felt very much like that had all been for naught. We’ve needed reasons to root for this team, and neither Walter’s arrogance nor Toby’s childish lashing gave us one side or the other to feel connected with in this moment.
Scorpion is too serious and has too much potential to be this silly.
As they close in on idea that the casino owner Bob Connelly (Corbin Bernsen) may have orchestrated the heist to get out of his own financial trouble, they all take big risks. Toby and Happy (Jadyn Wong) zip-line from an adjacent building to access the records they’d need to prove their theory and Walter escapes from his cell to prove his own innocence. Both moves seemed over the top, but as normals we may still not understand how our geniuses think.
Our fear of Sylvester’s phobias becoming little more than comic relief seemed to come full circle as well. Sylvester’s fears up to now have been obstacles that provided him moments of maturation. Stidham has created a lovable character and we want to root for him to succeed. No real emotional reward for him facing his fears made the comedy ring a bit hollow this time around. Instead of laughing with Sylvester, we’re laughing at him as he’s freaking out in traffic and this show, up to now has been too serious for that to happen.
While Toby frantically leads security on a running chase, Happy does gets the information they need to Sylvester who is rescued from traffic by a now free Walter. We’re not certain if the risks and gags were based on real events as all the stories in this show are purported to be, but they felt a bit overly done and unnecessary. The entertainment value of these moments thus far in this show worked when there was emotional growth, but none of the characters seemed to find as much growth as we’d like as the episode closed.
“So you’re a genius?” ~ Casino Thug
“Right now, I’m not feeling like one.” ~ Toby
When Cabe finally re-enters near the end to rescue everyone from the real culprit, genuine danger and also themselves, the primary lesson Walter seems to get was “I told you so” in that this team can’t go on it’s own. Toby’s addiction isn’t dealt with at all and in fact is encouraged by Walter as the two decide to gamble their way from a few dollars up to first class tickets in order to get back home when left in the desert by Cabe.
FINAL VERDICT: Flaws and less serious treatment than we’d like made parts of this episode ring a bit hollow, but ending with the emotional upswing we’ve come to expect from Scorpion does give us hope.
It took a bit of thought to figure out what did work and what didn’t in this episode and why it didn’t have the same good vibe as the others up to now from end to end. We simply missed Robert Patrick’s levity and guidance and it was a definite gamble by writer Elizabeth Beall and Executive Producer Nick Santora to omit him. Perhaps the reality is that this show isn’t quite ready to go on it’s own without Patrick just as the team wasn’t ready to step away from Cabe. We also missed Ralph. Without him, to provide moments of reflective growth for Walter, we just didn’t have the same feel-good ending.
We felt the absence of both Cabe and Ralph (Riley B. Smith) who have thus far been the emotional drivers for our team. Granted, not every story can use these two characters as the same devices, but there still needs to be moments where our characters grow and change. The change doesn’t even have to be positive, but to use the character flaws as gags made those flaws feel less real to us.
The gambling loss by Toby, the jail escape by Walter and the frantic Sylvester in traffic all felt like they weren’t treating the individual character flaws with the emotional gravity they deserved. As a whole, we’d have loved Toby’s addiction to be treated with a more serious tone that helped us reach our own level of empathy for him even if Walter couldn’t. In fact, this is what we expected from the setup earlier in the series when Toby is shown in a sobering scene dealing with the loss of his fiancée by turning to gambling instead of his friends for comfort.
Despite it’s flaws, there were definitely good moments in this episode. Walter does have the opportunity to confront Ronny again in jail and that did provide Walter with the ability to see consequences of his actions. He did, in the end, help Ronny and we were glad to see that moment for both Walter and Ronny after their first meeting. Seeing the team piece together what really happened at The Crimson again required teamwork and everyone contributed. As they fell into that mode, this felt much more like the Scorpion we’d enjoyed so much in the first three episodes.
Toby’s addiction may have been used as a plot device for comedy and not dealt with the way we’d have liked, but he and Walter did share a quiet moment in the end where each reached an honest and emotional understanding of the other. Toby may have bungled things but he did have a genuine need to try to prove himself to his friend just as Walter did to his father figure, Cabe.
“All I ever wanted to do was show you that I was worth your effort. That I could…I could be counted on the way I count on you, and I can’t do that.” ~ Toby
“You zip-lined down a hundred-foot drop to help me tonight. That’s a better friend than most people ever have.” ~ Walter.
Toby did take great risks to save Walter and despite his childish behavior those risks weren’t lost on Walter in the end. Where the episode fell short in some areas, this final scene between these two was the honest and genuine emotional growth we’d hoped might come from every episode of Scorpion. Having ended with the best and most real moment gives us a great deal of hope going in to next week. After this small detour Scorpion will hopefully find it’s emotional footing again and make some of the shortcomings of this episode just a blip on the road to better things ahead.
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- This team isn’t quite ready to go out on its own it seems. They need Robert Patrick to ground them.
- Well, I guess it was a good thing Paige was driving in the pilot. Sylvester would never have past 10 mph, much less 100. We’d prefer to see comedy moments like this be ones where Sylvester grows from it and not just a gag. Maybe the writing team will revisit this later and we’ll see Walter gain confidence from the experience.
- The show is based on real cases. We’d really like to know if that zip-line part was real or not real. Seemed over the top, but people do strange things all the time. 😉
- How will Walter’s rebellion against Cabe impact their relationship them down the line?
- Paige has been the emotional glue but she didn’t seem to have a clear moment of doing well here once Walter, Cabe and Ralph weren’t there to ground things.
- Perhaps Walter’s court appearance was truth, but that’s some arrogance that we couldn’t quite relate to. Again, gags work if something is learned from it. Let’s see if that’s the case later.
- Toby’s gambling addiction was seen as a real danger to him early on, so it bothered us that Walter told him to do it in order to get him out of jail. We get that it let us “see” Toby in that mode, but that would have to have negative consequences later for Toby right? Addiction isn’t to be trifled with.
- This show has been serious about its emotional connection with us thus far, but this episode felt like nothing was taken seriously.
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