April 21, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Scorpion”


It’s a little odd to think of a CBS procedural as a “guilty pleasure,” but the deeply silly SCORPION has been one this season.  It’s Mission: Impossible meets Bones, with more than a touch of McGyver, as each week its troupe of socially awkward (and proud of it) geniuses launch daredevil heists, cons and rescues, most of them requiring one or more of them to invent some kind of ingenious device on the spot.

Like Bones, Scorpion indulges in nearly as much sentimentality and banter as crimefighting:  the band’s leader, Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel, playing a role somewhat modeled after the real person who serves as a producer on the series), both has daddy issues with Homeland Security agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick), who nurtured and betrayed the teen Walter, and an ill-concealed crush on the group’s one “normal,” former waitress Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee), whose young son is himself a budding genius, and who serves as Scorpion’s contact with the outside world.  Walter also has a sister, Megan (the recurring Camille Guaty), with multiple sclerosis, who is herself the subject of a crush from computer hacker extraordinaire and general mathematical genius Sylvester (Ari Stidham).  The other two members of Scorpion are also in a not-quite-romance, behavioral psychiatrist/gambling addict Toby (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and engineer/general kickass Happy (Jadyn Wong).

Tonight’s episode being the season finale (CBS loaded up on episodes earlier in the season), the script by series creator Nick Santora and show runner Nicholas Wootten had a “this time it’s personal” air, as Walter, having had bitter arguments in last week’s episode with Gallo (who, it turned out, had kept from teen Walter the knowledge that the targeting system he’d invented was being used by the military to send bombs rather than humanitarian aid) and Paige (who had decided that Walter was a bad influence on her son and was going to move them both to New England with her very unintellectual minor-league baseball player ex), recklessly drove his borrowed sportscar off a cliff.  This hour, more straightforward than most of the show’s stories, was all about the team’s concerted effort to rescue Walter, whose car was precariously perched on a weakening outcropping 300 feet from the beach, as we waited for Paige to turn on her phone or otherwise find out what was going on so she could rush to his side and not to the airport.  (Which she did.)

There was less opportunity for director Milan Ceylon (a 24 veteran) to show off action prowess than most Scorpion hours allow, but the episode was fast-paced and exciting, if you were willing to excuse some quite bad green-screen toward the end, when Gallo was supposedly swooping in on a crane to pull Walter out from the car just before it toppled to the ground.  CBS doesn’t encourage its procedural characters to make major life decisions quickly, so nothing very dramatic happened between the show’s couples:  Paige gave a rescued and sedated Walter a gentle kiss; Happy agreed to let Toby join her in taking care of Paige’s son for the night; and Sylvester went off in search of Megan (Guaty must be doing something else, since her character hasn’t turned up in recent weeks).

Nothing in Scorpion stands up to much scrutiny, but as in Bones, a likable cast talks the techno-jargon as though they understand what they’re saying, and unlike the majority of procedurals these days, the series doesn’t take itself too seriously.  (There was a fun bit in the finale where Walter’s fate rested on a crow, perched on the car’s front end, not flying away and upsetting the vehicle’s delicate balance.)   It’s a breezy hour that, for all the geniuses on hand, allows viewers to check their brains at the door.  While not a breakout hit, it did solid business on Mondays, behind The Voice but ahead of the rest of the competition, and has already been renewed for next season.  With a cast that’s clicking and stories that hold together for the time it takes to watch them, Scorpion could well join the CBS brigade of shows that hang around for years, providing an hour of charm and diversion for viewers simply seeking to relax.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."