As is the problem with many new shows each season, the second episode turns into a complete recap of the pilot with no new information. Fortunately, that is not entirely the case with Monday’s (Sept 29) “Scorpion,” which breaks the pattern of repeating previously-known details — but it also throws in enough new backstory for the characters that it’s slightly overwhelming for so soon in the series.
With an early flashback employed to lay the groundwork for Walter’s relationship with his sister Meghan, it is no surprise that the sweet family moment was immediately undercut by the reveal that Meghan has MS, which is slowly worsening and confines her to a home. Her illness and the personal responsibility Walter takes for finding a cure ties directly into the case of the week, that of a set of children specifically targeted with a deadly virus by a bio-hacker with a grudge.
Joel Gretsch guest stars as the governor of California, which is squarely in his wheelhouse. His career is a string of authoritative characters with a soft streak when it matters and the combination of this type-casting and his good looks makes him the perfect candidate to play a Californian politician. As a former researcher at a major pharmaceutical firm, the governor is targeted by a former member of a spinal disorder drug trial who he and his team did wrong when they pulled the drug from contention for that specific disease.
His concern for his daughter coincides with Walter’s stress over his sister’s condition, giving the show its first truly emotionally-grounded tie-in. Of course, Paige finds out about Walter’s sister and his past attempts to cure her in a sweet moment between the two. It works, but if “Scorpion” tries to rely on emotional moments like this one every week it will grow old fast — if they don’t run out of valid ideas first.
Which is why it is good to see the rest of the team get some background information besides their basic skills as tech outlaws as well. Toby finds it difficult to get over his ex-fiancee and needs Happy’s help to realize he can get over her eventually as long as he stops pining for her. A voicemail rejection from said fiancee only confirms his status as a reluctantly eligible bachelor.
Ari gets the comedy side of things this episode and it seems this is the mantle he is destined to hold for the duration of the series. Again, this comes down to execution more than anything else. It would be easy for the show to shoehorn Sylvester Dodd into poorly-acted slapstick comedy, but his fear of physical involvement with a case is heartwarming and makes him more of a (brilliant, capable) teddy bear than a blundering sidekick.
The more the team coheres, the better the show will be each installment. Robert Patrick is both much more “proud team papa” and “endearing tough guy” here than in the pilot, making him more of a integral part of the group than a stern third party that comes to beckon them when duty calls. The banter between the team when their first legitimate paychecks arrive comes off as natural as can be expected this early in a series and foreshadows good things as far as cast chemistry is concerned.