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Scorpion: 1.05 “Plutonium is Forever” Review

Trigger Warnings: Institutionalization

This week on Scorpion, a former member Mark of Scorpion (Joshua Leonard; The Blair Witch Project) has breached a nuclear plant asking for Walter. Turns out they haven’t seen each other in more than two years, and the nuclear plant, which was meant to be dismantled, is overheating because there is no one around to maintain it. Oy.

And, no one else on the Team is pleased that Mark is back.

While Walter tries to convince Cabe and the military dudes to bring in Mark to help, the others explain to Paige more about Mark.

Toby mentions that Walter and Mark would push each other into trying to solve theoretical algorithms, and they would end up in a “savant dissociative state”, which is like a fugue state. When Walter ended up disassociating, Mark disappeared.

Well, that’s going to bode well for them working together.

I really like that the writers brought in a past member to highlight Walter’s weaknesses as a team leader and the team’s overall strengths. When they work together, they do a great job of dealing with problems. On the other hand, when Walter goes all “I’m in charge; everyone listen to me or else,” everything falls apart.

Unfortunately, every chance Mark gets, he steps on everyone else’s toes.

Even Happy explaining that not running a full diagnostic on the old equipment could cause a meltdown does not steer Walter away from siding with Mark.

Also, Mark saying that Happy’s objections are personal is so ridiculously misogynistic.

Mark thinks that, because he has a higher IQ than the others, that equates to being a better person and that he should still be a part of Scorpion.

I’m so ready for him to go.

Happy pulls Walter outside and tells him never to side against her in public again. Walter states that it was business, and she shouldn’t take it personally. He was stopping a nuclear meltdown.

Her response? “I already stopped a meltdown. Yours.” Happy had pulled Walter out of a ten day numbers bender with Mark when they had disassociated and had to feed him herself so that he would eat. “If he stays, and you take another trip down the rabbit hole with him, you are on your own. I’m not going through that again.”

It took five episodes, but we’re finally getting more backstory on the team, and I love it.

I mean, it’s a really distressing backstory, and I don’t really know how I feel about the rabbit hole metaphor. While getting sucked into one’s work is something even stressed out college students on five cans of Red Bull can do; in the context of the team as geniuses, Walter losing control around Mark is super scary. Walter is the team leader so if he loses control that negatively impacts the team.

I was right about the high stakes drama.

The backup generator blows, and now, there’s a radiation leak!!

Everyone’s out but Cabe.

Now, nothing is working, and they have very little time to stop the meltdown. However the scene with Toby telling Mark to lay off of Happy is cute, and I assume that will be the secondary relationship the show pushes in the future.

Turns out Walter had Mark institutionalized after the bender because of how intense Mark had been getting before his disappearance and his effects on Walter and the rest of the team. That seriously sucks, and I was not expecting that reveal. Regardless of Mark’s actions, putting him in an asylum, Walter’s words, is really messed up. Especially because technically the only way Mark could have been sent to the institution is if he was deemed dangerous. That means Walter had to justify his reasoning behind placing Mark in an institution; although, it could just be a plot hole and lack of research by the writers.

Great, Mark is trying to convince Paige that Walter is the cause of the former’s problems because Walter had been “experimenting” with Mark.

On the other side Cabe (who had washed up on the beach after jumping down a pipe) tells Walter that he did the right thing three years ago and to stop letting Mark get to him. I really like that Cabe is mentoring Walter implicitly, which goes back to last week’s discussion of Cabe as Walter’s father figure.

Except, they played right into Mark’s hands. Mark planned everything by placing a Trojan virus in the technology to cause the nuclear reactor to overheat faster to show he could be of use again.

There’s a third step to stopping the meltdown.

And, Cabe? Well, he asked for a sidearm, so he’s probably anticipating more problems with Mark.

With six minutes to go, Mark won’t give Walter the code to his antennas and keeps giving him days that hold meaning to the both of them: his life “ended” the day the ambulance came to pick him up.

Paige figures out the code is the date of 782 days ago, and Mark attempts to stop Sylvester from punching in the code and gets shot in the arm for his attempt.

Cabe has a Dad Moment and tells Walter that he’s evolving because he felt guilty about placing Mark in the institution, which is why Walter hadn’t been keeping a closer eye on him. I feel like Walter (and the show) uses his being a genius as a way to avoid dealing with his emotions; Walter cares about others, but when he starts a job, he kind of forgets that his team mates are also his friends.

Walter goes in to check on Mark one last time, and Mark asks why there wasn’t room for one more person on the team: “There was. Paige. She binds us.”

These two scenes were both really good because they show us that Cabe essentially gives Walter the forgiveness he has been seeking for making a terribly difficult decision in regards to Mark, and with Mark, we get an explicit assertion that Paige is not just necessary for the team but that Paige is a person who Walter appreciates and cares for.

The episode ends with them all cooking chicken piccata together with Walter thanking Happy for pulling him out of the rabbit hole years before, and Walter telling Paige that she’s one of them, thereby putting any thoughts of her being an “experiment” to rest.

Elsewhere:

We get to see Ralph interact with all members of Scorpion at the beginning and end of the episode. I love how they’ve become this Found Family.

We already knew that Walter, Happy. Sylvester, and Toby all cared about each other especially since Walter had kind of collected them all.

While Ralph spends most of the episodes at school, it is great to see him in a situation that is comfortable. Having the Scorpion base be his second home is a great way to show the audience his growth as a kid who is navigating being super smart.

Overall Grade: A

The writers did a good job utilizing the case as the backdrop for the relationship building/defining between all the team members and exploring the past relationship between Mark and the others.

I am glad to see that Walter addresses how hard the decision was for him at the time because he didn’t believe there was any other option. I disagree because he could have tried to talk to Mark or try anything else first.

Characterization: A

Each episode has given us more and more about each of the Scorpion members, but this was the first one that showed us a lot more Happy; although, it was still through the lens of Walter’s life.

I hope we’ll start getting more character-centric episodes that don’t depend on Walter’s actions.

Plot: A

The nuclear plant meltdown plot served as a great metaphor for Mark and Walter’s relationship meltdown.

Mythos: A

Getting to learn more about Scorpion 1.0 was really important to propelling the story forward because now the audience realizes that, even with current Scorpion’s problems, it could be a lot worse.

Setting: B

I assume that this was a bottle episode where everything is filmed in the same few locations. By using the nuclear plant and Mark’s home, the scenes were very contained but added to the heightened tension of the episode.


Image courtesy CBS

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's at work in the non-profit world using her anthropology and public health training.

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