Case of the Week:
This week’s episode starts in the middle of the case. The Team has destroyed $100 million dollars’ worth of art and is now being required to pass a psych evaluation.
The Therapy Is For The Weak trope is one that I feel never really gets expanded on. Protagonists are required to talk to a psychologist and must pass the evaluation to re-enter the field. Most of the time, the protagonists don’t want to talk because they’re just so strong and whatever event caused the evaluation requirement really didn’t affect them.
The only plus to this trope is that writers can use it to give the audience a lot of information, which is what I assume will occur here.
Paige describes to Dr. Davis (Shohreh Aghdashlo) that Scorpion had been assigned to protect a super-valuable piece of art.
Except that Walter doesn’t have any emotional quotient (EQ), so instead of telling the art museum curator that the painting is a forgery, he just slashes it with a knife.
This scenario takes the Good Is Not Nice/Jerkass Protagonist Trope to another level.
Usually, the protagonist is a jerk to goad the bad guys into folding their hand. Or, to just push everyone else’s buttons.
Similarly Patrick Jane from The Mentalist would do ridiculous things, but due to his ability to solve cases, people would mostly ignore his antics.
These kinds of protagonists are called “destructive”, “crazy”, or other names but are usually forgiven by episode’s end.
Walter, in contrast, is seen as having some sort of deficit because he can’t, or won’t, act how the other federal agents act. The assumption is that Walter should, as a genius, know better—even if he may not connect to people around him (besides his Team).
I can’t tell if the show is building up to calling the above kind of thinking out, or if the writers themselves believe this kind of stuff.
If it’s the latter, then that’s really troubling because Walter—all neural-nonconforming people—deserve much better representation in the media. The team may not connect as easily as people who are not geniuses, but that doesn’t mean they have an innate deficit in their personality. Considering there are many people who may be slow to warm up to others, and like Walter explains, his actions are about efficiency.
But, then, there’s Sylvester, who has “infinitely” too much EQ, and his anxiety could be a hindrance to his work. Walter keeps him focused though.
It’s obvious that the Team cares a lot about Walter and that his presence into their lives pulled them each out of potentially bad situations. Walter has also given them a purpose, and as a whole, they have formed a family.
On the other hand, Paige believes that the members of Team—like her son—are special. If she didn’t trust them, she wouldn’t permit Ralph to be around them.
Toby too cites Walter for keeping him out of jail and helping him keep most of his gambling issues at bay.
Yet Hetty (Linda Hunt) from NCIS: Los Angeles is brought in to help the Team; thereby situating Scorpion in the same universe as the NCIS and Hawaii Five-0 franchises, which is a smart ratings grab from the other shows.
Hetty logs into the database, and they find a list of people who had a motive for stealing the original. Their main suspect is an artist who works for Galactic Comics, who then proceeds to jump out the window which results in a car chase.
After Toby’s prodding, the suspect gives them a name—Labeaux—which leads to the undercover part of the episode: Walter and Paige dress up while Toby and Happy are waiters at Labeaux’s party, and Sylvester gets to hang out in the van.
Paige and Walter must dance next to Labeaux to clone his phone, so we get a scene where Walter must learn where to place his hands properly— “You’re not pushing me on a swing!” —except the suspect cuts in, and the cloning device which had reset now must be placed in Paige’s dress while she dances with Labeaux.
I wonder if Walter reset the device so that he could dance with her longer.
If Walter and Paige are meant to be endgame at some point in the show—but he can’t be “normal” as defined by society and the show when it comes to emotions—I don’t see how that relationship would function.
The other federal agents—especially Director Merrick and even Paige—think Walter should be more like them, that he should ask people how they are, give them compliments, and openly show that he cares for others.
Although, really, Director Merrick mostly just wants Walter to think through his actions.
Walter does think through his actions however. He wants to get things done efficiently and obviously cares about his team and impressing Cabe as evidenced by two episodes ago in Vegas.
In real life, people react to events in various manners, and there are no right or wrong ways to do so.
It turns out Labeaux was working with the art museum curator Paulsen, and while the geniuses go to stop Labeaux and Paulsen from meeting up, Paige goes to Hetty to give her the cloned phone.
We switch to Happy telling Dr. Davis that the reason everyone follows Walter’s lead is because they believe in him. Dr. Davis points out that Happy has no other family. That part is important because Happy short-circuiting Paulson’s car (that had the painting in the trunk) led to the car exploding with the painting inside.
Although, with ten minutes left, I assume the painting is okay??
Dr. Davis calls out Walter for jeopardizing the case by resetting the cloning device so that he could dance with Paige for thirty more seconds (I was right!), which sucks because everyone defended Walter even though he was the main reason why everything was going wrong.
Luckily the Team passes the evaluation with some key remarks. Dr. Davis, in her report, explains that Walter thinks lying to a federal psychologist is okay as long as the job is done.
The real truth is Walter cares more about keeping his Team and their family together.
It turns out that the painting that exploded was the fake painting, and Walter actually took the real painting to its rightful owner. The painting had been stolen by Nazis and then shuttled around museums.
Hetty too explains that, even though Walter doesn’t understand the art, he understood the connection between the family and the painting.
Because of someone.
That someone is Paige. The episode ends with the Team dressing up to go with Ralph to his Halloween party.
Overall Grade: A-
The back and forth between the case and the psychologist talking to the members of Scorpion was hard to follow at first but was a great way to outright tell us how the Team feels about Walter as a person and as their boss. At the same time, it was an easy way for the writers to give the audience more information about the characters in small chunks.
Art forgery as a case is also pretty cool to explore!
For example, Happy has no family outside of the Team. Toby is competitive and his gambling connects to his anti-social behavior. Sylvester, who is maybe too much in tune with his emotions as evidenced by his heightened reaction to the art, also has anxiety that can and does at time hinder how he reacts during cases.
As for Paige—well, I’m not a fan of the idea that people, especially men, need to find that one romantic interest and that then they’ll magically become a well-rounded, emotionally adept member of society. That kind of thinking is gross in any context, but in Scorpion, it’s doubly worse.
Disregarding Walter being a genius, he’s been portrayed as someone who wants to be in control as well as an “Efficiency is important regardless of the consequences.” kind of character. Adding in his genius and portraying Paige as the solution to his empathy problem? That’s problematic.
Halloween episodes are always so much fun. Besides seeing our beloved characters in costumes, we get pretty ridiculous cases. An undercover Halloween party to solve art crime? Seriously? Totally random but super fun to watch.
I understand that Paige is meant to be the non-genius member of Scorpion (aside from Cabe) and helps the others interact with people and spend time thinking about other peoples’ emotions, actions, and motivations. If her importance is reduced to just being Walter’s love interest and, therefore, his reason for growing as an “emotional person”, then she loses other parts of her character.
I want to see her interact with the others more.