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Scorpion: 1.14 “Charades” Review

Warnings for heterosexism

Scorpion has been called into find out who in the CIA Internal Affairs Division is leaking information to Yemen via love notes. In the CIA LA Field Office, the team goes in to profile employees in the Tech Department because of the level of encryption used on the note.

Of course, neither Walter nor Sylvester think the love note is actually about romance while Paige suggests the person sending the note could be in love.

Great. An episode where the protag is shown to not believe in romantic love nor feel romantic love and, therefore, something is wrong with them. And, the audience is totally meant to think Walter stating that romantic love doesn’t exist means that he needs to be taught otherwise and that he should also feel romantic love.

That’s super messed up.

I highly doubt that the writers are even thinking about Walter potentially identifying as aromantic—meaning he doesn’t necessarily experience romantic love—either.

Additionally, Walter’s “love is just junk science” shows Paige she needs to nip any feelings for him in the bud.

Can Paige exist outside of being a love interest and Ralph’s mom? Will we ever get a backstory to her outside of being a waitress in the pilot?

This entire Walter and romantic love plot seriously sucks and is super gross considering that there are plenty of people who are aromantic. And, there are probably people who truly believe romantic love isn’t a thing that exists and that’s okay too!

Just—not to these writers.

In the basement with the Tech people, the team profiles for someone in love singling out Leonard who just so happens to have been in the Chem Lab.

Evidently, if you’re ever looking to figure out if someone around you is in love, look to see if they have lost weight and have been taking vacation days on Fridays or Mondays because of three day weekends. Who knew?

Leonard has been sending chemicals to an aide worker in Yemen (who was supposedly using them to be making pesticides) because he loves her and believes in her goals; however, the chemicals can also be used to create nerve gas.

Basically, Leonard’s girlfriend Sima was using him.

Surprisingly, there isn’t any major anti-Arab sentiment about Sima, who is most definitely a femme fatale, or about Yemen, which is especially surprising since, usually, terrorist plots get super racist if they’re set in any part of the Arab or African world, but here everyone’s just focusing on saving the millions of people who could die from the nerve gas.

Walter has Leonard repeat certain sentences for a voice program that will allow Walter to simulate his voice when talking to Sima—except that, of course, Walter is terrible at flirting, so Paige takes over. Either Paige is doing what she wishes someone would do to her, or she knows how to flirt with ladies?

It probably doesn’t help that Paige is remembering her dream where Walter walks into her bedroom in just a bathrobe.

Paige is so good at flirting that it looks like Sima believes it’s really Leonard on the phone which allows Paige to set up an appointment for Sima to meet Walter going undercover as a third party to help get the final canister of chemicals. Paige helps prep Walter, and they share a charged moment while practicing to flirt even though Walter is terrible at flirting, but because the plot is that Walter needs to be taught romantic love is real, the scene just feels super cheap.

At the hotel, everything goes as planned until Happy gets stuck in Sima’s hotel room so Walter kisses Sima by the elevator to give Happy time to escape. Unfortunately, Sima totally figured out Walter was undercover and knocks him out.

Walter wakes up on a plane, and Sima tells him that as long as the other Scorpion members bring the two canisters of chemicals from her storage facility and Leonard gets the other one, she’ll let Walter go, but Walter manages to set off an explosion in the plane which allows him to knock out Sima and jump onto one of the mobile ramps used at airports for baggage transport.

We’re left with Walter still not understanding why Sima would give up a chance to escape all for Leonard when romantic love isn’t real, and Paige realizes that, even if she has feelings for Walter, he may not have them for her or even understand any feelings he might potentially have.

For now, she just needs to focus on Ralph.

Still, at the end, Walter asks Paige to record a new message for the answering machine after realizing what a “nice voice” she has—which out of context is pretty creepy but in context suggests that, in the future, Walter may develop feelings for Paige as well. Which Walter can be attracted to and interested in Paige and still be aromantic. Considering the season finale is supposed to end in a cliffhanger, I bet it’ll be the cliché of Paige is in danger, and Walter realizes suddenly that he totally loves her, which is kind of ridiculous because, even if Walter was a protagonist shown to have multiple romantic relationships and was looking for love, his realization that he loves the main female lead shouldn’t be due to dangerous scenarios. It’s overdone in other shows, and it’s extra terrible here because it suggests that Walter is incapable of understanding his feelings about others until something terrible happens.

Plus, there’s nothing wrong with not experiencing romantic love!

But, as I said before, I highly doubt any of the writers are thinking of Walter in terms of being aromantic, so then this entire relationship plot is just about assimilating Walter into how people who feel romantic love should act. It’s disrespectful to not only Walter as a character but also Paige who should exist outside of being his love interest and Ralph’s mom.

There are some good spots in the episode even with the heterosexism. Happy climbing up a glass wall while yelling at Toby is great and it’s obvious their relationship is slowly progressing while Sylvester and Ralph’s love for Robo-Spy (comics in the Scorpion universe) is adorable.

There also wasn’t any “all those Yemenis are terrible” lines or insinuations, and Sima was just portrayed as the lady who snares men with her good looks to help her for a cause she believed in, and it didn’t matter that she was Yemeni. Had she been an environmental terrorist, Cabe and the others would have reacted the exact same way which is super refreshing reaction to get from a procedural.

Grade: B for the action and the case, but F for character plots and heterosexism.


Image courtesy of CBS

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's reading away for her graduate program in anthropology.

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