‘Scorpion’ just officially became the craziest show on TV

Scorpion is not usually a show I review. It’s a show I watch but don’t write about because at its heart it’s a procedural drama. People are going to get into peril, but ultimately the main cast is going to be fine at the end of the episode, ready to get into more peril next week.

For those not familiar with Scorpion, it’s based on a real person Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel), a genius who helps out the government on various projects, and his team of other geniuses. Of course they also have to have a pretty girl, Paige (Katharine McPhee), who works with them. She’s not a genius but she grounds them since, well, they have no social skills at all.

It’s a guilty pleasure of mine: not a show I’m going to get material out of for articles, but I still enjoy it because of how crazy the plots are. Think of Scorpion as a Fast and Furious movie turned into 45 minutes of television drama.

Did I mention the plots are crazy? It’s not just the plots themselves that are crazy, but also the physics-bending methods with which they solve the problems. This season alone, the main character accidentally launched himself into space, then is able to save himself by jumping out, falling back to earth, and survives only because his team creates a gas bubble in the ocean to cushion his fall. Another episode features an Irish town threatened by an invisible poisonous gas cloud essentially coming from a lake fart. In one of the crazier plots, Cabe, the FBI agent who works with them, takes shrapnel to the stomach and they are able to save him by encasing him in ice.

This week’s episode may have put the show over the edge of absolute insanity, which is why I finally had to write about it.

Paige’s estranged con-woman mother (Lea Thompson) has been on the show for the last several weeks. Her main purpose seems to be to distract everyone from what their doing so she can interject with an example of how she was an awful mother and constantly conned people.

In this particular episode, the team has to stop a silo filled with dangerous chemicals from dumping into a sinkhole. They throw some obscure chemical into the hole to solidify the other obscure chemical and therefore stop the problem.

Earlier in the episode, Paige’s mother was pursued by some bad guys who want the money she scammed from them. It was clear they were never going to give up. Now back to the sinkhole.

While the chemicals are hardening, Paige’s mother slips and seems to fall into the pit. Cut to commercial. Okay, I know how this show works. Someone caught her or she’s hanging onto the side and the last ten minutes of the show are going to be about rigging some elaborate machine to get her out.

We return from commercials with the team back at their headquarters watching a news story about a woman dying in a sinkhole. We see the sullen faces of the team and a distraught Paige sitting in a chair in the adjacent room by herself.

Holy crap! What a way to write off Lea Thompson’s character. I really like Lea Thompson, but I have not been a fan of her character on the show. This is quite a dark turn for a show like this, but I like the idea of it.

Then to make it even darker, the bad guy shows up looking for his money (the suitcase of money went in the pit with Paige’s mother). Paige being a former waitress has no way of every paying him off, so he walks off in a huff, seemingly defeated.

Then I’m reminded that I’m watching Scorpion. Essentially they say, “Okay, that’s a wrap!” and Paige’s mother comes out of the camper and everything’s back to normal, followed by an Ocean’s Eleven style reveal of how they just threw together faking her death because they have nothing better to do except for preventing millions of people getting poisoned by these chemicals. Cabe even has all kinds of fake documents ready for her so she can start a whole new life. So it turns out they were writing off Paige’s mother, but not in the way it initially seemed.

Scorpion missed a huge opportunity to take the show in a darker direction and provide a means for the main characters to become closer. Instead it Scorpion-ed all over itself in its usually deus ex machina kind of way. This is why network dramas are losing out to shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. They’re not willing to take a risk and kill of some characters to make the show more interesting.

I’ll keep watching the show, but I’ll have that “what might have been” feeling in the back of my mind as I watch it from now on.

Image: CBS

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