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'Scorpion' react: Incoming meltdown

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Plutonium Is Forever” | Aired Oct 20, 2014

Scorpion may technically be an ensemble show, but there’s no doubt the series shines brightest when the story focuses on Walter.

The latest episode, “Plutonium Is Forever,” starts with a maniclooking man pacing frantically around the California desert, rambling off incomprehensible numbers before being approached by dozens of military men in tanks and being arrested.

As the soldiers are approaching him, the only words out of his mouth are strict orders that he’ll speak to Walter O’Brien and Walter O’Brien only.

Back at Scorpion headquarters, Walter and the team are each working on their own various projects while helping Paige get Ralph ready for school. It’s all very homely and picturesque, but as the cool-down from the rest of the action-packed episode, it feels completely lackluster and unneeded.

At this point, the writers haven’t done anything with Ralph’s character to make audiences want to sit through a scene of him solving a riddle with Walter.

Luckily, this harmoniously boring event is broken up by the arrival of Agent Gallo, who pulls Walter aside and informs him that a man named Mark Collins is being detained by the United States Army and asking for him.

Gallo, ever the subtle nurturing type, blatantly and annoyingly asks Walter who this accused mental patient is.

Turns out he used to be a Scorpion member, and to some extent (as defined by Freud) Walter’s Id.

Walter goes and visits him, and learns Mark had broken into a secured government area housing a nuclear reactor in the process of being shut down.

After sharing a series of numbers that means absolutely nothing to anyone but Walter, they discover the reactor is heating up instead of being cooled down as previously thought. They have 18 hours until there’s a Fukushima-like meltdown.

This is where the episode really gets interesting.

Turns out the rest of the Scorpion collective hates Mark, and for good reason. Mark is a master manipulator, as Sylvester points out, and works his way into the head of the person he’s talking to faster than anyone thought possible. He’s also, Happy reluctantly warns Paige, the worst influence Walter could have, being dragged into intense work sessions that last weeks at a time without any kind of break.

As they start working on getting the reactor to cool down, it becomes painstakingly apparent that they can’t fix it without Mark’s help.

When Mark stars doling out orders to the rest of the team, however, tensions thicken, and the team’s unnerving problem with authority flares up like a bad case of arthritis.

During an attempt to start cooling the reactor—this is Scorpion, so there will be more than one attempt—Happy directly disobeys one of Walter’s orders, and as a result causes one of the pipes to break and a radiation leak to occur.

The team rushes through the radioactive core to get to a safer building within the reactor, and while most of them make it across the rickety bridges, Gallo stumbles and is left to fend for himself.

It should be noted: Bryan Cranston definitely did it better in Godzilla.

Ticktock, ticktock: According to Walter’s observations, they’ve got 10 minutes to get Gallo out before he dies of radioactive poisoning.

Mark speeds home and, listening to various phone calls he’s been able to record over the years, discovers Gallo can jump into one tube where a stream of rushing water will carry him out to the Pacific Ocean.

Before Gallo jumps in, he gives a heartfelt goodbye to Walter, who, in return, just nods and mutters an “okay”—much to the disapproving voices of Sylvester and Toby.

Walter has never been tactful and has been pretty upfront about his inability to recognize most human emotions and feelings; he’s unable to reciprocate them in difficult situations.

Someone should introduce him to Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. They could lie emotionlessly together and complain about the trivialities of non-genius human beings.

They end up saving Gallo, but Walter learns Mark has switched out a key piece of information in an attempt to keep the Scorpions from being able to cool down the reactor.

Why? Personal vendetta, of course. Walter and Mark used to be best friends, each other’s right-hand man, until Walter had Mark committed to an asylum.

As Walter and his team rush to Mark’s house to override the imminent meltdown, Mark’s feelings of abandonment and hurt take center stage. It’s his obsession with numbers, however, that leads Paige to correctly guessing the override code—the day Walter had him committed.

With the reactor cooling down and the neighboring California towns safe from devastation, the team returns back to headquarters. There, they’re reunited with Ralph, who’s quickly becoming The Walking Dead’s Carl of the series: a pointless character injected for some kind of emotional storytelling that falls flat.

As annoying as Ralph may be, however, this was a great episode of Scorpion. The perfect combination of action and personal drama between Walter and the team is the ideal recipe for a procedural show.

It also proves, however, that Walter is the shining star of the series, and the rest of the ensemble cast are throwaway supporting characters.

Most comparable to an overused Sherlock prototype, even these supporting characters are nowhere near as invaluable as a Watson supporting type.

The only downfall to the episode is the unfortunate but not unexpected brush-off of Paige’s character. Even Mark, whom she’s never met, comments that she doesn’t seem like part of the team.

It’s annoying for the audience to have Paige introduced as a key player to the show, then treated like the nagging matriarchal figure for a group of overgrown children—or a simple love interest for Walter to toy with.

Going forward, it would be great to see Paige get better lines. But overall, this episode was a rare gem in the series thus far.

Scorpion, rated TV-14, airs on Mondays at 9/8C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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