So far as second episodes go, Scorpion‘s was pretty typical; it gently re-enforced the central premise, teased some of the ongoing elements, and suggested strongly just what this series is going to look like on a weekly basis. But mostly, it was predictable. Terribly, terribly predictable. Predictability, in and of itself, is not necessarily a crime. Indeed on TV, well worn patterns and devices are part of the fun. And maybe I watch too much TV, but there was nothing that Scorpion was doing in this second episode that I didn’t see coming a mile away. And that concerns me.
The problem of the week is four sick children, primary among them the daughter of California Governor Lane (say hello to Joel Gretsch, star of the V remake and The 4400). A computer virus leaves a message on the girl’s computer saying, “It’s your fault she’s sick,” a custom made computer virus meant only for the girl’s computer and no other machine on the household network. Walter then deduces that the virus the girl is suffering from is also a custom job, as some shrewd villain has tailored a virulent disease to the victim’s DNA so that they’re the only one who suffers from it.
What the Governor and the three other people with affected children have in common is that they’re all former employees of a company called Vlaxco Pharmaceuticals, which was developing a treatment for a rare disease, but abandoned the research following clinical trials. One of the people that participated in the clinical trials is targeting Lane and the others out of revenge, and unlike every other corporation on every other police procedural I’ve ever seen, Vlaxco won’t co-operate, forcing Walter and the gang to undertake some corporate espionage in order to get the records.
Somehow the whole scheme hinges on Sylvester, who thankfully has given up on constantly spouting the odds of success, navigating the Vlaxco building to the records room where he will photographically memorize the names of the clinical trial participants and sneak out again while Walter guides him via computer and Toby and Happy create a distraction. Sylvester, naturally, is a germaphobe, because being a genius has to come with an array of paralyzing neuroses and phobias, or other mental maladies. Tobey, for instance, has a gambling addiction, and this week we learned that it cost him his fiancé.
We also learn something new about Walter, that he has a big sister who suffers from M.S., and Walter is racked with guilt over being unable to solve a problem that hits so close to home even though nothing’s been established to suggest that he has any expertise in genetics, biology or medicine. We’re reminded of course that he’s smarter than Einstein, so it really is a wonder that he hasn’t cured M.S. yet, or cancer.