Scorpion Series Premiere Review: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)


Try pitching Breaking Bad in one sentence. Or Game of Thrones. Heck, try explaining something as nearly straightforward as Masters of Sex in one sentence. The elevator pitch is the Holy Grail of the Hollywood development process, and when you get that perfect project with that perfect line, you can just throw it out there and everyone will know immediately what you’re getting at. So in that spirit, here’s everything you need to know about Scorpion: it’s The Big Bang Theory meets Mission: Impossible. Boom. If that sounds like something that’s appealing then welcome, and if it’s something that sounds inane or stupid, then you are now free to return to your prestige dramas on premium cable.

Even if you didn’t know that Scorpion was a CBS show, you’d know because it combines two highly successful aspects of the current CBS line-up: the comedy gold of four nerdy characters and their waitress friend, and the crime procedural. Corporate synergy like this can only happen by accident. Apparently based on a true story, the show’s first hour basically sets up how Leonard, the boys and Penny are sucked up into a Homeland Security think tank meant to utilize the super-smart to stop very bad things before they happen.

We open with a flashback to idyllic rural Ireland where young Walter O’Brien is taken out of his happy home by government goons led by Agent Gallo (played by Robert Patrick) in cuffs after he hacked into NASA. The little ragamuffin is so smart that he’s not even in middle school and is already one of the information age’s most wanted.

In the present day, adult Walter (Elyes Gabel) is showing none of that early promise, and is in the midst of setting up the wi-fi at a run-of-the-mill diner where he takes note of the waitress Paige (Katharine McPhee) and her son Ralph (Riley B. Smith), who comes across as more than a little on the spectrum. Through the course of the show we learn that Ralph isn’t mentally challenged, and his goofing around with the packets of condiments is his version of ad hoc chess. Yes, Ralph is a secret genius, and it’s a fact that will suit him well as the shows goes on.

As for Walter, his turn at IT is part of a company he runs with three other geniuses: math prodigy Sylvester (Ari Stidham), mechanical expert Happy (Jadyn Wong) and psychologist supreme Toby (Eddie Kaye Thomas). They can’t pay the rent, or their utilities, and they also can’t apparently keep a client. They’re four of the smartest people in the world, but their extreme social ineptitude is keeping them on the fringes. See where this is going…?