Scorpion Season 1 Review “Kill Screen”

scorpion kill screen

On the latest episode of “Scorpion,” Ralph got himself into a similar scenario as Walter himself once did back in the day, in “Kill Screen.” Naturally, it was up to Walter to undo the unintentional damage he’d done and help Ralph avoid his potential fate in the same way that Cabe did when Walter hacked into NASA all those years ago. To be more of a mentor and less of a bad influence, in other words.

Not that, mind you, Walter had intended to be a bad influence. Indeed, all he did was to introduce Ralph to the so-called “deep web,” aka a place that isn’t found via normal search engines. His intention was to allow Ralph to play beta-testing video games that are in the process of becoming official. By playing the games this way, fellow gamers can help the creator(s) rectify glitches in the system and improve them.

Such was the case with Ralph, who was unwittingly helping this particular creator get into encrypted CIA files, revealing several locations of safe-houses and various names of officials, which, if released to the wrong people, would be very bad indeed. Said files were hidden in a video game prototype, and Ralph was able to crack it, resulting in it falling into the hands of a guy who then set about selling the info to the highest bidders as he solved each of them.

So far, only one had been sold- the one Ralph helped decrypt- resulting in the deaths of several agents and a member of a drug cartel that was going to help bring down his former compadres. But there were still six others, and if they didn’t catch the culprit more would undoubtedly die. So, the team did their best to find the guy before it was too late and he decrypted and sold the rest of the files.

First, they tracked down his partner, Nate (Octavius J. Johnson, “Ray Donovan”), who wasn’t much older than Ralph himself, at a local gamer con. After an amusing bit in which it was revealed that Sylvester was a legendary gamer formerly known as “El Guapo” (which means “the handsome”- typically ironically), they chase Nate through an exclusive VIP gamer competition, but it’s ultimately Cabe, left behind with everyone’s electronics for safe-keeping, who takes him down- with a big old fake axe (taken from a cosplayer), no less!

Nate proves essentially innocent, like Ralph, and volunteers to cooperate in helping take down his partner, Calvin, who actually turns out to be Donald Chen (Lawrence Kao, “The Walking Dead”), an ex-con with a laundry list of past offenses. Donald gets wise to Nate and stabs him, but, with the help of Ralph, Walter is able to navigate the streets and track down Chen after realizing the game design mimics the streets they’re currently on. Ironically, it’s Chen’s own design that does him in, as Ralph is able to show Walter how to trigger a trap door that injures and incapacitates him until help arrives. Score!

This was a fun episode that nonetheless raised some essential questions, given the circumstances the team find themselves in on a regular basis. After all, they are in danger more often than not, and sometimes that danger follows them home to their lair, where Ralph often hangs out, which could potentially lead him into danger as well.

In this case, arguably even worse, Walter’s attempts to bond with Ralph by showing him the deep web stuff gets him into the same predicament as he was once in himself, which isn’t good. Both of Ralph’s parents rightfully call Walter on it, and though Walter is smart enough to know he can’t guarantee that Ralph will always be safe, given the nature of what they do, it’s clear that Drew in particular isn’t thrilled about it, and as a result is now actively trying to get Paige and Ralph out of California and somewhere decidedly less dangerous.

This is certainly understandable, and I don’t blame Drew for feeling that way, even if he hasn’t always been the greatest parent, but Paige is smart enough to know that, as a rule, Walter and company are doing Ralph more good than harm- at least under normal circumstances, of which these were not.

So, it remains to be seen whether Paige will take Drew up on his relocation plans and go to Portland, but unfortunately, it also gives Drew the leverage he needs to prove that being around this sort of thing could well be harmful to his son’s well-being, which could be used to his advantage if he’s the sort of guy that would use this to gain custody of his child via the court system. Expect this to come back to haunt Paige later on, as it seems like, at least for the time being, she’s continuing to side with the team- albeit just barely after what happened in this episode.

As of late, “Scorpion” is firing on all cylinders, doing a great job of balancing nerd tech and geek-friendly plotlines with “MacGyver”-style thinking on-the-fly gadgets and problem solving (i.e. this episode’s use of jumper cables as ad-hoc electroshock paddles to revive a flat-lining Nate- not to mention the decidedly alternate use of tampons!) and genuine heart and emotion, all of which rarely come together in one package as slickly as this one. A lot of shows take a while to find their groove, but this one certainly has hit the ground running, and that’s a good thing in this day and age, what with shows often dropping like flies if they don’t take off near-immediately, ratings-wise. More power to them.

What did you think about “Scorpion” this week? Did you like the whole gambit of a video game hiding government secrets? Did you fear for Ralph’s well-being? Do you think he’d be better off elsewhere? Will Drew use his son’s involvement with the team against his ex-wife? How about that old-school footage of “El Guapo”? Sound off below and I’ll see you next episode!