Scorpion “Area 51” Review (Season 2 Episode 8)

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On the latest episode of “Scorpion,” the show once again aimed for that fanboy sweet spot, with a visit to the fabled “Area 51.” Somewhat amusingly, it was actually Paige that was the true believer here, while the geniuses actually sided with the voice of scientific reason- at first, at least.

Unfortunately, as with the “Super Happy Fun Guy”-themed episode of a few weeks ago, Sly was sidelined for this one, though, in all fairness, I’m not sure there was much he would have added to the proceedings had he been there in the flesh. In fact, as we saw, he actually kind of saved the day from afar, albeit with a fair amount of bluffing on Walter’s part in the clutch at one point.

The reason for this, of course, was once again Megan, whose condition continued to worsen, despite the measures taken by her in previous episodes. This time, however, she finally let Walter in on what was going on, which caused him to go into recklessness overdrive, although, this time around, everyone was all too happy to go along with him, in hopes of helping to save Megan, which Walter was convinced he could do with the right influx of cash.

So, at least there was a solid reason for Walter’s frantic behavior that went beyond simple carelessness of the team’s well-being in light of his own tunnel vision. Most of those who agree with me in this assessment have chalked it up to PTSD from his near-death experience in last season’s finale, though I’m beginning to think that it’s actually in part from a lack of control of his surroundings, including the thing with Megan, which has caused him to act a bit out of character. Either way, it’s clear that everyone is starting to notice and they’re finally starting to call Walter on it, for better or for worse.

For the most part, they were onboard with it in this episode, however. Really, the only thing that went sideways because of Walter was his hesitation to leave the plane when Cabe said they should, which was almost immediately proved to be right when the bad guys returned and they were trapped on the plane right along with them. However, it was a fortuitous move, as that hesitation allowed Cabe and Walter to take control of the situation ultimately and get back control of the plane and bring it back down to earth before it was too late and the technology fell into the wrong hands.

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On the negative side, it also nearly cost them their lives, as once they did, the plane had gone into a nose dive that served to knock them out before they could regain control over the plane itself. Thanks to some quick thinking and an assist from a drone controlled by Sly, he was able to hack into the plane and right it just in time to save them, with Happy helping Walter to land the monster plane on the fly, if you’ll pardon the pun. As the show has proven time and again, this is a unit that works best as a team, and when they get away from that, trouble is always sure to follow.

Indeed, the show had some fun tweaking a lot of the fans’ main complaint that it had a tendency to get a bit repetitive in terms of plot structure by having Toby make a series of predictions that actually ended up sounding like a laundry list of complaints, such as the tendency of the show to put the team in a situation that seemingly is an easy solve at first blush, only to escalate into something far worse, or the tendency for things to go from bad to worse at the exact worst time and place.

While it doesn’t change the fact that the show is absolutely guilty of all the charges Toby was leveling at it, it was at least a wink and a nod at viewers in a sort of meta way that the writers knew that fans were thinking that and that they acknowledged that there was a pretty blatant formula at work here. Does simply letting us know that they know they are following a formula make it any better? Not really, but at least they’re being honest about it. How could they not when they’ve reused similar plotlines not just within the same season, but with mere episodes of one another?

I guess, in a big way, it was the show’s way of saying: you know we’re doing it, we know we’re doing it, can’t we just agree to let it slide in the hopes of showing you a good time? Well, easier said than done, especially if you’re someone tasked with reviewing the show week to week, but I will say that, I did indeed have fun with this episode, and it had some great moments, as did even the shows I was most critical of this season.

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I think that’s a testament to the characters in particular, that even those of us with the biggest complaints in regards to the formula at hand are willing to overlook things to a certain point, simply because we enjoy the show. It might also be a bigger problem in the not-so-distant future as well, but, at the same time, I’d be hard-pressed to say how the show could fix things, either.

I guess the best advice I could give would be to, at the very least, watch how closely one puts certain types of plotlines together, so that things don’t get too repetitive. Fans might love the characters now, but push your luck and even that might not save the show in the clutch. In short, try and mix things up a bit by doing the unexpected from time to time. That, I really do think the writers are capable of, as evidenced by, for instance, the excellent super-sized episode a few weeks back.

Going into that, I was concerned it would end up being unnecessarily padded, but instead, it ended up being one of the better episodes of the show overall. Indeed, it left you wanting more, which is saying something for a show I have heavily criticized for wrapping things up a little too neatly at times, much less in an episode that was a good fifteen minutes longer than a normal one.

But here’s the thing: the fact that the show was even able to pull that off shows that the show CAN pull it off. The writers just need to buckle down and think of unique ways they can shake things up that keep the viewers guessing. Once again, I get that something like that is easier said than done, but I do think it needs to be done, lest the show grow stale and predictable. I mean, it’s a show about a group of geniuses, for God’s sake- why not get some real-life geniuses on board to help make it that much more realistic? I know the show already has consultants to that end. Maybe import a few more to help? It certainly couldn’t hurt matters.

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Until such time, this was an enjoyable enough episode, with some great character moments: Happy and Toby’s alien-induced panic; Cabe’s mid-air, gravity-defying fist fight with one of the bad guys as the plane went into a nose dive; and Sly saving the day via drone, then inadvertently saving the day again, even though he’d lost contact with Walter, thanks to Walter’s quick thinking- and last-minute bluffing. Definitely some good stuff here and some solid dramatic scenes as well, thanks to the whole Megan situation. I honestly wasn’t sure which way that would go, given the circumstances.

The show could certainly use more of that sort of unpredictability, as it makes for great drama. The fact that almost every episode has moments like this, in spite of the formula is not only a testament to the writers, but proof positive that they are capable of better. So, it can be done, team “Scorpion,” rest assured. Much like the fictional team themselves, you just have to work together to make it so.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Scorpion”? Did you enjoy the “Area 51” plotline? Do you wish they’d pushed it further, perhaps in a more “X-Files”-ish direction? Lest we forget, after all, Patrick himself was a vet of that show. Or is the show better off avoiding the fantastical? Especially since a lot of what they already do is pretty questionable at times!

What do you think will happen with Megan? Will Walter be able to save her in the clutch? Or is he headed into a nosedive that the team can’t hope to save him from this time? Will his plan still work, or will it be too little, too late? Make your predictions down below, and feel free to chime in with other ways you think the show could be better!