“Keep It in Check, Mate”
Original Airdate: February 13, 2017
This week’s Scorpion episode pitted team members against each other in more ways than one. While the case of the week was fun — and the secondary storyline with Happy, Cabe, and her father was very interesting and carried the emotional weight of the episode — I cannot help but feel slightly disappointed that the episode did not pick up from the previous episode’s strong character developments.
The case was fun and exciting, sending Walter, Sly, Paige, and Toby to the fictional former Soviet country of Sardovia. Their mission was to help extract a Sardovian national, and chess grand master, working for the CIA. The case sends them on another adventure in which Paige has to break down a wall between the ladies’ room and the men’s, Toby and Paige have to build a landing spot using the world’s largest ball of dough, Toby steals a garbage truck, and the whole team, with the asset, sneaks through old sewers to cross the border.
In order to get to the asset, though, the team has to play their way through a chess tournament, and that is where the problem begins. After an incident involving a sneeze and a flying rook years ago, members of the team — mainly Sly and Walter — have vowed never to play chess again because it brings out the worst in them. They need, however, to set this rivalry aside in order to extract Natalya Abelev. However, they can barely put it aside long enough to avoid jeopardizing the mission at some point. And everyone can see how competitive these two can get and to what extremes they would go to win (or to just not lose).
Meanwhile, back at the garage, Cabe has some unfortunate news for Happy’s father, Patrick. It seems that Patrick has had some slightly shady connections in his time and the Feds want him to testify against one of those shady connections. The deal that Cabe manages to get him involves him surrendering, testifying and serving two years in jail. Happy is not happy at all about this. She blames Cabe for ambushing her father, for not doing enough for him, and spends the episode trying to figure out how to help him escape.
Being the genius that she is, she does find a way for him to escape, and sets him up with a getaway plan as well. And while she watched her father get processed from the garage, she took her chance and unlocked the door for his escape... but he chose not to. Happy’s breakdown was the highlight of the episode. Her anger at Cabe is understandable as well. She wants nothing more than for her father, the father she only just got back into her life recently, to walk her down the aisle. Instead, now he will be locked in prison when she gets married. The projection of her anger onto Cabe soon dissolves, and he is there to comfort her.
That moment, when Happy watches her dad being taken away, was by far one of the most heartbreaking and emotionally strong moments the show has delivered. It was so well-acted in its subtlety and in the sheer desperation felt. Cabe is great in that moment as well, being there for Happy as a friend and as a father figure.
However, despite this being the strongest aspect of the episode, I still felt it was a wasted opportunity for Toby and Happy. Those two did not get a single scene together, all their moments happening off-screen, despite the emotional trauma that Happy was in. I think it would have been a great opportunity to show the viewers and fans of this ship a moment between those two. They’ve had great moments in the past where they support each other through things like this, and they did end the previous episode on a strong note in the development of their relationship.
The other relationship that was focused on this week was Sylvester and Walter’s, but that one concentrated on their rivalry at playing chess. It highlighted some of their character flaws, mainly Walter’s competitiveness and inability to accept that someone may be better at him at something. It was fun to watch, that’s for sure — but again, I felt it was a wasted opportunity.
And finally, the episode did showcase one more relationship: Ralph and Paige’s. It seems that as he is growing older, Ralph is starting to show the typical signs of a growing boy as he moves away from seeing his mom as the source of all knowledge and has started seeking advice elsewhere. Ralph came to the guys with a girl problem — it seems the little genius got invited by two girls to the dance — and the fact that he didn’t go to Paige clearly upset her. At the end of the episode, the guys convince him not to cut his mom out and Ralph goes to her to ask for dancing lessons.
Like I said, while I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and was blown away by the moment where Happy broke down, I felt that, after the strong episode from the week before, it was a wasted opportunity to capitalize on that development and push it forward.