Scorpion is racing to the finish line of their first season and the latest episode, rightfully titled "Cliffhanger" brings everyone to the edge of their seats.
To read our Recap and Review, you know what to do.
We land in the outskirts of Los Angeles at the Campbell Neurotoxicity Lab; a couple of lab technicians discuss their upcoming nuptials. It's very cute, and you know this won't end well. Sarah (Vedette Lim - Stalker, Chicago Fire) mans the controls, while her fiance, Jim Stone (Sunkrish Bala - Hot in Cleveland, The Walking Dead) goes into the sealed lab while wearing a hazmat suit. His oxygen levels start to drop, and they try jump-starting the supply but it's not working. He can't exit the enclosure because the doors won't unlock... then sarin gas starts to leak in through the air vents. This won't end well at all.
Meanwhile, at Scorpion, Toby tries to train the ferret they now have as a pet, prompting some ribbing from Happy who still hasn't forgiven him for standing her up on their date. Enter multimillionaire Richard Elia (Andy Buckley). Remember how the guys saved his daughter when she was kidnapped? Well, he's back, with a cheap, rusty magnet for Walter's engine and to loan him a very expensive red Ferrari, for research.
Toby and Happy think that the man is poaching him, but Walter resisted before and his stance hasn't changed. He's enjoying the shiny car, though. Paige and Ralph arrive just as Elia leaves, and Walter rushes to show the kid the features on the engine of the car. Ralph is all dressed up, his own choice of outfit; it's picture day at school. That's when Toby and Happy notice that after a few adjustments, the kid is dressed exactly like Walter. Paige observes this... She's indeed raising Walter in more ways than one.
Sly barges in, excited about a rare, vintage, rubber Super Fun Guy figure from the 70's that he's just received. They're going to get the rest of the figures as well, the entire team, just like Scorpion. Ralph initially rejects the action figure because he thinks that he's not part of Scorpion, but they're quick to dismiss this, citing all the instances he's helped, and they assure him that he's part of the fold. Paige definitely thinks that he's getting too spoiled.
At Homeland, Merrick briefs Gallo on the current situation at the lab. Whoever has hacked into the lab facility has complete control of it, trapping everyone inside and with the ability to kill everyone by spreading the nerve agent through the ventilation system. Twenty-three scientists are in danger, including Jim Stone, who's still locked in the enclosure. The hacker has kept the O2 levels low enough to keep him barely breathing. If he takes his suit off, he's dead. But that's not the only problem.
The Baghdad issue is coming back to haunt them, front and center. The hacker has requested that the President addresses the nation, coming clean with the details of the operation. They'd have to admit how they missed their intended target, killing two thousand civilians, and the cover up that followed. They have no way to trace the way back to the attacker and the only thing they know is that the emails have been coming from a cell phone. They've been given ninety minutes or will have to face the consequences. They've already spent forty of those. They need to get to it ASAP, before the media gets a hold of the truth.
The threat is that if any of the sarin gas were to exit the facility, it could possibly kill thousands of Angelenos. Scorpion gets a brief about the layout of the labs, and while Happy has a very hands on approach as to how to save Stone from asphyxiating, SWAT warns them that the hacker can see their actions and release the gas, making the situation worse.
Everything in the lab is under his control. Sly can't get in the system and Walter admits to Cabe that they won't be able to regain control in time. He's also concerned that because of his ties to the Baghdad operation, his efficiency would be compromised. Even though Gallo argues that what's happening is not his fault, Walter designed the software used for the bombings. The hacker wants revenge, but Cabe won't let his protege take the blame, that weight rests on his shoulders.
The hacker emails again. The time is up and he's about to take action. On the monitors they watch Stone collapse as the O2 in his suit runs out. Sarah goes hysterical trying to overrun the system but she can't. Sly pleads for them to turn off the monitors and not see this, but Stone grows desperate and takes off his helmet, breathing in the sarin gas and dying immediately. Sarah just lost the love of her life.
The media has gotten a hold of this information, already doubting the power of the authorities to stop more deaths, and Merrick informs them that the hacker will now kill everyone in sixty minutes if they don't give into his demands. The problem is that they can't get into the internal system of the labs. Paige worries that Sarah is breaking down as she's forced to remain in vigilance of her dead fiance. Toby admits they're all overwhelmed on a base level, internalizing all of this. That's when Walter figures out that the reason why they haven't been able to access the network is because it's contained inside the building due to an internal hardware issue. If they can get in, and fix it, they should be able to take over.
Merrick informs Gallo that they've found a middle ground solution to the hacker's demands. Since the President can't come on record to admit their mistake, they're going to release the data about the operation as a "run of the mill" declassification of records. But this is not what the hacker wants and this will also release correspondence that happened between them that would reveal information that will disrupt the relationship between Walter and Cabe. But Merrick doesn't care. So Cabe takes the bull by the horns and decides to come clean.
Cabe reminds Walter that he told him the truth; he had no idea that his technology would be used for ammunitions, but just to deliver aid packages. Walter was just a kid then and he would have never lied to him; the truth, the absolute truth of what transpired, was different. Cabe tries to appease him, also reminding him how much he cares about him.
Three days before the bombings Merrick had informed Gallo of the true agenda. Cabe knew about the bombings and didn't tell him. He was concerned that Walter would have disabled the software and made them abort the mission and that was exactly what Walter admits he would have done. He would have landed himself in prison for that, and Cabe would have been tried for treason. Cabe had no idea that civilians would be killed though; their target was an Iraqi leader. Walter doesn't react right away, in fact, we've seen this Walter before... he's gone back to his detached self, not letting on what his true feelings are, and leaving him to continue tackling the breach, leaving Cabe without a clue of what this information affects him.
Back in the operational trailer, the guys have found the server hub in Zone 1 of the Lab. Walter is non-responsive, deep in thought and this concerns everyone. When he finally reacts he goes into full emotionally stunted mode. He wants to get a hold of Sarah to get her to help them out, but Paige tries to make him understand that she's in no condition to deal with what they need to do after just having lost her fiance. Something is up and she wants him to be more sensitive. Walter has no patience for this, or Paige's bedside manner. Despite this, she manages to get the information across.
Meanwhile at Ralph's school, he's gotten himself in trouble with the principal. They discuss the significance of "appropriateness" as the kid has put his whole class in a state of shock after telling them about the effects of the sarin gas. She gets pulled away and Ralph takes this moment to log onto the internet and catch a video feed of the news. Scorpion is doing their best to resolve the situation, and the reporter admits that with the gravity of the attack, they need all hands on deck. Cue to the kid, to decide that as a part of the Scorpion team he must be there as well, so he sneaks out of school to go help.
At the labs, the team guides Sarah through the hallways to reach the server that's been compromised. She reaches the wires and shows them with her camera phone that they have been cut. Thanks to her information about their systems protocols she knows that no one has left the building since the morning, and this confirms their greatest fear: this is an inside job. Walter tries his best to connect with her and ease her worries of being caught by the hacker now that she's moved out of her lab. They all try to guide her back to it but she's too emotional, so Cabe gives it a go. He wants to calm her down, get her to trust them... trust being the operative word.
Just as Cabe starts to connect with the woman, Walter loses it. His reaction startles everyone as he blows up about their previous discussion, letting it all out. He won't believe him again or trust him. The worst of it being that he demands to Merrick that Gallo must leave at once and that by the end of the operation they won't be working with Cabe ever again. He has to leave or Walter will quit. So Cabe takes the rational street, and exits the trailer.
Walter orders Silvester to guide Sarah back to her lab, while Paige demands clarification of what just happened, but Walter brushes her off. Even Toby and Happy are on the same page about this: it isn't good. Paige goes to Cabe; she's level headed about this situation and wants to talk it out. Gallo isn't giving up about his role in the team, despite Walter pushing him away. He regrets not having had the guts to come clean earlier, and this separation is his greatest fear. Paige promises to do whatever she can to mend the situation, but Cabe fears that this time it might not be something they can come back from.
Back in the operations center, the guys have located a man whose behavior leads them to believe he's the one behind it all. The neurobiologist, Dr. Simon Boyd, (Alexander Chaplin - The Good Wife, Scrubs). His profile fits the part: he worked in Baghdad, and his girlfriend was a victim of the bombings. From his office he can control all of the building and release the nerve gas. This is indeed a revenge mission.
Paige insists that Walter needs to bring Cabe back, but he thinks he's just a distraction and he'll fill the gap left by his dismissal. Happy and Toby figure that a way to get back into the building is to access it via the incinerator's chimney since it wouldn't have surveillance. They would access it using magnets such as the one Walter received this morning from Elia. They tap into the municipal gas line to stop the supply, but the lab has its own tanks, which allows it to restart the incinerator after an interval that Sylvester can't precisely estimate.
Walter suits up to descend into the incinerator and asks Toby to come with him, but Paige stops him. The right person to come to his aid, to enter a building with a madman holding a city hostage, would be Cabe Gallo. Despite the mechanical way that Walter goes about claiming that Cabe is "deceitful", Paige doesn't allow him to take this route and forces him to take his help, for the greater good.
Both men get ready, equipped with magnets and a torch that will allow them to not only weld but to cut through metal. Walter and Cabe descend, and he uses the moment to reach out to the younger man. They're both traumatized by their wounds over the Baghdad operation, both riddled with guilt and resentment for the aftermath. The incinerator turns on again, and the magnets stop working because of the heat; they need to figure out a solution soon. Paige suggests that they access the building through one of the sides of the shaft. Happy calculates the best way thanks to the data Toby provides via the building's blueprints and they cut a hole in the vent shaft to access a crawl space.
Ralph arrives at the scene, but is intercepted by one of the policemen and put in a patrol car while they contact authorities. He can hear what's going on inside the vent via the police radio; Walter needs to hurry up and cut the hole before Cabe slips into the incinerator's fire. At this moment, Walter manages to forget about his grudge and both men help each other into the crawl space and out of the fire's harm.
They rush to the server's hub but Boyd sends out another threat. They have four minutes until he releases the gas. If they can manage to repair the link to the server, everyone will be able to make it out. Cabe and Walter separate to free the hostages the minute the server is repaired making use of a moment that Simon is distracted and doesn't spot their movement in the outer halls. Walter goes directly to Boyd's office and continues to draw his attention while Cabe takes off with the rest of the scientists. But the man is intelligent enough to know this is a set up, and looks behind him to the monitors. They've been made.
While Boyd rushes to try and override Sylvester's control over the system, Walter tries to connect with him, letting him know that he was responsible for the Baghdad operation. Simon doesn't believe him. Walter pleads for the lives of the innocents, that it's he who Simon wants. But the deranged man wants more, he wants justice for his girlfriend and Walter is not going to satisfy that, so he pulls a gun on him. No amount of empathy will get through to him. Simon rids Walter of his earpiece, releases the gas, and communicates to the rest of the team that he's about to take Walter out front and kill him on live TV.
In the patrol car, Ralph hears Sylvester's concerns about the gas spreading through the areas of the building so the kid devises a distraction to get the policemen away from the area, allowing him to get inside the lab to try to help Cabe and Walter.
Gallo reaches Sarah and urges her to get out, they only have one minute to evacuate each zone of the building. They make it out, and Cabe tries to coordinate with Merrick on how to use their men to defend Walter from Simon, but his boss is more concerned with evacuating the area. The vent is still open and it would allow the gas out putting everyone at risk.
That's when Sylvester spots Ralph running through the halls of the building, causing Paige to freak out. They don't know what he's doing, until he crawls into the vent that Cabe and Walter used to get in. He's trying to save the city. Paige, Happy and Toby rush to the roof to get to the boy while Sly controls the incinerator to protect him from the heat.
Walter continues to plead. He has the best intentions at heart since the bombings happened, and he wants to save as many lives as he contributed to deaths. But Simon won't listen.
They only have a few seconds to save the city from the gas and Merrick is freaking out, ordering Sly to leave his post, but he won't until he's sure that every member of his team, including Ralph, is safe.
On his end, the kid manages to crawl out of the side space and into the shaft using the magnets. He pulls the piece of tin back into place and uses the heat of the incinerator to melt Sylvester's doll and seal the seam, trapping the gas inside. Paige, Happy and Toby arrive at the roof and urge him out. The heat is too high for him to spend too much time in the shaft.
Simon and Walter emerge at the lobby of the lab, and Cabe has them in the sights of his sniper rifle. He's ready to shoot the hacker the minute that they come outside. Simon rants that if Walter really cared about people's lives, all those people wouldn't have died, that he only cares about his own life. But Walter calls his bluff. He's accusing him of doing the same thing he's doing. So Walter sucker punches him, tackling the gun away from the man and running, opening the doors but cutting the link to the server as he runs out of the building, hence blocking Sylvester's and not allowing him to control the incinerator.
Walter stops in his tracks, realizing that he can't let the man stay inside, but it's too late. Simon dies as the gas reaches the area. Happy and Toby scramble to hang Paige down the shaft to reach out to Ralph, saving him just in time before the fire reaches him. She's sick with worry, but Ralph appeases her, he's part of the team, he acted for the greater good.
Merrick regroups with Walter. The labs will be restored, cleanup will happen. He wants to discuss Gallo's situation but Ralph interrupts them. He's so proud of himself and Paige cannot help but ponder about the dangers his son is exposed to. Gallo also comes to regroup, but Walter hasn't forgiven him. He's not his kid, he claims. He's not at kid, period. And this hits Gallo where it hurts; he'll resign from Scorpion, effective immediately.
The media praises Scorpion left and right as the team regroups and Walter prepares for Cabe's exit from their operations. Sly, Toby and Happy are not okay with this plan, but Walter doesn't consider that Cabe can earn his trust again.
Paige arrives to talk to Walter and she's obviously distraught. Ralph is resting, with Drew. The rest of the guys immediately sense there's trouble. Walter misjudges Paige's concerns, thinking she's just worried about Cabe's exit, but the truth is that she doesn't think she can be part of Scorpion either. The happenings of the day overwhelm her, and Walter is taken aback by her decision and the criticism that copying him is any good to her son. They'll be moving to Maine with Drew.
Walter thinks that she's sacrificing way too much by making this decision but she's thinking of her son's safety. He counters, calling out to that sense of the greater good she clung to earlier, but she's too far gone into her fear and the decision that's been made. She doesn't want Ralph to die trying to imitate him. "Is it so awful to be me?" Walter asks, provoking a desperate response from her. She doesn't want Ralph to grow up to become Walter O'Brien. No matter how much he argues that her choices are wrong, that Drew has abandoned them already, he's not Ralph's father and that's something he can't change. He can't figure out what to say, stopping short from any confessions.
Paige storms out, leaving everyone and everything broken in her wake, prompting Walter into a crazy tailspin. He grabs the Ferrari and goes for a crazy fast drive up Mulholland Drive. Visibly upset, he swerves and turns, too fast for any unforeseen objects on the road, like a coyote he tries to avoid, causing him to lose control and go off the road and down the cliff.
Directed by Sam Hill, "Cliffhanger" is one of the most dramatically intense episodes of this first season, in my opinion.
Every character struggled to pull in their own direction, to protect what is most dear to each, and that didn't necessarily mean that things work out for the best. This is a scenario that has been brewing thanks to seeds planted and has now have bloomed into a beautiful disaster.
One can make the argument that Walter's reaction to Cabe's confession is way too over the top. I actually pointed it out on my live tweeting on the day, but now I wonder, isn't this the consequence of pushing him to actually let his emotions take over? Isn't this part of the "work" that Paige has been trying to do on all of them? There's a lot of good that comes with feelings, but also some very bad and unexpected things. This begs the question, would the Walter O'Brien from that first day at the diner react this way to Gallo's confessions? Cabe has had sixteen years to make up for his mistakes, and has proven how much he cares for him... so, can't that be taken into consideration? Is there room for grey in Walter's black and white psyche?
If anything, this show has proven that it's very hard to judge the development of an "unemotional character". Elyes Gabel often makes me question why I have mixed feelings over Walter. I don't know if I love him, but I don't know if I hate him. It challenges my empathy sometimes. What I always come to is that I hope that this gifted man-child finds middle ground. The question remains... is it him that needs to adapt, or is it the rest of the world?
This season's penultimate episode was very aptly named, to the point where Walter actually goes off a cliff. Right now every character feels like they are falling off of their so carefully crafted center, safety built over a year, and the reality they were living is now being tested. Will they be able to come back to a Scorpion without Cabe? Without Paige? Or even... without Walter?
Not everything was dreadful news: Toby and Happy, despite not being quite back to their lovely banter, are softening. You can see the cracks in Happy's resolve. They work as a team despite their beef. Sylvester and Ralph proved the bravery that their characters had lacked. They stood for their ideals, for what they love, for that greater good. Ironically, those that during all these times were the ones pushing them to take those leaps of faith are the ones now finding themselves not prepared to face the consequences.
Paige's response is understandable as a mother, maybe irrational to some, but in accordance to her maternal instincts, even when it may be an easy way out in some aspects. Ralph is not going to be a different kid because they move to Maine with Drew. There's no one that can stop that train. He is who he is. Katharine McPhee's performance is so moving though, that even when I can find a million reasons to argue against her character's decisions, I felt deeply for her. The moment of the discussion between her and Elyes Gabel hit me in the gut. It was really powerful.
I made a comment on Twitter about how I felt that Robert Patrick looked thinner in this episode, and I honestly don't know if it's one of those lucky coincidences, but this actually worked dramatically for him. We've been seeing this build up about the Baghdad situation during the last few episodes, and this week the guilt, the grief, the weight of his decisions over time, the pain that losing Walter brings to him, was significant and believable. He is a father losing a son. He's a man losing a friend. Cabe is losing the family he hoped to have in Scorpion.
Tune in for the season finale, titled "Postcards From The Edge"... it promises to break my heart into tiny little pieces.