In its sophomore season, CBS’ Scorpion brought the laughs, tears, twists, and plenty of romantic shockers. The stakes were raised and both emotion and intelligence were tested. So, did season 2 turn out better than season 1? The Game Of Nerds weighs in…
Primetime television is a nasty business. Every show is fighting to make the cut for better airtime, better writers, and the network seal of approval for another season. For Scorpion, season 2 had its ups and downs, and was pretty typical for sophomore shows. When they had good episodes, they were really good (i.e. Fish Fillet, Robots), but when they were bad they were just embarrassing (looking at you Twist and Shout). I’ll have a full episode ranking out soon, but in general Scorpion had many average episodes, a few great episodes, and a handful of episodes I could live without. Season 2 brought with it some intriguing new storylines, though quite a few were left pretty dramatically unresolved.
Let’s look at the Quintis storyline first, with a particular emphasis on Happy Quinn. If you thought season 2 would be the cure of your aching need to learn more about Happy you were sadly mistaken. In fact, I’m even more puzzled by Happy’s past (and future) at the end of season 2. Usually I’d say this was a good thing, as characters need to be dynamic, interesting, and mysterious at times, but the general inconsistencies with her character have lead me to believe that Scorpion hasn’t really decided what they want to do with Happy yet. I trust the head writing duo of Nicholas Wootton and Nick Santora, but I do wish they had a better outline and understanding of who they wanted Happy to be at the start of the season. Don’t think I’m just spitting criticism here with no understanding — it was explicitly stated by the writers that they only decided on Happy’s twist ending until January. But regardless, many fans (including myself) were excited to see Happy and Toby finally get together. However, I did feel like the relationship between the two was a little too front-and-center. I would have preferred a more subtle existence through the end of season 2 and then have them hit some roadblocks in season 3. Toby even proposed in the season 2 finale, though Happy had never even told him that she loved him. So even though I am a HUGE Quintis shipper (like completely and totally obsessed with these two), I think the whole relationship was a little rushed. Also rushed were Toby’s gambling issues, which seem to come up only as the plot calls for them rather than presenting a clear and consistent problem.
Speaking of relationships with timing issues, the Walter and Paige situation had fans all out frustrated by Walter’s inability to admit his feelings. The two even explored other romantic avenues, all while sharing longing glances and flying through high-intensity action sequences filled with sexual tension. While there was a lot of progress there, there was even more regression. A kind of one step forward, two steps back sort of situation. Even though Walter did end up confessing that he loved Paige in the finale, I wanted to see more of them building their relationship together rather than simply in absence of each other. I felt that Waige was slightly overshadowed by all the Quintis drama, and I would rather have had Waige take a backseat and develop their relationship as friends for season 2 while Quintis took the spotlight. Leave season 3 for Waige development, because my understanding is that Waige will become the real deal in season 3, while who knows what the future of Quintis is. I think they tried to do so much in season 2, to the point that neither relationship got the airtime it deserves and needs in order to give them real depth. Similarly, Sylvester’s relationship with Walter’s sister Megan was cut short by her midseason death, and while it was a cute storyline, I had to wonder why it was necessary in the first place. I wanted to see how Megan’s death affected Walter more than anyone else, and he seemed a little quick to get over that. Was Megan not the main reason for most of what Walter did with his life? If I were Walter, I would have been totally lost after her passing, but instead the rush for a Walter/Paige romance required that Walter forget Megan rather quick.
The acting on the show has gotten a lot better and I’m constantly impressed with the line delivery from all characters. Scorpion really does have a solid cast that breathes life into the scripts. The case plots are generally hit or miss, so I’m well past the point of watching for that particular element, but the characters are just so good I find myself needing more of them. While on the topic of case plots, I think my number 1 wish for season 3 is a good villain for Team Scorpion. Mark Collins certainly filled this role in the finale, and I think the prospect of an enemy Scorpion couldn’t beat was why the finale was so exhilarating. Of course, Scorpion did outsmart Collins in the end, and viewers had little doubt this would be the case since there’s no way they were going to kill off fan favorite Toby Curtis. I think it would do the show some good to come across someone that’s a real challenge. It would be really interesting to see how Walter and the gang react when their genius fails them.
In my humble opinion, as both an avid lover of this show and as a casual critic of television, I believe the primary issue with Scorpion in its second season was the number of episodes. As much as I love having more Scorpion to watch and more time with these characters, I think the 24 episode season has too much room for the plot to try and fill. With a shorter season (say 16 to 18 episodes), it would force the writers to pick only the best cases and best storylines. Rather than 10 average subplots, there would be 5 really good ones that get fleshed out and last the length of the season. Each case could get more attention and be more carefully crafted. And honestly there were too many filler episodes that did little to advance the arcing plots, and I found myself thoroughly disappointed by the end of them because I didn’t get any plot advance. Though most CBS shows run at 22 to 24 episodes, season 2 has proved that there just isn’t enough compelling plot for that many hours. There are many plots in Scorpion that are very good, but I felt like they weren’t really focused and only touched on the surface of the issue. Of course, CBS has no plans of cutting the number of episodes, so perhaps the cases themselves could span over multiple episodes, going more in depth and creating more suspense. Just some ideas.
So all in all it was a decent season. Ratings are pretty good, though not as strong as they were early in season 1. The concept and the acting behind this show is great, and it has real potential moving forward, assuming the writers determine their plot line early on and stick to it. If you were to combine the best episodes from season 1 and 2 and get rid of everything else, you would surely have one of the best shows currently on television. Scorpion just needs to find it’s footing, determine what it’s really good at delivering. My hope is that season 2 was testing the waters, as most sophomore seasons are, and that in season 3 Scorpion will return with a much clearer idea of their ultimate goals.