Scorpion (S04E17) "Dumbster Fire"

Team Scorpion ventured into uncharted territory this week, when our favourite geniuses, stuck underground becoming dumber by the second, needed to rely on the superior intellect of Paige (Katharine McPhee) and Cabe (Robert Patrick) to rescue them from their latest precarious situation.

The episode begins with Paige playing Pictionary with Walt (Elyes Gabel) and some of her non-genius friends. Unfortunately for Paige however, Walt’s genius level IQ gets in the way of her fun, with Walt always choosing over-elaborate complicated ways to depict simple questions. She expresses her frustration with the rest of the team that they never dumb anything down for her because they feel it is beneath them and explains that she just wanted one night of non-genius stuff. This is, of course, foreshadowing the rest of the episode, with Paige soon to be the one that has to dumb things down for Walter and the rest of the team later on in the episode.

The team’s mission this week is to travel to the Rocky Mountains, where they must independently verify the results of an experiment at a neutrino detector station to ensure that the facility is not fabricating the results to obtain funding. When they arrive there, the team is told by Raja (Vik Sahay) that the air pressure after being so far underground for more than four hours will negatively affect their neural pathways, in effect making them less than genius.

The team spends the entirety of the four hours verifying that the results of the experiment were accurate, but just before heading back to the surface, Sly (Ari Stidham) suggests they go and see the particle accelerator before they leave. Walt agrees, surmising that since they are geniuses, their brains will take longer to be affected by the negative effects of being three kilometres underground for so long.  Whilst this may have been true, even Walter couldn’t have predicted the leaking hydrogen canisters that greeted them when they returned to the main room.

When they first entered the facility, they noticed prairie dogs in cages, also being studied in a separate experiment and it turned out that these rodents are the cause of all of their future troubles in this episode. It turns out that they have burrowed their way out of their cages and chewed through wires which in turn increased the pressure in the canisters and forced the nozzle off. Walter, assuming he is still at maximum cognitive function, confidently ‘fixes’ the wires in seconds. Cabe comments that this was incredibly quick and it soon becomes clear that rather than fix the problem, Walter has made this much worse. Whatever Walt did to the electrical systems jump-started the particle accelerator, and with all of the flammable gas now in the facility, if the team, with their rapidly declining intellect, don’t come up with something quickly, the research station and team will go up in flames.

When the team starts laughing hysterically at a fart joke, it becomes clear to Paige and Cabe that the situation is dire, but nonetheless, they are able to come up with something resembling a plan. Cabe and Paige will pull the roof off of the structure covering the mineshaft, while at the same time Toby (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Happy (Jadyn Wong) will use the powerful air purifiers to push a button to open the mineshaft releasing the hydrogen harmlessly into the atmosphere. With the aid of a water bottle and some accurate throwing by Happy, the mineshaft is opened, but with light now shining in and a water bottle left in the mineshaft by Toby earlier concentrating the light, the flammable gas goes up in flames and a huge explosion eliminates the mineshaft as a means of escape. Happy’s awe of the explosion (“awesome!”) is soon replaced by worry, as Toby chooses this moment to collapse from the aforementioned effects of being underground for so long.

It is never explained why the others don’t suffer the same fate at any point further down the line, but the team have ten minutes to save Toby’s life before he dies due to the amount of nitrogen flooding his system. While Walt believes the best chance of saving Toby is to get himself to the surface so he can become a genius again and think of a solution, they realise that this will take more time than Toby has, and it is Paige which comes up with the genius solution to save his life.

Remembering that it was an increase in air pressure which has caused these symptoms, she realises that they need to remove the pressure from Toby’s brain using a vacuum. She instructs the team on what they need to build a vacuum and talks them through the process, saving Toby’s life and making him a genius again in the process. Paige’s help doesn’t escape Walter, and he tells her he understands why she wants him to dumb things down occasionally for her now she has done the same for him, and that he is a tad envious that she lives her life having her EQ balance more with her IQ.

It is also never explained why they don’t use this process on the others to return them to their natural state, but plot holes aside, Toby is thrilled to finally be the smartest one on the team, especially considering the number of jibes which have been thrown his way throughout the episode by Walter and Happy – “Now you’re the Tobies!” he yells with delight. Having his genius IQ back, Toby can now come up with a solution to the active particle accelerator quickly approaching the necessary conditions needed for the slim chance of creating a black hole and ending life as we know it.

He, Happy and Sly will go to release a supply of Argon into the pipes which run over the particle accelerator, while Walter will saw through said pipes to release the supercool gas onto the accelerator and turn it off. Walter, without his genius intellect, doesn’t consider the possibility of the pipe falling if he saws all the way through it, and is left dangling with a choice of broken ankles by jumping off, burning to death by falling onto the accelerator and freezing to death when the gas hits. Thankfully Sly, Toby and Happy are able to provide a fourth option by running into the room and catching Walter before he can hit the ground. Back in daylight, the team prove their intelligence is back to its usual standards by reciting pi to the thirty-fifth digit both forwards and backwards and the team head back to the garage.

Whilst all of this has been going on, Ralph (Riley B. Smith) has been spending the day at a convention with Florence (Tina Majorino) where he has been doing his best to talk up Sylvester. It looks like Ralph’s work has paid off because Sylvester and Florence agree to work together on a project.

The episode ends on a slightly confusing note this week. Having spent some of this episode building the possibility of a relationship between Florence and Sylvester, the episode ends with Paige getting disappointed that Walter is no longer dopey and going back on his promise to listen to Moon River with her that night. This is then immediately followed with Florence admiring some designs for a particle accelerator Walter has drawn on the chalkboard, telling him his drawings were clear as day – the direct opposite of what Paige was telling him at the very beginning. Walter and Florence then begin passing the chalk backwards and forwards between each other, making improvements to the design. I’m not sure what the writers intended with this final scene, but it seems as though having built up the possibility of a Sylvester-Florence relationship, they are suddenly pivoting back to the possibility between a relationship between Florence and Walter. I guess that’s a question which will have to be answered in the coming weeks.

Scorpion returns with a new episode next Monday, March 5th at 10/9c on CBS.