“Talismans” is Scorpion’s 10th episode of the season. It is also the episode where I decide that either Santora reads my bucket list of requests for this show or we share the same sensibilities. I am by no means saying I’m at the same level of these writers, but I will go on to say that it is rare for me to say that I’m this satisfied by the episode sequence of any show these days. It is a solid hour of fun entertainment.
On to the recap, and review, after the jump.
This week, Walter’s sister Megan (Camille Guaty - Prison Break, Happyland) gets herself arrested after ditching her hospice. If you don’t remember, she’s in the advanced stages of MS. She’s tired of her hospice life, and wants to see more of Walter. He gives in and takes her to the team. They’re, of course, very awkward in Megan’s presence.
She stays behind while the team meets Cabe for their weekly mission: A plane carrying radar cloaking technology went down in Bosnia. The rebels trying to overthrow the government could sell it to the highest bidder and compromise US security. They will travel with three Seals commanded by Lt. James Corbin (Jake McLaughlin - Believe); Corbin is hostile about Scorpion’s presence. The downed plane was piloted by Captain Javier Barrios, he’s been reported dead and they have to recover his remains too. Paige convinces Gallo that she needs to go with them to ensure that they get along. Even as he worries about her other responsibilities, he recognizes that she’s the glue of Scorpion. She’s going.
I will from now on fight my urge to question that they’re sending civilians to a war zone.
Sylvester convinces Walter that he’d be of best use guiding them from Los Angeles, and Walter can tell that he’s avoiding the operation. He asks him to do him a favor, to keep an eye on Megan. Barrios’ wife asks them to put a picture of their family in her husband’s pocket when they find the body and to recover a necklace that he wanted to pass on to their son. The team is uncomfortable with the emotive request, but Paige vows to try to make it happen.
Back at the garage, Sylvester starts to gather information for the team but Megan distracts him even when he’s trying to seem distant and busy, Syl’s drawn to Megan’s careless nature. Cut to the badass musical montage: imagine every scene where you saw military outlaws prepare themselves for duty, now twist it around to match the awkwardness of team Scorpion and you’ve got it. Their clumsy doesn’t amuse the legitimate Seals that will be traveling with them though.
They soon land in Bosnia and go through the forest in the dark but they hit an obstacle on the road and blow a tire. Paige worries they will now be delayed as the Seals start to throw blame around. Walter takes her aside, revisiting the promise she made to Mrs. Barrios; he knows why people get attached to talismans, such as the picture and necklace she’s vowed to recover but he sees no value in them. Paige reminds him, they’re just a sign of humanity.
Happy light ups her flashlight and tries to figure out what’s wrong with the wheel, but they get attacked. Everyone runs to take cover, but the team separates, leaving Toby and Happy on the other side and away from the rest of the team. The bullet fight continues while Paige freaks out: none of them has any training for this situation and she also has her son on her mind. Walter tries to keep her calm, telling her that they’ll make it out, even though he doesn’t know how. This is progress for a man that relies on facts. They run deeper into the woods, as Happy and Toby run the other way and fall down a ravine.
Walter calls them via their satellite phone, going against Corbin’s wishes to use any device that could give away their location. Toby and Happy’s whereabouts isn’t clear so he calls Sylvester to have him help figure it out. They agree to meet up at a strategic place. Gallo then instructs them to not use their phones unless strictly necessary and puts Happy in charge. Happy is hurt and won’t let Toby check it out, continuing her stubborn streak.
Likewise, a member of the Seal team is hit and Corbin blames Scorpion for giving away their location when they used the flashlight; it gets confrontational and Gallo intervenes. Corbin takes away their phones, claiming that they’ll only get them once they’re back. Walter argues that the one thing that has worked in this mission are the elements controlled by Scorpion, like the phones, unlike the equipment and plans that the military provided. Paige breaks down the fight: the only thing worth fighting over is one of the objectives of their mission - recovering Captain Barrios’ body.
Back in LA, Sylvester tries to break into the Bosnian Ministry of Defense for intel. Megan tries to ease his stress, asking him about a box she found in Walter’s things. Inside there’s a bracelet she lost when she was twelve; Walter swore he hadn’t seen it. There’s other trinkets, like a casino chip that Sylvester recognizes as a keepsake of Toby’s first encounter with Walter, and there’s also a motel room key; Syl retreats, dodging the subject, troubled.
In Bosnia, the team reaches the downed plane. They don’t find a body and Walter argues that the heat must have incinerated the remains. This upsets Paige as she won’t be able to fulfill her promise. The rebels have already stolen the software and set the plane on fire to cover for it. But Cabe finds a blood trace: they’ve kidnapped Barrios to get the encryption codes. They’re no longer in a recovery mission, “this is now a rescue offensive. Get your game face on…” I love badass, Cabe Gallo.
As they suspected, Barrios (Ace Marrero - Body of Proof) is being tortured for the encryption code, and the rebels are not benevolent. Walter analyzes the black box; the plane was hacked, making it think that it was flying over Sarajevo instead of Bosnia and preventing the blackbox from sending a recovery signal. The rebels must have sent a signal from higher ground so the team heads West, looking for that spot.
Happy and Toby walk towards their meeting place, tired and hungry since they lost their supplies when they fell. She’s hurting so he forces her to let him take a look. She’s got a bad sprain and a cut and he takes his time to examine it. Toby reveals that he didn’t pursue medicine and became a shrink because he wanted to help his clinically bipolar mother and his struggling father, but it didn’t work. Toby compliments her toes and she complains that he turns into a wiseass the moment that he shows any humanity. It’s a defense mechanism to guard himself from feelings that she knows he has for her, Toby declares, and what better moment to say it than this one? They’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. She cuts him off, doing the same thing he does; her armor is back on. She spots a cottage on the top of the hill, and against Toby’s fears, they head over.
Meanwhile, the team crosses an almost barren field and one of the soldiers activates a mine. They have to move fast, it’ll be short time before the rebels get there as they surely heard the explosion. Walter figures that they have to jump from patch to patch of green grass as the chemicals from the mines corrode the land, they’ll be safe in those spots.
Toby and Happy reach the cabin, a time capsule of pop culture Americana. As they look for supplies, out comes a rifle-wielding Igor, the resident of the cabin (Michael Klesic - Shameless, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). He manages the satellite for the Bosnian government. He lowers his aim as he realizes they’re Americans, Igor loves Americans, so Happy asks him to use his computer to communicate with the team.
Back to the field, and the team manages to jump across it, but just as they’re about to get on the hill, Corbin trips another mine. Walter sets up to defuse it, but there’s a timer. Cabe and Paige get nervous, and Corbin asks him to go, but he won’t have it. Cabe tackles Walter to the ground, away from the mine; it goes off but doesn’t explode. The years and exposure have made it a dud.
At the cabin, Happy discovers that the last transmission that the antenna sent out was a set of GPS coordinates at the time the plane went down. Igor confesses that he allows the rebels to use the transmitter to send counterfeit porn, he didn’t know the truth. He then guides them to their hideout. Walter and the team plan to head over and Toby and Happy worry that this is out of their league, but they need to recover Barrios and the software. They set up a new meet-up place; if they don’t make it, Happy and Toby need to find a way home on their own.
Back at Scorpion’s headquarters, Megan breaks Sylvester’s defenses: he hacked a bank when he was fifteen and ran away from his family. When things turned south for him, he locked himself in a motel, considering suicide. Walter came to his rescue when the bank he gyped hired him to track the hacker; he never turned him in and instead helped him. Walter was there for him, and Syl beats himself up over the fact that now he’s not reciprocating it. Megan tries to make him see the value in the things he does for the team from afar, but he doesn’t fall for it.
The team gets to the hideout Corbin plans the strike. He will sneak in with Walter, and Cabe will secure transportation. Paige has to get the wounded soldier to the main road while they carry out the plans. In lieu of a talisman that he won’t believe in, Paige just wishes Walter to get home safe. I’m really looking forward to the day they kiss it out.
Walter and Corbin strike in, waiting until the rebels step out for a moment. I have to say it though, as much as I loved that they save the day, I kept going: “Wouldn’t the rebels hear them open gates, jump from ladders, feel their presence as they whispered to each other in this basement?” But that’s just me. Cabe and the remaining Seal try to jumpstart a funky looking van but the fan belt is broken and he calls Sylvester to try to get some help. He figures out that the only thing they’re carrying in their backpacks that could work is toilet paper: when braided it can make up for the missing fan belt. The reinforced arrangement would provide for elasticity, Megan confirms, surprising Sylvester with her unexpected knowledge… but she’s Walter’s sister after all, right?
The rebels come back as they’re trying to get out. Walter convinces the rebels that he can decode the software if they promise to free them. But the head rebel won’t let them leave until the software downloads, and Walter set it so that instead of giving them access, it automatically deletes itself once the process is done. He uses the time in between to create a distraction that allows them to overpower the rebels and escape just in time to catch the “Charmin Express”. They pick up Paige and the wounded seal on the way, and she gives Barrios the picture that his wife gave her. They also pick up Toby, as he walks down the road carrying an embarrassed Happy - Piggyback style.
They return home a proud team, each one with their own urges to return to normalcy. Corbin thanks Walter for his courageous help and gives him his unit’s challenge coin, for exemplary service on a mission. Walter doesn’t quite know what to make of it, but returns the gesture giving him a crack code for his DVR: free war movies for life. The exhausted team goes back home, where they get a warm reception by Megan and Sylvester; Syl promises to be with the team next time. Happy thanks Toby for taking care of her during the mission, and he claims that he could take better care of her if she’d just let him. She appreciates that he doesn’t give up, surprising him.
Walter questions how his box got out of his things, and Megan avoids the question recognizing how proud she is of Walter’s life… but she has to go back to her own boring one at the hospice. She thanks and kisses Sylvester for the great two days away from her reality, and really, why can’t we have her with them? Santora, you know you want to. Make her a regular.
As they leave, Megan comes clean and confronts Walter over the bracelet; he denies any attachment to talismans because they’re a sign of weakness to him, any attachment is, which explains a lot about how he carries out his relationships with Cabe, Paige and her - why he still keeps her at a distance even though he wants to help her. Superstition is shameful to him, even when he held onto that bracelet from when times were better for them. He will have to accept though that Megan is sick, and her time will be coming soon. They have to enjoy the time they have left, making new memories while they still can. So they do, enjoying a sunrise together at the beach.
Overall, I found this episode highly entertaining, though it’s hard to surpass last week’s. Written by Alex Katsnelson, “Talismans” had its own charm, it had a nice pace, a fair amount of emotional moments, and I highly enjoyed the sincere moments between Happy and Toby. They were justified, they were both placed in moments of high stress, questioning if they’d make it out alive, and I believed the timely confessions. I liked that they weren’t in vain as Happy owns up to that moment when they return to Los Angeles.
I also liked the small progress here and there between Walter and Paige, and let’s face it, this woman risked her life to make sure that Walter made it back alive. I don't think he has to worry about what she feels, but perhaps it is time for him to show more of his hand. The progress between Megan and Walter, as sad as it is to rationalize it, is needed. She’s on a ticking clock to be able to enjoy what life is left in her, so I predict that soon enough she will also be helping Scorpion out, enjoying those few moments of excitement she has left.
Plus, we’ve opened a whole new door with her “bonding” with Sylvester. As awkward as it was, and resistant as he was, it is just a matter of time until he lets her know more of him… if he were able and exposed to her presence that is.
I wonder what decision they’ll make in the writers room… will they bite the bullet of the dramatic option and actually let Megan die, or allow for Walter to become the ultimate genius hero and find a way to save her? As much as a we give the writers license each week to test the believability of certain concepts, to give permission for fiction to stretch reality, I wonder if they’ll allow that painful moment of reality to come in the future. Genius hasn’t solved all the problems in the world after all. I think I’d appreciate the tragic option; they always save the day, a bubble bursting moment like that could bring new depths to this show.
In terms of stretching reality, my only complaint this time around as I mentioned early on, was the believability of sending civilians to a conflict area, as much as the area had been declared “safe”. I don’t plan to test out a replacement fan belt for my car made out of toilet paper, but you know, I’d believe it could work in an emergency.
That’s it for this week, have a great thanksgiving everyone!
Pictures courtesy of CBS Entertainment.