- "No matter how hard we try, we're still a million miles from normal."
"Pilot" is the first episode of Scorpion. It aired on September 22, 2014.
Walter O'Brien and his team of super geniuses are recruited by the government when a communication system shuts down, leaving 56 planes unable to land.
In Callan, Ireland, three black helicopters fly in and outside a remote house. A military team quickly disembark and enter the house. They rush up the stairs to find a young, visibly scared, Walter O'Brien who is holding up a paper. He tells them if they sign the immunity agreement that he's holding, he'll tell them how he hacked into NASA. All of the men in uniform express shock that the hacker named "Scorpion", is just a little kid. The team leads the young boy out in handcuffs, where he tells his parents and sister that he just wanted the shuttle blueprints for his wall. At the end of the driveway, two black SUV's pull up. A young Cabe Gallo approaches him, bends over so they are eye to eye and asks the boy his name.
The scene shifts over to Walter sitting at a table with his current girlfriend Janice Keller. He has scheduled breaking up with his girlfriend at a job site to maximize time. Janice tells him that despite the fact that he's trying to be normal, he's still a million miles away. She leaves, and Walter goes to fix the WiFi. While hooking up the internet, Walter sees a young boy named Ralph sitting alone with salt shakers and condiment packets, waiting for his mother Paige to finish her day shift at the restaurant. Walter watches as the owner of the restaurant, Nemos, yells at Ralph, because he's making a mess. Paige tries to comfort Ralph, saying that Nemos just likes things neat and there's nothing wrong with him, but Ralph pulls away from her touch. As Walter is walking out, he stops in front of Ralph and moves one of the condiments (ketchup, spice packs, and salt and pepper shakers), while Ralph also moves one after Walter makes a move. Just as he finishes moving one last piece, Paige comes over suspicious of the interaction and asks if she can help Walter. Walter tells her he's okay but she should help Ralph. As he's walking out, to the shock of both Nemos and Paige, he tells Nemos not to yell at the boy.
As he's driving back to the garage, where he both lives in the upstairs loft, and works with his team "Scorpion" on the lower floor, Walter listens to the radio where a DJ is having a contest asking how many months have 28 days. Walter says all of them, while the woman on the radio says it's February. The DJ tells her she's won and Walter calls them idiots. When he enters the garage, he finds his co-workers working on an array of tasks. Sylvester Dodd is working on an elaborate math problem to calculate how much electricity they can steal without being caught, whilst Happy Quinn is rewiring the cables to get that electricity from the neighboring building.
Walter questions why they are stealing electricity, when they were recently paid from the "Credit Nationale" job. Sylvester tells him that he started calculating things and got lost in the numbers, with Happy adding that he also forgot to pay the rent, the electric, and the water bill. Now they can't find the money and it was all in cash. Happy mentions that Toby had gone to collect the "Linwood Payment", leaving Walter wondering where he is.
Toby is seen running from a car and eventually dives into the warehouse, hushing the others. Toby explains that he gambled their "Linwood Payment" and tripled the amount, because his opponents had very obvious "tells" but the guys he played against weren't happy about that. The two men get to the small garage regular door, pounding on it and trying to break in. When black SUV's pull up with police lights flashing, they ask the man who gets out to help them get their money back from the guy who cheated them. Cabe Gallo tells them to get lost. When they start to argue, Cabe tells them that he can plant things on them and arrest them instead. The two men take off without another word.
Cabe pounds on the door, stating that he's Homeland Security whilst he slides his badge under the door. Toby opens the door, but the moment Walter sees who it is, he tells him to leave. Cabe say Walter needs to trust him, and Walter states that's not going to happen. Cabe tries to tell Walter how tell Walter that he has been keeping tabs on him and his team, but it's just a coincidence that they're coming together because of a crisis. Toby calls him out on several lies that he tells, but Cabe changes tactics and tell the team he needs their expertise. LAX had an update in their software that morning, but the coding was corrupt. Because of this issue, there are now 56 planes in the sky unable to land. He explains that they will each get a check for $50,000 as soon as they solve the problem.
After a few minutes of the team arguing with Walter on whether or not to help Cabe, Sylvester explains the statistics and that without their help, all of those planes will crash into LA. Walter agrees to work with Cabe, but makes it clear that he doesn't trust him.
They head to LAX in one of the SUV's, with all of them making comments, Sylvester coming up with a new percentage of likelihood of failure when they get stuck in traffic. Walter tells everyone to be quiet a moment and then says that they don't need to get to the airport; they just need a strong WiFi signal. Walter tells Cabe he just set one up that morning and directs him to Nemos' restaurant.
Cabe and the team rush into the diner, stating it's closed. Nemos begins to complain, but one of Cabe's agents gives some money to Nemos. Nemos rushes everyone out of the restaurant but stops Paige from leaving. She clarifies that since there are no customers, then she doesn't get tips. Nemos tells her his citizenship is questionable and demands she stay with the team just before rushing out the door. When Happy and Toby begin openly discussing in a loud voice what will happen when the planes start to crash, Paige comes up to them and tells them to be decent in her place of work. This causes both Toby and Happy stop talking about what the disasters will be like and actually concentrate on what they're doing.
Paige stops by Walter's table to drop off a glass of water, saying she thought he might be thirsty. Walter glances at her hands and tells her she's anemic. When Paige questions his statement, he points out that her polish is pitted and that means she's slightly anemic. Paige admonishes him, stating that Ralph likes to paint her nails, and it hurts her feelings when he said it looked tacky. She tells Walter that Ralph is special and there is nothing wrong with him, he's just challenged. Walter glances over to where Ralph and Sylvester are doing exactly what he did with him that afternoon with the condiments and shakers, then stands up asking her if she knows what Ralph and Sylvester are doing. When she says no, he explains that Ralph has made chess pieces out of the items they're using and that he's about to beat a grandmaster chess player. He states that Ralph doesn't like to paint, he wants to hold her hand, but he doesn't know how to process those feelings. He then gives her what he considers bad news "I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your son's a genius. So help him, or he will never fully connect with you." Paige is left shocked and near tears, as she stares at her son.
They try to work through a connection to local small airport, but the screen is going too fast, even for an amateur coder in the tower. Walter asks the tower manager to get the original software disk, and the manager states that it was installed eleven years ago and has long since disappeared. Since they don't have that original software disk, Toby and Happy go with one of Cabe's agents to the server farm before it updates with the corrupt software. That way they can use the software on the server to fix the corrupted version.
When Happy and Toby get to the server farm they find it closed, despite the fact that it's supposed to be open for another hour. Cabe tells his agent to get them in there no matter what, and the agent goes to shoot the door. Happy just barely is able to stop the agent from firing the gun, stating it'll more than likely ricochet and kill one of them. She yells at Walter to not let the Fed speak anymore. Happy looks at the electronic lock and states she can cause an overload that will cut out the power in the block. She requests that Sylvester give her the exact voltage she needs. Sly goes to do the math on a blackboard but there is a bunch of chalk below it, in different sizes and colors. Walter realizes the problem and tells Sylvester they don't have time for his issues. Sylvester ignores him and starts organizing the chalk saying it's his process. Paige walks over and sweeps all the chalk pieces but one onto the floor and hands him the white one left over, telling him the biggest and the smallest piece. Sly says he can work with that and quickly calculates the amount of voltage needed.
Ralph is staring at a clock on the wall and Sly explains to Paige that he's probably actually calculating the circumference of the clock, or working on some other problem in his mind. He points out that Ralph probably doesn't even know they're there.
Happy is able to short out the lock but they only have a couple of minutes before the update goes through onto the server farm and it gets the corrupted code. Toby grabs a picture off the desk, quickly deducing who is the boss, how he would organize the servers, and where he would most likely put an important server like LAX. At the very last second he grabs one just before the update starts. When Happy asks him how he knows he's sure, Toby points out that he's good at deducing people. He then adds on that the server also has a label that says "LAX" on it. Happy rolls her eyes at him and he says he knows she was impressed before he told her about the label.
They rush back to the diner with the server. Walter plugs it in but the program won't load. Toby says they were very careful with it in the car, it was wrapped up tight and placed in the car door. Walter asks if there were speakers in the door and, when Toby confirms there were, he states that the server drive is no good as the magnet from the speakers corrupted the drive. Walter frustratedly slams out of the back door, where Cabe follows. He asks Walter if he's sure that nothing can be done. Walter affirms and also knows that there are fighter jets up in the sky ready to take out a couple of the planes so they don't crash over major populations. Paige comes outside just in time to hear this and Cabe rushes inside, calling to activate the fighter jets. Paige yells at Walter stating that regular people save everyone. They don't just give up. Walter gets upset and tells her that he knows what it's like to kill a lot of people, so he also knows this is their only option now. Paige says she knows what he's doing because Ralph does it too. When things get too hard, he gets frustrated and gives up. She tells Walter to take a beat and "reset" then come back in and work the problem.
Walter thinks about her words and then looks up at the sky. He goes rushing in and tells Cabe to hold on because he has another idea. Walter and the team begin looking for flights that left from overseas and wasn't in contact so it hasn't gotten a copy of the corrupt software. It will only update when they land the plane. He then states they need to get to the local airport as fast as possible. He needs Toby to find someone on the plane who they can call so they can get ahold of the pilot. He needs Happy to change the traffic lights to green during the trip so they can get there as fast as possible. At this point, since Sly doesn't drive, he has no one who can take him. He has to work on the programming issue on the drive. Ralph silently hands his mom her car keys, and she realizes he wants her to drive Walter.
Paige states that one of her dreams has always been to drive through LA with nothing but green lights. Walter initially denies her, but she insists she help them because Ralph needs to see her do it. Cabe is on the phone when he sees Paige and Walter speed out in her car. Paige mentions that they're going nearly 100mph and that her car doesn't have airbags. Walter says they wouldn't work at those speeds anyway and tells her to speed up. Happy manages to change all the lights to green, but one of them blocks her out. Just as Paige and Walter are about to be hit, Cabe intercepts the other car with his SUV and lets it smash that instead. He tells Walter over the radio that he'd better be right.
Meanwhile, Toby has managed to find an older salesman on the plane and have him give his phone to a flight attendant so that they can give it to the pilot. They patch him into their communications network so Walter and he can talk to one another. Walter asks the pilot to do a fly by of the small airport tower so they can grab the software over WiFi. However the plane is going too fast and the speed differential won't allow them to download it. Walter spots a Ferrari 458 in the parking lot and says he's solved the speed differential. He asks Happy how to get him into the car. She gives him a quick hack that allows him to get it open and the ability to drive it. He tells Paige that they can't take the chance of missing WiFi again and they're going to have to hardwire it, which means she'll be standing up in a car going over 200mph. Paige is terrified, but Walter reminds her that she's the one who said they need to save everyone and that's how they're going to do it.
Walter drives down the runway and tells Paige to push the top off the car. He has to tell her again, but she finally gets the nerve and does it. She sees the plane descending over the car and the co-pilot is climbing down the wheel to hand her the cable to their software. After a couple of tries she manages to get the cord and plug it in. However, just as the software starts downloading into the computer, the pilot starts to ascend again, otherwise he'll crash. Paige holds onto the laptop, to the point where she is standing and leaning forward in the speeding car, until the program finishes downloading and hits enter to send it just before the laptop is yanked out of her grasp. The airports immediately get the corrected software and begins directing their planes so they can land them. Walter and Paige see a concrete barrier in front of them and Walter just barely manages to stop them from slamming into it. Paige opens her door and throws up while Walter laughs.
Later, after Paige has left to take Ralph home, Walter and the rest of his team are hanging out at the concrete barrier. Walter sees Cabe walking towards him and meets him halfway. Cabe hands Walter envelopes and Walter says Paige deserves to get paid too. Cabe says he'll make sure it happens. Cabe starts to ask something and Walter hands him a piece of paper. When Cabe unfolds it he finds a list of demands that Walter wants for the team. Cabe asks how he knew and Walter says it was Cabe's next logical step to have the team work for the government.
Later that night, Paige answers her door to find Walter on the other side. He hands her an envelope and then asks if she wants a job. He explains that he needs her to help them work because she handled their issues that day without any hesitancy. Ralph comes out in his pajamas and says hello to Walter. He sits down, turning on his gaming system and putting the extra controller deliberately in place next to him on the table, inviting Walter to join him. Paige states that Ralph never talks to anyone but her and Walter points out that Ralph recognizes one of his own. He asks if she minds and she lets him in to go sit down next to Ralph. As they begin to play the game, Walter asks Ralph if he ever pauses his dreams or rewinds them. Ralph says yes and Walter says "Me too."
- Elyes Gabel as Walter O'Brien
- Katharine McPhee as Paige Dineen
- Robert Patrick as Cabe Gallo
- Eddie Kaye Thomas as Toby Curtis
- Jadyn Wong as Happy Quinn
- Ari Stidham as Sylvester Dodd
- Daniel Zolghadri as Walter O'Brien (young)
- Emily Robinson as Megan O'Brien-Dodd (young)
- Anthony Skordi as Nemos
- Glenn Keogh as Sean O'Brien
- Carla Toutz as Louise O'Brien
- Ernie Hudson as Brooks
- Patrick St. Espirit as Capt. James Pike
- Alimi Ballard as Co-Pilot
- During the rush to the airport, Paige claims her car (1996 Volkswagen Golf) doesn't have airbags, when it in fact does. Despite both Walter's and Happy's knowledge (particularly Happy's mechanical knowledge, proven later on when Walter requires access to a Ferrari 458), neither of them correct her over comms.
- The pajamas the young Walter is wearing in the opening scene are the same pajamas Ralph is wearing in the ending scene.
- The real Walter O'Brien can be seen in the LAX control tower - the controller behind "Randy" during the first software fix attempt.
- Let Me Down Easy - Sheppard
- I'm Broke - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
- Devil in Me - 22-20s