Warning: Spoiler Alert
The episode begins like you might expect it to considering the date (most shows will sprinkle in a little holiday imagery). Santa and his sleigh, lamp posts with garland, etc. Just about the time you accept the Christmas motif, in drops Black Sabbath’s Ironman. As it turns out, the concept of Christmas and what it represents on either side, is too much for a genius to accept. In walks Paige all Christmas’d out. No one wants any part of this except Paige.
As Paige describes what she’d like to do for them and Ralph, Toby interjects, “Ralph doesn’t believe in Santa”. To which Paige shrugs it off in her polite way. Paige does then extend gifts to the team. Ornaments (for an as of yet not seen tree) that represents each one of them. A non-functional wrench for Happy. A hat that Toby no longer has. A calculator for Sylvester. Sylvester thanks Paige for her efforts, something the rest are inclined to do. Then each of them share a horror story of a Christmas memory.
As a Christmas Degenerate, I am enthusiastic. Annoyingly so. While I can see the logic of how geniuses would not accept all that comes with it, it does seem a little sad that they reject any part of it on spec. Walter is out with his sister on a beach enjoying Fat Burger when he sees a young kid struggling with a kite. He does what Walter does and explains literally what the problem is. Then easily shows him how to rectify said problem. Walter rejoins his sister. They continue their conversation on his rejection of Christmas and her compulsion to enjoy it anyway, when I jumped out of my seat.
The massive rock formation (seriously, there are corporate buildings not this big) begin to break and slide. The effect or at least the believability of this on-screen would be enough. Then you hear the baby sitter scream, “OWEN”! Owen is the name of the kid with the kite. Owen is trapped under the rock slide. Walter jumps into action, he even instructs the local authorities as to who to call.
At Scorpion HQ, Happy is working on what looks like an intricate domino arrangement (thus the episode’s title). Paige runs in to inform them of the situation. Using a mechanical approach to move the rocks would certainly create a shift and would probably crush Owen. They can’t get inside either, the holes are too small for people but large enough for water. Drilling is an option but not at the typical angle. They’d have to go at a much shallower angle but the results may be too slow.
Sylvester is still living in a perpetual state of fear. He was always afraid, but not that sense seems to be heightened since the shrapnel incident. In order to communicate with Owen, Walter constructs a high-tech device and delivery system. He ties a cell phone to some string and lowers it down into the sink hole with the use of pvc pipe. Walter calls the phone from a tablet using Skype. The kid is frantic and Toby picks up on it. If he goes into shock he could pass out and drown.
They are laying on the Christmas kind of thick at this point. Almost too much so. Walter passes the tablet to Paige who tries to calm Owen down by asking about his Christmas traditions. Toby notices something else. His breathing is erratic. If he has a collapsed lung, which is completely possible, any such scuba gear will kill him. Now Sylvester comes forward and claims that his initial calculation of an hour and 22 minutes was wrong. He didn’t calculate for the change in tides. They now have less than an hour. If that isn’t bad enough, Owen’s leg is pinned between a rock three times his size and the ocean floor.
Megan finds Walter stuck. When he gets stuck he has a tendency to sulk. She makes a comment about faith and he figures it out. They need a jack that is small enough to fit but not strong enough to lift the massive rock. Sylvester calculates how much the rock will need to lift. 1.8-2.3 inches. The variance is too large for Walter. Walter barks at Sylvester to do better and get his head in the game. Probably not the smartest thing Walter will do today.
Happy and Toby race back to HQ to start building the jack. In the meantime Walter thinks the kid needs to stop breathing in order to survive. On the surface they are attempting to drill a hole. An access point. The drill, which from the looks of it, is probably longer than a canoe and makes a hole about the diameter of a large grapefruit. When it breaks through, it stops about six inches from the kid’s head.
With the hole dug, the situation is even more stable. Walter goes to Paige who has been talking to Owen on the tablet. The engineer keeps hammering that the hole is unstable. Paige cuts him off, flips the tablet around and says, “neither is Owen”. That’s the exact moment just before Walter decides to risk it all and go in any way. There is now news vans everywhere and Walter O’Brien has become the face of the story.
Now comes the part when the genius Walter O’Brien has to explain to a ten-year old that in order to survive this he will have to reject his own brain’s instinct to breathe. By inserting these hoses attached to a machine on the surface, Walter can slowly pump oxygen into Owen’s blood but not through his lungs. A difficult concept for a ten-year old. The body needs oxygen. It does not need to breathe.
Walter: So what are you going to do?
Owen: Bang on the pipe.
Walter: Are you going to breathe?
Walter: You promise me?
Owen: I promise. Do you promise to come back?
Walter: I promise I will come back. I will only state facts.
At HQ, Happy is in the home stretch of finishing the boulder jack when Toby accidentally spills a tray and discovers something Happy would prefer no one knew about. It’s a small envelope that reads, “from your daughter”. Toby has a rebuttal for every excuse Happy presents as a reason that the letter was a bad idea. Just before it feels like she’s about to turn the corner, the timer dings. The jack is ready.
Megan strolls upon Sylvester who is sitting at a shuttle stop. She asks why he’s not with the team, he tells her he’s leaving. Owen is living Sylvester’s worst nightmares. Here’s where the one who calculates fear, allows it to cripple him. I expected Megan to be gentle and comforting. Instead she turns on him, quickly. She basically tells Sylvester in not the nicest of tones that he needs to man up and not act like such a sissy. My words not hers.
Happy and Toby’s police escort is halted when they come up on an accident. Happy sees a man about to mount his motorcycle. She tries to convince him to part with it temporarily. He refuses. In an effort to impress Happy or simple do whatever it takes, Toby jumps the biker. They essentially steal the bike.
Just inside the rock slide area, the device adding oxygen to Owen’s blood sits. There is another tremor and Cabe demands everyone retreat. Instead Walter advances attempting to hold up the rock like he were Atlas himself. If the rock falls, the likelihood of Owen’s survival is miniscule. Amazingly Sylvester made his way back to the team and in harm’s way. Sylvester is now playing Atlas while Cabe and Walter try to move a piece of medical equipment that took four men to get down there. The rock began to break and Sylvester had to get out. The rock fell and landed on the tubes going to Owen. The oxygen can’t get to him anymore.
Walter decides to go in, despite the fact that there is literally nothing he can do once he gets there. A Walter v. Cabe fight breaks out. If you’ve been with us the whole time you know what this looks like. Cabe trying to stop Walter, Walter resisting. It’s the parental voice of reason trying to talk the child off the ledge. It ends and Walter heads toward the water line on the beach.
The motorcycle they stole has run out of gas. Toby channels his experience running from bullies. He takes the bag and runs. On the beach Megan tells Walter how she began to believe that a miracle would happen for her. Believed it so much that rejected any other way (pertaining to her M.S.). Then Walter hears his name. It’s Toby with the jack. Resisting the warnings of everyone around him (minus his team) he grabs the jack and heads back underground.
When Walter arrives, Owen is limp. Walter moves the boulder just enough to free Owen’s leg. He then proceeds to crawl with one arm towards the other end of the tunnel, the other arm gripping Owen to his body. They experience another tremor and debris begins to cover them. Despite the difficulty with Walter’s breathing he attempts to dig them out. Then a hand reaches through the sand. It’s Cabe. Outside the hole, every able body pulls on a rope that is connected to Cabe. The paramedics immediately take Owen and begin CPR. Everyone looks on, all forgetting to breathe themselves. The camera moves from one onlooker to the next. Twenty, thirty seconds of nothing. The paramedics remove the breathing apparatus. Owen turns to spit out water and breathe his own air.
Paige all episode long has been trying to sell her genius counterpart on the real, tangible concept of a miracle. At least in her mind, they found one.
At the hospital, the media is hammering the miracle story. Toby claims that the O2 levels were elevated enough that it bought them more time. Not the story the media will want. Then Paige enters to inform them that there are a couple of people who would really like to see them. On their way, Megan tells Walter that she wants to try the experimental drug Walter mentioned earlier. She’s accepting routes that don’t include a miracle.
In Owen’s room, his mother is almost hysterical with relief. She hugs Walter without a word. She goes on the tell him how they prayed the entire drive down. A concept that just doesn’t compute for a genius. Faith is a difficult concept for people who need to figure out every variable. Even as she speaks, everyone in the room listens with no intention to criticize.
Owen’s Mom: The entire drive down we prayed. We prayed for God to do something. Anything to save our child. He answered by sending you. And your team. Thank you.
We watch the father slowly stroke his son’s hair for more than a moment. Long enough for Happy to notice and make a decision.
Owen (to Walter): You came back for me…
Walter: Well, I told you, I only state facts.
Outside their room, Cabe tells Walter that there is a large media group all but demanding to know how this boy lived. Cabe gives him the option to speak or not speak to the media. Walter tells Cabe that the media already has their answer, “it was a miracle”. This draws the interest of Paige. She may have only cracked a slight smile, but that response in that moment, meant more to her character than the imagery would suggest.
Happy left to go to Patrick’s garage. She’s been helping out there (as if she needed the money) just as one mechanic helping another. She walks in a Patrick notices her and is pretty happy to see her. She looks down at the envelope in her hand after he asks what she’s doing there on Christmas eve. And she bails. She cannot bring herself to out herself. She says she came by just to wish him a happy holiday, which even he knows is BS. She began backpedaling towards the door. It must have locked behind her because she struggles to get it open.
Patrick: You look just like her.
(She hesitates to turn, then does slowly)
Patrick: I knew who you were the first moment you walked into my shop. After your mother died I was lost and I hit the bottle. Hard. I still do. You were so special. You deserved better than me. I always loved you.
She doesn’t say a word. She charges him with purpose. With her head slightly down, she barrels into him with a bear hug. One that I have to imagine, she didn’t release from for a while.
At HQ, everyone else is preparing the Christmas dinner, setting the table, enjoying each others company. They didn’t notice Happy walk in. She announces herself and introduces them to ‘her Dad’. Cabe compliments him on the great daughter he has. Then Toby walks from across the room to shake his hand. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you”.
Next is the predictable holiday montage. People laughing and opening gifts. Happy passes a gift bag to Toby. Inside is a hat just like the one he lost saving her a few episodes back. And then, plutonic or otherwise, we get to experience a Happy and Toby embrace. Cabe reads Ralph’s favorite Christmas book to him. Megan taps Sylvester on the shoulder to reveal that she’s holding mistletoe. Relax, just a peck on the cheek. Paige gives Walter a truly putrid Christmas sweater complete with working lights. Then Toby announces that they have Ralph’s present in the next room.
It is a MASSIVE domino plus arrangement. I’m sure there is a technical term for what this is. Dominoes, balls down tracks, suspension and ultimately fake snow falling inside. Something that Paige acknowledged she could not get for Ralph. Then Paige and Walter lock eyes. For a few moments longer than expected if this was an innocent mistake. Walter’s genius is going to drag on any eventual romantic change.