We’re almost done with this first season of the rebooted series and we’ve been delivered another ringer of an episode. I’ve seen some stumbles in the show, but this is a different kind of story.
“The Blue Scorpion” concerns the idea of obsession, depression, and what these can do when coupled with isolation. Chris O’Dowd is a simple man in this episode, and anthropology professor that is going through a divorce. He doesn’t want to deal with it. He’s living alone, he’s unhappy, and he’s sinking into a lonely depression. On entering his father’s house for a visit, he finds the man dead by suicide and a gun on the table. It’s an odd piece, gold with a pearl inlay on the handle that displays a blue scorpion.
I’ve talked about how identity plays a key part in this reboot, working on racial and gender identity to talk about their place in the world. This week, however, we discuss an even more personal form of identification – a name. And what’s in a name? Indulge me my references, this is a tricky subject. O’Dowd’s character is named “Jeff,” a fairly common name, but when he finds that the gun contains a bullet with his name on it he begins finding other “Jeffs” everywhere. People, dogs, doesn’t matter, so many people come across his path that share his name.
I don’t have a common name, and I’ve met few others that share it, but for someone with a name that’s popular, I can imagine this is a strange phenomenon. When it becomes uncommonly common, discomfort would be sure to set in. Jeff is becoming frightened and obsessed, trying to figure out just which Jeff the bullet is meant for, and his obsession begins to take shape in the anthropization of the gun. He hears it, it exerts willpower over him, and he develops a friendship with it.
I have to admit, the ending was probably one of the strongest this season has had to offer. I’ve often harped on how it fails in that regard, and maybe it’s just the disappointment of the “Game of Thrones” finale that’s making me feel better about this, but this week they nailed it. The finale was unsettling, uncomfortable, and left some things up to interpretation while making a statement about personal identity and the things in life that can steal it away, overpower it. It’s a strange sort of episode for this series, but one that I think is important for getting the show back to the root of the Serling series. It worked well on me, and I hope it will on you as well.