Some shows might end their season with a potential death, but only Scorpion would end with a cliffhanger marriage. We spoke with Eddie Kaye Thomas, about the fate of Dr. Toby Curtis, his proposal to Happy Quinn — spoiled by the revelation that she is already married — and how showrunner Nick Santora’s original idea has taken on a life of its own.
“We found out about this plot and the whole storyline early last season,” says Thomas of the arc of his relationship with Happy, though he’s unwilling to say anything about the identity of his TV girlfriend’s recently revealed husband or whether or not they stay together. “Whenever [Santora] has stuff that he’s excited about, he tells us. And then we get storylines that trickle down.”
On the one hand, that’s good news for the actors. It can be nerveracking to not know whether your character lives or dies (thanks, Game of Thrones) or if there’s some terrible calamity coming down the pipe. The downside is that, aside from occasional ad-libs, the actors don’t have much room for improvisation on set.
Of course, when you’ve got a show as ambitious as Scorpion, that’s to be expected. “We do an action movie every week,” says Thomas, adding that the cast does have input into their characters. “They’ve started writing for us, knowing our voices. Now that we’ve worked together for three years, they know our personalities better.”
And it’s the characters that have made the show a success. There are plenty of action shows on television, but Thomas says the show’s particular genius comes from a simple formula that the showrunner set up in the pilot. “From the beginning, Nick’s done such a great job of putting these people — who have so much trouble operating in the world in a normal situation — in very difficult situations. Sometimes, that involves saving the lives of millions of people, and sometimes that involves being honest with someone you love — whether it’s a romantic partner or a friend. And there’s a lot more of that coming.”
Thomas enjoys seeing his character put through the wringer. “Toby’s a really fun person to play around with. He’s a Groucho Marx figure on one hand, who gets through life being a smart-ass. But at the same time, he’s got a lot of demons and is hiding a lot of difficult stuff.”
But there’s also the simple, boyish joy of getting to play an action hero — especially for Thomas, who rose to prominence playing nerdy comic roles. “I’ve never gotten to be the guy chasing the bad guy and saving the world.” But now, he spends his days “having things explode behind me and leaping forward, cheating death, riding on the roof of speeding cars, all the crazy stuff.” With such a punishing production schedule, he has to remind himself to appreciate it. “Who’s jumping out of a plane? Who’s going to stop the nuclear bomb? Insane has become normal on Scorpion.”
The third season of Scorpion premieres Monday, Oct. 3, at 10 p.m. on CBS.