Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Gone Fishin' Job
Night. Suburbia. Mother and daughter at a kitchen table. The girl runs through the steps of the scientific method; she asks her mother what the last step is and her mother just tells her. [She's not going to retain anything that way! At least ask her to guess.] So there's a knock on the door. It's a man with an unfortunate ferret face. He claims to be from the IRS. Her repayment plan has been suspended and the full payment is due now. They can put a lien on the house. She can give him a credit card or he can come back with the sheriff and lock her out of the house. Tonight. [If they haven't put a lien on the house, they can't kick her out, and it's too late to put lien on the house if it's night.] But she can't read a bluff, so she hands over a credit card. He puts it in his coat pocket.
Bar. Client meeting. The woman says that the IRS never got the money, but her card was maxed out. So who got the money? Nate says people all around Boston have been targeted. He promises to get the money back.
HQ. There's a pile of pinatas. Eliot is icing his shoulder and lobbying for a break, since they just spent 10 days in Juarez. Nate ignores him and has Hardison kick off the briefing. The money was routed through three different shell companies; it wound up with Hugh Whitman, who runs a debt collection service. Eliot figures he's already got bill collectors; he's just siccing them on delinquent taxpayers. Sophie points out that there's no public list of people to target. Nate reveals that Whitman used to work for the IRS, so he probably has an old friend give him the info. "I got it, I got it!" Parker pulls a particularly hard-to-reach piece of candy out of her llama pinata. But then she looks around and pretends she was paying attention, "We steal the list."
Nate wants to find an angle on Whitman, but Hardison says there's nothing on the net [so how'd they find out he worked for the IRS?] even though his debt-collection company is high-tech enough to spoof caller IDs. The money wound up in a bank in rural Turner Creek in an account for Patriot Limited. It's not connected to Whitman. Nate has his plan. One team will make Whitman think his money isn't safe where it is -- Eliot promptly volunteers Hardison and himself for the job -- and Sophie will give him a new hiding place for it. Parker shakes the pinata, looking for the last dregs of candy, and Eliot finally rips its head off. She's horrified, and Eliot stalks off. "We'll fix it, " she reassures herself. "We can fix it." [I don't think Eliot had a good time in Juarez.]
Parking lot of the Turner Creek bank. Eliot and Hardison get a couple of official jackets from the trunk [it looks like a red muscle car, so I'm guessing Eliot drove]. Eliot doesn't see what Hardison has to complain about. It's a quick, easy job and then they can go fishing. Hardison doesn't see why Eliot had to drag him along, but Eliot thinks it will do him good to get outside for a change. Hardison protests that he just got buzzed by a mosquito with a beak, and he doesn't like the smell of fresh air.
Inside the bank, Eliot gets the manager and they flash some IRS badges. Hardison asks to see the Patriot Limited accounts. The manager scurries to cooperate. A teller raises a cell phone to his ear.
Boston. High rise. "Colette Madison" approaches Whitman, claiming mutual friends at the IRS. He tries to send her to HR, but she gets his attention when she mentions the Turner Creek bank. He disclaims having an account there, but she knows about Patriot Limited. That gets her a meeting. She's explains that she makes matches, for a fee. He needs her because his account isn't safe any more. There's a tap at the door. It's Ferret Face! Their guy at the bank called to say some IRS guys were snooping around the account. Whitman instructs him to call Chester to get rid of the IRS guys.
Whitman returns his office and finds Sophie at her ease. She reminds him, they have friends in common. He asks about Charlie Dean. How is the old boy? Parker wishes they had Hardison [look, if Hardison can teach Eliot to look people up, surely he can teach Nate or Parker], but Nate guesses the twist: Charlie's dead. So Sophie passes the test. Whitman decides he can trust her, and she says she can introduce him to someone with an "alternative" financial institution. Parker wonders if Nate knows when she'll die, too, but Nate has work for her.
Turner Creek. The guys head back to their car. Hardison exposits that cell phones and their coms don't work this far out [except we just saw the teller whip out a cell phone] so they need to call Nate from a land line. Eliot suggests calling from the bait shop while he gets fishing supplies, but Hardison doesn't think a bait shop is a proper source for lunch. A bunch of guys with fatigues and rifles pop up and threaten them. Hardison has little red dots on his shirt.
Van. Eliot and Hardison are handcuffed together. Hardison tries to talk Eliot into busting out, but he's busy constructing a mental map. Meanwhile, Sophie brings Whitman to a nearly-deserted health club. Flashback to Parker driving away students with a too-energetic pace in spinning class. Then Nate calls the manager, pretending to be from the franchise, and tells him the place down the street trying to lure their customers into breaking their contracts, so get on it. The manager comes out of his office, wonders where all the clients went and heads off to do battle with those guys down the street. Nate commandeers his office.
Sophie introduces Whitman to "Vic" the owner. Whitman's not really impressed with a housewife gym. Vic agrees it's not too impressive by itself, but put a bunch together and it's "a money-laundering machine." Sophie explains that Vic owns 25 gyms and sells shares to investors. Whitman figures you need customers, and this gym doesn't have them. Vic points out that 80% of gym members pay the dues but don't show up. You want to launder more money, just add more names to the member list. "Colette" gets a finder's fee and "Vic" gets 15% -- but in return, the clients get detailed paperwork. Vic has one slot left and Whitman's not the only one interested, so he needs an answer today. [That rush-rush seems entirely too likely to raise flags with a guy like Whitman.] Whitman wants to inspect the paperwork; he used to be district manager with the IRS, so he knows what to look for.
Woods. Camp. Chester, the boss military guy, holds up one of the "official" jackets. "Internal Revenue Service. Taking money from hardworking Americans and shipping it straight to China." Guys put a fake delivery sign on a van, and there are crates of molasses. Eliot smells something. Hardison starts trying to talk his way out of the IRS jacket and gets gut-punched. Eliot reads the patch on Chester's uniform: Turner Creek Minutemen. Militia, eh? No, "freedom fighters." Pop quiz: "What do you call a man who takes your property, enriches your adversaries and deprives you of your liberty." Eliot knows this one: "Your enemy." They're about to be casualties of war. A soldier forces Hardison to his knees and tries it on Eliot. "It ain't happenin', Bubba." For some reason, this is going to be tricky for the soldier to deal with but Chester channels Tim Gunn: "Make it work." [So shoot the standing guy and then shoot the kneeling guy. Why is this so hard?] Hardison demands a last cigarette, as allowed by the Geneva Convention, since he's a combatant. Chester orders Beardless Brandon to give Hardison a cigarette. Which he does, and then he struggles to light it with a match. While he's bent over retrieving his matches, Eliot takes out the soldier who's supposed to shoot them and they run for it. Apparently the soldiers haven't had much target practice [although pistol shooting at a distance tends to be inaccurate and rifles work better if you actually aim them], because they get away. The militia call out the dogs. Literally.
Boston. High rise. Parker is in a cubicle wearing a headset. She calls someone to collect on their debt. To the Amherst Oncology Center. Oops, they got disconnected. Oops, some records are getting deleted. Nate wants to know why she hasn't gotten into Whitman's office yet, so off she goes.
In the woods, Eliot calls a halt and does calculations. The van was driving 45 miles an hour; they rode for 22 minutes and turned twice after leaving the highway. So they're 17 miles north of town, and they need to go south. Hardison would rather trust the science that says running downhill is faster than running uphill. So they Rock-Paper-Scissors, and apparently Hardison forgot he has a tell, but Eliot didn't. South and uphill it is. The militia have bloodhounds and German shepherds. Doggie diversity.
Whitman's office. Parker finds a secret room behind a bookcase with military stuff and a computer. Look, IRS files. She starts printing. Look, a crate. Full of guns. Nate and Sophie exchange a look. Fortunately, Whitman is busy checking figures. Nate pretends he has to take a call and steps out to talk to Parker. She found a flag. The motto is from the Massachusetts state flag and the pine tree is from the original colonial flag. Parker takes a picture of the map on the wall. Nate wants to try something. He heads back into the office, claiming the town government wants him to install handicapped ramps "all over the parking lot." Soon he'll have to put Braille labels on the free weights. It's ridiculous. Then he notices Whitman's Hummer in the parking lot and compliments him for buying American. He claims he used to work for the government a while back, and everyone used to subscribe to the same principles. Sophie chimes in: the system has broken down. Whitman agrees; after 20 years with the IRS, he never saw the money collected go to "protect the interests of real Americans." Taxpayers are sheep, not even recognizing that their liberties are under constrant threat by the very government they elected. He reveals that the money he wants to hide is for the revolution. Sophie urges him to act quickly, what with the IRS snooping, but Whitman says not to worry -- he had those guys taken care of. [Which does what, exactly? If it removes the threat, he wouldn't need Sophie's alternative, and if it doesn't remove the threat, why attract attention?] Whitman has to get back to the office; bring the documentation and he'll try to make a decision by the end of the day. He leaves and the rest of the team is gravely concerned.
Boston. Sophie and Nate arrive at Whitman's building, Sophie recapping the missing-Eliot-and-Hardison part for those of you just tuning in. Nate and Parker will find them while Sophie closes the deal with Whitman.
Woods. Running. Eliot spots some skunk weed and pauses to rub them down with it, to throw off the dogs. [Shouldn't you put it on the soles of your shoes?] Then he cuts Hardison's hand to leave some blood on a tree ("Gangrene, man! Gangrene!" panicks Hardison) and breaks some foliage to create a false trail. Meanwhile, Hardison is fed up with the whole situation, which was brought on by Eliot's desire to go fishing. Eliot is tired of his skeptical attitude; after all, he's done this before. Yes, running through the woods handcuffed to somebody. Only last time it was easier, because the guy was already dead. They head out. The pursuit falls for the false trail.
Nate and Parker have found each other somewhere in the office building; an office with a bunch of pink "while you were out" slips on the door provides a safe place to talk. There's some static on the coms and Nate can hear the guys. Eliot manages to say they're 17 miles from the bank before the signal breaks up. Hardison diagnoses a cloud cover problem. To bounce the signal off a radio tower, they'll need a clear view of the sky. Parker shows Nate the picture she took of the map, which isn't labelled. Nate uses the office computer (a LOLcat wallpaper startles Parker) and brings up a map of the territory 17 miles from the bank. They use the creek on the wall map to locate the camp. The guys make contact on the coms -- they climbed a tree. Nate tells them to get to the railroad tracks just west of the camp. Okay, but what if there's no train? Not to worry, they're going to steal one.
Whitman is impressed by the records but wants to go over some details with Vic. Sophie claims he's tied up in a conference call. Parker scoots back to her cubicle. Nate has her route his call to the Department of Transportation, using the caller ID spoofing software to make it look like he's calling from Fitchburg. Bev at the MassDOT center gets a call about rocks blocking the track near Fitchburg. There are more calls as Sophie and Parker get into the act. Bev gets busy and reroutes the northbound Barrington. Nate tells Eliot and Hardison that he's sending them a beet train.
Sophie rejoins Whitman, who expects to be signing on once his questions are answered. Eliot and Hardison hop down from the tree and head for the tracks. Whitman promises Sophie a check and she toasts the revolution.
Tracks. Train. Eliot is impressed that Nate stole them a train. They get ready to climb the embankment and a militia guy orders them to halt. [If you're going to shoot them anyway, why not just shoot them now?] They make a fuss about turning around and finally face the guy; Eliot promptly knocks him down and disables his rifle. The soldier gloats that nothing can stop the militia's plans, so the guys both kick him in the head. Hardison balks at jumping aboard the train -- what did Eliot smell at the camp? Fertilizer and molasses. You reduce the molasses and it's even better than kerosene for making a fertilizer bomb. It's already mixed, and since it's unstable, you have to use it within 48 hours. Eliot's all for hopping the train and letting the feds handle it but Hardison is worried that they won't be able to find the bomb in time. Eliot warns him that it will get bloody. They loot the downed militia man for gear, including an ax to cut through the handcuff chain.
Ferret Face checks with the cubicle farm supervisor to see how "the new girl" (that would be Parker) is doing. They overhear her talking to Nate, the tipoff being "When's she getting Whitman's check?" Ferret Face calls Whitman. Sophie's antennae pick up the bad vibes and she slips out of Whitman's office. He decides to get his money from the bank. Sophie sends up the flare to the rest of the team.
Ferret Face heads for Parker but there's a cluster of people in the way and she beats him to the elevator. He takes the stairs (going up) in pursuit. She plans to fool the elevator into thinking it's in fire mode, so the doors won't open. Nate will find an exit. They'll need to beat Whitman to his money. He calls Eliot and Hardison [whose coms work fine now, even though they're not in a tree and Parker said they hadn't heard from the guys lately] and learns they're going to execute the Can o' WhoopAss plan on the militia. Nate slips out of his borrowed office and tells Sophie to take the stairs to the first floor. She ducks to avoid Ferret Face as he emerges from the stairs and then heads down. Whitman is waiting for an elevator when Parker finishes her hack; all the elevators head for the first floor. Ferret Face finds Whitman, who's holding him "personally responsible" for apprehending the team. Ferret Face runs off.
Downstairs, Parker exits the elevator and Sophie emerges from the stairwell. Nate pulls the fire alarm and they head for the door with the crowd. Up on the mezzanine level, Ferret Face yells for someone to stop them. [No way he got there so fast; he was well behind Sophie heading back downstairs, and he had to look around.]
Woods. Eliot has a looted walkie-talkie tuned to the militia frequency. He checks Hardison for overconfidence, which will get him killed faster than anything else. "Oh, I have fear. And doubt. And really serious regrets. I should be fine." Okay, time to go.
Eliot does the Rambo thing on some militia guys. [This includes somehow knowing which tree to climb that your enemy will walk under you so you can ambush them from above.] Hardison springs a trap and whomps a guy. Eliot joins him, but then they're surrounded by a troop of militia guys. [Again, why not just shoot them here instead of marching them back to camp? You just have to drag the bodies back out into the woods to bury them.]
Turner Creek bank. The manager recognizes Mr. Whitman, who wants to make a withdrawal from his account. [That would be the account that wasn't linked to Whitman.]
Milita camp. Hardison asks Chester where the bomb is going and Chester does the "wars have casualties" thing. Eliot isn't buying it: "You'd kill to protect your rights. A real soldier? He'd die to protect somebody else's." Hardison observes that he never got his cigarette, but Chester's not having that again. Eliot thinks he knows where the cigarette is. [Why are they being polite enough to let the enemy combatants finish talking before shooting them?] It's over there on the propane tanks. The box of matches lights [how?] and the tanks explode. People go flying through the air [some later than others].
Whitman exits the bank and tries to open the door to his Hummer, but it's locked. He sets down his briefcase to search for the keys and unlocks the door. [Good thing he didn't already have his keys in hand, eh?] He drives off past Nate sitting in a sedan, who announces, "Whitman's gone."
Eliot and Hardison rouse themselves and celebrate briefly before the Hummer pulls up. [Thanks to Eliot, we know it's a 22 minute drive from the bank.] They run off to hide. The militia come to as Whitman arrives. Nate finds Eliot and Hardison in their hiding spot [which makes me wonder where he parked, that he can avoid Whitman's notice but get there so soon after, aside from the whole finding them so easily] and scolds them for spurning his stolen train. Hardison refuses to be chastised -- "I made a bomb. Out of a menthol light." [Actually, he asked and it wasn't a menthol light.] Flashback to Beardless Brandon fumbling for the dropped match and Hardison picking up the cigarette and matches. Flashback to the tanks going kabooom. [Sadly, no flashback to the cigarette-and-matches bomb getting planted on the tanks, or the construction of the bomb.]
Nate asks if they have a radio and Eliot hands it over. Nate pretends to be an ATF agent "accidentally" using the same frequency to order his units in; they should arrest but not harm their "cooperating witness" Hugh Whitman. Chester is not surprised that the former government guy is a turncoat. Whitman protests -- hey, look at everything he gave them. Chester wants to see the money, so Whitman opens the briefcase. It has the IRS files, not money. Flashback to Parker, Nate and Sophie getting out of the car at the bank. Parker is surprised the car could go 140 mph. Sophie tells her she's never allowed to drive again. Flashback to Nate opening the trunk and Sophie retrieving a briefcase which she hands to Parker and loads with the IRS files. [Good thing they had a copy of Whitman's briefcase in the trunk, eh?] Flashback to Whitman setting his briefcase down to unlock his Hummer; Parker rolls underneath it to swap briefcases.
Chester decides that Whitman will get their money so they can hide from the feds, and maybe they don't shoot him. Nate, Hardison and Eliot watch them go. [Standing out in the open. Good thing the militia men who expect the feds to be closing in on them aren't looking behind them as they leave.] Eliot wonders if Nate's really going to let them walk away, and Nate tells him to give him some credit.
And we're back at the Turner Creek bank, which is unpopulated except by the newly arrived bad guys. The FBI pops up from behind the counter and more drive in to surround the militia in the parking lot. [Good thing the armed militia men who hate the agents of the federal government just surrender, instead of trying to shoot representatives of the oppressive government with all those guns they have.] The boss FBI agent opens the briefcase and asks, "Are these the stolen papers you mentioned?" Enter Sophie and Parker in FBI windbreakers. Whitman tries to claim that he was set up, but no one cares. Eliot, Hardison and Nate show up in the parking lot for the gloat.
Bar. Nate, Parker and Sophie give the client a check and she thanks them. Nate offers her the part-time job of returning stolen money to all the other vicims. Parker volunteers to drive. [Where? Who? What?] Sophie won't let her.
HQ. Hardison and Eliot are Wii fishing, complete with camp chairs and tackle boxes. Hardison criticizes Eliot's technique. Eliot protests that there's no talking in fishing. He "lands" a fish but finds the experience lacking. "It's just not the same." Hardison agrees -- it's better.
Comments: Granted, I don't have an extensive exposure to militia men, but a state with the motto "Live Free or Die" does seem to attract a certain mentality. And the rhetoric of the militia and the revolution was off. They're usually dealing with a huge sense of aggravation and betrayal which didn't come through. The story that "Vic" told about how people in the government used to share common principles was all wrong. I'm not sure if they ever considered the government trustworthy, but certainly not once the 16th Amendment was passed to allow a federal income tax in 1913. Also, Whitman was far too quick to fess up to actual involvement and not just sympathy.
Fitchburg is north and west of Boston, and almost due north of Worcester, not far from the New Hampshire state line.
If you have not yet discovered the LOLcat phenomenon, well, this is probably your first time using a computer, but head over to icanhascheezburger.com.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Studio Job
Memphis. House in the country. A young man plays a six-string guitar while a young woman sings a country song. Two men bust in, followed by Evil Bo Duke Kirkwood. He yells at them for going to see a lawyer. The goons put the man's right hand on the coffee table and Kirkwood stomps on it. After posturing a while, he stomps the other hand.
Boston. Bar. Kaye Lynn, the young woman, confides in Nate and Eliot. Her brother won't play again; he'll be lucky to use his fingers again. Nate wonders why they would work for Kirkwood with his reputation. Well, he owns a record label and that was their shot. They were hired as songwriters, but the contract had fine print. Kirkwood still owed them a lot of money, so he offered them an album and a spot in showcase. But then he liked the album too much to let them keep it.
HQ. Hardison runs the briefing on Kirkwood. He had one hit -- cue a cheesy video. Sophie's ready to take him down just for that. Never released another single. He put the money into his label. Given the number of lawsuits dropped after just a couple of days, he has a nice little fiefdom in the music business. So they need to get Kaye Lynn her money and her music. (Uh, where's the brother in all this?) Sophie's not familiar with stealing music. Hardison explains about the album's digital master. There's a safe in Kirkwood's studio with the masters. Parker figures they just smash and grab, but Nate wants to get money for compensation and damages plus keep Kirkwood off them. He and Sophie call it: the Fiddle Game. Parker raises her hand. She can't play the fiddle. No, they're selling the fiddle.
Memphis. Kirkwood drives up to the Saddlebag Saloon in a truck decorated with steer horns. Inside, the hostess' screen lists him as having cancelled. Which explains why someone (Sophie, looking rather techno for a saloon) is sitting at his reserved table. Only Kirkwood isn't interested in excuses, so the hostess runs off to get a table for him. He heads over to the bar where Hardison is sitting next to Nate. Hardison leaves and Kirkwood nabs his seat. Nate offers to buy his drink. Hardison heads over to the sound booth while Parker warms up. The DJ steps out and Hardison slips in before the door closes. He checks out the playlist -- the DJ has a thing for Brooks & Dunn. He gives Parker an assignment. She twirls down the bar behind the drinkers, lifting wallets and tickets.
The DJ comes back. Hardison gets extremely colloquial pretending that he was double-booked for the DJ shift on his night off. The DJ wants to call and straighten it out. Hardison is happy to hear it; if he had to work, he'd have to find some way to dispose of his Brooks & Dunn ticket. The DJ suddenly remembers hearing he got the night off, and he'll find someone to take the ticket. Parker finds a ticket in her loot and slides it under the door, where Hardison "finds" it. The DJ heads off to enjoy himself.
Kirkwood brags to Nate that being rich and famous lets you turn down girls even prettier than the bartender every day. The bartender, forced to listen to this, is disgusted. Nate wonders why he didn't keep recording, but Kirkwood figures it's like Nate being a manager -- better to be the farmer than the cow. And what's up with this kid Nate has? Well, they recorded his best song on a demo a few years ago and sent it out; now all of a sudden this "European woman" shows up offering $25,000 for the rights. She's over there waiting on an answer. Of course, "she" is Sophie. Kirkwood offers to go over and find out what's going on. The local guys have to stick together, after all. He heads off and Parker joins Nate. The fiddle game is afoot. Parker's still unclear on where the fiddle is. "It just walked through the door." No, Eliot just walked through the door...
Eliot is up behind the stage lights looking over the crowd when Parker comes up and startles him, which she finds odd. He doesn't -- that's what cat burglars do. Except she's been a cat burglar since the age of ten -- maybe nine -- and this is the first time she has managed to startle him. Sophie explains that Eliot is nervous. Eliot denies. Parker thought he told Nate he could sing. Eliot affirms that he can sing, he's just surprised by all the people. Parker realizes that Eliot is nervous. (It's like she just discovered Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite.) Hardison says he has it covered and asks Eliot to say something. "I don't speak on command, Hardison." The sound is captured on his laptop, which can alter the pitch between "Darth Eliot" (low and tough) and "Spencer Smurf" (high and, uh, not tough). Hardison gets that he should never do the smurf one again. The software matches the voice to the pitch of the song -- it's a real-time version of AutoTune.
Kirkwood approaches Sophie and lays down some smarmy Southern charm. He introduces himself and she realizes she's taken his table. Is he important? Well, he owns the place. He offers a tour. Sophie introduces herself as Virginia Ellington and asks if her things (laptop, cell phone) will be safe at the table. Kirkwood is sure they're safe at his table. They walk off. Kirkwood's flunky checks the call history on her cell and dials Worcester Studios. Nate answers in a British accent, being careful not to be overheard. The flunky then checks Worcester Studios on the laptop and sees rapper K-Gent is recording with them.
Backstage, Eliot is practicing while Kaye Lynn paces. She's worried -- this song is the only thing they have left after everything Kirkwood took. Eliot promises her she won't lose the song. This is what they do. She notices he's having trouble with part of the song, so she sits on his lap and handles the fingering while he strums. (These are technical guitar terms, honest.) He gets the part down with a little guidance. Then she asks how he feels when he plays. He's thinking about the how of playing, not the how he feels. Eliot is stumped, so she asks if he was ever in love. He was, once. He promised that he'd be there if she ever needed him. Only he made the same promise to Uncle Sam, and you can only make that promise to one person at a time. Kaye Lynn tells him to use what he's feeling right now.
Kirkwood's flunky fills him in on "Virginia." He asks why K-Gent sent her from London to sign an unknown. She's impressed. K-Gent picked up a demo out of a box headed for the trash and sampled a song on his new album. Kirkwood realizes she wants to buy the rights cheaply before the guy learns of his luck.
Eliot comes out as "Kenneth Crane" and introduces a song about the road not travelled. (This is where you go to iTunes.) Hardison (now joined by Parker) is flummoxed; his system isn't correcting the voice. Nate isn't worried -- the voice doesn't need correction. The flunky says to Kirkwood, "You know who he sounds like?" Kirkwood nods and tells him to keep the manager around. "Kenneth Crane" finishes and the crowd cheers.
Backstage, Eliot is a little high from his success. Kaye Lynn hugs him and well, you can guess where this is going. Eliot removes his earbud. The flunky tells Nate he's wanted. Two goons back up the summons. Nate whispers for Eliot, but he is otherwise occupied. Parker and Hardison pack up to leave but the DJ returns. The ticket is for tomorrow night. Oops. Kirkwood tells Virginia that he knows she'd pay half a million for the rights. Good thing for her the manager doesn't know that. Except Kirkwood claims the manager as an old 4H buddy (it's like the farm version of scouting) and offers to facilitate the deal in exchange for future considerations. Nate waits with the goons. The flunky shows up and gut-punches him just as Eliot puts his earbud back in. (Not a euphemism.) He's on his way to help Nate, but he notices someone lurking outside. So he jumps the intruder and growls, "Who do you work for?" Uh, Forever 21. It's a fan looking for an autograph. Eliot kinda likes this part.
The flunky brings Kirkwood up to the room where Nate is waiting. They find him sitting in the chair with the two goons unconscious on the floor. Nate claims they got into a fight over something about reps versus sets. Kirkwoods sighs and gives him an envelope of cash. Back at the hotel, Nate hands it to Kaye Lynn. That's the fiddle game. They'll get the rest at the studio tomorrow when Eliot records the song for Kirkwood. Parker will steal the masters. In another room (trying on her costume), Parker suddenly realizes, "Oh! Eliot's the fiddle!"
A studio boss and a studio gofer girl exposit that a producer working for K-Gent has come from London just to record this one song. Gofer Girl will give him anything he wants. Gofer Girl finds the producer (Hardison all in white -- including a faux fur coat -- and gold bling) with "yes, it's her" the Icelandic pop star (Parker wearing a badly-cut yellow wig, lopsided eye makeup, black-and-white striped thigh highs and a fluffy yellow dress with a duck's head curved around the neck. The duck has little crosses for eyes. Imagine Lady Gaga feuding with Bjork). Gofer Girl is perplexed and propitiating as Hardison gives her the "she's a star" treatment, and flees to start the paperwork. Eliot's on the way but he's being followed. Hardison suggests he do his thing, but Eliot doesn't feel that's an appropriate response to a horde of screaming fan girls. Hardison tells him that Kenneth Crane has a fan page. Nice picture. Eliot's not happy to hear it -- "There's a price on my head in three different countries and I'm fairly certain a fatwa was issued." Hardison nukes the fan site but thinks he's being paranoid. Eliot figures a man with his history can't be paranoid.
Sophie is at breakfast with Nate (failing to understand his choice of ribs) when she spots Kirkwood. She slaps Nate, who realizes Kirkwood is on the scene. Sophie wonders how he found them, but Nate figures there are a limited number of five-start hotels in Memphis. He tells her to storm off. She wants to wait another beat, then goes to tell Kirkwood she'd like to slap him. He grabbed the rights to the song, so what does he want?
Gofer Girl leads Hardison and Parker over to the recording studio. Hardison goes in, Parker doesn't. She can't risk being "tainted" and asks to be shown to the meditation temple. She wanders off with Gofer Girl in tow. Hardison gives a status to Nate; Eliot took his earbud out for the recording. Parker dismisses an office space as too cluttered and keeps trotting through the facility. Hardison starts the session, but stops "Kenneth" for being pitchy. Parker's search for a meditation temple continues. Hardison stops "Kenneth" again for pitchiness. Parker and Gofer Girl approach a door with a security pad and Parker stops and coughs. She grabs Gofer Girl's key card as she sends her for water. Nate checks in; Parker thinks she's not being weird enough. Gofer Girl returns with water. Parker swishes, gargles and spits it out -- it's not iceberg water. Gofer Girl doesn't think they have any. Parker will settle for champagne. Gofer Girl is off again and Parker is through the door.
Hardison starts to groove to the song, but then stops Eliot yet again. They bicker. Parker can't find a safe, but then she hears Eliot playing. Isn't the recording studio soundproof? Someone delivers the Crane master to the flunky. Parker has found a lockbox under the acoustical floor tiles. Look, tapes.
"Virginia" is having lunch with Kirkwood at the Ribs, Ribs & More Ribs restaurant. The waitress fails to clear her plate of untouched ribs. Kirkwood is giving her the rights to the song for free. In exchange, she forgets all about Kenneth Crane. Kirkwood wants to get back into the game and having a song sampled by a rap superstar is a nice boost. Sophie realizes he's stealing the song for himself. How will he get Crane to cooperate? Kirkwood's phone plays "Dixie" as he tells her Crane won't have a choice. And she should stop asking questions. Sophie tips Nate that Kirkwood thinks he's the fiddle. Kirkwood's flunky assures him he'll take care of the matter and loads his gun.
Eliot is working on his own take when Parker arrives in the control booth with the tapes. Hardison finds Kaye Lynn's master and puts it in the tape deck. Parker finds Kirkwood's song; the artist's name is blacked out. The flunky summons Eliot, who won't go. So the flunky pulls a gun and Eliot whacks him with a microphone stand. Fighting ensues. Hardison plays the master of Kirkwood's song and then the video version. It's the same voice with a pitch adjustment. Hardison does a voice print search while Eliot tries to get their attention between blows. Parker looks for Eliot but doesn't see him through the studio window. Where'd he go? She turns back and misses the continuation of the fight. Hardison finds a match -- Jesse Jenkins. That explains why Kirkwood never had a second song -- he never had a first one. Jenkins filed a bunch of suits but they were never dropped (Kirkwood's usual M.O.). Never went to court, either. Eliot finishes the fight. Jenkins died in suspicious circumstances, Kirkwood was suspected but never charged. Nate knows this because it's about to happen to Eliot -- who finally gets Hardison and Parker's attention. He comes around to the booth door and tells them to scram. Now.
Back at the hotel, Parker gives the tapes to Nate but the case for Kaye Lynn's tape is empty. Hardison thinks he left it in the tape deck. Eliot heads off to protect Kaye Lynn from the inevitable uncomfortable questions. When he gets to the house, she is physically fine -- but the showcase organizer called and said Kirkwood is taking her spot. He's stealing the last song. So much for Eliot's promise.
Eliot wants to know the plan. Nate says they'll regroup and try a new approach in a couple of days. Eliot isn't having it; he won't let Kirkwood sing the song. Hardison is tracking his truck's GPS and it's too late. Kaye Lynn says the song will be gone forever if Kirkwood performs in front of the A&Rs (music scouts). Hardison repeats: it's too late. Eliot doesn't want to hear it; they can help or not. He and Kaye Lynn put on helmets and ride off on a motorcycle. Sophie says that you don't always get a second chance to make it right. Parker wonder why not and Nate agrees -- changing the rules is what they do.
The team passes a flock of CraneHeads on the way out of the hotel and Nate asks for Kirkwood's location. He's in his truck, practicing. It pulls up to a light and is promptly swarmed by the screaming CraneHeads; they have a text message that their idol is in the truck with horns. Kirkwood grabs his CD and hoofs it to the showcase. Sophie, Parker and Hardison arrive at the showcase; Sophie spots Kirkwood, who gives the Crane master CD to the DJ. Parker climbs on stage to "perform" and stall the showcase a little longer. The crowd fails to appreciate the genius of her performance. Eliot and Kaye Lynn arrive at the saloon, where the showcase is being held. She heads off. Eliot finds Kirkwood backstage among some microphones. "Surprised to see me?" Since Kirkwood tried to have him killed, like he killed Jenkins. Kirkwood carefully tells "Crane" that he wants to help him, then gut-punches him. He pushes the microphones away and whispers in Eliot's ear, "You think I'm going to confess to murder in a room full of microphones? If I was that stupid, I never would have gotten away with it."
Security removes Parker from the stage and Kirkwood comes out. He sits and starts playing the song. When he gets to the chorus, Kaye Lynn starts singing from the balcony. The spotlight finds her. Hardison backs her with a guitar track, since Kirkwood has stopped playing. She finishes and Kirkwood has the crowd give her a hand. He's about to play again when everyone hears what he whispered to Eliot. Flashback to Hardison capturing Eliot's earbud transmission on his laptop. Kirkwood prestends that was a joke and heads offstage. Eliot gives him a demonstration of proper gut-punching. Nate gives Eliot the master he retrieved from the studio and wanders off. Kaye Lynn shakes off a crowd of interested industry reps to join Eliot and thank him for keeping his promise. He gives her the album master, for her trip to Nashville. She invites him along; they could be the second coming of Johnny and June. (As in Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, which I hope you already knew.) He kisses her goodbye; he's already way down another road. The industry people sweep her off.
The team rounds up and heads out. Eliot wants to know how Nate took out those two goons. Nate sticks with his story: they got into a fight. Sophie wonders where Eliot was. "I was getting notes from Kaye Lynn on my performance." And how was he? "No complaints." (There would be some euphemisms in there.) A girl stops Eliot and he prepares to sign one last autograph, but she just wants the time. Time? Past her bedtime. Go home.
Comments: It took a viewing or two to get past the feeling that this episode was specifically designed to give the Christian Kane fans a thrill.
I've been taking classical voice lessons for some twenty years, and that kind of singing is very different from country singing. That tends to push the voice forward into the face and sinuses, while classical singers use the chest, throat and palate area. However, Kaye Lynn's lecture about feeling the song applies in all musical genres, but especially if you sing classical music to people who don't normally listen to classical music, in languages that they don't speak. If you can't feel the music, the audience won't either -- and that's what distinguishes singers from AutoTuned robot voices.
While Sophie is nuts with her disdain for ribs, I don't see eating them for breakfast, either. Can't wait to see what Sophie makes of grits...
The Double Blind Job
Two women stroll after shopping for clothes. One, Lisa, suddenly collapses.
Three years later, at a streetside cafe, the second woman, Ashley Moore, is greeted by Dr. Roberts. He apologizes for being cryptic on the phone, but he has information about her sister Lisa's death. Ashley's phone rings, but the caller number is blocked. Dr. Roberts knows about the drug trial Lisa was part of. Ashley's phone rings again and she steps away to see who it is. There's no one on the line. When she turns back, Dr. Roberts is gone. He left a napkin under the sugar bowl with a list of names. Ashley calls the doctor; a phone rings across the street where two men in suits are standing next to a black car. Ashley doesn't care for the coincidence, so she walks away. The two men cross the street in pursuit. She starts to run and bumps into Hardison emerging from a coffee shop, throwing him into someone crossing behind him. One of the suits flashes an FBI badge and claims Ashley is in their custody. Hardison tells them they made two mistakes. First, they flashed a phony badge. Second, they spilled "his" coffee. "He" would be Eliot, wearing a coffee stain down the whole front of his white T-shirt. Fisticuffs ensue while Hardison covers Ashley's eyes.
Bar. Booth. Hardison sits next to Ashley as she fills Nate in on the story. Lisa participated in a drug trial for HT1. After a week, she suffered liver failure and died. JRP Pharmaceuticals offered a settlement, claiming it was an isolated incident. Ashley tears up and Hardison comforts her. Parker watches from the bar. Ashley convinced her parents to refuse the money; she'd make sure the company was held accountable. Only the company claimed Lisa had a pre-existing condition -- Nate acknowledges that proving causality is the big problem in these cases -- and no lawyer would take the appeal. Ashley has spent three years looking for new evidence, with no luck until Dr. Roberts contacted her. Nate asks if Dr. Roberts gave her any information and Ashley pulls out the napkin. Arcadia is a town 30 miles away but the names bring up nothing. As in No. Thing. They appear to have been erased. Hardison does find Dr. Roberts. Ashley is impressed and Hardison offers to teach her, when he gets back with her refill.
At the bar, Parker asks Hardison if he's run a background check on Ashley. She could be a terrorist. Parker goes back to the booth with Hardison and pulls up a chair, the better to stare at Ashley. Reading the information Hardison retrieved, Nate observes that Dr. Roberts worked for JRP Pharmaceuticals until 8 months ago. They were bought by PallaGen Laboratories and all the researchers laid off. Nate thinks it's time to take the conversation to the , uh - "Poker room?" suggests Hardison. Nate has him call Eliot -- who's changing his coffee- and blood- and tooth-stained shirt -- and send him to Dr. Roberts' house. Meanwhile, Sophie and Parker should go knock on doors in Arcadia. Nate has to ask Parker twice, she's concentrating on Ashley so hard.
Eliot knocks on a door. No one home. In the poker room, where Hardison sets up a flat screen for display, Nate tells him to break in subtly. Eliot kicks the door in. He finds some BMW keys, out of place in such a small apartment. (Even with Boston rents?) Hardison says Roberts drives a moped. Eliot finds a flash drive hiding in the key chain and uploads the contents with his phone. Dr. Roberts had a meeting with Darren Hoffman, who was going to pay him $200,000 but Roberts never took the money. Turns out Hoffman is the CEO of PallaGen Labs. He's business, not science -- he jumped around to a bunch of companies in different industries. Nate recognizes the type -- he's chasing the CEO spot, has no loyalty to any of the companies. So what did Dr. Roberts have that was worth $200K? Eliot finds Dr. Roberts: "They made it look like a heart attack." Professionals will use one of nine injection sites; Eliot determines they went under the fingernail this time. Sophie and Parker report in; they found the people in Arcadia. But they haven't actually talked to any of them -- they found them in the cemetery.
HQ. Sophie shows Nate a newspaper article. Fifteen people from Arcadia participated in the HT1 trial; 10 died of liver failure. Nate tries to bring up the multi-screen but the remote isn't cooperating. Hardison is in the poker room looking after Ashley and Parker is helping. Sophie finds that surprising. Anyhoodles, the screens finally cooperate. PallaGen erased all the information, but didn't get into the Arcadia Public Library. (Libraries are wonderful places. Go visit yours.) They figure Roberts found the connection, Hoffman tried to bribe him and had Roberts erased when that didn't work. They debate possible approaches and settle on the Double Blind.
PallaGen HQ. A besuited Parker wheels a case into the lobby, where Trina welcomes "Laurie Sprang" to Vioplex Training Day. In the poker room, Nate assigns Parker the job of breaking into Hoffman's office to get the dirt. Hardison runs down her background: pharma reps are hired out of cheerleading programs, so she's a veteran of University of Iowa, not to mention second runner-up for Miss Iowa. Meanwhile, Sophie needs to develop a relationship with Hoffman. His calendar is booked, so they hijack the appoinment of Jennifer Pearson, FDA rep. Back at PallaGen, Hoffman's assistant "Phil" (actually Eliot) intercepts Ms. Pearson and takes her on a tour of the facility.
Sophie becomes Ms. Pearson and makes an impression on Hoffman. She asks for a tour; she wants to talk about the possibility of consulting. Nate translates "consulting" as bribes and Hardison lays out the payouts for Ashley. The company has a foundation for legally funneling bribes. Nate signals Parker to get ready to go. Hoffman escorts Sophie from the office and she installs a thingy on his electronic office lock as she goes. "Laurie" stands up and Trina thinks she has a volunteer for some role-playing. Parker does about as well as one could expect, then manages to excuse herself. Off to Hoffman's office for some snooping. She downloads his files first. Hardison is amused by his lackluster encryption. Nate spots a picture of a molecule and asks Hardison to bring it up. It's the Vioplex molecule -- which is identical to the HT1 molecule (Ashley has helpfully provided a picture). Nate realizes that Roberts made the HT1/Vioplex connection. People are going to die when Hoffman releases Vioplex.
Ashley exposits that PallaGen has altered HT1 to slow down the rate of liver failure, so it will take years instead of months to kill people. Nate reviews Hoffman's bribe list. Hardison can't believe he'll get away with it. Nate notes the FDA receives 500,000 complaints about side effects each year. By the time they figure out the problem, Hoffman will have moved on. They need the vials of HT1 to prove it's the same molecule as Vioplex. Parker needs to find where they are. Eliot needs to keep Jennifer Pearson around so they can give her the vials. Only she's scheduled to fly out in two hours. Eliot turns on the charm and convinces her to stay over and let him show her the city. Parker finds a safe behind some binders and easily cracks it. She finds a file with a storage index and scans it with the phone. Hardison gets an alert that security is headed for her. He wants her to go but Nate tells her to stay until she has what they need. Hardison argues that they also need Parker. She finishes up and leaves (removing the thingy Sophie planted) just ahead of security.
Bar. Sophie storms in and chews Nate out for risking Parker -- is he taking this a little personally because it's reminding him of his own situation? Given his history of going off the rails, she gets to give him a sanity check occasionally. If he objects, she'll walk -- "And remember, Nate, I'm the only one who actually likes you." She leaves.
HQ. Hardison teases Eliot about getting worn out by Jennifer Pearson. Turns out she's a very thorough tourist -- Freedom Trail (twice), Newbury Street, Public Gardens, duck tour (quack quack!). Nate comes in and Hardison tells him that he's confirmed PallaGen has the HT1 vials, but not where. Nate figures they'll get Hoffman to lead them to the vials. Nate will give Hoffman a push. Hardison points out that didn't go so well for the last guy who pushed Hoffman (i.e. Roberts) but Nate is all "Bring it on." Hardison and Eliot agree that prison changed Nate.
Upscale bar. Sophie has a drink with Hoffman to discuss their arrangement. He just wants problems to be delayed. Eventually, they'll have to apologize and pay a fine, but it will be a small percentage of what they make on sales until then. Sophie pretends to be cold, so he gallantly donates his jacket. She steps away to take a call and Nate parks himself at their table. He claims to know Dr. Roberts, and that Vioplex is HT1. He has proof -- the vials -- and wants $5 million. He gives Hoffman a phone number and leaves. Sophie comes back and Hoffman excuses himself; she returns his jacket before he goes.
Hoffman types on a keypad and enters a secure area. There, he finds the case with the HT1 vials, right where he left them. A button camera gives Nate, Hardison and Parker a view. Flashback to Sophie putting it on Hoffman's jacket. So now all Parker has to deal with is the lock on the storage cage; Hardison will compare her route to Hoffman's (the button camera is GPS-enanbled). Ashley wishes her luck and Parker acts insulted. Nate hands her a lookalike case and sends her off.
Sophie arrives at PallaGen. Hoffman waves her over. He's calling Nate; he wants to make the payoff in person. Hardison tries to wave Nate off but he accepts. Sophie points out that a security goon just needs to brush past him with a syringe and he'll be joining Dr. Roberts. Nate says he has to do it or it will tip off Hoffman. The team will just have to wrap things up before he gets dead.
PallaGen. Vioplex launch party. Nate arrives. Eliot warns him to watch for tall men, hands in the pocket, high-laced shoes. Jennifer Pearson gives "Phil" the brush-off -- she wants someone who's not a desk jockey, someone a little more dangerous. But they can still be friends. Nate asks Eliot if he needs time to shake it off. Apparently not. Hardison steers Parker through the secure facility, but he doesn't have the keypad code right off. He and Ashley scramble to find it and both read it, but differently. Finally, Hardison reads it off by himself and Parker is through.
Nate has a false alarm with a guy with a pen. Parker announces that she's triggered the motion sensor and the HT1 vials are in the cage. She has 15 seconds before security arrives. Sophie suggests it's time to clear out and Nate endorses. Hoffman gets a call from the secure facility. Two guards walk into the room; Parker is hanging onto the exposed pipes on the ceiling so they miss her. The guards unlock the cage; she drops down and locks them in. She runs, tripping a third guard on the way out. Nate checks on Parker and Sophie; Parker says the vials are in the cage with security. Sophie tells Nate to go. He's almost out the door when he fends off a syringe; two security guys (the same ones that chased Ashley) haul him away to Hoffman's office.
Hoffman announces the deal has changed, now that he knows Nate doesn't have the vials. He compliments the ploy of having him lead them to the case, but unfortunately, the thief Nate hired biffed the job. A third guard pops in to hand Hoffman the case. He sends the guards outside to make sure no one comes in. But then Eliot walks up to the guards, offers them coffee and takes them out. (Not for coffee.) Nate negotiates while Hoffman sips champagne. Eliot announces that the door is clear. Nate breaks the news that they stole the vials -- Hoffman has an empty case. And they put the HT1 in the champagne. Hoffman opens the case and it's empty, except for a little card that says "Cheers!" Flashback to Parker inside the security cage placing a case on the shelf and relocking the cage. Hardison turns on the motion sensors and has to prompt her to set them off. She announces that she triggered the motion sensors.
Nate lets Hoffman know that he got a concentrated dose. Hoffman doesn't believe Nate could have dosed the champagne; he's been under observation the whole time. Jennifer Pearson walks in -- the real one. Hoffman's assistant said he was ready to see her. Flashback to Eliot removing prostrate guards and Sophie sending Ms. Pearson up. Hoffman disbelieves she's the FDA rep, but Nate reveals Sophie is his associate. She smiles at the security camera. Hoffman storms out. Nate tells Pearson to stick with Hoffman, but first, take this case. She goes.
Downstairs, Hoffman yells for everyone to stop drinking the champagne; he tips trays of glasses to shatter on the floor. They've all been poisoned! Pearson wants to know what's going on. Hoffman announces that someone put HT1 into the champagne. The video display now shows the HT1 and Vioplex molecules side-by-side. Someone says, "HT1? That's the drug that killed all those people in Arcadia." Pearson puts it together -- HT1 is the poison, and they're selling it as Vioplex. Hoffman says someone stole the vials from that case. She opens it and the HT1 vials are inside. Flashback to Hardison telling Parker the case is a trick case -- "Abracadabra." Pearson makes a call as the reporters on hand grill Hoffman.
Sophie asks Nate if he realizes his bravado was the definition of "out of control." Nate just wanted to demonstrate that he wouldn't ask the team to take risks he wasn't willing to take himself. "I love how you think that's comforting," Sophie sighs.
Bar. Hardison asks Ashley what she'll do with herself now. She's not sure. Hardison gives her a list of people affected by HT1, and a check. It's a whistleblower's percentage of a large fine. At the bar, Sophie tells Parker she's glad Ashley found closure. Parker squeezes a beer bottle to pieces at Ashley's name. Sophie advises her to talk to Hardison and the beer bottle is in more pieces. Parker denies feeling jealous; she just doesn't like seeing them together. Ashley hugs Hardison and departs, so Hardison joins the ladies at the bar. Sophie exits. Parker announces she has to tell him something and Hardison sits. Parker confesses that she's maybe having feelings. Weird feelings. For -- her lips make a "you" shape but no sound comes out, until she says "Pretzels!" Hardison slides the bowl of pretzels over and tells her, "Well, they're right here. When you want them."
Comments: Eliot's list of tourist destinations is accurate. The Duck Tours use amphibious vehicles; they drive through Boston and take a dip in the Charles River. Tourists are expected to shout "Quack quack!" at passersby. It would have been interesting to see Eliot driven to the extreme of yelling "Quack quack!" at people, but that would require location shooting.
Parker transferred the vials of HT1 into the new trick case and stole just the original case (now empty). Her announcements that the HT1 was (still) in the cage were to confirm that she was not walking away with it. And to fool the audience into thinking the heist was blown. Like Parker would have trouble with such an easy setup.
The Scheherazade Job
Fancy executive office. Alexander Moto serves up a cake shaped like his African homeland of Wadata to a couple of businessmen. Wadata has lots of resources, like diamonds and some newly-discovered oil. Moto's brother is currently the president; he's not known as being business-friendly but Alexander is different. A businessman wants to know if Moto's sure he will succeed his brother. Moto says he's taking care of the opposition.
Boston street. Jane, a West African reporter, emerges from a building and heads to her car. She's on her phone, trying to get through to Mr. Moto. She's about to get in the car when she notices a ticket. It's not for her car. With a screech of tires, a car rounds the corner and heads for her. She dives into her car at the last minute and the assassin's car takes off the open car door she was just standing in front of.
Bar. Eliot and Hardison jostle in the doorway. Eliot knows he was invited by Nate to protect the client. They sit at a table with Nate and Hardison explains that he's on hand to learn Nate's job, for when he's running his own crew. Nate is surprised to hear it. Hardison explains that he's the Super Skrull, encompassing all the team's skills: hacking, grifting, thieving. Eliot wants to know about fighting; Hardison has a dog for that. Named Megabyte. (Megabite?) Nate tells Hardison he can't do his job. It's not about being smart. But before he can explain what it is about, Jane arrives. She has two large men trailing her. Eliot pretends to be a drunk who thinks one guy has his jacket that he left at the dry cleaners. The guy hits him to make him go away. Eliot breaks his fingers and thumps on the other guy for a bit. Then he looks like he's about to go all Bruce Lee on them, so they leave. Eliot sits back down and smirks at Hardison, "Can your dog do that?"
Jane talks about Wadata. Moto has children working his mines; they have to make quotas or they don't get paid. "Or worse," Eliot adds. He's fought in Africa, so he knows about child soldiers. Moto smuggles his diamonds into the US and launders them through real estate. The current president, who has labored to improve the standard of living, will be forced out by term limits, so Moto is positioning himself as his brother's successor. The president will come for a visit in four days, which will solidify Moto's heir status. Nate thinks the Justice Department can act on Moto when Jane's article is published. She says she already go them proof of Moto's crimes. They started an investigation, but then it didn't go anywhere. Nate knows how to find out what happened.
The Italian woman joins Nate in his car. She's dressed up, so Nate wonders if he dragged her out of a party. No, a date. With a fugitive who is no longer a fugitive. Nate processes that. They get to business. Moto feeds African jihadists to the CIA; he's a paid informant. Business concluded, the Italian woman invites Nate to dinner; she doesn't like to eat alone. Nate imagines how that would go. It ends with him being garrotted while she looks on. He pleads other plans.
HQ. Eliot, Sophie and Nate process the new information. Sophie bets the names Moto's providing aren't even jihadists, but his political rivals. Nate exposits that Moto bought at the peak of the real estate market, so the only thing keeping him afloat is the diamond money. And the best thing about smuggled diamonds? Sophie goes for the way the shimmer on the deck of a millionaire's yacht under the moonlight, but Eliot votes for the lack of insurance. If they steal the diamonds, Moto's empire collapses and he can't fund a bid for power.
Parker (with camera) and Hardison (in the van) are checking out Moto's properties. Hardison votes against the concert hall, until Parker admires the sturdiness of the foundation. She unlocks the exterior electical panel and finds a dedicated air line feeding into the basement. That means something delicate is being stored. Hardison discovers that Moto bought a Stradivarius for $4.5 million. Sophie connects the dots -- Moto has made himself a patron of the arts to get in with the old money crowd in Boston. But that's his vulnerability. His father sent him out of the country when he was young, he was educated in Europe and the US, he don't even speak his national language. Moto's problem is that Wadatans see him as an outsider and Parker's problem is that she needs to see the vault in order to break in. Nate has a plan.
Hardison and Eliot mock up some news stories that have Moto disparaging Wadata. Moto has an uncomfortable video chat with his brother, claiming he's being set up. He says his brother is judging him from the presidential "throne," which disappoints the president. His flunky wonders if the president is setting Moto up, but he suspects the reporter. The flunky mentions a call from -- "Christy Connolly," our favorite expert in "perception management." She offers references from the dictators of Uzbekistan and Myanmar; she's rebranding them as effective modern CEOs and can do them same for Moto. He figures she's asking him to pull out the checkbook and open schools and clinics, but she laughs. That just reminds people of how much money he has. But if he helps a single child, that makes him a hero. She gives him a folder on "Timmy" (with a picture of Hardison), a young taxi driver who emigrated from Wadata with the dream of studying violin at the New England Conservatory. Moto will get him in. The poor want clinics and schools, but they need heroes. Moto likes the sounds of this.
Hardison tells Nate that he played the violin until he was fourteen, and he was pretty good. He gave it up when he discovered computers, which are much better at displaying pictures of naked girls. Nate needs Hardison to get Moto to take him to the vault. Hardison shows off all the hacker gear he's surreptitiously packing; all the data will go up on the big screen for Nate and Parker. And by the way, he was serious about running his own crew one day, so what does Nate think he's missing? Nate runs off to find Eliot, leaving Hardison to wonder if perhaps it's rudeness he lacks.
Christy and Timmy are meeting Moto, who's all set to make Timmy's dream come true. Timmy is reluctant; he's just working for his family. After getting beaten up in his cab, he finds it hard to buy into the dream. Moto decides to show him what can be achieved in America, so they go down to the vault. Hardison's button camera shows a retinal scanner, and then they're in the vault, and there's the Stradivarius. Hardison is so gobsmacked he almost breaks character until Sophie prods him. With all the technology in the world, they still can't make violins today that sound as good and no one knows why. There's a log entry for a delivery from Wadata that went into the locker "Allegro" -- all the boxes are named after musical terms. Sophie has to prod Hardison again to get the button camera pointed in the right direction.
Nate wants to know how the break-in will go. Parker says it can't be done. No video cameras, because they have to be watched by people who can fall asleep. It's a state-of-the-art Glen Reeder vault that uses unhackable motion sensors. Nate has her check the log to see when it gets turned off. They disabled the sensors when the orchestra played the 1812 Overture, since the vibrations could have set them off. Nate has some instructions for Sophie. Down in the vault, Sophie has a proposal. The rural areas don't have newspapers or television, only radio. So they host a concert for the president in the concert hall, featuring Timmy. Timmy tries to look grateful.
HQ. Hardison comes down the spiral staircase, fuming about the violin. Nate wonders if he was napping; they need to get down to work. Hardison is still flipping out. Nate is dismissive; Hardison said he played the violin. "As a child!" Yeah, but Hardison is Super Skull. That's Super Skrull, who combines that powers of the Fantastic Four, "one of whom is not Itzhak Perlman." Sophie arrives; she helped Moto pick out [Rimsky-]Korsakov's Scheherazade, based on the Arabian Nights. Sophie calls Scheherazade "one of literature's all-time great grifters." What Hardison knows is that it ends with a difficult violin solo, which he'll have to play. Sophie ratchets up the pressure: Moto is going to have him play the Stradivarius. And the conductor needs to see him in two hours. Hardison huffs out. Sophie glances at the metronome in front of Nate and asks if he picked up any new skills in jail. Nate just smiles and says she did pick out Hardison as the best candidate.
Concert hall. The conductor introduces himself to Timmy and lays out his interpretation of the piece. Time to rehearse. Before he can play, Timmy "gets a phone call" -- his mother was in an accident with a moped. The conductor is sure Timmy can play the piece, so he sends him off to see to his mother.
HQ. Parker eats cereal as she studies the plans of the concert hall. Nate arrives and she gives him a walkthrough. They have a door with a 6-digit key code; Sophie is working on that. She's at the concert hall, lugging a couple of bags of equipment. The flunkies help her out with them and inspect them; she asks them to be gentle with the sensitive lens. Eliot, dressed as a maintenance man, walks past them and reaches the door. He sprays the keypad with something. Moto's flunky comes up and asks what he's doing in an off-limits area. Eliot gripes about getting the run-around and has to call his supervisor. He uses his phone as a mirror to watch as the flunky enters the code; he gets the first two numbers, then runs a black light to see which keys were touched for the rest. Parker will need time to go through the various combinations. Eliot will have to take care of the guard while she does. They don't have time to hack the retinal scanner, so Parker suggests blowing a hole in the ceiling of the vault. Hardison comes in. Nate figures they exit by blending with the crowd. Parker disagrees. This is a concert for a foreign dignitary, with Secret Service protection. They can't blow a hole in the floor without being detected. Hardison can't do his part, either. Nate has the idea of timing the heist with the music. They'd need their own conductor to get the tempo right.
Concert hall. Empty but for Hardison, who is making unfortunate sounds with a violin. Parker comes in wearing maintenance coveralls; she's establishing her cover and doing a walk-through. She has stopped in to give him a pep talk, wherein she lays out how everything depends on Hardison being able to play. She's trying to give him some adrenaline action; that's what she uses. Hardison is worried that adrenaline will cause him to break the fragile violin. So she gives him a reassuring arm punch and leaves.
The concert hall fills with musicians and audience members. Moto introduces the president to Ms. Connolly. He's looking forward to some positive press. Nate is setting up in a secluded space backstage when he gets a phone call from the Italian woman. He needs to meet her in the prop room pronto. The concert begins. Hardison fakes playing the orchestral portion. The Italian woman wants Nate to remove an envelope from Moto's safe and leave another behind. It's a link to Damien Moreau.
The orchestra plays; Hardison fakes it. Parker and Eliot collect their gear in a janitor's cart. Nate gets them ready to move, based on the conductor's tempo; he's following the sheet music backstage. And -- go! Sophie heads up some stairs with a bag; she's wearing latex gloves. A janitor, with his head down, rolls a mop past the guard station. Moto's flunky looks at him and heads around the corner where he came from. Parker starts trying codes. The flunky sees Eliot standing guard. The two of them get ready to duke it out. The flunky runs and body-blocks Eliot in the wall. He spots Parker and tosses her away from the door. Eliot gets up and engages. Parker recovers and tries more combinations. She gets through as Eliot drops the flunky. Nate has to jump the schedule. Parker lays out det cord while Eliot deals with the revived flunky. Parker finishes and Eliot kicks the flunky into the circle of det cord. Nate gives the signal and Parker blows the floor on the crash of the cymbals. The flunky falls down into the vault. Nate grabs his envelope and runs for the vault. Parker removes the diamonds from the locker. Nate drops into the vault and gets her to open the locker with the envelope.
Hardison's moment of truth has come. He looks up to Sophie in the audience for a reprieve, but she just smiles. He stands and plays a lovely, delicate solo. Down in the vault, the team is transfixed as the solo reaches its apex. The crowd stands and applauds. The motion sensor re-engages -- with Nate, Parker and Eliot down in the vault. Alarms sound.
Parker wonders why Nate's in the vault. He'll explain once they're out. Only a guard pulls the rope up through the hole in the ceiling. Eliot wants to know the plan. Nate is working on it. Sophie have any input? She suggests stalling. Hardison mentions that Moto and the president have left their seats. Nate instructs him to keep his cover. Moto and the president arrive in the vault, trailed by a guard who helps the dusty flunky stand up. Moto diagnoses a robbery; his men will handle it. The flunky heads for Eliot, but Moto meant they should call the police. See? He has it under control, so no need for his brother to be involved. Nate asks the president if he'd like to hear how Moto lured him here to be assassinated. Moto deigns to be entertained. Nate points out how poignant it would be, Moto mourning over his brother's body while Wadata listens on the radio. He claims to be from the CIA, collecting the names of terrorists that Moto supplies for money "at his leisure." The president decides he has ignored the rumors long enough. Moto claims it's a story. The president says then he can open the envelope. Moto is stuck -- he can't open the envelope, it isn't his.
A Secret Service agent enters, followed by Sophie, who joins the others. He tells the president that they found a rifle in the projection room with a print on the scope. Flashback to the flunkies inspecting Sophie's gear at the concert hall, handling a sensitive "lens." Another flashback to Sophie setting up the rifle while wearing latex gloves. The president accuses his brother of being behind the attempt. The Secret Service drag him off as he claims it was "Christy"'s doing. The president nods to Nate and then looks at the flunkies. They leave with him.
Parker wonders how Nate knew what was in the envelope. He was bluffing. Backstage, Nate gives the envelope to the Italian woman. She remarks that it's unopened. Nate deduces that the envelope doesn't connect with Moreau; if it did, she would have handed it over. No, it connects to the Italian woman. That's how she knew it was there. She claims that doing good sometimes involves doing bad things. Nate thinks his bad guys have more honor than she ever will. He warns her not to play him again.
Jane happily tells Nate and Eliot that her article is now published. Nate figures the assassination charges won't stick, but they did result in a search of the vault, which revealed the smuggled diamonds. So Moto's not going to be president. Nate gives her a check. Jane doesn't want money from the diamonds, but it turns out the team wound up with a Stradivarius on their hands. Maybe she could set up a music foundation for the kids. Nate gives Eliot credit for the idea and leaves them.
Parker, Hardison and Sophie are at the bar. Parker guesses Hardison had a recording hidden in the violin. Hardison protests that's not how you treat a Stradivarius. Parker still can't believe his violin skillz, and neither can Hardison. Nate joins them, saying "That's because I hypnotized you." He regressed Hardison to his violin-playing years. Flashback to Nate speaking to a slumped Hardison as the metronome ticks; he asks what piece Hardison played last and hears "Scheherazade." Flashback to Nate asking Hardison if he was napping. Flashback to Nate telling Sophie she identified Hardison as the best candidate. Sophie confesses that she can pick out a candidate for hypnosis. Hardison tells Nate that hypnosis is something you do to a mark, not your crew. Nate says you do whatever you need to in order to get the best performance out of your team. That willingness is the quality Hardison lacks to do Nate's job. Hardison leaves. Parker follows.
Comments: The New England Conservatory of Music is real and justly famous.
There's a moment after the rope is pulled up where Parker is at an open locker. This could be when she restores the diamonds, to be found by the police search of the vault. Or the team put them back after the president left them in possession of the vault.
I'm not sure who the first janitor was -- the one who walked past the guard post with his hat pulled down. He was going the wrong way to be Eliot.
The Inside Job
Wakefield Agricultural Corporation. 7:00 a.m. 27th floor. An alarm blatts. Parker evades a bunch of security guards in the hallways.
Nate watches the local news as he cooks breakfast. Sophie enters and points out that the apartment is their headquarters, but Nate figures since he sleeps upstairs, he gets use of the facilities. Sophie sits on the counter and Nate gives her a sample of what he learned after six months in the prison kitchens. Apparently, prison food is underrated. Sophie thinks she should have gotten Nate to make her breakfast ages ago. Nate wonders if they'll ever talk about the kiss. Sophie doesn't remember a kiss, but she remembers a slap. A phone call interrupts the conversation. A stranger warns Nate that Parker is in trouble. She went in alone and she's dealing with a Steranko security system. The stranger is on the building across the street. There are voices behind him and apparently the call ends. Sophie is outraged that Parker took an outside job without even saying anything. They need to get the rest of the team to Parker's place. She's still dodging security in the Wakefield building. The guy in the Steranko control room is confident they'll succeed in time.
Nate and Sophie pull up to a warehouse. Sophie doesn't believe Parker lives there, but Nate says the Central Square address is a dummy. She has half-a-dozen fake addresses. Sophie is hurt by the lack of trust. The door is locked with a keypad. Sophie gives it a try and it works; it's Sophie's real name. Nate still hasn't earned it yet.
In the middle of an otherwise empty warehouse, six lights shine down on a bed and several storage units. Sophie is astonished by Parker's sense of interior design. There's a Post-It that reads "Archie" on a glass wall. Hardison and Eliot arrived. Hardison is also amazed by Parker's living quarters, but this is what Eliot expected. Nate wonders why they didn't arrive first, and Eliot confesses they went to the Central Square address. Flashback to them facing a burly, bearded man in a Sailor Moon costume (complete with wig). Hardison and Eliot still seem traumatized by the encounter.
Nate has everyone look at the material Parker has laid out on a counter. Sophie is impressed by the organization. Nate shows Hardison what Parker's up against. He's aghast that she'd tackle a Steranko by herself. Sophie begs for enlightenment. Eliot doesn't understand how she can not know what a Steranko is. Sophie points out that grifters talk their marks into turning off the security. Hardison explains that it has the kind of computer that can play chess hooked up to all kinds of detectors; it learns to respond to your actions. Nate wants to know if Hardison can hack it and he is flabbergasted. Nate asks if he can do it for Parker. Hardison gathers his thoughts and says he can't even attempt it remotely. Okay, so they have to get Hardison into the building. Nate pulls the building name off a page on the wall, and the crew heads out to steal Parker.
The van pulls up near the Wakefield building. Sophie and Hardison climb out the side door; Nate is in the passenger seat with the window rolled down. Hardison explains that Wakefield is a big cereal company; they got hit by the downturn and had some bad investments; Rushing, the CEO, is fending off takeover attempts. Eliot arrives with a perimeter report: the lobby is the only access point. He's not happy about the daylight and the improvising. Nate deduces the location of the stranger who called. Eliot will come with him, while Sophie will get Hardison into Wakefield to tackle the Steranko. She pulls out some suits and tells Hardison that grifters don't sneak in unnoticed.
In the control room, Rushing and Dr. Hannity fret to Voorhees (the security guy) that the intruder is still free. Voorhees assures them that the intruder is trapped on the upper floors. They can't afford a lockdown or even the rumor of a break-in. Rushing has weekly auditors and calls from bankers all over the world. His phone buzzes and he discovers he has two more auditors downstairs now. He tells Voorhees to take care of the matter discreetly. Voorhees proposes a floor-by-floor check; it will take 50 minutes. Rushing agrees and leaves. Voorhees assures Dr. Hannity that the situation is under control, and she leaves, too.
Downstairs, Rushing greets the two auditors from London: "Emily Peel" and "Jonathan Steed." On the roof of the building across the street, Nate and Eliot find the helpful stranger. Nate recognizes him, and introduces Eliot to Archie Leach, the world's greatest thief. Two guys with guns run up behind them. Nate gives Eliot the nod and he takes them out while Archie and Nate catch up. Archie helps finish off a guy who won't stay down. Nate observes they're not his, then. Archie says he's a hostage and Parker is rescuing him. Because he's her father.
In a big conference room, Sophie demands to see all the department heads in five minutes. Meanwhile, Mr. Steed needs a private office with computer access. Rushing tries to cavil, but Sophie threatens him and he caves. His assistant takes Mr. Steed to an office.
Archie clarifies that he's not Parker's biological father. She lifted his wallet in New York twelve years ago and he took her under his wing. Flashback to a young Parker tumbling through a field of lasers to reach an ice cream sundae on a central pedestal. She looks back at Archie, who's holding a spoon. Young Parker tumbles back through the field, holding the sundae in one hand. Archie claims credit for shaping her. Nate scolds him for not taking her in. Archie shows him a family picture; Parker wouldn't have fit in with them.
Eliot accuses him of sending Parker into Wakefield. Archie says the client found him in retirement and threatened to kill his grandchildren if he didn't steal a canister. They provided blueprints and codes. Archie called Parker for help with the planning, but she went in herself. Nate sends Eliot to get ready; when Hardison finds a door, Eliot will get Parker through it. Hardison is in the company computer. Nate lends Archie an earbud. Hardison can't hack the Steranko with wi-fi since the cables are shielded, so he drills into the wall where the cable runs. He's in, but for how long? Nate commands Sophie to create chaos. Sophie fires all the suits. Dr. Hannity protests that she can't fire them. Sophie assures them she can. But anyone who can convince her that they're necessary can be hired back today. Chaos ensues as everyone starts talking at once.
Hardison reports. The not-so-bad news is that the Steranko is only running at level 1 (levels 2-4 are reserved for fire, terrorist takeover and hazmat containment breach). Parker just has to avoid doors, security devices and guards. Eliot calls it a lobster trap -- easy in, no out. Nate asks about the perimeter and Eliot says it's closed up. He figures the executives would resent giving up privacy, so Hardison's going to find a hole in the Steranko's coverage. Now they have to find Parker. Hardison points out that the whole building is looking for Parker, so he can't use the system to find her. They have to wait for Parker to send a signal and hope they get to her first.
Parker is crawling through an air duct when she sees something on the sides. There are laser tripwires. Not good. She climbs out of the duct, steals a white coat, glasses and badge, and ducks into a cubicle. Down the hall, guards do retina verification of identity with a handheld scanner. Her cell phone is jammed, so she uses a landline to call Hardison's cell. She starts to fill him in but he tells her the team is already on it. He realizes she's calling from a company phone. She thinks she's safe because she has an ID, but he tells her about the retina scans. And now the Steranko has found her, she has 30 seconds to skedaddle. He sends her to cubicle 27 pronto.
Nate has found watermarks on the plans; they came from the company. Nate has Sophie check the room full of babbling suits for anything that stands out, and she observes that Dr. Hannity is very calm. Hardison looks her up; she's head of biotech with access to the Steranko and the vault Parker was trying to crack. Archie and Nate deduce that she's in on the job. Archie continues the line of thought: an inside job only works if they tie off loose ends, so they'll kill Parker if they catch her. Archie starts to panic, but Hardison says it's covered. Flashback to Hardison sending a package through interoffice mail. Parker gets the package at cubicle 27 and Hardison turns on the earbud inside. She asks for Archie and he scolds her for going in. She knows he would have gotten caught, and they would have hurt him or his family. He tells her to keep her focus, and to stand up and look around. Everyone is stealing office supplies.
A suit shows up, acting like he knows her, so she asks who he is. Turns out cubicle 135 in Marketing has been sexting with cubicle 27, and now that everyone's getting laid off, he just had to see her in person. They get swept off to someone's severance party. Archie asks Hardison if he's found an exit. Hardison has a hole in security: the CEO's office on floor 38. Eliot needs to get up there. "You want me to climb a forty story building in broad daylight?" he growls. Yes, Nate does. Now. Fortunately, Eliot finds some window cleaners just unloading from their van.
Hardison reports that Hannity spent $60 million on some superwheat that no one wants. Nate tells Sophie to get rid of everyone but Hannity and get her mad. In the conference room, it's just Dr. Hannity and a very condescending Sophie, who pooh-poohs her resume and accomplishments. Dr. Hannity explains that five companies control the world's agriculture, based primarily on wheat. There's a blight called Ug99; modern wheat has no immunity. If the blight attacks, the wheat dies and it's famine time. Anyone who can control the food supply will increase market share. Dr. Hannity has created a strain of wheat that has resistance. If they knew what strain would hit the food supply and when, they'd make billions. She stalks out.
Archie thinks he was hired to steal the wheat, but Nate realizes the job was to steal the blight. Dr. Hannity has the blight in order to test the wheat's immunity. She wants it to get out. Hardison matches the container for the blight with the container Archie was told to steal. Nate needs to think, but Archie wants to get everyone out, especially Parker. He tells her to run out the front door. Nate tells her the entrance is a bottleneck. Parker is trapped in the severance party. Hardison has control of some doors, but the Steranko keeps taking them back. He sends her to an open door to the stairway. No one uses the stairs, so they aren't as dangerous as elevators. Sophie wants to do something about Dr. Hannity. Parker arrives at Rushing's office and Eliot's ready to bust through the window, but Parker says she can't leave. Eliot and Archie yell at her, but Parker realizes that Hannity can now steal the blight and blame it on her, since the Steranko has a record of her break-in. She needs to steal the blight to keep it from Hannity. Archie tells her they don't get involved, but Parker says that's what he does. Taking down Hannity is what the team does.
Hardison urges them to make up their minds, because the Steranko is stomping him. Parker says she knows what she did wrong in the vault before; she just needs a path back there and she can pull it off. She's not alone this time. Nate gives her the go-ahead. Archie is furious; he thinks Nate will get her killed. Parker walks out of the office and runs into a security guard, who pulls his gun. Parker circles him, trying to bluff, but he doesn't buy it. Fortunately, Eliot comes up behind him and takes him out. (Parker's way out = Eliot's way in.) She smiles and he just waves her to get going. Parker demands options from Hardison and he gives them a door to a stairwell. They go through and find guards climbing up. Eliot growls at Hardison to keep the guards off them and Hardison asks him if he wants the hacker job. Eliot asks if Hardison wants his job as he takes on the guards. Parker heads upstairs. Hardison tells them to get to the biotech level. Eliot tells Parker she's going the wrong way but Parker says she knows what she's doing.
In the control room, Voorhees gets off the phone and tells Hannity she was right; the auditors are fakes. Leach is double-crossing them. Voorhees can't reach his babysitters. Hannity figures they sit on Archie until they catch the thief, then dispose of everyone. Voorhees goes to work on that.
Hardison is urging Parker and Eliot to move; he's got a door on the biotech floor. Parker asks Eliot how much he weighs, but he's not telling. So she rides the rope down alone. Eliot will have to meet her, and bring a retinal scanner. Hardison says he got them an elevator, but now he's out. Nate tells him to get Sophie and clear out. Nate makes a phone call. Hannity arrives at an empty conference room and storms out. Voorhees checks the office where "Steed" was working, but no joy.
On the biotech level, Eliot busts through some resistance with Parker on his heels. Her sexting pal wanders onto the scene and she keeps Eliot from pounding him. "Who's that guy?" he wonders. "Boyfriend," reveals Parker, and leaves. The suit is suitably deflated not to get her number. Parker wants to know what sexting is, but Eliot's in no mood to chat. They arrive at the vault. Parker uses the handheld scanner from Eliot to beat the retinal scanner, then opens the compartment with the blight. Eliot is ready to get out of there. Then alarms go off and the Steranko goes to level 4 -- hazmat containment. Parker and Eliot run.
Fire trucks pull up to the Wakefield building, followed by news crews. Nate lifts a hazmat suit from a truck but Archie pulls a gun on him, accusing him of getting Parker killed. Nate tells him they'd both die to protect her, and he has work to do. Archie realizes that Nate's going in for her. Nate hands him a hazmat suit and says he always intended to.
In the control room, Voohees and Hannity see Sophie and Hardison taking hazmat suits. Steranko doesn't have elevator 3 locked down, but Voorhees can use the call button to catch them in the lobby. Rushing is trying to control the chaos downstairs. Voorhees summons the rogue elevator and pulls a gun on the four suited people inside (the front one holding the canister of blight). He and Hannity step into the elevator. Upstairs, Hannity and Voorhees march the four prisoners out on an empty floor. Archie, holding the canister, pulls off his hood. Hannity accuses him of welching on their deal and Archie accuses her of trying to kill him. He wants more money now. Hannity counters: she takes the blight, Voorhees shoots them and puts their bodies in "the very expensive incinerators" in the basement. The police are no obstacle; Archie will take the blame for the theft. And when the famine materializes in six months, Wakefield will be the only company ready for it. So, how do they want to get shot?
Archie demurs. The rest of the group take off their hoods; it's the reporter from the morning news with her crew. She holds the microphone out to Hannity and asks for comment -- they're live. One of the guys in back shows his camera. Flashback to Nate telling Hardison to fake a hazmat alert; Hardison does it, which locks him out after he delivers the elevator and the door on the biotech floor. Another flashback to Nate persuading the reporter to take her crew into the building. Another flashback to Parker and Eliot arriving at the elevator to hand over the canister, while Hardison lifts Nate out through the trap door in the elevator's ceiling. Final flashback of Voorhees and Hannity stepping onto the elevator.
Hannity starts to realize that her scheme has been blown wide open. Behind the news crew, she sees the window washing platform descend with the team aboard. (Parker's way out = team's way out.)
Archie and Nate say their farewells in an underpass. Nate steps away and Archie compliments Parker on her team. He knows she did it for his family; he wishes he had, um -- Parker hugs him and says she wouldn't have fit in anyway. They say goodbye. Only Archie would like his wallet back first. Parker tosses it to him and walks off with Nate.
Comments: Wakefield is a town north of Boston on Route 128. Boston doesn't have a Channel 6. Archie Leach is the birth name of Cary Grant.
The Reunion Job
Boston. Apartment. Free Iran poster and family pictures of people in Arabic dress. A young man types frantically at a keyboard. Two masked men burst into his apartment. He tries to shutdown his workstation as they pull him away. One man waves a device in front of the computer; the screen goes dark, then he grabs the computer and runs. The other masked man punches the young programmer and follows.
In the bar, the programmer (now sporting a black eye) tells Nate and Hardison that he lost all his work when he was close to cracking Manticore, the security system used by the Iranian government to track dissidents through cell phones, social networks and email. It turns the Internet against the underground. His movement is planning a protest to coincide with the elections, but if Manticore is still up, they'll all be arrested. He can't go to the FBI because he'd lose his student visa. Nate says they'll talk about it, and the young programmer leaves.
Hardison questions Nate's lack of commitment and Nate says this is "so not our game." Hardison protests that it is: a guy who could make a fortune working for high tech instead tries to bring down the bad guys. From the booth behind Nate, Eliot observes that it wasn't the Iranian secret police who busted him up. Apparently neither Nate nor Hardison realized he was back there. Eliot joins them for easier conversation. Nate wants to know if Eliot is lurking now. Eliot points out that lurking is his job. Anyway, if the Iranian secret police had gone after our young programming friend, he wouldn't be walking around now. Nate figures they're still a good starting point, so start looking for their safe houses. Hardison is surprised to find him on board. Nate says they were always taking the case; he just wanted Hardison to explain why. Hardison doesn't appreciate being gamed.
Eliot and Hardison are health department inspectors, investigating the cafe which is the local safe house of the Iranian secret police. The manager says they were just inspected and everything's fine; he speaks to a couple of guys and one locks a door in the back room. A customer (Sophie) "finds" a giant cockroach on her plate and the few diners disappear. The health inspectors are on the case. Eliot lags to feed the location of the locked room to Parker. Sophie asks him to take care of the roach for her, but he just grins and says, "I think he likes you." Sophie promises consequences and leaves.
Parker comes through the air vent to the the locked room and tumbles in. She likes the way this particular den of evil smells; maybe Hardison should confiscate some pastries. Parker plugs into the computer, feeding Hardison's minicomputer and a system in the van that Nate is monitoring. Nate finds something that talks about Manticore, but the programmer's code isn't there. Parker finds a payment ledger in a desk drawer. Eliot finds health code violations. The most recent payment was three weeks ago, which is the time of the last Manticore update. And who was the payment to?
Meet Larry Duberman, founder and CEO of Dubertech, author of the book on "digital database security" in the 90s and now a multimillionaire. Eliot brings Sophie a tea tray and pours; she pats his arm and wonders why Duberman is dealing with Iran if he doesn't need the money. Hardison says he does; he's losing market share to newer technologies. Dealing technology to dictators gives him tax-free income. Eliot puts sugar in Sophie's tea and she pats his arm again. Hardison calls Duberman "the IT department for the axis of evil." Nate realizes Duberman went after their client. Eliot squeezes lemon into Sophie's tea and observes that the attack was motivated by business, not politics. The master control server for Manticore is in Duberman's office; if they shut that down, they shut down Manticore in Iran. Unfortunately, Hardison can't just hack the server remotely; Duberman's security is too good. Nate sees the article on Duberman's Japanese art collections and asks if anyone has trimmed a bonsai. Naturally, Eliot has. He dated a Japanese police woman in Osaka, but Nate doesn't want to hear the details. Parker asks Sophie why Eliot is pouring her tea. "Did you brainwash him again?" Sophie says it's neuro-linguistic programming: suggestions of sugar and squeezing, some pats on the arm. She pats Eliot's arm again and he starts to pour more tea, then stops as he hears what she's saying. Sophie claims payback for the roach.
At Dubertech headquarters, a flunky tells Duberman that the quarterly results are disappointing. Duberman figures he'll just jack up the price for the Iranians. The flunky worries that they'll balk, but Duberman says it's not like they can go to McAfee or Oracle; those companies are "too soft to get into the suppression business." Eliot the Maintenance Man bumps into him and spills dirt from a bonsai plant. Duberman is irate and fires him. The flunky escorts him off and Eliot plants a bug on him. Hardison and Parker, also dressed as maintenance staff, come over to clean up; Parker lifts Duberman's key card while brushing him off and lifts a fingerprint from the bonsai pot with tape. They head up to Duberman's office and Parker lets them in.
Duberman's private office is straight out of high school. Hardison finds the Manticore server -- it's Duberman's high school computer. He pulls out a toolkit and connects the server to his mini, then starts to work with the obsolete technology. Downstairs, a guard shows the flunky a security breach in Duberman's office. Parker warns Hardison. There are layers of passwords on the system, but Hardison's hacker program has only gotten through some of them. There's a beep. "Is that a good beep or a bad beep?" Parker wants to know. Hardison says it's bad. He hasn't gotten the master password. The last password he cracked was "L33R15L06". Nate and Sophie recognize a high school locker combination. Security is heading for the office. Hardison finishes copying data and heads out with Parker. The security guys and the flunky arrive at the office. While their backs are turned, the two Japanese costumes (with ceramic head masks) sidle out.
In the bar, the team has Duberman's old high school yearbook (purchased from the Internet) and find the references that match Duberman's passwords. Clearly he's obsessed with high school. Nate and Sophie easily diagnose Bullied Nerd Syndrome. Parker feels bad for the nerd, but Eliot's says that's no excuse. Hardison was bullied and he didn't turn out to be a criminal. Not a bad criminal. Hardison protests the bullied assumption, which Eliot starts to defend. Nate cuts them off and points out that Duberman is using his high school as a Roman room. "Of course," says Parker. Nate asks her what a Roman room is, but she doesn't know. It's a memory technique; his passwords are taken from a space he knows intimately. Nate could use the bar as a Roman room. Parker thinks Nate is revealing his passwords, but Hardison already has them and offers to show her Nate's Netflix queue. Nate says they need to break into the high school, as of 1985. Hardison looks it up and finds that the class of 1985 will have it's 25th reunion in 8 months.
Sophie works the phones and the voices to get the reunion moved up to the end of the month. As the Iranians protest the price hike on their maintenance contract via video conference, Duberman gets a call from his "high school reunion committee." He brushes off the Iranians to take it. Sophie lures him to the reunion. He commits. The flunky points out that it conflicts with his meeting with the Iranians, but Duberman feels his success is worthless if he can't flaunt it before his former classmates.
High school gym, dressed up for the reunion. Parker, playing waitstaff, marvels at all the awkward pictures from time past. In the van with Nate, Hardison tells her she was lucky to have missed high school. Parker asks if he went to his prom, but he confesses to being "kinda busy." Flashback to a brace-faced Hardison using the Icelandic Savings and Loan to pay off Nana's medical bills. Outside of Dubertech, Eliot grumps about being "stuck on goon patrol" while everyone else gets to play at the reunion. Nate assigns him the job of taking down Manticore once Hardison gives him the password; Hardison will be busy. Hardison figures Eliot already did the Big Man on Campus thing in high school. Flashback to Eliot the quarterback in home ec, receiving some personal instruction on how to use a knife from a buxom teacher in a low-necked dress. The flunky emerges from Dubertech and Eliot clobbers him, steals his key card and hides him in the bushes.
Duberman prepares to take the reunion by storm. He's greeted by the school mascot, which chants "Badger, badger, badger 85!" Time to circulate. Sophie is pretending to be Grace Peltz, aka "Pizza-Faced Grace." Duberman chats her up. Nate appears on the scene as Drake MacIntyre and quickly becomes a center of attention. Flashback to Nate and Sophie picking out Duberman's nemesis. Nate points to Drake and figures he can pass as him. Hardison arranges to give the real Drake two tickets to the Patriots game in Miami. "Yo, Doucherman!" yells the ersatz Drake. Duberman pretends disdain and escorts Grace to the refreshments. Nate urges Hardison to give him something to work with to keep up his cover. Hardison works the Internet for info on the classmates and gets a little personally involved. Drake has a narrow escape with an old drinking buddy, whose name tag just says "Schmitty." Hardison can't find anything, so Parker has to steal his yearbook to make the connection.
Duberman and Grace wander down a hallway. Grace points to Mrs. Zabranski's room. Duberman remembers getting a wedgie from Pat Brander in front of his whole homeroom class. Eliot tries BRANDER as a password, with no luck, but BRANDER303 gets him into the payroll system. Drake joins them to wind Duberman up. He's about to get into an important memory when they're joined by Nikki, who heads for Duberman. Apparently she and Drake had a thing in high school. Hardison has a dozen possible Nikkis to work through. Drake tries to send her off for drinks but she drags him off for a makeout session in a supply closet. Drake says he doesn't have feelings for her anymore, so she locks him in the closet. He calls for Parker to come let him out. Back at Duberman's office, someone starts cutting through the office door. Eliot announces that the Iranians are coming.
Nate wonders what the Iranians are up to. Parker springs him and passes on that she heard a bunch of ladies saying Drake was the best they ever had. Grace is still chatting with Duberman when Nikki closes in on him again. She claims to have ditched Drake to concentrate on Duberman and "accidentally" spills her drink on Grace's dress. Duberman endorses Nikki's suggestion that she wash it off, saying they have all evening. So she goes. Nikki wants to show Duberman the girls' shower room.
Sophie meets Nate and Parker, complaining about "that slut." Nate decides that they're not going to get Duberman to reveal the password, so they need to escalate. Hardison breaks in to tell them that all the possible Nikkis are accounted for, so this Nikki is a fraud. He does the face matching thing and discovers she's Miranda Miles, a hired gun. The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again -- they lured Duberman to an unsecure location, making him easy to hit. Nate has Sophie and Parker split up to find him.
Eliot warns the others as the Iranians finish cutting a hole in the door. The cafe manager looks through and sees -- the health inspector? Eliot shrugs,"I'm gonna have to dock you again." The door opens and the fighting commences. Hardison realizes the Iranians hired the assassin to take out Duberman while they raided his office. Eliot has to keep them away from the server. He's working on it, but these guys are tough.
Nikki interrupts her makeout session with Duberman by pulling a gun. He tries to negotiate, but she has her reputation to consider, so she screws on the silencer. Fortunately Grace appears on the scene with a fire extinguisher and whomps her with it. The ladies take off their shoes to duke it out while Duberman flees the scene. Sophie has a little resentment against cheerleaders and mean girls to work out, plus she's using the fire extinguisher to block Nikki's blows. Eliot keeps hammering away at the Iranians. Finally Sophie clubs Nikki with the fire extinguisher and runs for it. Nikki recovers her gun and shoots, but misses.
Duberman runs down the hallway. Nikki finds him and points the gun. Drake intervenes, standing between them. She threatens to shoot him, too, but he asks her to wait just three seconds. Which is how long they need for Parker to taser her. Duberman is willing to let Drake call him "Doucherman" all he wants now. Drake wasn't even as bad as Pat Brander. Nate assumes Pat is a "he" so Duberman grabs Nikki's gun. He's not getting fooled again tonight.
Sophie joins Nate. She reveals that Grace Peltz is fictional, created just to flatter him. Duberman thinks they're in cahoots to kill him, too, but Nate explains that they're working on behalf of the young programmer he had beaten up. Duberman pulls out his phone to call the police, but Nate says they already did. Now their man in Duberman's office will destroy Manticore and that will be it. Duberman doesn't believe they can do it, but they claim to have figured out his password from the hallway. Sophie drops a few of the early passwords to show him what they know. Duberman is still in denial, but he uses his phone to change the password. So now they lose.
Eliot clobbers the Iranians and enters BADGER85 as the password. Hardison tells him to shut it down, just like he showed him, and Eliot does. He has to hit an Iranian one last time but gets through the job and leaves. Duberman is astonished to get an alert on his phone that Manticore is down. He can't believe they know the new password, but Nate says it's BADGER85. They made him use that one. Flashback to Eliot and the tea and neuro-linguistic programming, then all the instances of "badge," "eight" and "five" that they laid on Duberman throughout the evening, along with a couple of taps from Sophie for reinforcement. (Parker was the badger mascot.) Duberman is horrfied to learn that he was hacked and runs off with the gun. Nate reminds him they did save his life.
In the gym, Schmitty is dismayed to find they're out of beer. Duberman bursts through some balloons waving the gun, but the FBI are on hand to arrest him. In front of the class of 1985. Duberman breaks down, yelling "I'm better than you!" Between the files Eliot mailed and the ledger from the cafe, Nate and Sophie are sure Duberman will be locked up for a long time. Hardison has tipped off the client, who is finally able to call home. Nate and Sophie are ready to leave, but they're voted king and queen of the reunion. Hardison and Parker (hanging from the ceiling) disclaim all responsibility. Grace and Drake have to dance. Nate wonders if they would have been a couple in high school. Parker glides down from the ceiling in her harness; Hardison slow dances with her while her feet dangle above the floor. Eliot, coming out of the door at Dubertech, gripes that no one is checking to see if he made it out safely. The clobbered flunky staggers to his feet and Eliot clobbers him again.
Comments: In 1985, high-end disk drives did about 7 I/Os per second and computer memory was measured in bytes. Not kilobytes and certainly not megabytes. Bytes. This is why oldtimers are unimpressed with fancy-pants modern programmers who have no concept of stack management. They were programming uphill both ways through the snow, dagnabbit.