Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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.