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.

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