Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Jailhouse Job

Downtown. Corridor in a tall building. A business-like Sophie is alone in a hallway. "Thirty seconds. Call it." Out on the sidewalk, Eliot reports on two FBI men in windbreakers taking up position outside the door. Hardison the janitor runs a floor buffer with one hand while using the phone in his other hand to spoof a camera and get ready to lock down an elevator. If he knew which one. His question rouses Parker from her nap, hanging upside down in the peaceful elevator shaft. She's a go for elevator 1.

Sophie "slips" on the suds from Hardison's floor buffer right in front of the elevators and the FBI guy on guard. She lifts his gun while he helps her collect her scattered papers, then scolds Hardison for his lack of pylons. He wanders off, presumably to find some. He's already unzipping his coveralls to reveal a suit underneath.

Double doors open. Nate, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and shackles, shambles out of a courtroom with a police guard. The FBI guy joins them and they get on the elevator, Nate in back and the two guards in front. "Incoming," Sophie warns.

Parker, in harness, steps onto the descending elevator. Nate notices something on the roof but his guards are oblivious. Parker lifts the hatch and drops in between Nate and his guards. She tasers the police guard. The FBI guy reaches for his missing gun and gets tasered in turn. Parker picks the locks on Nate's shackles. He observes that she could get the key from the guards, but she knows her way is faster.

Back down on the sidewalk, a suited Hardison sets off the car alarm on the FBI's black SUV. The two outside FBI men go over to investigate and Eliot takes them out. One winds up thrown into traffic and rolls over a car. Sophie drives up as Parker and Nate come out the door and everyone hops in. Except Nate.

Rockford Correctional Facility. Sophie is talking to Nate on a prison phone. "What do you mean, no?" Nate says it's a horrible plan and the timing doesn't work. And they record these calls. Sophie waves her cell phone. A wire leads into the phone jack on her side; Hardison is feeding a Spanish soap opera into the recording system while the earbud network is feeding into the phone. He and Eliot are at Leverage Headquarters (formerly Nate's apartment) while Sophie is pitching Nate the great escape. Cut to the guard station, where Sophie's on camera talking to Nate, but we hear Spanish. Parker arrives at HQ and Eliot reports that Nate isn't up for it. He tells Nate that they're square since Nate took the fall for them ("After lying to us," interjects Hardison), so now Nate has to let them do this for him. Parker points out that the escape has to be at a hearing, since the prison is escape-proof.

Nate is determined to serve out the sentence for his crimes. Sophie scoffs, then asks, "Did you get the kielbasa?" Nate waves a little beribboned package. Sophie reveals that it's hiding an earbud. Nate reiterates that they are not to bust him out. Hardison is fine with that. They're on the outside, helping people. If Nate wants to appease his guilty conscience, he can stay in jail. He ends the earbud portion of the call. Sophie stands up to leave, and Nate calls her by name to try to get her to sit down again. She tells him that she's going by her real name now, but she declines to tell him what it is.

Conference room in the jail. A guard hands Nate's dossier to Mr. Worth, who slides it across the table to an interpreter. "This the man you want?" The interpreter shows the photo to a woman standing in the shadows in the hallway; there are also two flunkies standing guard. "Si," she says. The translator requests all their records on him. Mr. Worth points out that private facilities don't follow the same regulations as public ones. The Italian woman replies (via translation) that they won't be getting any warrants or paperwork, but if they don't comply, they'll be under investigation by the state and the feds. So the warden had better comply. Mr. Worth protests that he's not a warden, he's the CEO of this company, five prisons big and all his doing. The Italian woman switches to English and pretends to be impressed as she lights a cigarette. Then she threatens his empire with a metaphor.

Down in gen pop, Billy the library guy rolls his cart of books over to Nate and hands him a book he requested. Nate thanks Billy, who figures they all have to stick together. Billy rolls the cart out a door and two tough-looking guys follow. Nate warns a guard that something is going to go down, but the guard tells him to run along. Nate follows Billy, who's getting roughed up by a tough guy. The tough guy pulls a shiv. Nate grabs a pillowcase from a laundry cart, hoods the tough guy and thumps him into the wall. Naturally the guy drops the shiv, so Nate collects it. The other tough guy, who was playing lookout, comes after them, but Nate closes a door to cut off pursuit. He and Billy go through the kitchen into a walkin freezer, as Billy explains that he found a dead gangbanger and since the guards said no one else was around, the gang thinks he did it.

Nate doesn't understand why he's not in protective custody. Billy doesn't understand why he's in prison; he just drove up to see his girlfriend in New Hampshire with beer in the trunk. Which, surprise, is illegal. He thought it would just be a fine, so he didn't have a lawyer, and now he's in jail for 8 months. Nate pulls out his kielbasa and starts to unwrap it. No, that's not a euphemism but Billy is wondering if it should be. Nate extracts his earbud and calls Hardison, who isn't having it. Since Nate rejected their overtures, Hardison is spending some "me time" building an RC helicopter. Nate has him look up Billy's record, which confirms his story. Also, the warden was consulted on the sentence, which is not usual. Nate assures Billy -- who has been more than a little puzzled by Nate's recent behavior -- that they'll look into the situation. Also, he's sorry. He then shanks Billy right above his middle button (presumably missing various internal organs) and tells Hardison to call the team. Billy protests being stabbed, but Nate pooh-poohs; it's just a little stabbing. Hardison is kind of impressed that Nate found a client in prison. Billy decides he'll just pass out now.

In his office at the prison, Worth touts his corporate background to his visitor, a Mr. Barrington-Jones (actually Hardison in a grey suit and British accent). Worth brags about how good the prison business is while Hardison bugs his computer. Mr. Barrington-Jones represents a British concern interested in breaking into the prison business back home, where it hasn't really caught on. Worth claims the trick is proper management, like exploiting prison labor.

Over in the prison infirmary, Nate explains to a begowned Billy that it's the safest place, with all the guards and cameras protecting the drugs. Plus, he's arranged some insurance. Eliot arrives and establishes himself as Dr. Abernathy, overworked and underpaid prison physician, backed up with lots of paperwork. Nate is getting shooed back to gen pop but Eliot needs to talk, so Nate fakes a dental emergency. The guard decides to stick with Billy, not wanting to get too close to the dental saw in action.

Eliot straps Nate into the chair, "just in case" the guards come in. And shines the light in his face, and fires up the drill. He wonders if Nate realizes what he usually does to people who lie to their own team and nearly get people killed because they're out of control. "Are we okay, Eliot?" Nate carefully asks. Apparently so, since Eliot plugs a thumb drive into a nearby PC and brings up Worth's background. He's from a big political dynasty but couldn't get elected himself, so he went into business. Nate wants to nail Worth and get Billy out of jail as a precaution. Eliot reiterates that the prison is escape-proof. It's a modern building, using technology to reduce manpower -- camera, motion detectors, infrared sensors. Parker and, uh, "Sophie" are working the judge. Yes, Eliot knows Sophie's real name (they all do) but he's not allowed to tell Nate.

In a courthouse, Judge Sophie and Lawyer Parker "argue" as they run into and manhandle a judge. Sophie swipes them into the Judges' Chambers with a purloined keycard. She also got a checkbook. Parker lifted a date book and keys, including a safe deposit box key. Parker searches the office while Sophie, as Mrs. Judge, calls the bank about the box. Parker opens a safe in the office and finds Billy's file, along with several more.

Back at HQ, Hardison reports that the judge got the safety deposit box right when he started sending average citizens down for jail time for minor offenses. Parker says there are four more judges involved. Going through Worth's files, Hardison has coded email going to the judges, probably containing an account number. Nate points out that private prisons have contracts and asks about headcount requirements. Rockford has to stay above 70% occupancy to keep their state funding. They came close to failing about two years ago, but not since Worth got judges to send him non-violent prisoners. Parker wonders why he's picking on ordinary citizens. Eliot deduces that it's because they're ordinary citizens -- they trust the system and won't rock the boat.

Worth walks down a city street carrying his dry-cleaning when Sophie approaches him and compliments his suit. It's handmade in Paris. Sophie tells him he'll have to buy American henceforth and hands over a card. Today is the day he becomes a U.S. senator.

State Party Election Headquarters. Disposing of a name plate, Sophie escorts Worth into "her" office. Her sure-thing incumbent senator got caught playing around. She shows him photos from her "sources" with Parker cozying up to the senator. Flashback to Sophie directing Parker in a photo session (Hardison mans the camera), trying to get some sexy poses. They stumble onto one by accident and Sophie does some PhotoShopping. Parker drops her robe and nightie for the next shots. Hardison's innate chivalry forces him to turn away, as much as he'd rather it didn't. So now "Senator Happy Pants" will be dropping out and Sophie needs a replacement. Worth says he's considered running, but doesn't have the staff. Sophie plays his new political ad and tells him women love him.

Hardison, back at HQ, compliments Nate on reading Worth. Nate figures it was an obvious sore spot, and they need to crack the prison. Eliot and Hardison have worked out that the various incidents in the prison all happened in camera blind spots, which means it was guards doing the damage, not prisoners. Nate wonders if they can exploit the blind spots, but Hardison can't get to the cameras. Parker thinks the plans could be outdated, so they need to map the security measures "old school."

So Nate wanders about the prison doing chores, reporting on various devices. Eliot takes a peek at the roof to spot the camera there. Parker uses stickers on a printed floorplan to map the security measures while Hardison updates a computer model. Nate uses a checkerboad, checkers and pencils for his own mock-up. It doesn't look encouraging. He hopes Sophie's having better luck with Worth. "Who's Sophie?" Parker wonders. Hardison reminds her, and Parker remembers that Nate hasn't earned the real name yet. She practices saying "Sophie."

"Sophie" is working Worth. If he has even a quarter of a million dollars ready when he announces, she guarantees he'll take the race. There's a federally-approved account all set up, ready for his deposit. He agrees -- if the party will match his funds, to show their commitment. The party will kick in first. Sophie promises the money this afternoon. They finish their business just before the real campaign coordinator arrives.

At HQ, Eliot, Hardison and Parker are working on the prison breakout. Parker suggests the furnace room, which is too hot for sensors. It's also too hot for people, although Parker says they can take the heat for 27 seconds. The team's not going for it. Sophie arrives and announces that Worth is in. She took the $250,000 from Nate's account. Nate cracks the escape route; he can get to some tunnels which give access to both the roof and the parking lot. He'll have to beat a lockdown door in the corridor, a motion sensor in the kitchen and an infrared sensor in the machine corridor. The roof and the parking lot are both traps. Nate will keep refining the plan.

Worth walks out of the prison with his boss guard, expositing that he saw the funds in the account and moved his own in. The prison operation needs to be cleaned up, so no more entrepreneurialism by the guards. The only loose end is Billy, who might be credible enough to prompt an investigation. Worth tells the boss guard to handle it himself tomorrow -- turn off the cameras and get rid of him.

Guard station the next day. The boss guard hands out crude prison-type weapons and has the cameras turned off. Worth arrives in his office with his dry-cleaning to find Mr. Barrington-Jones with a few more questions. Worth takes a call from the Italian woman, who suggests he check the video of Nate's visitors. Worth excuses himself and Mr. Barrington-Jones checks his desk computer to find the security cameras are down. He warns Nate, who puts Eliot on alert and starts opening giant steam-producing vats.

Worth gets a video playback at the guard station and sees his campaign advisor on the phone with Nate. Meanwhile, Nate checks with Parker -- is she with Hardison's new van? And did they bring it? Parker is delighted to hear the breakout is happening now and climbs into the van. Nate grabs a newspaper and cues Sophie (back at HQ) to walk them through the plan.

The armed guards arrive in the infirmary to take out Billy, but Eliot takes them out while Billy finishes buttoning his shirt. Nate arrives and collects Billy while Eliot heads in the other direction. A battered guard calls lockdown and his compatriot at the guard station complies. The alam goes off and the doors close. Nate and Billy don't make it through a door, but Nate's in no hurry. He pops open the door -- the bar was blocked by some newspaper folded eight times, which can withstand 1000 lbs of pressure. They get going.

Sophie gets a call and answers with a nasal Boston accent, "First Boston Independent Bank, how can I help you?" Worth wants to get his money out of the campaign account, but Sophie tells him large transactions have to be handled in person. He marches into his office to blow off Mr. Barrington-Jones and calls up to the guard station. The boss guard says Billy is running and Nate is in on it. Worth is scurrying out the door when Mr. Barrington-Jones reminds him, "Don't forget your dry cleaning."

Nate and Billy are by the vats. Nate checks his watch and counts down; there's a small explosion behind one vat. He sends Billy off and watches steam rise. When it's thick enough, he walks past the motion sensor. Into the walk-in freezer, where he picks up a plastic sheet that's been laid across some boxes, wraps it around himself and climbs into an air vent. He emerges in front of the heat sensor, which is foiled by the frozen plastic. Sophie maps the roof and parking lot escape routes on the multi-screen.

In the guard station, they aren't having any luck finding the escapees. The cameras finally come back online and they check the roof -- where a helicopter is landing. A bunch of guards run up to the roof while Worth drives off to the bank. Up on the roof, the guards discover Hardison's RC helicopter, which Parker is controlling. It chases them around the roof. Worth calls from the bank; his guards (back down at the guard station, having escaped the helicopter) are still having no luck. The teller warns him that someone else tried to close the account, but all the money is still there -- even the other $250,000. Worth withdraws all the money. The guards review footage from the exterior cameras and see Ford and Billy climbing into a van. It's still in the lot, so they converge on it with guns drawn. Inside they find Mr. Barrington-Jones making out with his "secretary," "Fiona" (Parker). They tell him to clear out. Hardison likes this kind of role-playing with Parker.

Worth is back at the prison and fretting about the escape. Detective Captain Bonnano from the State Police arrives (walking with a cane) to report they've found a lead. He has a tape (which a guard plays) showing Nate climbing out of a car's trunk. Worth recognizes the parking lot: that's his bank. In fact, that's his car. Flashback to Nate and Hardison (in a prison outfit, pretending to be Billy) climbing into the back of the van. Nate exits the passenger door and climbs into Worth's trunk, which Parker has helpfully opened for him. (Worth has backed into his space, so the trunk is out of camera range.) Worth runs up to his car on his way to the bank.

Back at the guard station, Bonnano wonders why Worth left the prison during an escape attempt. Then the bank video gets to the good part: Nate emerges from Worth's back seat dressed in shirt and suit. Worth is outraged that Nate stole his dry cleaning. Bonnano observes that it's a good fit, which is strange since Nate (whom he's met) is several inches taller than Worth. Flashback to Mr. Barrington-Jones reminding Worth to take his dry cleaning. Once Worth leaves, Hardison collects the original dry cleaning from where he stashed it behind a sofa.

Worth protests that he's not in cahoots; he escaped with Billy. Bonnano says that doesn't compute for two reasons. First, Billy is still in the prison. Billy walks up to the bars where he can be seen and waves. Second, Worth emptied out the account that Nate deposited a bribe into. Flashback to Sophie saying they took the quarter million in "party" money from Nate's account, then Worth saying he'll withdraw all the money in the account. Bonnano pulls out a list of judges they found in Worth's car. He figures he needs to talk to them. Worth is arrested and led away to the cheers of the prisoners.

Nate arrives at HQ (which he still thinks of as his apartment) to find everyone ready for their getaway. Hardison hands out plane tickets. Nate is on a train to New York; he'll pick up a flight there. They open the door to discover four men pointing guns at them. Nate grabs Eliot before he can dive in. The Italian woman comes down the spiral staircase.

Down in the bar for a private chat, Nate opens a bottle of scotch. The Italian woman would rather have wine but Nate doesn't care. She asks how he figured someone else was in the mix. The plan was based on Worth finding out Sophie was a plant; the Italian woman called Worth just as they were ready to tip him off. A guy who brings down corrupt millionaires winds up in a jail run by a corrupt millionaire. Nate figures this was an audition. The Italian woman acknowledges that Nate is good, "possibly too good." She plops down a big file and assigns him the job of bringing down Damien Moreau.

Around the kitchen table at HQ, the team protests. Moreau is the money man for all kinds of nefarious people. Parker realizes the reports in the file all come from different police and spy organizations from around the world. Back down in the bar, Nate observes that the Italian woman isn't the police. She says Moreau buys the police and politicians, so no one can touch him. Nate has six months to get him. Back upstairs, the team is quick to decline the job but Nate puts a stop to that. It's not a job. Down in the bar, the Italian woman says Nate can walk if she gets Moreau. If he fails, he winds up in chains in a Roman jail. As for his team, well, thieves die all the time. Nate doesn't take well to the threat, but the Italian woman thinks it's motivating him.

Upstairs, the team realizes they're being blackmailed. All righty then, they're on the job. They can't tackle Moreau directly, so they'll have to work on jobs that move them towards Moreau. Hardison has a large client list to work through. The team disperses while Nate works on his scotch. Sophie remains to ask how the drinking is working out. Nate's gone from drunk honest man to sober thief, so now he's trying drunk thief. Is Sophie going to save him? She figures he can save himself now. He tries out a few real names on her, but Sophie walks off with a smile. Well, he'll get it eventually.

Comments: Forget being sent to jail for carting booze across state lines, the trick is getting charged in the first place. The police have to pull you over for some reason, then they have to search the trunk for some reason, then they have to remember the statute, then they have to bother to charge you.

While grocery stores can sell beer and wine, hard liquor in New Hampshire is available only in the state-run liquor stores, which tend to be located near highways for the convenience of tourists. Prices are cheaper than in Massachusetts. Also, New Hampshire has no sales tax, which tends to encourage shopping trips. (The Pheasant Lane Mall is so close to the border, they wound up chopping off a corner of the JC Penney's.) Massachusetts has been known to check cars crossing back into Massachusetts for New Hampshire goods and having people fill out excise tax forms -- but not often and not lately. So many people who live in southern New Hampshire (which also has no income tax) work in Massachusetts (so they wind up paying state income tax anyway), I figure Massachusetts is in no position to complain about shoppers.


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