Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Three Card Monte Job
Boston. Junkyard-type of locale -- industrial and unpopulated. A bunch of Russian mobsters shove around a working stiff. An older guy with a flask thinks he's softened up now. The boss Russian tells him to take the phone and do what he's told, or they'll harm his children. Working Stiff promises to play along.
Bar. Working Stiff is explaining his predicament to Nate, Sophie and Hardison, who takes a closer look at the phone. He's supposed to do whatever they say and destroy the phone. Nate confirms that he's in the business of phone lines, but there's nothing that indicates what the Russians want. He can't go to the police because the Russians will know; he thinks they're watching. He has been to the bar before, and Nate isn't police, so this conversation is probably safe. Unless the Russians get an eyeful of Hardison messing with the phone. Working Stiff should answer the phone when the call comes; the team will know when it rings, so they'll be in touch. He leaves. Hardison found an incoming call to the phone -- the Russians were making sure Working Stiff would answer. He calls them back, and triangulates their position. The phone rings in a warehouse somewhere.
Warehouse somewhere. Eliot and Parker sneak up. Eliot wants to make sure that Hardison got the right place, and Hardison makes sure that Eliot knows that he is entirely capable of finding the right place. An alert signals a match on the bad guy who answered the phone. He and his crew had a bunch of cash, drugs and guns confiscated by the police just a month ago, so they need a fresh infusion of cash. And what has Eliot managed to do with his afternoon? (Parker is quietly amused by their byplay.)
Eliot leads and Parker follows as they enter an open bay in a warehouse. A guy with the tattoos of a Russian crime boss runs bills through a money-counting machine. Eliot remembers Russian mob guys who would blackmail people into committing crime or transporting money. The innocents would get arrested and wind up dead. Parker offers to taser the guy, but Nate calls her off. He and Sophie are tailing the Russians as they stroll through the city. Sophie volunteers that she hates criminals like these. Nate reminds her that she was a criminal, too, but she "stole art from rich people who could afford it." Nothing like these guys.
Parker searches the back of the SUV in the warehouse while Eliot keeps watch, except he comes over to prod her to hurry up. She's searched three times and found nothing, so he has her search some more. Russian Guy hears something and comes over. Fighting ensues. Parker tosses a crowbar at Eliot and it clocks him on the head. Russian Guy has a crowbar, too, so it's a fair fight now, but Eliot still snarls at Parker for throwing it at him. She wishes she had just tasered the guy when she had the chance.
Sophie is lobbying for a big, dramatic takedown of these guys when they stop in front of the bar. Nate figures they reversed the phone tap, and Sophie figures they're going to kill Hardison. Someone doesn't like the sound of that. Eliot clocks Russian Guy and he goes down. Hardison realizes that the front door is his only way out (you'd think they would have planned better than that, what with the whole building at their disposal) and needs to know if the Russians are coming in that way. Nate and Sophie head around back to find out. Sophie discovers that someone has been using the back room for planning a job. (You'd think Cora would have said something.) They head toward the front of the house and find the Russians talking to someone at the bar. False alarm, Hardison. Danger past, he realizes how silly it was to assume that anyone reversed one of his phone taps.
Back at the warehouse, Russian Guy surrenders. He still has the phone -- the same phone Working Stiff had -- so what more do they want? Eliot and Parker realize he's another blackmail victim. So he's not the boss. Nate knows -- he's about to meet the boss. He sends Sophie off and walks up to the bar. It's the older guy with the flask. "Hello, Dad."
Jimmy Ford sends the boss Russian away so he can converse with his boy. Nate knows he got out of jail recently, but wasn't on hand to pick him up. What's Jimmy doing with Russian bully boys? Turns out he took the fall for the Irish mob families, but someone else turned state's evidence and now the families are going down. They aren't in a position to take care of someone who did time for them, so he's getting nothing out of it. And here's Nate, who always thought he was smarter and better, who never did anything wrong, only now he's done time. Nate says if he knows that, then he knows Nate owns this town, so no action for him. Jimmy thinks Nate is trying to be him, but he's not ruthless enough. Flashback to Jimmy introducing Nate to three card monte. Nate couldn't figure it out then and he can't figure it out now. Jimmy will be done with the backroom by the weekend.
HQ. Nate prompts Hardison to start the briefing. The team isn't so sure about this, but Nate is. Hardison soft pedals Jimmy's bio, so Nate steps in. Jimmy was a bookie, graduated to loan shark, then became a fixer and a matchmaker for guys needing work and guys needing guys. So how does this tie in with the Russian blackmailers? They have a phone guy, and the guy at the warehouse ships industrial clothing and uniforms. There's a third red phone they haven't tracked down yet. Sophie summarizes that there's not enough intel to set up a con, so maybe they should sit this one out. Specifically, maybe Nate should sit this one out. Nate's looking forward to taking on dear old Dad. Working Stiff gets his call, so Nate heads out. The team tags along. (He's emotional but not (yet) taking insane risks, so they'll play along.)
Downtown Boston. The team climbs out of the van. Hardison and Eliot have police badges around their necks, like undercovers. Working Stiff's mission was to install a black box during one of his maintenance visits to the police precinct. The black box lets Jimmy control which alarms get through to the police and which don't. If the team interferes, the Russians will take it out on Working Stiff's family. So they'll help instead. Sophie breaks out the handcuffs and Parker peels off.
Precinct desk. Eliot and Hardison are detectives from another district bringing in a drunk-and-disorderly, one "Viola D'Agostino" of those D'Agostinos. They want to stash her away from the press. Parker handles some wiring and the desk sergeant's call goes to Nate. They chat and the sergeant sends them downstairs to the drunk tank. Hardison installs a spiffy black box while Eliot uncuffs Sophie. Something about being in cuffs in a police station is making her antsy. Hardison synchronizes the box with the remote that Nate has. The team makes their way back to the van -- only the van is not there and neither is Nate. (Hardison stresses about the fate of "Lucille 2.0".) Eliot realizes what he's doing.
Nate is explaining how he did Jimmy a favor but cutting out Working Stiff -- he was a liability who could have tipped off the police. Instead, Nate has a spiffy system with a remote. Jimmy thanks him for his contribution, but Nate's not giving up the remote. If they try to take it, he'll blow it remotely. This is what happens when they pull a job in his town. The Russian boss is ready to shoot Nate 'cause he's working with the cops. Nate uses the Jailbreak Job to establish his bona fides -- if he can take down a warden while in jail, imagine what he can do for these guys. Or to these guys. Jimmy likes the carrot-and-stick approach, so Nate is in. Great! What's the plan?
Jimmy shows a map, which Nate later reproduces for the team. There are three banks marked in red. Parker breaks down the security at each bank -- none of them very impressive. Everyone looks at her. "What do you guys do on your weekends?" But none of them are the target. The gang controls the alarms, so they get the police to think they're all being hit at the same time. That draws them all away from the real target. Which Nate doesn't know. Flashback to more three card monte, and pointless guessing by young Nate. Older Nate realizes that they have too many cards in play to identify the queen; they need more information. Eliot and Hardison will work on the third phone. Sophie and Parker will check out the equipment being stored in the backroom. Nate will get his father to trust him.
Diner. On the sidewalk outside, Jimmy IDs a guy who works for a security company. He has a binder with the schematics and codes for their real target. The Russians will beat him up, steal his wallet and briefcase, and they're good to go. Nate proposes getting what they want with the mark none the wiser. They're gonna do an impromptu pill scam. So they approach the guy in the parking lot (Boston tends to have parking garages -- it's a dense city) asking for change. Geezer Jimmy "accidentally" drops some pills. The mark knows how expensive those things can be, so he kindly helps Nate collect them all while Jimmy grabs the necessary page. Easy peasy.
Meanwhile, Sophie gets the background on our Russian boss. Parker lifts a waitress apron for Sophie for her Little Orphan Annie. Waitress Sophie goes into the backroom with a tray of empty glasses and the Russian boss shoos her out. She drops a glass, which gives her a chance to linger and a chance to swear in Russian. This attracts Russian boss. Oh, no, she's not Russian (and her Boston accent would agree), but her parents were and that's something her father used to say. She hopes it wasn't too horrible. He reassures her. She uses details of his background to build her family history and gets him to teach her a little Russian. Meanwhile, Parker slips in through the back door to check out the gear in the duffel bags.
Eliot and Hardison track the third red phone to a coffee cart in the park, apparently near the precinct because the desk sergeant is getting a drink and recognizes them. Eliot claims the precinct picked up a gun which is tied to one of their cases. The sergeant advises them to get it before shift change, because evidence is being shipped out to Holyoke in the morning. The coffee vendor has the red phone.
Russian boss is not happy that Jimmy didn't call them about the alarm guy, but Jimmy says it's handled. Russian boss draws on Nate (once again) to chase him off, so Nate spins and punches him. The Russian punches him back and he falls into Jimmy. The fight continues. Afterwards, Nate ices his forehead and shares a drink with the old man. Jimmy confesses he doubted Nate's intentions when he joined them -- Nate says he joined Jimmy. He wonders what Jimmy is doing with the Russian bullies. Jimmy says he's going for one last score, then he's retiring to Ireland. Nate wonders if Jimmy wishes Nate's mother was going with him. Jimmy says she never understood him. "But she loved me." And that's the most important thing. (Anybody else getting the sense that Jimmy is a raging narcissist?)
Morning. HQ. Nate comes downstairs to find Sophie waiting. She chides him about his late night, but he was bonding. This is D-Day, so time to figure out the target. Nate heads down to the backroom to learn the score, but it's been cleaned out. Then he realizes something and checks his pockets. Flashback to Nate falling back into Jimmy, who lifts the remote for the black box. Well, this is a revolting development.
Hardison arrives but Nate has nothing to tell him. On a street somewhere, blackmailed Russian Guy delivers boxes to the gang. Sophie retrieves a map from the alley, but Nate has seen it before. Eliot, arriving with Parker in tow, tells him not to take out his anger on Sophie. Parker's happy they've got the backroom back. Sophie figures they just get Hardison to tell them how many banks in the target radius have alarms from the company they got the code sheet for. Parker already knows, it's 23. Hardison isn't sure it's a bank; the gang had bar code scanners. Eliot wonders about Coffee Guy's role. We see him put pills in some cups as Hardison hypothesizes that he'll drug the police. The whole precinct? Flashback to the three card monte lesson.
Nate figures it out. The trick to three card monte is that the queen is never on the table. Where do the police keep the evidence? Flashback to the desk sergeant telling Eliot that the evidence will be transferred in the morning. The Russians are going to get their stuff back. Flashback to Hardison telling the team about their recent losses to the police.
Coffee stand. Three guys attached to the transport truck pick up coffee. From a sidewalk bench nearby, Jimmy uses the remote to send three silent alarms to the precinct. The desk sergeant rallies the troops to head out as backup.
Transport truck. The driver yawns and drinks his coffee. (I never believe those coffee cups are anything but empty. People wave them around too easily or something.) A guy in uniform steps in front of him and he stops. It's Russian boss; the gang converges on the truck. Jimmy wanders into the precinct with paperwork on a clipboard (number one con prop right there). "Evidence transfer." The desk sergeant, busy with his emergency, waves him through. Jimmy meets the transport truck at the loading dock. One Russian stays behind to watch the sleeping guards; the rest head inside.
The team arrives at the precinct again, emergency plan outlined. Eliot wants to know why they don't just tip off the police, but Nate is worried about shooting. Down at the property room, the clerk gets the paperwork from Jimmy and then a whack on the head from a Russian. Jimmy unlocks the cage and warns the Russians they have a time limit. They sync up their bar code scanners to the evidence database and get to searching. Jimmy has something else to do.
Desk sergeant. "Viola D'Agostino" returns with her attorney, Jimmy Papadokolous, in tow, ready to sue. They need to see the precinct legal counsel. The harrassed desk sergeant sends them down the hall to wait for escort. Jimmy ventures upstairs and finds the Organized Crime Division. He cracks their safe and gets the notebook of payoffs that's the basis for the case against the three Irish mob families. Nate's there, with a gun. (Show of hands -- anyone think Nate is actually going to shoot his father?) Nate knows Jimmy is all about respect, not money. With the original ledger gone, the case disintegrates and the three families all owe Jimmy Ford. Jimmy proposes are partnership. Nate says it's too late; his team is taking down the Russians. Jimmy won't do time again, so Nate offers to shoot him. Jimmy says he could do it, but Nate is too much his mother's son. Nate lets him go. Jimmy blows him a kiss at the door.
Transport truck. Eliot knocks on the door and calls in Russian. The guard opens up and Eliot takes him out. Inside the property room, the bar code scanners are finding household goods. The Russians check their countdown clock and find just under two minutes left. Hardison is lurking amongst the shelves. (Does he need to get that close? With all the rushing around, he doesn't have good cover and he could probably hack them just as easily from outside the cage.)
Nate is moping in the OCD office when Parker opens a set of doors above the safe. (What on earth are those doing there?) They agree that Nate had to let Jimmy go, and she tosses down a rope so he can climb up. (Why he can't just walk out the door, I don't know. It's not like Sophie has to rappel out of the building.)
Evidence cage. The door looks. Russian boss can't believe it; the counter shows they still have time. But when it counts down to a minute, it resets to show two minutes. They're locked in with alarms going off. Hardison gloats from the property room doorway and departs. Police arrive and arrest the neatly boxed up Russians.
Boston street. Jimmy calls the three families, but he's not finding the reception he expected. In fact, he's nearly the victim of a drive-by shooting, except he has a handy pillar to hide behind. (The shooter has bright red hair.) Jimmy gets a call from Nate.
Docks. Meeting. Nate called all the families before Jimmy did. Flashback to Nate (at HQ, so before the heist) telling a family member that Jimmy wants money to destroy the ledger or he'll give it back to the police. So now Jimmy is a blackmailing SOB with a price on his head. Jimmy wonders if Nate wants him killed. Nate has an alternative: that boat there has a berth for Jimmy Logue (Mrs. Ford's maiden name); it will put into Galway in a couple of weeks. (Ireland is perhaps not the best place to hide from the Irish mob.) Jimmy is impressed that Nate could betray his own father; maybe Nate is better than him. (Don't push it.) He's proud of his boy. Jimmy heads aboard. Nate turns to leave and finds the team there. Sophie is surprised at how kind Nate was. Parker wonders if Nate will be nice now, but Hardison warns her not to expect any changes.
Comments: So where's the ledger now? Jimmy didn't have it when he headed out. Losing the original ledger probably won't tank the case against the families entirely. The police can use the transactions in the ledger as leads and develop additional evidence. At least the families will have to abandon some operations and come up with new methods of doing business that won't be under scrutiny.
I'm not convinced Jimmy is actually proud of Nate; he's just saying that to con Nate into thinking he's won. He's just doesn't connect at a basic, human level.