Episode: Leverage 1.09 – “The Snow Job”
Original Air Date: January 27, 2009
In this episode, the Scott family hires the team to get their house back. They had some repairs done by the Retzings, but due to some underhanded practices and a weak economy, the Retzings were able to legally take the home from the Scotts. The father just wants a home for his son, and Nate can certainly relate to that. He agrees to help.
After some digging into the Retzings, the team decide to go after the older but less savvy brother, Randy. He’s into all things extreme and snow related. So Sophie poses as a German snow bunny (who has won awards for luge, according to a Hardison-hijacked web site) with an investment opportunity. They’re going to revamp a resort and create Randy’s dream: a festival that’s a cross between the X-Games, SXSW, and a little Burning Man as well. Randy’s ready to invest $500,000. “Okay, let’s go steal us a mountain,” Nate says, but there’s a catch: the father has to write the check — and he’s in Miami.
Fortunately for the Leverage team, the father (played by Sam Anderson, Bernard from Lost) loves the idea. Unfortunately, the younger son, Dennis (played by Buffy‘s Danny “Jonathan” Strong), who is really in charge of the company, doesn’t. He is, however, much more interested in Sophie’s other investment possibility, which eventually leads to a much bigger con for the team, a “Glengarry, Glen Death” con (Nate reveals the name after a great conversation about types of cons, my favorite being Eliot’s “Apple Pie,” which is like a “Cherry Pie” but with lifeguards, according to Eliot. Sophie likes the sound of that one, but of course we have no idea what any of the cons are). Nate and his investors buy people’s life insurance policies for pennies on the dollar (so they can have some cash while still alive) and then cash them when they die. And Nate just happens to have a list of candidates from all over the US that are likely to die quite soon (as it turns out, it’s actually a list of families whose houses were also stolen by the Retzings, just like the Scotts’).
Of course Dennis, being a savvy businessman, wants independent confirmation that this list is real. And as it happens, there’s a woman with an inoperable brain tumor right there in Miami. Played, of course, by Parker. Hardison crosses the scans from two different machines to make it appear that a corpse injected with wax (Hardison had to inject it because he lost rock, paper, scissors to Eliot. It seems Hardison has a tell — yes, for rock, paper, scissors…) is Parker’s brain scan. Dennis still isn’t quite convinced until Nate receives a phone call telling him one of his “clients” has died. Dennis asks for his cut, and although Nate is reluctant to give it to him, he cuts him a check for $100,000 to string him along.
The rest of the team is angry with Nate. Not only did he give away their money before he truly had Dennis on board, he’s been drinking again, and they don’t believe he’s truly in control. Fortunately, however, Nate’s gamble pays off and Dennis is on board. To pull off the rest of the scam, they manage to get the father to transfer money to an off-shore account to prevent Dennis from getting it (remember he liked Randy’s original idea) and to get Randy to sign over a controlling 51% of the company to Sophie. This also leads the state police, who have been pursuing the Ratzings (with a little help from Nate), to swoop in and arrest the father for racketeering. And for Sophie to give the “corporate asset” that is the Ratzing home to the Scotts.
This was a complex con (hence the slightly longer synopsis) that I thought really worked well. It started off with a much smaller idea that changed into something big when Nate realized the full extent of the Ratzings’ corruption. We got to see that it’s not all about the money for him — it really is about helping people, something we haven’t seen as much of in the last few episodes. Despite his drinking, Nate is clearly still in charge.
There wasn’t quite as much interesting dialogue in this episode as in past episodes, but Parker and Hardison had their share. In the beginning of the episode, Nate is actually late for their preliminary meeting (something that never happens), and Parker surprises everyone by saying, “A man with one watch knows the time, a man with two is never sure.” She further explains, “I have fortune cookies for breakfast.” Of course she does. She also thinks Nate’s actions are getting rather odd. When he explains the Glengarry, Glenn Death con thusly: “It’s like a mutual fund, but instead of stocks, you invest in… death,” Parker rightly observes: “Is it me or he getting creepier?” And later she continues with a “Oh, yeah, he’s definitely getting creepier” when Nate tells the team, “Somebody find me a brain” so they can fool the MRI scan.
Speaking of the MRI scan, while looking for a way to make Dennis think Parker has a brain tumor, Hardison suggests using high contrast dye that should fool the scan. Unfortunately there are side effects — “Organ failure… death… death-like symptoms.” Ah, as if death weren’t bad enough, Parker could have death-like symptoms!
Despite the lack of spectacular dialogue, I did enjoy this episode quite a bit. It was nice to see the return of the geeky cameos. Even Jonathan Frakes (seen above) appears briefly as someone waiting around in the hospital where Parker is being examined while Nate talks on his “communicator.” He previously directed “The Wedding Job,” and he also will direct a couple of episodes coming up. I also enjoyed the con — the fact that what the Ratzings did was all legal really made their lack of ethics stand out, so it was great to see the Leverage team take them down. Nate certainly made the right call with going for the bigger con. Let’s just hope that his drinking doesn’t become a bigger problem… (yeah, that’s called foreshadowing, in case you didn’t catch it).
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars