Leverage: “The Order 23 Job”

leverages2e03A dirty, rotten, no good hedge fund manager? I’ve never heard of such a thing!

Tonight’s mark, Eddie Maranjian, was a hedge fund manager of Armenian descent who, naturally, preyed on the weak and walked off with their money. The team is pretty sure he’s got at least $400K liquid stashed away somewhere and offers to help one of the victims. But this is no straight con.

Eddie’s on a plane to a minimum security Federal prison in Florida in an hour. Either the team has to crack him – while guarded by US Marshals – before then or delay his departure. Nate notes that Eddie had a bottle of germ killer at trial and quickly riffs out a plan to delay and crack Eddie at once.

Humor aside, tonight’s episode reminded me most of a classic Mission: Impossible. In a short time the team needs to convince a mark of something wholly untrue to get him to turn over his money. While the cons on the show are usually of short varieties, they are still generally normal cons. The game they played on Eddie by taking him away from all other contact was more on the order of psyops. ((This episode is close kin to last season’s “Comrades” episode of Burn Notice. While watching, I was reminded of the games Sam and Michael played on Ivan to turn him, fundamentally twisting his view of reality.)) And it was a lot of fun to watch.

The game itself was simple: separate Eddie and convince him, using the same tricks successful horror film directors have used for decades, ((Note: by successful I don’t necessarily mean the ones who make a lot of money. I’m talking about creating dread, not drenching the set in fake blood.)) that he is at ground zero of a deadly virus outbreak. Only a title card on the TV set, Sophie’s unseen death, ((Everything is scarier in shadow play. It hearkens to our primitive past when our ancestors climbed out of the savanna and huddled in caves for warmth and security.)) and anxious voices and hurried steps in the hallway (thanks to Hardison’s speaker setup) give Eddie a glimpse of what’s going on. The sudden onset of his symptoms combined with the absence of information cause him to fill in with worst-case scenarios.

Until an even worse case is finally presented to him. By the time Parker gives the situation a name – Order 23 – Eddie’s been so softened by events that he easily makes the leap to believe. But he’s still a greedy bastard.

And everyone knows it. So the security guard’s stun gun is left in the hall while Parker dons an insulating belt. ((I know, I know. What if he’d gone for her hip or shoulder? It would have been better if Hardison had jury rigged the stun gun but that’s not what happened. Let it go.)) Believing he’s free, Eddie rabbits to the cash and the team trails him. I find it amusing that he thought he’d deliver them to the police in exchange for leniency. Sure, it had worked against the Armenian mob…but the Feds cared about arresting them.

As to the Armenian mob, let’s just say it’s a good thing Dr. Wrathokhan worked at the hospital.

Amidst all the chaos, fighting, and running around, Eliot still found time to be Eliot. Helping out Randy by sending Marshal Bob to his house was the culmination of an episode’s worth of small character beats and provided nice closure on both Bob’s and Randy’s stories.

Some other thoughts:

  • I’ve really grown to appreciate the repetition of the formula, “Let’s go steal an X,” expressed tonight at the end of act 1 by Nate as, “Let’s go steal a hospital.” I’ll have to crack open my season one DVDs to see if this snowclone has been used in all, or at least most episodes.
  • Another couple of fun bitchfests between Eliot and Hardison, my favorite being the first one, over who got which uniform.
  • Which bitchfest led to the great line, “A bully’s just a cowboy with low self-esteem.”
  • I also really enjoyed Nate’s extreme joy over messing with Eddie, leading to Parker’s question: “Did you just give a guy a nosebleed with the power of your mind?”

Above the rest stood this exchange between Parker and Sophie:

“Is it just me, or has Nate gotten a little sadistic since he’s quit drinking?”
“Is it just me, or does that make him even more attractive?”

I enjoyed tonight’s episode a lot and was impressed to see how the team could step outside their usual con comfort zone to do something more extreme. This opens up whole new avenues of exploration.

What did everyone else think?