Leverage

Season 5 Episode 11

The Low Low Price Job

13
Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Nov 27, 2012 on TNT

Episode Recap

Tabitha Delavega owns a mom-and-pop store in Apple Springs near Portland. She returns to her store and finds a former classmate and current health inspector, Oscar Callahan, writing her up for safety violations. Tabitha accuses him of filing phony violations but Oscar warns her that the city is going to shut her down if she doesn't fix the problems.

At the brewery, Eliot is reluctantly helping Hardison put in green self-sustaining technology at the brewery when he notices Tabitha sitting at a table. He goes over to talk to her and she explains that her father built the store and she's been running it ever since she died. However, she will soon be forced to go out of business because Value!More is opening a new big-box store in Apple Springs. The company has built three other stores in the area and each time they've driven all of the local stores out of business. Tabitha explains that Value!More secretly paid off the city council to keep news of the rezoning secret until it was too late to protest. Now the city council is sending inspectors to put pressure on the store owners to drive them out.

The Value!More regional team leader, Caroline Cowan, arrives in Apple Springs with her assistant Anna. They walk down the street and take in the various stores, and Caroline predicts which ones will go out of business and how soon. She dismisses Tabitha's store and then goes to the new store which is starting up. Caroline tells Anna that she plans to get a promotion and stop doing road trips, and plans to have Anna help her get the store on the map and impress her superiors.

Nate and Sophie arrive at the brewery and find Eliot trying to convince Parker and Hardison that they need to help Tabitha. Nate admits that he's been keeping an eye on Value!More for a while and that they refuse to hire full-time employees to keep their health insurance costs low while bribing local officials. However, everyone is surprised when Nate admits that Value!More is too big to take on. Even though they've taken over a small country, Nate explains that Value!More is too widespread to find a weak spot. They couldn't put the entire company out of business even if they tried. Eliot figures that they should just concentrate on the new store in Apple Springs and Nate agrees. However, he warns that they'll have to shut down the store for good before it opens, and asks Eliot when it's opening. Eliot admits that it's opening the next day.

The next day, Eliot infiltrates the store posing as an employee and films Caroline as she gets the store going. Hardison sets up surveillance throughout the store while Parker and Nate go to Caroline's motel room and plant bugs there as well. Nate explains that Value!More has only had to shut down three stores, for three different reasons. The first one was lost in a land dispute and Nate figures that they'll go that route. Hardison goes to work with Sophie, training her in how to pass as an environmentalist.

As Caroline and Anna tour the outside, they spot Sophie taking soil sample at the edge of the parking lot. When they go over, Sophie explains that she's an environmentalist and that her tests show that there is cadmium contamination in the soil from an old silver mine. Caroline points out that they had the area thoroughly tested and Sophia says that digging up the parking lot turned over the earth and released the cadmium. She informs Caroline that she'll have to call in the EPA and warn the city, but Caroline orders her off the property. Once Sophie leaves, Caroline tells Anna that they have to hush the whole thing up before word gets out, frightening the customers away.

Sophie, Nate and Eliot attend the city council meeting that night and Sophie prepares to get up. However, Caroline bursts in and interrupts her. She talks about community values and how Value!More is a family company. As Hardison monitor the meeting, he picks up sudden alert warnings on the Internet. He warns Sophie, just as Caroline announces that Sophie is an eco-terrorist and is responsible for at least three deaths. As the security guard starts to move in, Hardison sets off the fire alarm by remote and Sophie slips out in the confusion. As she drives away with Nate and Eliot, Nate figures that since Caroline has countered their first attempt, they'll have to go with what closed down the second Value!More store: a union operation. He says that if they can scare Caroline with the threat of a union then she'll close down the store rather than risk Value!More becoming a union shop.

The next day, Eliot blends in with the other workers and Caroline leads them in the company cheer. While he works, Eliot makes contact with a fellow employee, Martin, and tells him that there is a union organizer in Apple Springs. They talk about Martin and he explains that he used to work in his father's hardware store and took it over. However, he had to shut it down when a Value!More opened up in his neighborhood. Eliot explains that he used to work in his father's hardware store as Hardison listens in.

Eliot and Martin go to the break room and the assistant manager, Bryan, comes in as Eliot puts up a sign for a pickup football game. Bryan asks Martin to unload some supplies and keep it off the clock, and then tells Eliot to tuck his shirt in. A disgusted Eliot leaves as Caroline comes in, and the manager notices the sign he puts up. She's well aware that "pickup football game" is code for a union organization meeting and tells Anna that they have a spy.

After Anna sets up cameras, Hardison picks up the signals and realizes what they're up to. Caroline watches and soon spots Eliot putting up more signs, just as the team planned. She lets Eliot lead them to the union organizer: Nate, parked in an RV in the store parking lot. Once Caroline sneaks up to the van, Eliot and Nate stage a conversation about the fact they have a lot of employers interested in the union.

When Nate comes back Later, Caroline is waiting for him in his RV. While she talks with Nate, Eliot and Hardison watch on the cameras and Hardison asks Eliot if the story about his father's tore was true. Eliot says that it was and that his father wanted him to take over. However, he decided to go out and change the world and they argued. Eliot focuses on the conversation as Nate tells Caroline that once he has 30% of the employees sign union cards, he can call for a vote. Caroline orders him off the lot but Nate points out that he bought food in the store and can legitimately park there as a customer.

That night, Eliot gets a lot of the employees to the brewery by offering free beer. Nate starts to talk about the union advantages but Caroline and Anna comes in. She asks to speak and Nate lets her have the floor. Caroline expresses her disappointment that the employees didn't come to her, and warns them that the union just wants to profit from memberships. To seal the deal she offers everyone a 30% store discount for a month and throws in a free barbeque. As the employees leave, Nate admits that Caroline is good, even if he doesn't like her personally. Eliot wonders why the third store closed and Nate says that it was simply bad luck. He points out that they can't rely on bad luck and Eliot suggests that they make their own.

The next morning, Nate coordinates from the briefing room as Hardison and Parker infiltrate the store as employees. Caroline stares in surprise as customers run to the electronics department, grab TVs, and take them to the checkout counters. Each customer has an email coupon for 90% off on big-screen TVs and Anna confirms that the bar codes are valid. Caroline has no choice but to honor the coupons.

Next Sophie brings in her student actors and has them dress as employees. They then treat the customers shabbily and slip away, leaving Caroline to try to deal with the bad press. Meanwhile, Hardison uses his electromagnet to move empty carts around, scaring the customers.

As Eliot is working in the aisles, Bryan asks Martin to do some more work off the clock. As the assistant manager walks away, Martin collapses and Eliot has someone call 911. Once the paramedics take Martin to the hospital, Eliot goes to confront Bryan and warns him that he's tempted to tear his arm off. Bryan takes a swing at him and Eliot pins him to the wall. He considers ramming Bryan's face through a soda machine but says that Martin wouldn't want him to. Bryan tells him to get out and Eliot lets him go and walks away.

At the end of the day, Bryan brings the sales figures for the day to Caroline's office. As Anna goes over the figures, Caroline's boss Tom Halliward calls. He congratulates Caroline on the fact that her store had the best sales for an opening day in the history of Value!More. Halliward congratulates Caroline, who takes credit for the idea of the TV sale coupons, and says that he will attend the in-store barbeque the next day. Nate and Sophie have seen the entire thing on the surveillance cameras and Nate realizes that he didn't anticipate that the coupons would get the customers in and that they'd buy enough to make up for Caroline's loss on the TVs. Sophie is ready to give up, figuring that they can't destroy the store, and Nate agrees. However, he figures there is one person who can destroy the store: Caroline.

That night, Hardison and Eliot break into Caroline's motel room and go to work. They taint her makeup and sleeping mask, steal her toiletries, rig her light bulbs, sabotage the plumbing, and finally attach a small electronic beeping device to her phone.

Caroline comes in later and tries to sleep. The lights flicker and the beeping noise from the phone drives her nuts. After a restless night, she gets up in the morning and discovers that her face is covered in red streaks. She tries to make herself look presentable without a working shower and is forced to use a makeup brush to comb her hair and a q-tip to brush her teeth.

When Caroline gets into work, Anna gives her a mirror and Caroline realizes that her face is looking worse. Parker comes in and says that she's quitting, and says that she's suffering from allergies from something in the store. She says that she has the same symptoms that Sophie described for cadmium poisoning, including everything tasting like dust, and walks out. Caroline drinks her favorite juice and complains that it tastes like dust, unaware that Hardison has tampered with her drink. Anna goes to the airport to pick up Halliward while Caroline tries to cover the sores with makeup.

At the barbeque, Eliot greets Martin when he comes in. The old man thanks Eliot for what he said to Bryan, and admits that Eliot would be a handy guy to have around if he ever reopened his hardware store. Meanwhile, Caroline tries to get hold of the mayor but ends up with his voicemail. Halliward arrives from the airport and Caroline starts showing him around the store. As she takes him to the break room, the team sits in the food court and takes bets on when Caroline will snap.

Halliward tells Caroline that he wants her at headquarters, but wants her to stay in town for six months and prove that her strategy will work in the long run. Caroline snaps and starts complaining that the store isn't safe. Parker collects on the pool while Hardison broadcasts Caroline's conversation with her boss to every monitor in the store. Caroline reminds Halliward that they bribed the city officials and overlooked the contaminated land, and all of the customers leave the store. Anna sees the broadcast and runs to the break room, and Halliward realizes that the store is doomed. He goes to call his corporate office while Caroline runs after him... and sees the team in the aisle, watching her in satisfaction.

Two weeks later, the EPA closes down the building and Halliward writes off the store as a loss. Meanwhile, the team checks on Apple Springs and confirm that all of the laid off workers got work with the local stores that have stayed open. Nate has secretly bought the Value!More building and donated it to the school to use as a theater. Eliot stops at Tabitha's store and says hello to Martin, who is now working there. Tabitha comes out and thanks Eliot for what he did. He asks her out for dinner and she agrees, but he says that it will have to wait a few days because he has to take a trip out of town.

Eliot drives to a home outside of Oklahoma City and walks up to the door. He knocks but his dad doesn't answer, so Eliot leave a six-pack of beer on the step.

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