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Leverage

Season 5 Episode 14

The Toy Job

12
Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Dec 18, 2012 on TNT

Episode Recap

Eldon Marris, a researcher at Poggio Toys, breaks into the risk management office of his company. He's unable to access his own computer but he steals an item and slips out past the guards. He then meets with Nate and Sophie at the restaurant and explains that Poggio's newest product, Chubby Snubby, is the result of years of research and development. He was the executive in charge of overseeing the safety report and it came back with a level 3 choking hazard. However, the CEO, Trent Hazlit, ordered Eldon to bury the report. When Eldon refuses, Hazlit fired him and now plans to release the toy at the Pacific Toy expo in time for the holidays.

The team gathers to review Hazlit's history. Hazlit used to be a defense contractor and sold arms to the Contras and their enemies ten years ago. Nine years ago he went into the toy business and used the same techniques to become rich, burying lawsuits and increasing security. The team reviews the security procedures but Parker is confident that she can get in and obtain the safety report. Nate figures that once they have it they'll release it to the public and force Trent to stop the launch of the toy.

That night, Parker breaks into Poggio while the rest of the team monitors her on the comms. Sophie wants to exchange gifts but Nate is against the idea, but she talks him into exchanging $50 gifts. Meanwhile, Parker breaks into the vault, gets to the server, and downloads the safety report. The next day, Nate shows it to Eldon and he confirms that Hazlit doctored the report, paying off a board of doctors to give the toy their seal of approval. When Eliot wonders how Hazlit can pull it off, Eldon explains that the government safety commission is legitimate but company participation is voluntarily. Some companies don't take the chance and pay for fake endorsements. Upon hearing that, Nate tells Eldon that they'll make sure that Hazlit doesn't release the toy.

The team discusses what to do next and Nate and Sophie figure that they have to con Hazlit into buying a toy company with enough secret liability that he'll go bankrupt once the truth comes out. To do that they need a toy and Hardison finds a company that sells failed American toys to Middle Eastern countries. He chooses the Whirlie Glee Glee, a toy just bland enough to slip by but quirky enough to generate buyer interest. Parker goes to the company's warehouse and prepares to steal crates of the toy. However, she notices another toy, a doll named Baby Joy Rage, and decides to take that back instead. Nate doesn't care since he figures the toy doesn't matter as long as they can use it for the con.

To get Hazlit to notice their toy, Nate, Hardison, and Sophie go to the expo. Hazlit is at the convention center with his assistant, Pantani. Sophie gets to Gil Barton, the owner of the largest distribution store, Joylandia. She tells Gil that she has a guaranteed hit that she will pay him to put on the shelf and then leaves, bumping into Hazlit and making sure the CEO notices her. As she leaves, Gil and Hazlit both eye Sophie and Gil tells the CEO that he'll get the shelf space as always.

Back at the conference room, Hardison calculates which families are the key demographic to generate a fad. The families in the highest likely neighborhood all go to the same weekly farmer's market. Hardison wants to start selling Baby Joy Rage immediately but Nate says that they're going to do something better. Eliot sets up a booth there and Nate has him hand out the dolls. The kids are glad to take free toys and Nate figures that they're hooked. Now they have to get a celebrity endorsement and choose Sandy Matteo, the star of a children's TV show. Sophie gets close to the actress and slips a Baby Joy Rage into her purse, and Hardison takes photos of it sticking it out. He puts the photo up on the Internet and starts a craze, while Sophie has her acting students call all the stores to demand the doll.

Hazlit soon notices the newly popular toy and tells Pantani to find out why Sandy is pushing the doll when she's signed with them. When the CEO digs a little deeper, he finds the story that Hardison planted about Sophie selling the dolls, and Hazlit tells Pantani to set up a meeting with her.

The team realizes that they're not reaching the saturation figures that they need to pull off the con. Parker defends her choice of toy, saying that it reminded her of one that she had when she was in social services and the worker used it to gauge her emotional responses. Nate realizes that they need to con the parents, not the kids, and explains that they can play on parents' fears that their kids will be left behind. He has Hardison prepare a video lecture promoting Baby Joy Rage as a child development tool. Sophie suggests that they rename it Baby Feels-A-Lot, impressing Nate, while Parker complains that it's wrong to play on parents' fears during the holiday season. Nate tells her that Christmas is manipulation and that the toy companies just program people to buy their toys.

Hardison finishes his lecture video and starts uploading it to blogger mom sites. The most popular blogger is Allie Stanbrook, who lives in Portland. Hardison then creates a background for Eliot as a divorced parent and he meets with the blogger moms at the miniature golf course during a child outing. He talks deeply and movingly about how Baby Feels-A-Lot brought him closer to his son and Allie hugs him and assures him that every blogger mom will support his cause.

Sophie goes back to the expo and Hazlit approaches her and tells her that he knows what she's up to. He warns her that her approach is years out of date but Sophie points out that her toy saves life. Gil comes over and Sophie attaches himself to her, much to Hazlit's dismay.

Hardison makes a father's blog for Eliot and goes overboard playing up his teammate's fake background. Nate gets the hacker to focus and Hardison assures them that Allie and the other mothers are promoting Eliot and the doll. As their saturation index goes up, Nate checks in with Sophie. After she finishes talking to Gil, Hazlit approaches them and accuses Sophie of stealing his shelf space. Gil takes offense and tells Trent that they'll talk later, and Sophie asks Hazlit if he's worried. Hazlit is surprisingly self-assured and tells Sophie that he already has a backup plan: Gil will sell him the shelf space or the CEO will release incriminating photos of Gil with his mistress.

Back at the conference room, Nate figures that they need to take things to the next level by generating pre-sales on the Internet. Once they do, Hazlit will want in and buy out the Baby Feels-A-Lot company, Lucky Beans. Hardison admits that he and Parker are worried that they're ruining the holiday with their plan, and Nate dismissively tells him that Christmas started as a ritual sacrifice celebration and leaves.

Hazlit soon notices that the doll's sales are on the rise even though it hasn't gone public yet. He meets Sophie at a bar and buys her a drink, and offers her a cut of the profit to set him up to buy Lucky Beans. Sophie agrees in return for a VP position but warns Hazlit that the owner, Nate, is a bit eccentric. Hazlit figures that money will convince Nate to do what he wants and then asks Sophie if she's available. She turns him down, for now, and walks away.

Hardison talks with Parker and admits that her instincts were good, and she points out that even he doubted her at first. She then calls the real Lucky Beans Toys Company and fakes a gas inspector declaring a gas leak. Nate then moves in and meets with Hazlet, telling the CEO a tale about how he made the doll in honor of his convict son, who had emotional issues. As Nate lovingly strokes the doll, he starts rambling about how he suspects Hazlit will sell the doll to China and refuses to sell. Disgusted, Hazlit leaves and Sophie goes after him. She suggests that he make a quick offer before Nate realizes that there's a demand for his toy. Hazlit agrees but asks for one of the dolls so he can run an expedited safety check. Sophie agrees and Trent takes it to ZDR Risk Management and has the clerk schedule it for a 12-hour analysis.

The next day, Sophie meets with Hazlit at the bar to make the sale. However, the CEO tells her that he only asked for a doll so he could get the specs, make a cheap knockoff, and undersell Nate by 40%. Hazlit plans to announce his new doll, named Baby Happy Mad, along with the release of Chubby Snubby Dog. Sophie warns that it will never work but Hazlet promises her that his fungineers are working hard to pump up the happiness. He invites Sophie to have a drink with him, pointing out that they're alike and everyone wants to date themselves, but Sophie walks away.

Hazlit goes to the expo to make his press statement. However, before he can even speak, the reporters asked him about why Chubby Snubby Dog failed the government safety check. Hazlit has no idea what they're talking about… or that Hardison was the clerk at the analysis company. Once he had Hazlit's signature, Hardison turned the doll over to the government with Hazlit's name on the paperwork. Eliot made sure that Allie had a copy of the report and she was glad to distribute it on her blog and warn other mothers. Realizing which way the wind is blowing, Gil threatens to sue Trent and walks away. While Hazlit tries to work out what happened, he sees Nate and Sophie together at the exit, watching him and gloating.

Later, the team gathers at the restaurant and Eldon thanks them for their help. Sophie gives him a business card and explains that the government safety commission wants to hire the man who brought down Hazlit. The researcher wishes them a Merry Christmas and leaves. Eliot asks if the toys will be sold and Parker tells them that she's taken them all and lined them up at her warehouse.

Sophie starts talking about the holiday and how they've all become so cynical. She suggests that they give each other the gift of trust by telling stories or secrets. Nate speaks up and explains that when he was a boy, he wanted a trumpet for Christmas. All his father got him was a pack of baseball cards, claiming that "Santa" lost all of his money at the track. Nate knew better, but a few days later he found a trumpet sitting at the foot of his bed. He figured that his father stole it from someone, but he still appreciated it and learned how to play. When Nate's son Sam turned 8, Nate gave it to him and signed him up for lessons. Sam was supposed to take his first lesson on the day that he went into to the hospital. Nate drinks some coffee and tells the others that the trumpet is the only thing that he kept from his childhood.

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