Recap / Leverage S 02 E 02 The Tap Out Job
All about control.

"These guys don't fight because they like hurting other people. They fight to gain some sort of control over their opponents, over their environment, over their lives. Have you seen this town? The farms are drying up! The only stores are bailbondsmen and pawn shops, and there's nothing they can do about it. So yeah, they get in the ring and...try not to let it all suffocate them...and it's about two guys trying to beat the crap out of each other."

In Lincoln, Nebraska, boxer Mark Howorth suddenly has a fainting spell and loses a fight. His water had something in it, and his old manager is the responsible party. His father, Jack, asks Nate for help. Jed Rucker is the one who runs the fighting in the area. He will also fix fights when it benefits him. He doesnít have a TV deal so Nate asks what else heís into. One thing is golf.

Rucker is at a course when Nate shows up, with Parker as caddy, as the fourth member of their group, and asks for a two grand bet and Rucker agrees. Nate has an advantage, as Hardison gave him balls that will go further, and gets Parker to replace Ruckerís balls with ones he can control.

She also lifts his wallet. When Nate wins and demands his winnings, Rucker canít find it, so Nate tells him to bring it tomorrow.At his gym, Rucker is wondering why Nateís in town when he sees Nate there watching Eliot train. Rucker takes an interest and starts keeping tabs on him.

Outside, he brings some of his people to take him on. Eliot makes quick work of it, while Parker records it and puts it online. Rucker is impressed enough to take Eliot in and asks questions about Nate. Eliot spins a tale about how heís running a ring in South Dakota and is here looking for talent and meeting a woman soon.

The woman is question is Sophieís cover as a TV producer, and Rucker finds things online that make him think Nateís after a TV deal. He also sees the video of the fight online and makes Eliot an offer.

Eliot says heís in debt to Nate and Rucker offers to take care of it and get him some fights in return for bringing Sophie to him.When Rucker meets Sophie, and tries to convince her to go with him instead. She says sheís here for a concert by a starlet named Triana and Rucker decides heís going to be there as well.

Now thereís only one option:

Nate: Letís go steal us a concert.

Nate waylays the director and Hardison takes over.

Sophie spins a tale with very good numbers and profits and Rucker wants in. He offers to finance the whole thing and Sophie agrees.Things start to go off the rails when Engel (one of Rucker's men) asks his cousin Jimmy, who happens to live in South Dakota, to run checks on Nate and Eliot and finds out no oneís heard of them. He also finds out that Jack visited them. Realizing heís being set up, Rucker decides to work them over instead. When Sophie meets with Rucker the next day, he reveals what he knows, and starts threatening her. Nate and Eliot storm in, realizing the jig is up, but Rucker wonít let them off that easy. He wants Eliot to fight his best guy, Tank, and take a dive. If he doesnít heíll start arranging "accidents" for the Howorths. Eliot agrees. Despite the team telling him to pull out he's set on it, and will not be dissuaded. He doesnít want to make the Howorths move and the team canít babysit them forever.

On the day of the match Rucker is getting word on his bets, then tells Tank not to go easy on Eliot. The fight is brutal, but before the first round is over, it becomes clear that Ruckerís pulled his old trick. Eliot starts taking a beating and is unable to fight properly. Rucker thinks the game is his, but Sophie tries to explain that itís only made Eliot more dangerous and he begins to go on a full on attack on Tank. When Tank taps out, Eliot keeps going until the ref comes and pulls them apart. The doctor comes in to examine Tank and pronounces him dead. Not only has Rucker lost his bet, heís liable for an unsanctioned fight. With no other choice, Rucker takes his money and makes a getaway.

In the ring, once Parker sees Rucker leave, Nate gives a cue reveals to Jack that it was all an act. It turns out that Nate asked the doctor for help, since he knew Rucker was going to spike Eliot's bottle. Nate replaced the poisoned water with clean, and Eliot faked both the effects and the beserker rage. The Doctor assures Jack that Tank is fine since he used Succinylcholine, a drug that temporary paralyzed him, to scare Rucker off. Also, Parker put a transmitter on Ruckerís car which tracks him to the Iowa state line, and Nate tips the state police about him. Using the money they won at the golf course, Parker went to a pawn shop and bought $6,000 worth of guns plus a saxophone (for the heck of it) and planted them inside Rucker's car. The police catch Rucker transporting cash, guns, and a saxophone across state lines. Rucker is also going to be held until the IRS shows up as Hardison found out that Rucker wasn't good at reporting his income and found some 'funny business' in his account ensuring he won't be back anytime soon.

Jack is still sad that the money is gone but Nate tells him that Engel made bets with some online bookies, all of whom were actually Hardison. The next day, with Rucker gone, the team hands the Howorth's the keys to the gym and want Mark to run as the coach.

Tropes stolen in this job:

  • Batman Gambit: By faking Tank's death in an uninsured MMA match, the team figured it would be enough to send Rucker fleeing for the boarder. At which time, they call that state's state police about a "fugitive" escaping there with a bag of money. They also put $6,000 dollars worth of guns (and a saxophone) in the trunk for the police to find.
  • Boxing Episode: With a focus on MMA
  • The Berserker: Eliot, according to Sophie.
  • Faking the Dead: The doctor arranges for Tank to appear dead to spook Rucker into running.
  • Foreshadowing: Rucker is told that since no local bookie could cover the amount he's betting, he had to go online to place the bets. Now who do we know that would be interested in taking that action?
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: A couple. One at the beginning which leaves Mark unable to fight anymore, and then Eliot going berserk on Tank.
  • Reality Ensues: Hardison can hack any piece of technology, but he can't make Engel's cousin Jimmy in South Dakota know Nate's fictional persona.
    Hardison: Look, you know what I can do? I can re-task a satellite. I can get a level-3 NSA security clearance. But I can't hack a hick.
  • Sick and Wrong: Sophie's reaction to chicken-fried steak. In her view, meat should never be used as an adjective.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: How Rucker's fixing the fights.
  • Teen Idol: Triana, apparently.
  • Throwing the Fight: Rucker demands Eliot take a dive so he can collect the money he bet on Tank.
  • True Companions: The doctor is this to the clients. When the Team approached him about helping get rid of Rucker, he happily agrees.
  • The Unfettered: Sophie describes Eliot as this — it takes so much of his self-control to contain his violent rage that he's actually more dangerous when drugged, because he loses that self-control. Of course, that's a lie. Eliot wasn't drugged and it was all a put-on to frighten Rucker into thinking he had a dead wrestler on his hands.