I stole it!!
—Hardison, Eliot and Sophie in unison
We open with Hardison, Sophie and Eliot, who are all arguing in the bar. Nate and Parker walk in, and he asks them rather pointedly why they're sitting around arguing instead of investigating Moreau. Sophie plays them a recording, which tells them about an artifact called the Dagger of Aqu'abi. This dagger was stolen from the Boston Museum of Art and Antiquities five years ago, but has been returned and is now on display again. However, Hardison, Sophie and Eliot all claim to be the original thief. Sophie suggests that each of them tells their story in turn, and Nate reluctantly agrees.
GrifterSophie has managed to successfully work two identities for four months. The first is the Duchess of Barrington-Highsworth, a patron of the arts who donated artwork to gain admission. She meets the current custodian of the dagger, Edgar Gladstone, who flirts with her, but she's careful to avoid the skilled, wary, ferocious head of museum security, Coswell. She acquires a drink, spikes it and asks a waitress to give it to Zimbabwe's art minister, Robert Bioko. Bioko is a douchebag who is very allergic to shrimp, but while she waits, she bumps into a surgeon, Dr. Wes Abernathy, and flirts with him. Bioko starts choking and Gladstone checks on him. Sophie helpfully tells him that the minister is allergic to shrimp, and as a doctor, Abernathy helps him out. Distraction achieved, Sophie slips into the shipping and storage part of the museum, using Gladstone's key card. Her other identity for this con is Dr. Karen Ipcress, who works in the restoration department. Coswell suspiciously asks about her, and makes the connection that she and the Duchess look alike. Sophie overhears Coswell, realises that she's screwed and switches the shipping details on the dagger's crate so it will go to her safe-house in London. It worked beautifully, but when she received the crate, there was no dagger inside.
After her story, she insists that she's the real thief, even though she technically never attained it. Eliot steps up, putting two shot glasses over his eyes to imitate glasses. Sophie instantly recognises him as the good doctor and is shocked, and Eliot tells his story.
HitterEliot is doing what he normally does - beating crap out of some mooks- when he gets a call from a man named Gutman. Gutman is rather annoyed that Eliot never retrieved the sapphire monkey from North Korea, so he offers him a trade: If Eliot will retrieve the dagger, then Gutman will consider the debt repaid. Otherwise he promises to keep sending men after him until one of them gets lucky. So on the night in question, Eliot manages to steal the real Doctor Abernathy's identity and get into the party. He bumps into Sophie, but instead of her normal British accent, she has a Cockney accent.
Sophie is indignantly annoyed, and retells her story so that "Dr. Abernathy" has a hillbilly accent. Eliot tells her that she already told her story and gets back to it.
Skip to the part where Bioko is choking: Sophie urges Eliot to save him, and Eliot hesitantly obliges. Eliot would have performed an impromptu tracheotomy with a pocketknife handed to him by one of the waitstaff, but the minister has some pills that miraculously heal him. Eliot uses him as an excuse to get further inside the museum - specifically, he leaves the minister at the first-aid station. After that, he sneaks into the basement, knocks out a security guard and steals his uniform. He's confronted by Coswell, bluffs his way past, and ends up working with the crew doing the shipping. He disguises himself appropriately, opens the dagger's crate and finds a mug...
Sophie blames Eliot, who maintains that he never actually acquired the dagger. In the end, since Gutman had a lot of enemies, he was arrested for racketeering a couple of weeks later, and Eliot was fine. Hardison then steps up to tell his story. Nate is surprised, since simple theft isn't Hardison's thing, but Hardison explains that the museum had installed a new security system called Tanuki. At the time, the first person to hack it would become a legend, so Hardison decided to be that person. But, he'd need proof, a trophy. A dagger.
HackerHardison enters the museum disguised as Minister Robert Bioko, having hacked the invite list and grabbed the identity of a random guest. As he works on the system, he decides to have some fun; he drinks some wine, flirts with some ladies, and spies on Eliot and Sophie getting fresh with each other. Once a power surge occurs (signalling that the system's reset), he fakes a choking fit as a distraction. Gladstone checks on him as Hardison says he needs to go to the first-aid room, but Sophie calls attention to his allergy. This Sophie is using a Scottish accent, and the present Sophie is pissed.
Hardison laughs at them, claiming that he beat both Sophie and Eliot. He says that nothing else matters, and Nate picks up on that and asks him why he says that. Hardison eventually admits that when he opened the vault, nothing was inside. Nate says that neither Hardison, Sophie or Eliot has it… and turns to Parker, who indignantly points out that, you know, I'm a thief.
ThiefParker is actually the waitress, though she's doing a horrible job. She ignores Hardison, who was hording big amounts of hors 'doerves into his pockets, then runs into Sophie, who is just speaking gibberish.
- Parker's version of Sophie: Ah wai'er. I'd very wondering if you could yea un'd my Dingaling! (Parker turns around making face, confused)
Present Sophie: I hate you all...
- Parker's version of Sophie: Ugck! Eniminimine? Eniminiminere?
Parker's version of Hardison: Yes, yes, I'm allergic to shrimp!
Parker: Oooh! You said "shrimp"! That didn't sound like shrimp.
Everyone keeps arguing, believing that somebody lied. Parker suddenly realizes Nate's expression and immediately questions him if he knew something. Nate then simply asked the others if they knew that the insurance company insuring the museum at the time of the theft was his old company, IYS. Nate finally tells them what happened to the dagger...
MastermindNate's story starts with him speaking to Coswell. Everyone else remembers Coswell as a tough, wary, skilled security expert, but he's actually a shy, bumbling guy who's pretty sweet. Nate chats with him, as he's there to investigate the recent thefts from the museum. He tells Coswell that IYS most likely will not insure the dagger. Coswell never actually caught on to Sophie's cons, he just thought she was pretty and wanted to ask her out. In reality, the drink Sophie spiked found its way to Eliot, not Hardison, and it was the glass of wine that he accidentally spilled on her due to tasting the shrimp in it. Coswell meets "Dr. Ipcress" but can't work up his courage to talk to her, and leaves. He tells the guards to find her, but while the team wrongly remembered it as him knowing she was a fake, in reality, he wanted to give her some roses at it's her last day working. (He ends up giving them to Nate.) He even asks Eliot but fails to notice that he's a fake guard. He then meets Hardison, disguised as a worker, and sobs about how he missed his chance to confess his love to Ipcress. He notices the guard Eliot mugged, but gets pushed inside by Hardison. Inside the storage room, he tells the guard that he'll get them out. He opens Parker's bag, filled with rappelling rope, assumes it's the janitor's stuff and uses it to climb inside the air vent. He bumps into Parker, who punches him in the face. The dagger drops down the shaft… and falls out of a ceiling vent, directly into Nate's hand.
Everyone is pretty shocked at that story, but Sophie and Eliot pick up on the biggest problem: Nate had it, but the dagger was still reported stolen. Ah, Nate says, but it was stolen.
Back at the museum gallery, Gladstone is yelling at Coswell for screwing it up and letting Parker get away, saying it's his worst loss ever. Nate walks in with the dagger… and snaps it in half. It's a fake. Nate explains that he's here to figure out why Gladstone has had so many expensive items stolen that IYS had insured. He realizes that Gladstone was selling the originals on the black market, while putting the fakes on display and staging a public theft to get the insurance using the double-dipping scam. Gladstone begs him not to tell anyone or he'll be in ruins. Nate then tells him that he's small potatoes; he came to the museum to hunt down a dealer capable of moving so many high-value items. Gladstone gets off with refunding the insurance money paid him by IYS - along with the dagger, for Nate to use as bait to arrest the dealer. So as of that moment, the Dagger of Aqu'abi has officially been stolen.
The team is a bit sad that after all they did, none of them got it. Sophie asks about the dealer, and we get a flashback: the dealer Gladstone used was Gutman, who Nate had arrested. Eliot's quite surprised. Hardison's depressed that they all did so much work for nothing, but Nate reminds them that it's easy to forget why they stopped working solo and now work as a team, and restarts the recording; It's showing an interview with a man called Nigel Hayton, the C.E.O. of Baron Oil, an oil company who spilled tons of oil over American waters. Hayton is a quintessential bastard, down to his posh accent, reassuring the public that he cares, as does his company - and he's showcasing his collection of art and antiquities as a means of sharing his fortune with "the little people"... and the star attraction is none other than the Dagger of Aqu'abi.The team leaves the bar in a hurry claiming to get it first, leaving Nate behind. Nate eventually follows after as the episode ends.
Tropes stolen in this job:
- Already Met Everyone: Except for Nate.
- Gambit Pileup: What turned out to have happened.
- Genius Bonus: An alert viewer would recall that Dr Wes Abernathy was the alias Eliot used in The Jailhouse Job, hinting that the doctor Sophie bumps into is actually Eliot before we get to his part of the story.
- A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but everyone sees the object Coswell was carrying down the stairs as a gun — except for Eliot. Even though he misread Coswell as a dangerous, competent head of security, but he would never mistake a box of roses for a weapon.
- MacGuffin: The Dagger of Aqu'Abi.
- Mugged for Disguise: Eliot does it twice, first holding up the actual Dr. Abernathy for his clothes and gala invitation, then later tackling a guard to steal his uniform.
- No MacGuffin, No Winner: As far as the four thieves are concerned, but then it turned out that the owner was trying to defraud the insurance company with a fake that he was going to declare stole. Their actions enabled Nate to nail him for it.
- "Rashomon"-Style: The story of the theft unfolds as each of the team tells their version of events.
- Spanner in the Works: Each character does this for each other character at least once, as each of the four would have succeeded if not for the actions of everyone else.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Sophie spikes a glass of champagne and sends it to "Minister Bioko" intending to trigger his allergy to shrimp and create a diversion. Subsequent flashbacks show that the glass was unwittingly intercepted by Eliot, who in Nate's version of events spits it out as soon as he tastes it because it "tastes funny."
- Unreliable Narrator: All over the place! Each one is more unreliable than the last it seems, except for Nate...we think. Perhaps the best part is that each of the Team - when they were uncertain which part others played - perceived their future teammates as magnificent; Eliot's "Dr. Wes Abernathy" (played by Riley Smith) was soft-spoken and charming even to Sophie's trained eye - despite him shamelessly flirting with her (humorously, after she hears him depicting her accent as godawful Cockney, Sophie demands the chance to revise her story in order to frame him as a beer-swilling hick). Hardison's "Minister Robert Bioko" (played by Juan Canopii) was powerfully built and intimidating even to Eliot (and was sarcastically thanking him for smuggling him past security!). And the socially-awkward Parker blended in so well that she was invisible to all of them save Nate. Word of God is;Nate is still an unreliable narrator, although about 80% accurate. He's not making up the crush, or the crime plot, or how they interfered with each other.
- The remainder is most likely him being annoyed at Sophie believing that Coswell, "...could be even smarter than Nate." Instead, no-one except he, Nathan Ford, knew exactly what was going down the entire time — but failed to finger any of the four at the time! He just pieced together the four stories after hearing them to figure out who did what when.
- Unrequited Love: Coswell for Sophie.