Parker is the cutest Christmas elf ever.
"He’s stealing Christmas."
Parker is flipping through weather channels looking for one that says they’ll have snow. She finds a low-pressure system in Canada that could bring some of it dips down far enough and tells Hardison to make it happen. Meanwhile, Nate goes to McRory’s pub where a Christmas party is going on. He’s barely sat down when Parker rushes in telling him they have a client.
Parker: It's Santa!
A couple days earlier this particular Mall Santa
, Frank, was fired for being drunk on the job. As he meets with the team, he tells Nate how the mall owner, Eben Dooley, Jr, has fired all the old Santas and replaced them with guys he thinks look like criminals and how he thinks they’re up to something. He asks Nate to help him restore his reputation. After he leaves, Parker looks at Nate expectantly. Nate wanted to take a break over the holidays, but Parker insists they have to help Santa.
At the mall, Hardison poses as the photographer so he can ID the new Santas, while Sophie enjoys the opportunity to shop on the job. Nate goes to Dooley posing as a businessman with an offer while Parker and Eliot get into his office, where Parker finds scotch there, the same stuff he used to frame Frank. In the apartment, Hardison begins the briefing on Dooley, how he inherited the mall from his father and has since nearly run it into the ground while accumulating massive gambling debts as Parker tries to bring some holiday cheer with annoying Christmas tunes and decorating the tree…with millions of dollars’ worth of items she’s stolen over the years.
Parker: Happy birthday, Jesus.
Hardison finds that Dooley’s booked a trip to San Lorenzo, and hired a bunch of ex-cons to rob the store while he’s away, giving him an alibi and the insurance payout. Nate recognizes it instantly. They’re going to need to keep Dooley from leaving and get someone inside the mall. That someone turns out to be Eliot, who, despite his usual attitude toward kids
, does NOT like being Santa.
Sophie, posing as a chauffeur, is following Dooley, who is popping anti-anxiety pills one after the other. Meanwhile, Hardison disables the real driver’s car with an EMP gun, trapping him inside. Sophie tips her hat to him as she leaves. As they drive off, Sophie talks to him, pressing his worry buttons with words such as “crime”, “caught”, and “goose cooked”. Dooley calls someone to make sure everything’s ready one more time. Hardison tries to listen in but it’s heavily encrypted. Eliot checks with the other Santas, but none of them are on their phones. Sophie causes a delay by crashing the car and putting Dooley in the hospital.
Back at the mall, Eliot is confronted with the lead Santa who is happy to have some extra muscle and puts Eliot where he’s needed…ringing the donation bell. Someone notices and starts watching him.
At the hospital, Dooley wakes up and wants to catch his flight, he also mentions that he’s beyond saving when Sophie tells him how lucky he is.
Nate and Hardison come to check on Eliot, but when Hardison tries to take a picture he picks up a strange signal, an RFID antenna. Looking around Nate realizes the scam isn’t going to be a robbery; it’s going to be identity theft. Between people using their cards to buy presents or donate at the kettles the mall will collect thousands of card numbers and then on Christmas Eve, they’ll use them to rip off millions of dollars which will go unnoticed by the credit card companies in the last minute crunch.
They tell Sophie and ask her to find out how it’s happening, but she thinks she can actually get him to call the whole thing off through his guilty conscience. She brings Frank in as Santa to bring Dooley a present and have a little chat…
Frank: Credit card fraud, Eben? On Christmas Eve?
He and Sophie shake their heads at him while Dooley asks how he knows that even wondering if he’s actually the real Santa. With him now turned, Sophie asks him to call his hacker and stop the job, who, speak of the devil, calls at that moment. Dooley tells him to call it off, but he asks to speak to Sophie Devereaux. Hesitantly, Sophie takes the phone.
It’s Hardison’s old nemesis, escaped from prison, and out for some Chaos! As the team talks to him they notice that all the Santas have suddenly disappeared. He warns them not to follow and to make sure, uses Hardison’s EMP gun to fry Lucille.
Hardison: He killed her Nate. I hate him….I hate him.
Nate: She was a good van.
They meet up with the others and Hardison figures out how Mason is doing it, using the city’s main trunkline which is located in an office building downtown, and where they need to disconnect him to put a stop to it. There’s no time to lose; he’s already pulled the trigger, and each second more people lose money. Eliot says he needs more resources and a week to plan, but Nate calls Sophie for an “Edward Albee.”
Nate and Sophie stage a crash outside the building, drawing the guard out to let them in, as the rig the door so it can be opened later, giving Eliot the guards security card, while Parker and Hardison make their way inside from above and head for the server room. Eliot disables another guard to use his retinal pattern to let Hardison and Parker into the server room, then leaves a candy cane as Hardison uploads a worm and works to shut down the mall server.
Later, Nate is worried about something. All the law enforcement agencies are descending on the area, but what is the Treasury Department doing there? Nate realizes when Hardison shut down the mall, he also shut down the federal depository.
Back at the mall, Mason and his Santas head in…to the depository
. “’Tis the season to be jolly.”
The team starts bickering about whose fault it is, and Nate settles it by saying it’s his fault. Mason had the whole thing planned out, approaching Dooley with the offer, having Frank fired, and then sending Frank to the Leverage team.
Mason: He’s very dependable, that Nate Ford.
Nate apologizes to the team for not taking the job seriously and leads them off to figure out what they’re going to do. As Mason’s team begins cutting into the vault, Eliot figures out how to get over there. When they get to the mall, they’re surprised to see Frank and Dooley putting the Toys for Tikes drive back on. Frank thinks Dooley really means it now
, and Nate changes the plan
. He sends Eliot after Mason and the others to do some shopping.
Eliot, still dressed as Santa, find Mason’s team, who are also dressed as Santa and a Santa fight starts, while Nate calls the authorities about the trunk line. The goons manage to escape Eliot and Nate decides to take it.
As they come up from the tunnel, a wave of kids run up followed by the police. Frank insists they open their bags as the kids grab them and find…presents. The thieves start wondering where the money went. While Eliot was fighting them, Parker and Hardison switched the loot bags for the gift bags.
Mason meanwhile is trying to make his own escape when he runs into Hardison and the FBI. He’d dropped a small tracker into Mason’s bag as he passed. He says it was a good plane and Hardison agrees, except…
: There’s one thing you didn’t count on... Mason
: Oh, no, no… Hardison
: You forgot… Mason
: …about the true meaning… Mason
: Don’t you say it! Hardison
: …of Christmas. Mason
: Gah! That barely applies here! Hardison
: Ho, ho, ho.
At the pub, Nate and Sophie have gotten them all gifts: a Hanzo sword for Eliot, a new device prototype for Hardison (pre-release), and a stack of non-sequential bills for Parker. They watch the others play with their toys for a while.
Nate: You know I got something for you too.
Sophie: Aw, you shouldn’t have.
Nate: Yeah, I know.
Sophie: Give it to me!
Nate gives he one of those personalized necklaces that which reads, “Your Name Here.” And Sophie writes something down, presumably her name, for him. Then Parker gets up and goes to the window like she sees something. She opens the door and steps out to enjoy the snow.
Tropes stolen in this job: