Recap / Leverage S 05 E 01 The Very Big Bird Job

The Leverage team is spread around the world taking some well deserved time off, when they get a call bringing them to Portland. Hardison has gotten them a new place to lay low while federal agents skulk outside Nate's apartment in Boston. He even has a client and begins briefing them about their mark, Scott Romer, the owner of a large cargo airline, who has just been in a lawsuit about the crash of one of its planes resulting in the death of the pilot. The courts have ruled it an accident and the widow of the pilot is not pleased with it. Nate agrees to take the case. As the widow leaves, Eliot notices characters in a dark SUV watching her, and follows interrupting some thugs.

Nate begins tailing Romer at the Evergreen International Aviation & Space Museum. He introduces himself as an executive from another transport service, while Sophie tries to get into the airline's office building. Nate realizes that Romer is an aviation history buff, and is here to see them run the engines of their star exhibit, the Spruce Goose.

Parker breaks into the server room and steals some files, while Sophie has gotten herself into some meeting.

Romer continues showing Nate around the Goose. He sees himself as a kind kindred spirit to Howard Hughes. Nate brings up the recent suite prompting a rant from Romer . Eventually he expresses the wish to fly the Spruce Goose just once. The files Parker stole contain information that indicates Romer is merging with a passenger airline, meaning he's going to have people on his planes soon, putting them in danger. Nate asks Romer if he would like to own the Spruce Goose. The mark is obviously intrigued.

Nate explains he's part of a consortium to buy the plane from the museum. Romer has a few conditions of his own, one of which is he, and he alone, can fly it, then agrees. Back at Leverage headquarters, he tells them Romer is relying on the company to protect him so they need to strip that away. They also need to keep him away from the meeting so the merger can't go through.

Eliot finds out the goons are looking for a video file that proves negligence on the airline's part If they find the whole thing they can wrap it up.

Nate and Romer meet in a warehouse, where he introduces Hardison as another buyer, but Romer brought some muscle, which prompts Sophie to come in and start threatening everyone in an Arabic accent. Hardison pulls a gun and herds them out, acting like a terrorist. After they see a device like a bomb, they get out. Romer grabs the gun and shoots Hardison (they're blanks). Romer wants to call to police, but Nate tells him it's not a good idea, he's got ties to terrorism. He tries to call his security head, but Nate causes him to doubt his loyalty, saying there was a double cross.

Romer demands to know what they wanted with the Spruce Goose, and Nate tells him they wanted to ship it overseas and take it apart. Romer is confused by this and tells Nate to drive to the museum so they can look at the plans for the plane. Meanwhile Eliot figures out where the recording is, but unfortunately so do the thugs. It's in the daughter's teddy bear. One of them grabs it and drives off. Parker manages to grab on to the car and tag along.

At the museum Nate and Romer look over the plans, noting that they appear to be redacted(albeit by Nate and the team) to "reveal" that it carries a device(in fact faked by Hardison) which wraps the plane in an EM field. This would destroy the aluminum aircraft of the time, but the "spruce" in the Spruce Goose is actually a light composite material not dissimilar from those used in modern drone aircraft. Romer then jumps to the conclusion the team wished him to - that the Spruce Goose is actually a stealth bomber that Howard Hughes built in 1947.

Nate asks if they can call the police now, but Romer wants to keep this quiet, thinking this technology will be worth a fortune. Nate congratulates Hardison on his doctored plans. Things start to go off the rails when Romer's security shows up looking for him. Sophie and Hardison show up in their guise as terrorists and then Eliot shows up demanding the teddy bear. He promptly starts fighting the security guys.

Romer takes Nate into the plane and gets the idea to escape by flying it out of the museum. Nate protests but Romer is set on it. He taxis out and takes off. Outside, Sophie notes that Hardison is looking very pleased with his flight simulation setup. Eventually Hardison pushes a Big Red Button labeled "Crash" that simulates power failure in all engines as Nate knocks Romer out. In the morning Romer wakes up surrounded by the flaming wreckage of what he thinks is the Spruce Goose. He sees on his phone a story about the Spruce Goose being stolen and crashed and calls his security guy. He tells him the thing in the news is him. The actual news story is about the pilot's crash and death. The security guys tells him not to say anything; the FBI is in his office.

Later Nate presents the widow with her settlement, and tells her no one will ever take Romer seriously again, amply demonstrated by cutting to Romer trying to tell the FBI how he stole the Spruce Goose to escape Iranians who were trying to kill him over 70-year-old stealth technology.

Later Nate and Hardison discuss something they are planning, which they are keeping from the others.

Tropes stolen in this job:

  • Batman Gambit: The whole con relies on Roemer's admiration of and desire to emulate Howard Hughes being so strong that, when put into the right situation, he will of his own volition decide to fly off in the Spruce Goose.
  • Big Red Button: "CRASH"
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The team manages to convince Roemer that Hughes developed stealth technology in The '40s. It's all part of the con, but it's still a pretty cool idea - and Duramold is the ancestor of what is used in modern drones.
  • Cool Plane: The Spruce Goose. Bonus points for it being a real plane.
  • External Combustion: The team plants a bomb in Roemer's car to help sell the con and panic him into rash decisions.
  • Fauxtastic Voyage: The team are able to convince Roemer that he has stolen - and crashed - the Spruce Goose.
  • Nice Hat: Romer's.
  • Product Placement: The Evergreen International Aviation & Space Museum is prominently shown. The building with a 747 on the roof is actually an indoor water park.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Roemer thinks he's an adventurer stumbling on Hughes' secret and racing to save the Spruce Goose from terrorists, unaware it's all one big con.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Roemer tries this with the FBI to convince him of his story of crashing the Spruce Goose. Naturally, the fact the plane is still intact ruins the entire attempt.