A rancher, Willie Martin, and his daughter, Aimee, stare at a burning stable as the chilling sound of horses screaming comes from inside. Cut to Willie telling Nate that there were nine dead, with only one survivor, Baltimore. The owner was a Wall Street banker named Alan Foss, who killed them because they werent winning him enough money. Foss is going to get $2 million in insurance payouts, but Willie doesnt want any of it. He wants Baltimore.
Then Aimee comes in and reacts angrily when she sees Eliot. Apparently, the two of them had a relationship in the past.
At a horse race, Sophie approaches Foss while Nate and Hardison test ways to fix poker games. Sophie lifts Foss's wallet and Parker scans his credit card, finding a bet on a horse called Kentucky Thunder. Sophie mentions a poker game shes hosting, and Foss demands in. In the game, he finds himself short, and he throws in Baltimore to cover a bet. Nate wins (thanks to a little discreet cheating), and Foss throws his cards at him.
As Nate walks that evening, a car pulls up alongside him, and a man named Sterling begins talking to Nate. Hes one of Nates old colleagues from IYS Insurance, and he thinks that Nates trying to get back into the company. Sterling mentions that he plans to pin the responsibility for the fire on Willie Martin so that the insurance company won't have to pay.
Sterlings presence changes the game. Everyone else wants the run, but Nate realizes that Sterling wont let this go, so they need to find a way to shut Foss down without making Willie the target. Nate comes up with something, but hell need a stable.
Aimee sets them up with one, and they bring Foss in. Sterling has told him he can't sell Baltimore until the investigation concludes, and Foss wants to buy him back. Nate won't take the deal for less than $2 million, which Foss balks at. Eliot privately apologizes for Nates behavior, and Foss tells him about his scheme to form an investment group with a bunch of partners, investing in horses instead of stocks. Eliot can either help, or get out of Foss' way.
Aimee is not pleased with the way things are going, and she begins ranting at Eliot, demanding to know why he never even called. Eliot thinks back to being in prison with guards demanding to know where the monkey is. I was working. She throws a punch, and just when it looks like they're going to have another fight,they start passionately kissing.
Nate is trying to come up with a plan, when Parker and Eliot come in talking about Mr. Ed, which inspires Nate with a variation on the Lost Heir. They decide to use the champion Kentucky Thunder as the lost heir of a dead champion racehorse. They get KTs trainer away from the stable and then set the board. Hardison goes to the airport and finds a couple of Chinese tourists.
Eliot is with Foss talking about a Chinese incident that killed six hundred of the best race horses in the world, which he sees as a crime. Then Eliot tells him there was one horse that escaped and points to the horse on the track, "Fei Kuai" (actually Kentucky Thunder). He then points out "the Chinese owners" (the tourists), who are trying to sell Fei Kuai before the Beijing authorities find out he survived. After seeing an impressive lap time, Foss decides he wants the horse for himself and offers twelve million, his entire groups investment.
Sophie acts as interpreter for Foss. She asks the couple in Chinese about the man's shirt, and after they respond, tells Foss he has a deal. Afterwards, the Chinese woman asks for a picture with the group and then says she has to go to the bathroom. Along the way, she gives the camera to Sterling.
Sterling thinks he knows what Nates up to, but he cant prove anything. The next day, Kentucky Thunder is gone, which means they need to get him back. They break into the stud farm and get him out, but then they run into a traffic accident on the road. Determined not to let the plan fall though, Eliot rides KT back to the stable.
With Kentucky Thunder in place, Foss makes the deal, all $12 mil of it. He then comes to show his investors their new horse. Sterling tries to tell him the horse isn't Fei Kuai, but Foss ignores him. When they get to the stall, they don't find Kentucky Thunder or Fei Kuai. Before the investors came in, the team switched numbers and name plates around. The horse in the stall labeled "Fei Kuai" is Baltimore, and Foss is caught trying to buy back a horse he originally insured for $200,000 and is now insuring for $12 million—which, as Sterling points out, is insurance fraud. Sterling denies the claim for the fire and leaves Foss to his angry investors. He owes them ten million, which is all he has left.
Nate presents Willie with Baltimore and a cool twelve million to get started on his own stable.
At the Leverage office, Nate finds Sterling waiting for him. Their actions wound up helping each other out: the team got their job done, and Sterling found a way to save the company two million dollars. He leaves with a promise.
- Sterling: I'm not going to be so nice next time.Nate: Neither will I.
Tropes stolen in this job:
- Amicable Exes: Despite tension through most of the episode, Eliot and Aimee wind up here after the team pulls off the job.
- Answer Cut: While arguing with Eliot, Aimee asks what could possibly have made him disappear for months without a word. We then get a Flashback of Eliot being dragged into a foreign prison.
- The Coup: One where Sophie and Sterling crossed paths in Sierra Leone.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: An interesting version, as technically Nate is the criminal and Sterling is the legitimate insurance agent (something Nate used to do). Sterling quickly assumes that Nate is going after Foss to get his old job back, not realizing at first that Nate's motives are both altruistic (to help the Martins) and vindictive (to screw over IYS).
- Fixing the Game: Nate makes sure he wins the poker game for Baltimore.
- The Gambler: Foss.
- Jerkass Façade: Nate's cover, Bob Gibson.
- Leitmotif: Sterling's theme makes its debut here, so we know he's more important than he looks.
- Noodle Incident: Eliot's business with the monkey, and how Sophie and Sterling ran into each other in Sierra Leone.
- Old Flame: Aimee for Eliot. The UST is thick but she hasn't forgiven him for all the times he disappeared.
- Sarcasm Mode: Nate's comment when Eliot rides Kentucky Thunder back to the stable.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Aimee and Eliot.
- Smug Snake: Sterling.
- Tantrum Throwing: Foss throws his cards when he loses at poker.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Parkers afraid of horses because as a kid she once saw a man in a horse mask kill a clown at a birthday party.