- Sophie: We need to steal a general.
Nate: No its, Lets go steal a general! You know, its a rallying cry.
Intrepid Reporter Monica Hunter is on her show, The Hunt for the Truth, talking about a tragic school accident and blaming the driver, Ray Pennington, even telling the people he suffers under mental illness. Due to that story, Ray tries to commit suicide but luckily is saved by his daughter Sarah. Sarah meets with the team and asks them to take down Monica Hunter and restore her father's reputation. As she leaves, Sophie announces that she wants to take the lead on this one, and despite Nate's protests, he agrees to let her. Sophie explains to the team (despite their surprise at her doing Nate's part) that they need to get the network, BNI Studios, to apologize and disavow Monica's story and her exposé show. To do that theyre going to fake a story that will destroy her reputation. The team discusses options and they realize Monica wants respect, as she's a joke among serious journalists. Sophie figures out a plan and tells them to pack up; theyre going to D.C. (despite Nate teaching her 'his way' of saying it and Sophie accidentally entering the store closet when she exits, trying to act how Nate does).
At the studio, Parker is trying to get caught rummaging through Monicas office. When confronted she claims to be from a competing network then leaves, naturally making her suspicious. Parker admits that shes trying to use Monicas credentials to get to a source in the Pentagon. Shes after something that will bring down the President of the United States. Later, Parker brings Monica to the apartment where Hardison, whos posing as some Conspiracy Theorist in his dark lair, lives. Monica is about to walk out, but when she sees Eliot wearing a dark suit and a menacing look she decides to hear him out. Hardison points to his bulletin board, which is covered in photos of military installations, connected by strands of yarn. He says the government plans to replace Guantanamo Bay with a series of secret prisons on the mainland. Parker says her source at the Pentagon is General Mark Chesler, and she was trying to steal Monicas credentials to get to him, and Monica tells her to call in the morning. A she leaves she calls the studio to arrange a cameraman, and Eliot overhears her saying she intends to take that story for herself, which means shes hooked. Now they just need to provide her with a source inside the Pentagon.
At the Pentagon, before Monica arrives, Eliot finds the real General Chesler and steals his ID and even stalls him with a certain mission while Nate uses his ID and does a bit of makeover of his office, making it looks like he's General Chesler. Moments later, Parker leads Monica to the office while Monica explains to her about her method of 'interview' and how denial and refusal mean guilt.
Just then, Eliot walks by, and Monica recognizes him from before, convincing her they have a shadow, and that theres actually something to it. The camera starts rolling as she knocks on Cheslers door and Nate comes out and tells her he doesnt know anything about any prisons when she interviews him, doing all the actions that Monica mentions even pushing the cameraman aside. As he leaves, she props his door open and lets them in. They find documents that seem to corroborate their premise and later she wants Parker to bring her source to her show. However, back at the studio, Monica goes with a different story. Parker and Hardison ask for a reason and she explains that the secret prisons arent scary enough, despite it being a national scandal, and adds that it makes people feel safe since they're going to be holding terrorists. What she wants to sell is 'fear'. Sophie decides to give her 'fear' while Nate comments that's how it all started..
The next day, Parker calls Monica from outside a coffee shop she's in telling her theres more to it, but as Monica watches, a car hits her and Eliot takes a red file that Parker was holding and drives off. Monica is horrified and decides to check outside when Hardison appears and leads her away...as Parker gets up and brushes herself off. Hardison takes her to an underground basement where Nates waiting for them, while giving Hardison some "antidote". He tells her that a chemical compound has been released into the water supply and will start affecting people any day now, and that the prisons are actually safe houses for the elite and government officials to sit the contamination out in, with independent water supplies. Monica asks for more proof and Nate notes that Parker has it and tells her to find some sources. He gives her the code word Destiny and sends her off. Later, the team meets back up and Sophie declares that Monica will be the author of her own nightmare.
Hardison explains that journalists are lazy and always rely on the same sources like Monica is doing now. He manages to filter out the ones she isn't likely to use, which leaves them with four. Monica sends an email to one of them while he intercepts it, and fabricates a reply that they don't want her to mention this or discuss it. Her last source is a congressman and she asks him about Destiny, who happens to be a stripper he's gone to see a number of times and assumes that's what Monica is talking about. Stunned, he snatches her recorder and practically runs from her, telling her not to tell anyone. Monica is now convinced the conspiracy is real. Going back to her office, she suddenly notices how much water people are drinking and begins to freak out when she leaves the office. The team sees the footage of her freaking out 3 hours ago and Nate comments they might be pushing too hard. Sophie scoffs about it until Monica bangs the door, calling for Hardison. The rest of the team hides in the other room as Hardison opens the door and she drags him off to get some video proof.
At the army base, they manage to find a location that looks like a bunker while Nate is heading there to intercept her but Monica is climbing a fence to get inside while Hardison reluctantly follows her and they get caught by Army personnel. In an interrogation room, while Monica persistently tries to ask the interrogator to spill the beans about the bunkers (but keeps getting the same response of denial), Hardison tells his interrogator that shes crazy and only met her in a bar. Hardison begins to stall, and even freaks his interrogator, Lt. Abbot, using information that Eliot pulls up on him to convince him hes actually the one being reviewed.
Nate arrives still pretending to be General Chesler and bluffs his way onto the base. The interrogators question Monica and Hardison until Nate approaches them and compliments them for their effectiveness, then takes the two of them. Unfortunately, the captain has met the real General Chesler and they try to stop them. As they leave, Nate gives the pills to Monica while telling Hardison to take Monica's car out of here. As they are about to leave, the captain stops them but they manage to escape. However, once he hears Lt. Abbot mention Monica Hunter's name, he realizes she looks familiar and calls the police. Back at the apartment, Monica and Nate decide to take the evidence and proof while waiting for Hardison but as they enter, all of the stuff is gone. Monica notices the red file and picks it up, Eliot comes out saying he was just cleaning up, implying he 'killed' Hardison. Nate suddenly seems like hes been working against her the whole time, telling her he's a patriot, but she sprays him with mace and makes her escape.
Panicked, she heads to the studio to get on the air and break the story. The producer Steve is shocked and asks if she's drunk but Monica decides to do it herself and pushes the reporter for a special report. She announces the fake story that the water has been contaminated not realizing Hardison has hacked into the system with the footage of her jumping the fence and typing the headlines below. Confused and frustrated, Steve goes down and asks the news crew to find out who's doing this. When Monica pulls out the red file to present the proof all she finds are a bunch of papers that read, ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES MONICA A DULL GIRL. Steve brings the police over and she starts to panic and gets caught. Steve checks the pills she was holding and finds that they are anti-psychotics. While Monica's being dragged away, Steve realize they're still on air and the only thing the reporter can do is announce Monica Hunter being taken in after suffering a psychotic breakdown live on air.
Days later, Ray Pennington was being interview by a reporter as his good reputation has been restored as the reporter pose a question on how many good people that Monica Hunter ruins. Back at the HQ, the team questions on the footage that being taken being false even some of the 'myths' and urban legends. Nate and Sophie talk about their switch in roles, Sophie admitting that shes not really sure about herself like she used to be, and needs some time to figure it out. But Nate comforts her that she did a good job running the con and have fun.
Tropes stolen in this job:
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Hardison does this by having the others look up things on his interrogator and then talking about things only authorized personnel should know and making the guy think he's the one being questioned.
- Being Watched: Hardison keeps insisting on it, and Eliot puts in a few appearances to sell it.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Hardison plays one.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: At one point in the episode an email from Monica to a "T. Smith" about her contract renewal. Pause it at the right moment and you get this:Email: Dear Sirs. In regards to my upcoming contract, I am writing to urge you to reconsider my re-assignment. The News that I would like to follow would be of a journalistic nature. Serious inhabits every accurate lunatic with a ladder. Seriious emerges throughout the joking script. The remarkable astronomer stems serious.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Monica's cameraman likes it when she mentions kissing Parker on the mouth.
- Glasses Pull: Eliot does this when he passes Monica and Parker in the Pentagon, with accompanying Death Glare.
- Government Conspiracy: A plot to build massive underground bunkers for the elite to wait out a catastrophe, or that's what they want her to think.
- He Knows Too Much: The team sets this up by having Eliot hit Parker with a car to convince Monica to pursue the story again.
- Interrupted Suicide: Ray tries to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning after being crucified on Monica's show. Luckily his daughter finds him in time.
- Intrepid Reporter: Monica Hunter is a negative version of this trope, in that she's less interested in uncovering the truth than high ratings and self-aggrandizement. Parker's character Cindy McAllen is a more positive example.
- It's All About Me: Monica cares little for anything else.
- The Men in Black: Again, arranged for Monica's benefit.
- Moon-Landing Hoax: Referenced when Eliot and Hardison are trolling Parker over conspiracy theories.Parker: We totally went to the moon.
Eliot: Movie sets. I've seen them, they're outside of Albuquerque.
Parker: Why would there still be sets there?
Eliot: Because they're gonna reuse them for the Mars mission, repaint them all red.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: At the end, Nate makes Monica think he has this attitude.
- Room Full of Crazy: In Hardison's lair.
- Secret Government Warehouse: Monica is made to believe they're actually secret government bunkers for Washington honchos to sit tight in.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Monica. Hardison mentions that every time her contract comes up for renewal, she tries to move up from her small-time show to a job at a bigger network, and every time serious journalists laugh her out of the room. The Leverage crew plays on this by offering her a story she'll chase after to get the respect she wants.
- The Exit Is That Way: Sophie finishes telling everyone about the mark, but her closing line falls flat. Nate tells her she should turn and leave the room at that point to make it more dramatic. She does, and Nate quietly remarks, "She's walking into the closet."
- This Is Gonna Suck: Nate's expression after he agrees to let Sophie take the lead.
- This Just In!: Monica starts doing one of these at the end, but it goes awry soon after.
- You Can Panic Now: Monica's stock in trade, to the point that she admits she's selling fear and turns down the secret terrorist prisons story because she doesn't think it will scare her viewers enough.