Nate and Sophie are talking to an elderly couple who tracked down many stolen pieces of art after World War II, but theres one they never got a piece that belonged to his father. Hes searched for it his entire life. Its being held by a private collector, the head of Montgraft & Associates. They agree to take the case.
At the Montgraft office, Nate and Sophie come in as detectives as a cover so Parker, Eliot and Haridson can look for the Clifton. Mr. Montgrafts office is too locked down to break in to, so theyre trying to circumvent it. Parker doesnt like it, but Hardison explains what they would have to do to take it head on, unaware that another team is doing just that even as he speaks. Eliot finishes sawing through the wall and turns around to show the painting, but its the wrong one! Someone got there first! As Nate and Sophie come to see whats happened, one of the members of the other team spots her, and knows who she is.
Back at the pub, the team discusses what went wrong, but Sophie isnt there and no one knows where she is. Eliot finally gets a hold of her, but theres a problem. Shes currently in the apartment holding a motion-sensitive explosive device. Parker has a solution to trick the bomb, and Sophie shoos them all out while she sets it off. She raises it over her head, and drops it, an explosion decimating the apartment.
At Sophies Katherines funeral the members of the team say a few things about her, while Nate and Eliot keep an eye out for possible suspects. As the casket is lowered, Sophie comes up behind Nate. After the casket had been closed, she dropped into a hiding place below the display table, and an empty casket was buried.
After she walks off, the man who recognized her comes up. They exchange a few words and Nate hurries Sophie off. Back at headquarters, she identifies him as Marcus Starke, grifter and forger, a former partner of hers. His method is to put together one-shot teams for a particular job after which they scatter, but usually theres a practice run, which is what they were doing at Montgratfs.
She realizes that hes about to pull one of his favorite scams, the Mona Lisa Variant, stealing a painting then making copies and selling all of them. She has Hardison look up all the art auctions in the area. Among the items on sale she sees a Van Gogh, a particular fondness of his. Thats what hes after. Now they need to get to it first.
At the auction site, Nate, Eliot and Parker canvas security, while Sophie and Hardison watch from Lucille. Suddenly Hardison starts getting some interference from another set of comms, while another thief makes off with the managers credentials, right out of Parkers hand! Meanwhile Eliot runs into a Hebrew speaking woman, while Starke comes up to Nate.
Sophie urges Nate not to tell Starke what they do, and just let him think theyre common criminals. The two teams start getting in each others way, but the manager suddenly notices hes missing a few things and decides to close for the day. Then he calls for tightened security.At headquarters, Nate begins going over the other members of Starkes team, a thief named Apollo, an ex-Mossad commando named Mikel Dayan, and hacker Colin Mason, aka Chaos. Nate, his pride on the line, declares that they are going to get to the painting first. To do it, they need to get to it tonight, before the auction. Elsewhere, Starke gives his team the exact same objective.
That night as Nate poses as a drunk banging on the gallery doors, the others sneak in. Things go awry when one of the motion sensors goes off, but the guards find a bird loose in the building. They turn the sensors off until they get can get it out. Parker is wondering how the bird got in when she runs into Apollo with a birdcage. Eliot finds Mikel in the basement, and Hardison and Mason start a hacker war, and Starke finds Nate outside with the guards using the name Nathan Ford!
As Eliot and Mikel fight, Apollo goes for the painting, Parker arriving moments later, but she cant get to him because Mason actives the laser grid, and disables Lucille. Everything seems to be falling apart, and just then a cop car pulls up.
- Starke: All out of tricks, Nate?
Sophie: Oh, I think he has one more.
Starke is astonished to see shes not dead. Parker makes it through the lasers and grabs Apollo, and the painting, while Hardison reboots with a hand-cranked generator, and Eliot subdues Mikel. All of them, posing as cops, walk their counterparts out as if arresting them, and take the painting to dust for prints.
Nate and Sophie tell Starke how they initially thought he was the one who set the bomb, but after getting to know his team, they were able to find footage of Mason sneaking into her apartment. Starke isnt too concerned about it, until his car explodes, right about when he was planning to get into it. Mason makes a run for it. Nate and Sophie arrange a trade, Starke's team for the first painting he stole. Theyll even throw in the Van Gogh. Faced with that, or losing his street cred, he agrees.
Nate brings the clients back to the pub, and Starke presents them with their painting, for which they are extremely grateful.After they leave, Starke remarks that the Sohie Devereaux he knew would never do something like that, and Sophie remarks that she died. Starke is still happy that he got what he wanted, but as he leaves it turns out they gave him one of the fakes. Apollo had taken Parkers phone earlier and they were able to use that to locate Starkes hideout.
Meanwhile, Mason is trying to get on a flight out of the country, but theres an issue with his checked baggage, which turns out to be a crate with the real Van Gogh, and four copies. Mason tries to come up with an explanation as the TSA agent simply stares at him.
Sophie is in the graveyard, thinking about who she is, noting that Nates the closest thing shes had to a real friend and he doesnt even know her real name. She needs some time to put them to rest before she can continue.
Tropes stolen in this job:
- Action Girl: Mikel.
- Actor Allusion: The "Kobayashi Maru" handle is a nod to Wil Wheatons work with Star Trek.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Parker and Apollo actually meet up in one.
- Almost Kiss: Between Nate and Sophie right at the end.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: Sophie does this after she survived the bomb attack.
- Badass Israeli: Mikel was part of the Mossad.
- Bilingual Bonus: A good portion of Mikel's dialogue is in Hebrew. Most of it is subtitled, but one line when Starke is briefing his team about the Leverage crew goes untranslated: "You led me right to the hands of Eliot Spencer, you son of a bitch."
- Boobs of Steel: Mikel is Eliots counterpart, and has quite an impressive rack.
- Casual Kink: Mikel doesn't seem particularly upset when she finds that Eliot's taken advantage of the chance to handcuff her to himself while they were kissing. Later on, she holds up the handcuffs suggestively.
- Combat Pragmatist: Chaos knows he isn't a Hitter, so he just sends a bomb to kill Sophie.
- The Dreaded: Sophie for Chaos. The moment he hears Starke is planning on bringing her in, he moves to remove her from play.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ironically its what clued Nate and the rest of the team that he wasn't the one to try to kill Sophie. He, and apparently the rest of the criminal underworld, believe that Leverage is just another crew of criminals and thieves. Even after returning a painting this episode's client had spent decades and seeing the joy it brings them, he stills can't understand why Sophie is doing what she's doing and can only see the laws they broke in order to do it. As he puts, they all 'still thieves.'
- The Guards Must Be Crazy:
- Averted with the the head guard. He immediately stops the auction early when he realizes he lacks his badge. He wants to increase the number of guards tonight, use the lasers and motion detectors, and is willing to call the police for a patrol car watching the place.
- The guard the head employs, however, are this. They just buy that the team are cops and somehow were already inside the building after lockdown without informing them, and they need to take the priceless painting for prints without any paperwork.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Starke's hideout is discovered because Apollo took Parker's phone and they didn't pull out the battery.
- Journey to Find Oneself: Sophie begins hers here.
- Laser Hallway: Part of where the Van Gogh is being kept.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever brought both Mikel (working as a sniper) and Eliot (who was shot by a sniper) to Myanmar in 2003.
- Not So Different: Starke and Nate have a lot of similarities. When Sophie describes the man as a brilliant man whose pride has been hurt and personally challenged, it will lead him to do a bigger, more dangerous con, Eliot asks if she's talking about Starke or Nate. This is referenced by interspersing clips of Nate and Starke giving pretty much the same speech and even putting their suit coat on in the same fashion.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Chaos delivers one to Starke after the doublecross is revealed.Chaos: And by the way, Sophie Devereaux is the one everyone was afraid of!
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Eliot and Mikel go from exchanging blows to making out.
- Shout-Out: Government officials call Mason Kobayashi Maru.
- That Man Is Dead: Sophie says this of her old self.
- Trial Run Crime: Starke's M.O. is after putting a team together, he sends the team out on a practice run before going after his real target. Problem is, for the practice run, Starke's team got the painting the Leverage group was trying to recover. So they have to figure out his real target, steal it before he does, and use it to recover the first painting.
- Token Evil Teammate: Although everyone on Starke's team is the Evil Counterpart, Chaos is the worst. While the rest of the crew are pretty affable after the con, he was planning to double cross the rest of his team and kill Starke. He also tried to kill Sophie.