|“||You're good at your job but you can't con a mountain.||”|
— Eliot Spencer, to Nate Ford
Season premiere. From TNT: To take down a corrupt financier, the LEVERAGE team must recover lost evidence high up on a mountain, racing hired guns and killer weather.
Investment manager and expert climber Alan Scott (Eric Stoltz) goes missing while climbing on Mt. Kibari in Alaska, after sending an video message to his widow, Karen (Haley Talbot). Soon after, there is a break-in at their home, and the e-mail on their computer is wiped clean. Scott had affiliated his company, which made loans to help small businesses, with Merced Financial Services. Shortly before his disappearance, Scott had grown suspicious of Merced's financial dealings, and had begun gathering evidence Merced was engaged in mortgage fraud.
Scott's widow, Karen, requests the team find Scott and the small notebook with evidence against Merced that he was carrying. Karen Scott is also an expert climber, but was unable to accompany Scott on his final climb with John Drexel (Cameron Daddo), president of Merced Financial Services. She believes there may be some connection between Drexel and her husband's death.
John Drexel, president of Merced Financial Services. Drexel likes to live large, racing cars and climbing being two of his favorite activities. Drexel, who is Australian, has organized a memorial climb to honor Alan Scott's memory, which give the team access to him. On the surface, Drexel appears to be a loyal friend mourning the loss of a colleague, but the presence of Japanese businessmen at the climb suggests he has another agenda.
- The climb base camp, which includes a hospitality tent with food, drinks and television. The major players in the climb gather there while they wait for a blizzard to pass. The camp also has a communications tent with tracking equipment and internet connectivity to a cut-off point up the mountain, which Hardison uses as his base of operations.
- The high camp, a small tent maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, which contains sleeping bags, oxygen and medical equipment.
The Search for Alan ScottEdit
The team gathers at the base camp for a memorial climb on Mt. Kibari, Alaska in Alan's honor. Nate and Hardison set up in the climb base camp's communications tent, which is maintained by the U.S Meteorological Survey. Nate dispatches Eliot and Parker to Scott's last-known position on the mountain, in search of the notebook. While they climb, Hardison must monitor both their progress and Sophie's activities at the base camp.
Carrying trackers, Parker and Eliot set off up the mountain, following the route they know Alan Scott took. Also on the mountain is Dimitri, a Russian former Spetsnaz (Russian special forces) agent Drexel has sent to find the notebook. Complicating matters further is the arrival of Karen Scott, who joins Nate and Hardison in the communications tent, and who is determined to find Alan herself. Nate works with Hardison to direct the mission while staying out of sight.
Parker and Eliot's progress is slow and difficult, leading Karen to slyly take a spare tracker and set out up the mountain while Nate and Hardison are distracted. Nate soon realizes she is gone, and leaves to find her, catching up with her at the high camp. Now suffering from altitude sickness and out of tracker range, Nate talks with Karen, and persuades her to return to the base camp. As they do, Parker and Eliot arrive at Alan's last known location, where they fall through a hole in the snow into a small cave, which absorbs the signal from their trackers. Hardison and Sophie must try to remain calm with no signals coming from Nate, Parker or Eliot's trackers.
In the cave, Parker and Eliot find Alan's body, along with the notebook and his cell phone, which contains two videos. Parker, moved at the thought of his dying alone and in the cold, tells Eliot they have to take his body back to his wife. Eliot is more pragmatic and realizes, after an equipment failure, that they have just enough rope to get themselves out. He talks gently to Parker, reminding her that she, like he, is able to make hard choices when she has to. They review the video, which they see is important, then leave the cave. Once out, they contact a relieved Hardison, but are unable to transmit the video until they are at a lower altitude.
Parker and Eliot arrive at the high camp to find a snowmobile parked nearby, rousing Eliot's suspicion. As he checks the tent, Dimitri jumps out of the snow and grabs Parker, demanding the notebook. Eliot surrenders it, assuring Dimitri it's all they have. Dimitri burns the notebook, then leaves them at the high camp, to return to the base camp on foot.
Three climbing teams enjoy drinks and conversation at the base camp while they wait for the blizzard to to clear. Sophie arrives at the base camp and with Karen's help, sets about sizing up the various groups, which include high financiers from Germany and Japan, along with Drexel's Australian team. In order to get close to Drexel, she adopts the personna of Mina, a Frenchwoman who she leads Drexel to believe he met while drunk at a previous climb.
While Parker and Eliot make their ascent to the top, Sophie and Hardison monitor Drexel's texts to the Japanese team. As Hardison feeds her financial data on the teams, Sophie soon realizes a covert buy-out of Merced Financial Services is underway, allowing Drexel to bury records of his financial misdeeds in a Japanese conglomerate. Sophie approaches the German team leader as an unnamed British businesswoman, leaking Drexel's buy-out plan to them. With the word of the buy-out making the rounds of the teams, Drexel's stock prices begin to rise. As they do, Sophie introduces herself to the head of the Japanese team as reporter for the London Examiner inquiring about the buy-out. The Japanese realize their secret is out, and withdraw from the deal.
Drexel confronts Sophie, who he realizes behind whatever has caused the activity surrounding his company, and the Japanese pull-out. As he does, Karen and Nate arrive; Sophie cues Nate, who is suffering from altitude sickness, to play the role of "Ivan" in the (fictional) Moscow Circus Con. Nate, pretending to be another potential buyer, confronts Drexel with the evidence he claims he can produce. Nate heads for the communications tent to wait for Parker and Eliot, but on the way, is confronted by Drexel, who calls his bluff.
Believing he has won, Drexel quickly rebuilds the deal with the Japanese, throwing a smug salute to Nate as Karen walks in. As she does, Alan's voice can be heard in the background as the video on the phone Parker and Eliot found begins to transmit. In a flashback, we see Parker slip the phone into the one of Dimitri's pockets, knowing he will get it down the mountain faster than they can. On the video, Alan unravels Drexel's plot, including his having cut the ropes that would have allowed Alan to be rescued. Drexel and Dimitri are arrested, as the group silently listens to Alan's final message to his wife.
- The exterior base camp, high camp and climbing scenes were filmed over three days in February 2011. The cast and crew filmed at an altitude of 7000-8000' on Mt. Hood, Oregon, doing the majority of climbing themselves. Over the course of the three days, nearly 60" of snow fell, and the team filmed in blizzard conditions.
- The action in this episode takes place less than two weeks after the events in San Lorenzo. This is a departure from the usual practice of running the team's time frame in real time.
- The structure of this episode differs from most in that the majority of the action follows Parker and Eliot's search for Alan Scott, while Sophie must run a con largely single-handedly to learn more about Drexel's activities.
- Leverage writer Joe Hortua, who is an expert climber, first proposed a story set during a climb.
- Hardison discovers Nate's dining room is bugged, leading the team to realize they have a new, mysterious enemy
- When Nate says to the team "Let's go steal a mountain.", the team points out he said the same thing in "The Snow Job".
- Eliot claims he can identify Russian special forces (Spetnaz) by their "distinctive" footprint, another application of that Leverage in-joke.
- At the end of the episode Nate and Sophie discuss their one night stand and mutually decide to pretend it never happened, then agree not to mention it.
- The Team searches for a man named Alan Scott. Alan Scott is also the name of the first Green Lantern. Hardison is a fan of the Green Lantern and has a Green Lantern action figure.