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Leverage 5×14 The Toy Job Recap and Review

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 12/19/2012

Leverage 5x14Leverage 5×14 The Toy Job Recap and Review


Leverage 5×14, The Toy Job, Summary: “The Leverage crew targets an unethical CEO who is planning to sell a dangerous toy to the public.”


Leverage 5×14 opens in a darkened office at 3: AM. The computer screen reads e_marris and awaits a password. The password is entered incorrectly three times and then an alert sounds. The man at the computer opens a safe and removes a black brief case, then hides against the wall as security approaches. The security guard is redirected to an intruder in risk management and he heads down the hallway. The thief slips out and heads the other way.


In the Leverage bar, Marris shows the team a Chubby Snubby dog; the result of years of research and product development. The problem is that the toy is a level 3 choking hazard. When Marris refused to cook the books, the CEO of Poggio Toys fired him. If the nose comes off of the dog and a child swallows it, the nose will swell to the size of a pomegranate.  Trent Haslett buried the report and plans to release the toy in three days.


Hardison gives the team the low down on Trent Haslett; an ex-arms dealer. Eliot hates arms dealers. After taking over Poggio Toys, Haslett shipped manufacturing overseas. Nate feels this is an easy case and sends Parker in to steal the report. They’ll release the safety study and that will be the end of Chubby Snubby.


As Parker breaks in and downloads the data from Poggio’s computer database Nate and Sophie discuss Christmas presents. Nate says the team went overboard last year; no presents this year. Parker is not happy and voices her opinion. Sophie thinks they should just put a limit. Nate Vetoes $1000, and $100, but he gives a nod to $50 per person.


The report is of no help; apparently Haslett had someone else evaluate the toy and got a 5 star rating. Marris says the Consumer Product Safety Commission is honest, but submission is voluntary. Many toy companies won’t risk using the government agency because if there’s a problem, it goes public.


Marris is about to give up, but Nate says it’s not over yet. Eliot contradicts him after Marris leaves; without the report they have nothing. Nate says the Leverage team won’t let that toy get released; “We’re gonna steal Christmas.”


Sophie and Nate discuss possible plays; The Trojan Horse won’t work, Sophie says. Nate says they will bait Haslett with a new hit toy. Hardison shows them his research and they choose the “Whirlie Glee Glee” which is a failed toy that ships to Africa in 39 hours. Nate explains that a toy craze is just a con; convincing a kid that they need something they never knew they wanted.


Parker breaks into the warehouse and looks for the toy, but while she’s there, the box next to it catches her eye. Hardison says that no child should be subjected to “Baby Joy Rage” a doll with two faces. The head spins from happy to a creepy “rage” face.  Eliot contends that anything can be sold. Personally, the rage face reminds me of a Chucky doll; I wouldn’t want it in my house so I understand why Hardison doesn’t want it in his van!


Sophie says that any toy can make billions, if it has the right buzz. If any of you have a toy in mind, the Leverage team is about to show you how to get rich off of it! Haslett is on his way into the toy show, talking to his aide about his J.I. C. app; a Jubilation Index Calculator. Take a picture of any toy and it will rate the marketability.


Nate instructs Sophie to bid on Haslett’s usual shelf space with “Joylandia” and she does. Hardison comments that Haslett will just outbid them but Nate says this was just to get on Haslett’s radar. Next comes the hard part; get the kids of America to love the toy they never wanted.


Back at Leverage headquarters, Hardison shows Nate an algorithm of the most influential areas to release the toy and start a grass roots craze. The plan is to rent a booth and sell the toy, but Nate has a better idea. At the farmer’s market, Eliot mans a booth and gives the toys away for free. Hardison is disturbed, calling this the drug dealer approach. Nate says the first taste is free; word spreads. Now they need a celebrity to endorse the toy.


Hardison is ready with the most popular choice; Sandy Mateo has a major fan base. Sophie distracts Mateo by talking about their large hand bags and while Sandy’s head is turned, Sophie places the doll in her bag. Sandy is soon smiling and laughing as Hardison takes pictures of her with the doll in her bag. He posts them to major blogs and celebrity Twitter accounts.


The next step is to make it feel like no mom or dad can get their hands on the toy. Sophie employs her acting class to call stores and beg for the toy. Zachery is fumbling the call, so she gives him some advice on motivation. We don’t want the toy for our kids; we want the toy for the moments of peace while our children play with the toy. Sadly, this is probably very close to the truth; but a bit cynical. I mean, I know I used to love the look on my kids’ faces when they got what they wanted for Christmas.


Haslett reacts by demanding a meeting with Joylandia’s Gil Barton and the Baby Joy Rage media saturation numbers, from his aide. In the meantime, Hardison has those numbers and they aren’t good; only 62% and they need at least 89%.


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When Eliot blames the problems on Parker’s choice, she defends herself, saying the doll spoke to her. It reminded her of exercises her social worker put her through. Nate asks her to elaborate and comes up with the next part of the marketing plan. You can’t con a 6 year old; you have to con their parents. He puts Hardison on a lecture and Eliot on the Moms. Yeah, they went there. I’ll let you moms visualize that.


The team will capitalize on a parents’ biggest fear; that their kids won’t be successful. Now they need a new name for the toy; “Baby Feels A Lot.”  Since Nate explained how to con the parents into thinking their kids need the ‘developmental’ toy, she feels guilty.  He explains that all companies do it; the consumers are programmed to buy the hottest gifts.


Eliot films the very compelling speech that Hardison makes for Baby Feels A Lot. Alec says he’ll add an audience and upload the video to blogger moms. Chardonnay Mom is in PDX and if she endorses the toy it will go viral. Now it’s time to develop Eliot’s character in all of this; a blogger dad. He wants to be a tough dad; one that can make peanut butter and jelly and then go work in the yard. Strict, but fair; he warns Hardison not to go overboard.


In the park, Eliot meets with some blogger moms and holds the Baby Feels A Lot doll. He tells a moving story about when his wife died and he and his son Daschle couldn’t communicate any more.  Even though he didn’t like his son playing with a doll, it got them talking again, so he had to tell others and that’s why he started his blog. Chardonnay Mom gets all the blogger moms to help promote the toy.


Sophie and Haslett exchange barbs as he goes for a meeting with Gil Barton of Joylandia; but when Barton arrives Sophie cons her way into speaking to him first. Meanwhile, back at the Leverage office, Eliot is furious with the blog Hardison created. It’s too unrealistic; but when Eliot finds out what Chardonnay Mom says about him, he smiles like a little boy. Hardison says the saturation index is ticking up, because he did his job. (Okay, so if you have a toy to sell, now you have all the right stuff to do it!)


Back at the toy show, Gil is inviting Sophie to the company retreat in Tahoe. Haslett is really upset as she says “See you in Tahoe next year” upon leaving.  He accuses Barton of selling his premium shelf space to her. Barton blusters that Haslett needs to cool off. Haslett confronts Sophie and shows her the ace up his sleeve; behind door number one is $80K, in a folder he has pictures from Barton’s vacation in Cabo, something Barton’s wife won’t want to see.


Sophie returns to the Leverage office and lets Nate in on the blackmail scheme. Hardison is way ahead because parents make 52% of their purchases online; they just need to increase on line appeal. He decides to go in as the owner of Lucky Beans Toys, Earl Gripehall, the creator of Baby Feels A Lot.


Hardison admits that he and Parker both agree that what they’re doing here is wrong. They are destroying the meaning of Christmas. Nate tells him how Christmas began, even as Sophie says no; it began as a pagan Roman feast involving the sacrifice of children. Hardison feels as if he’s been beaten up and asks Sophie if he’s bleeding.


Haslett is seething as Baby Feels A Lot goes viral and he tells his aide to get him a meeting with the “Baby Feels so Hot” woman. Over drinks, Trent tells Sophie that he underestimated the toy. He wants to buy it; she agrees to set him up with Gripehall for a fee, a half a percent and an executive position with Poggio toys.


Nate plays the eccentric toy owner well, and refuses to sell the doll he created because of his problem son, Nestor. On the way to the parking garage, Sophie assures Haslett that Gripehall will sell if he makes a big enough offer.  Trent asks for a sample of the doll so he can run a safety study. He puts a rush on the order and turns his credentials, signature and medallion over demanding a twelve hour turn around.


The next day, Haslett meets Sophie for cocktails and she says she has a number for him, but he turns the tables. He tells her that he’s going to announce a knock off at his Chubby Snubby launch; Baby Happy Man. He’ll sell the toy for 40% less and run her doll off the market.


Haslett rehearses his speech as his aide joins him just before the launch of Chubby Snubby. A group of reporters approach to ask questions but he says to save them for after the celebration. They ask how he can view the Chubby Snubby recall as a celebration. A government study was released recalling the toy. Haslett doesn’t understand, but we are treated to a flashback. In his office, it is Hardison who receives the documents and medallion. He takes those, along with Chubby Snubby, to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and asks for the most rigorous testing. Eliot gives a copy of the report to Chardonnay Mom, who agrees that everyone should know about this.


Haslett doesn’t know who did this to him; then he looks up; Sophie and Nate catch his eye from the door.

Back at the Leverage bar, Marris is congratulated for helping bring Haslett down; there’s also a job waiting for him as a research analyst for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.


As the team discusses the toy and Christmas, Sophie comes up with the perfect gift they can give each other: trust. The team has been through so much over the years; she says they should each tell a story or a secret. Parker wants Eliot to go first, but he shakes his head no. Nate volunteers a story from his childhood.


“When I was a kid, I wanted a trumpet.” Nate begins. He says that his dad was a Sinatra fan, and Sinatra’s trumpet player was Harry Sweets Edison. Nate wanted to be able to play like him. When Christmas rolled around, there was no trumpet, just a pack of baseball cards. His dad said that Santa must have had a bad year at the track. A few days later, Nate woke up to find a battered trumpet at the foot of his bed. He said his dad probably rolled someone for it. Nate played that trumpet every day for ten years, although he never got as good as Sweets. “So I gave it to Sam on his 8th birthday. His first lesson was scheduled for, as it turned out, the day he went in the hospital. I don’t have anything left from my childhood, but I keep the trumpet. I keep it on the boat.” Nate takes a drink and asks “Who’s next?”


I know that all of us had a Christmas where we didn’t get what we asked for. Many of us made sure that we gave our kids better years than we had; but then something happens and we can’t. Maybe each of us needs a holiday when we don’t get what we want. I can’t think of a single person I know who can’t come up with a holiday disappointment; so how about you?


Follow Faye Constantino on her blog or e-mail her at


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