Remember this picture? That’s what happened the last time that Harry graced Chance and Co. with his presence. Needless to say, his return does not inspire confidence. Just the look on Chance’s face as he waits for Harry at a bar tells us this is not going to go smoothly. Yet does Harry feel the same sense of dread we do? Of course not. That’s because Harry doesn’t know that there’s a guy named Vaughn lurking behind both of them with a gun, and a bomb under Chance’s barstool.
“It all started a few days ago with a client Winston brought in,” Chance tells him, and us.
Flashback time, as Sarah (Nicole Bilderback) comes to the team telling them that her fiancee, Henry Claypool (Michael Massee) is threatening to kill her after she looked at his private files, which contain some nasty information about secret assassinations. Wow, that takes “domestic dispute” to a whole new level. Chance’s plan is to link Claypool to his hit squads by getting their hands on the files in question, but that’s before Winston tells him that the man lives in the Compound To End All Compounds.
In mid-meeting, Ilsa yanks Guerrero out to ask what he’s learned about that picture of her husband and his mistress from last week. “I’ve been doing this a long time, okay? I can read between the lines,” he tells her, after informing her that yes, her husband was an unfaithful bastard. She subsequently invites herself into the meeting and announces that she can get them into the Compound To End All Compounds. “Claypool tried for years to do business with Marshall,” she tells Chance, believing she can use that to get them in the door. Chance accuses her of taking things personally because she’s identifying too much with Sarah, but he has to admit that her idea is reasonable, so he goes with it. I sense a ‘but’ coming…
“The job went south,” he tells Harry back at the bar. “One of the team didn’t make it out.” He tells Harry that Claypool has agreed to an exchange – their team member for the files that they stole from him. That’s why he’s in the bar, but it’s not to execute the exchange; he is the hostage. So how exactly did he end up in this situation? And why is Harry there? At least he’s willing to stay by Chance’s side as payback for all the times Chance has saved his bacon, but he wants to know more.
That means it’s back to the story: Chance arms Ilsa with a drugged bottle of wine to take to her meeting with Claypool. That will help them in getting the password they need from him. “Don’t you think this is a bit of a risky proposition?” Winston says, cynical. Guerrero agrees with him, but Chance insists that he’s retained operational control. Guerrero drives Ilsa to the meeting, with Chance and Ames stuffed into the trunk of the car. In one of those “you cannot be serious” moments, Ames chooses that moment to ask Chance about his dating life and try to set him up with a friend of hers. Thankfully, he blows off that idea before they make their way into the Compound To End All Compounds, just waiting for Ilsa to do her job so they can get into Claypool’s ridiculously bugged office. It’s got a body heat monitor and more lasers than Laser Floyd. Chance tries not to break the furniture while waiting for Ilsa, who decides to start drinking herself if it will convince Claypool to do the same. It’s a completely stupid and yet absolutely necessary move that saves the operation, but means she’s going to get really interesting in time.
Back in the present time, Chance forces Harry to order a bottle of really expensive scotch to go with the martini that he started out with. Harry chooses that moment to ask Chance why Ilsa can go on a mission and he never can. I can’t say I blame the guy for being jealous.
At the Compound To End All Compounds, Claypool figures out that Ilsa has dosed the wine. Since she’s also dosed herself, she’s so talkative that she spills the team’s entire plan to his face. The two of them have a very awkward conversation, forcing Winston to send Guerrero in to help her before she does anything else insane. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ames distracts Chance and he nearly breaks his back thanks to an unsteady table in Claypool’s office. Once Guerrero gets the password from Claypool, he gives it to Chance, who has to wait three more minutes for the files to download. The problem is that they don’t have three minutes, as Vaughn, the head of Claypool’s personal security, is poking around. Ilsa ends up surrendering herself so Guerrero can escort Sarah off the premises. Bristling, Chance decides that he’s going to stay behind to get her out – just before he finally falls and sets off all those lasers. Hey, he stayed up a lot longer than I thought he would.
While a small army begins running around the Compound To End All Compounds, Guerrero, Ames and Sarah make their escape. It’s pretty awesome: while Guerrero drives backwards, Winston literally blows the gate off from the surveillance van. Where’s Chance? Well, he’s singlehandedly decimating anyone who gets in his way with little more than your garden-variety handgun. Unfortunately, it’s all off-screen, so we don’t get to see it. He rescues Ilsa, and the two make an even more unique escape by borrowing a horse. (Horses come in handy. Just ask Peter Burke.) Once he’s sure Ilsa is safely away, Chance gives himself up, hence the hostage part.
At the bar, Harry tells Chance that he believes his judgment has been clouded all along by the presence of Ilsa. He tells his friend that “you’ve got feelings for your boss” and I choke a little, as I am not a fan of that idea. Yet Ilsa arrives and meets with Vaughn and Claypool, giving up the files. Unsurprisingly, things aren’t so easily finished, as Claypool decides he’d rather blow them both up. This is where all the booze comes into play. With Harry stalling for time, Chance slips his handcuffs, turns the bottle of scotch into a stand-in, and does his best to avoid the resulting hail of gunfire. It’s not his best plan, but thankfully, Guerrero is there to put down Vaughn while Winston snags Claypool in the parking lot. How did they get there? Winston sent Harry in the first place, by pretending to be a mystery date, because no one would ever suspect him. Touche, Mr. Winston.
In the closing scene, we discover that Harry had a point: Chance and Ilsa kiss, just as we’re about to reveal that her husband may have been less than she believes. It’s the moment I haven’t been waiting for, but more on that in a moment.
I have to admit that the title of this episode was a little misleading; I was pretty sure that this was going to see Harry drag Chance into another ridiculous situation, yet that’s not what unfolds at all. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; on one hand I wonder what that episode might have been like, but this one’s not half bad. Michael Massee has always made a great bad guy, and this episode is no exception. The action sequences continue to be fun to watch (though I would have loved to see Chance take on that horde of poor security guys).
The one complaint I have with this episode has been the same one I’ve had all year – the new characters end up detracting from the story. It’s a bit laughable how Ames decides mid-mission to start asking Chance about his love life, and while Ilsa was entertaining to watch in the more humorous moments, the idea of feelings for her being the reason why our hero is distracted is simply another reminder of why I dislike the idea of him in a relationship with Ilsa in the first place. (Not to mention, do we have to trash her husband’s memory to do it? It seems odd that he has to become a potential villain at the same time that they get together. I suppose we’ll see next week.) To me, a romantic subplot muddles the show the same way that particular element muddled this mission. It may just be me, but I like my action without romance. It’s now canon that the show is going that direction, however, so we’re just going to have to deal with it. Much like with Justified, I refuse to let one subplot I dislike ruin my overall enjoyment of a great series.
For tidbits and trivia from this episode, check out this week’s installment of The Human Target File.