Soft Target is the sixth episode of the second season, and the nineteenth episode overall. It was released on November 4, 2005.
When a death results from an anti-terrorism exercise Don and his team are called in, but they end up butting heads with the leader of the unit who refuses to halt further training exercises. Back at home, Alan has volunteered the house for the wedding of a girl both Charlie and Don had a crush on in high school.
At a subway station people are going about their day. A train comes to the station and people file on. The alarm goes off. Men run away and are pursued. It was a training exercise to stop a serine attack. They go to run it again when the alarm goes off again. The people in the train are being attacked with some form of gas. They finally get the doors open and people pour out.
Don and Megan meet James Grace from Homeland Security, the man running the drill. It is the first in a series. He brings them up to speed. The gas was phosgene. Some people were hospitalised, but are ok. James’ boss, Peter Houseman, is introduced. He ignores Don’s recommendation that they put the other drills on hold. He doesn’t think that a terrorist will target drills.
Don shows up at the Eppes’ house looking for Charlie. Alan is on the phone ordering chairs and an arbour. Val Eng, an old friend of Don’s from high school comes downstairs. Alan is letting them have the wedding at the house. Both Eppes’ boys had asked her to the prom in high school.
Charlie and Larry are in the backyard. Don joins them. They have made a tiny robot to pull Larry’s Roadster. I manages to pull it a few feet before it gives out. Don asks about the attack. Megan, David, and Colby are going through the trash. They find a uniform, a gas mask, and an empty can of coffee. Charlie recognises the type of can. It has an internal heating system that makes it the perfect delivery system for phosgene as it’s a stable liquid when cool, but when it’s heated it becomes a deadly gas. Charlie was able to figure out the release point of the gas from the first responder data. It was in the centre as it allows for the greatest dispersion. The suspect mixed the phosgene with something to make it non-lethal so they know that they could have killed people if they wanted to, but simply chose not to. They think the next strike could have real casualties. Don goes to Houseman to try to stop the drills. He won’t budge.
Charlie and Larry bring case files to the house. Alan tries to get Charlie to help him setup for the wedding, but Charlie is too busy. Alan reveals that Don and Charlie had a fist fight over taking Val to the prom back in the day.
David and Colby ID the suspect as Roger Holstein, a former member of the Special Forces. He was a Counter-Terror Team Operative (CTTO). They stage mock attacks for military and law enforcement personnel training. Since he became a civilian he’s been doing the same work, freelance. His last job was at a chemical company. Megan realises that he wasn’t working alone. The last job that Holstein was hired for was also worked by Glen Nash, another former CTTO. He was able to steal a submarine from a naval base with seven guys, capabilities that puts he team on edge.
David and Colby talk to Nash’s sister. She doesn’t know where he is or where he went the last time he was in town. They impress on her their need to talk to him.
Charlie is looking at the subway diagrams from the crime scene. Don tells him that they think they have to catch Nash in the act. Charlie needs data from the upcoming drills to make a hypothesis as to which one(s) would be most likely to be attacked. They discuss the wedding and Alan’s zeal at helping make it happen. This opens old wounds. It turns out they both kind of resented each other in their senior year as there was a five-year age gap and they graduated in the same class. They get back to the case.
Megan and David look at who else may be on the team targeting the drills. Colby thinks he may know why they’re doing so. When stationed at a secure base in Iraq, Nash lost two men to terrorists while on the base. Megan thinks he sees the same holes in security here as there were there and wants to call attention to them.
Nash’s team fell off the grid after their last job. Don wants the sister put under surveillance in case he shows up. Grace drops off the information that Charlie needs. He also gives him threatening letters from Nash.
Larry looks over Charlie’s work – it’s a seating map for the wedding. They shift to talking about the case and then to Charlie and Don’s prom fight, giving Charlie a brainwave for the case. CTTOs usually get to pick their own assignments and Nash would always pick the most difficult ones, showing a pattern that he can work with to determine a target.
David and Colby find out the rest of the team worked everyday jobs to get by. They think that they may have taken some things from these jobs to help them in their CT work. Charlie runs in with a potential answer to their problem. Houseman thinks that this briefing is a waste of his time, but sits through it. Charlie thinks that Nash’s next target is City Hall. Houseman gets a call – there has been a breach at the DHS office. They go check it out. Houseman wants everywhere searched. They try to figure out why Nash brought them all here. They realise they are being watched them through hacked security cameras.
Colby finds out that things were stolen from the other jobs that his team worked at. They’re all things used in bomb making. Houseman still won’t stop the drills right away. Instead he ends up postponing them until Nash is found. They try to figure out why he rolled over as quickly as he did.
Don and Charlie talk at the dining room table about their high school experiences. They discuss the case again. Charlie tells Don that he doesn’t think that the true target was the exercises. In his past, Nash always went for hard targets, but the subway and DHS office were soft targets, going against his MO.
Don, Megan, and David go over the surveillance footage from DHS with a focus on Houseman. He looked at a computer screen and was obviously upset. The message was ‘Over 1900 K.I.A. You’re going to burn.’ They are going to get Houseman into protective custody, but he hasn’t been seen all day. Colby enters with the news that Nash was seen at his sister’s house. They head out. Nash’s sister is coming home. Don sends David and Colby to make sure she stays safe as they breach. They want to know Houseman and the bomb are.
Don and Megan interrogate him back at the FBI office. He claims to not know anything about this most recent op and that if he were running it he wouldn’t have been caught by the FBI at his sister’s. David and Colby talked to Nash’s sister. He had been in Mexico at drug rehab for the last month. He couldn’t have run the operation after Houseman. Megan thinks that Grace could be the person they’re after due to his past in the Gulf War and that he pointed them in Nash’s direction. Houseman was spotted with Grace on the top level of a parkade. He has Houseman strapped to a bomb. Megan realises that Grace is running a drill on Houseman and that the bomb isn’t real. He wants him to know the fear the men that were killed felt. They arrest Grace after removing the fake bomb.
It’s Val’s big day and the wedding is just about to start. Val pokes her head out to thank the Eppes family. Bree, Val’s beautiful cousin approaches Charlie and asks for somebody to escort her to a seat. After some light ribbing, Alan lets Don know that he is going to be going on a date with the caterer...who has a daughter.
In military terms, an easy kill, often a non-combatant or almost. The lack of defense implies a limited value to the enemy.
- John Heard (the head Homeland Security agent) played a character with the same first name as his character here (Peter) in both Home Alone and Home Alone 2.
[This appears on the beginning of the episode] 28350 Chatter Intercepts, 15000 Soft Target, 11 Anti-Terror Exercises, 1 Mistake