Leverage, Season Two (2009)


Ironically TNT’s Leverage has quickly become a favorite television show of mine. It doesn’t require a great deal of thought and that is part of what makes it so much fun. My idea of entertainment means watching something that won’t make me more aware of life’s heartaches but rather make us forget them for a couple of hours. That is what this show accomplishes – while still incorporating some poignant truths.

When your headquarters are blown to bits, it has a way of changing the dynamics in a team – even a group of thieves. As a result the Leverage team has disbanded. Six months later, the mastermind Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is listlessly going on various job interviews that will now seem mundane compared to the good works he was doing with the band of thieves that he was “forced” into leading. The one good thing that has come from Nate’s re-building his life is that he finally stopped drinking. Now, after walking out on a job interview, he is about to give in to that addiction until he spots a car careening out of control, flip on its top and crash with its two occupants inside. Frantically, he rescues the father and daughter only to learn from the young girl that the accident wasn’t that – the car was tampered with. Feeling a pull to help the pair, Nate shows up at aspiring actress Sophie’s latest show. What he gets instead in a reuniting of the entire team.

Eliot (Christian Kane) has been travelling in his downtime, Parker (Beth Riesgraf) pulled a couple of jobs and then put the item back (just for the “fun” of it)… and Hardison (Aldis Hodge), he spent much of his time searching for Parker while hacking into the White House email in his spare time – and it was all just great… or maybe not. Each of them readily admits they have been bored stiff since disbanding – except for Nate. He loves his life and is only interested in continuing to re-build it following the death of his son. The four of them have other ideas though. When Nate awakens in his apartment the next day, he finds Parker hanging over him eating his cereal in a nun habit, Sophie (Gina Bellman) walking around like she just got home in his shirt, and the guys already piecing together Nate’s heroic act – and a new job. The group knows Nate well enough to know he won’t walk away from helping these people whose accident wasn’t what it seemed, especially when Nate is made aware of the state police’s involvement.

Season two immediately gets off to a much better start than the freshman season’s pilot episode. Already writers drew us in more in the first ten minutes than they did in the first three shows of the former season – don’t misunderstand, the first season is a LOT of fun, just not the cleverest thing out there. The characters were much stronger and already I could tell that the writers had a better grip on balancing the sometimes dubious task of humor and grim topics. What Leverage isn’t all that good at – simply because that isn’t what the show caters to, is special effects. In the season-opener, there is a horrific car crash that requires the car to flip through the air and I remember saying, “that was fake-looking!” Since that isn’t meant to be the shows strong points, viewers can give it a pass. 

My favorite episodes include: “The Top Hat Job,” which is a fabulously fresh twist on the show that really shows off the characters personalities while “The Two Live Crew Job” ends on an exceptionally tender feeling – and features the gang coming face-to-face with their own, less redeemable shelves. This season had plenty of room for change and improvement and fortunately it lives up to those expectations. Sophie disappears for about half the season in order to “find herself” (the actress was pregnant) and is, unfortunately, a real jerk in the interim. She has valid points as regards Nate’s sometimes irresponsible choices, but she also is being really selfish. Nate might be rash and, it is unfortunate that he is an alcoholic but at least he is truly interested in working for the greater good. The season ender is fabulous but the fact that everyone is mad at Nate for his gesture of trust – a “noble” one at that, makes me quite annoyed because no one seems to be happy with Nate even what he finally does what they wanted him to all along! I missed Sophie, but also enjoyed the addition of a new character, Tara for those episodes: she is much tougher than Sophie but still just as funny. Another thing that comes about as a result of Sophie’s absence is seeing Parker forced to play the grifter – in such cases she has to actually be a “girl,” dress up and flirt. If you “know” Parker, you know how entertaining such a thing is.

It might not be as clever as The Closer nor as well executed but the show is intriguing – just with a unique flair that is all its own. Don’t underestimate this series.

(Cautions: aside from a few minor swear words – h*ll, sh*t and bas*ard, nothing much is bothersome. There are a few sexual innuendoes and Eliot engages in some hand-to-hand fighting. Discussion revolves around alcoholism. The show is rated TVPG.)
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