Leverage, Season One (2007)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

He has helped people for years reclaim their prized possessions and when it turns out he is the one needing assistance, there is none to be found. 

Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) stood by while his young, eight-year-old son lay dying, suffering through medical procedures, and when an experimental treatment did finally come along the insurance company refused payment. As a former insurance investigator, Nate knows the system, but he cannot forgive the corporate company who let his son die. When he is approached to steal top-secret airplane specs by a man who claims they are legitimately his designs but were stolen, Nate is doubtful about the role he is to play in working the thief scene – but an opportunity to hurt the insurance company who took his son makes it an interesting offer. Turns out he is to play leader to three well-known thieves – some of whom Nate previously chased in relation to various insurance claims and investigations. There is the techno genius Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) and weapons and hand-to-hand combat expert Eliot (Christian Kane)… and then, there is Parker (Beth Riesgraf). Parker is all heart but completely insane, so much so that she actually likes jumping off buildings and doesn’t like to spend money but instead she likes just having money. With that, the team is in place, the plans are stolen back and all that’s left is the pay-off… right? Wrong. That payment never does come along. Instead, the four of them realize they were played (and nearly killed), and decide to con the man who hired them as a means of satisfaction.

Since they cannot get close to their mark without being made, they must bring in a fifth member. Enter grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman). An art thief whom Nate once chased after (professionally) – she is a really terrible actress until it counts: she knows how to work a mark. With their team complete, all that is left is the perfect set-up. It comes off without a hitch and when the one-time job gives each of them a sense of pleasure, they all come to agree that unconventional methods to help the good guys is more rewarding – they provide leverage.

The pilot of this show is… silly, wacky and not all that intelligent. Even I’ll confess that I wasn’t all that fascinated by it as an intelligent series like I normally would be – but it was way fun. Usually a pilot will tell me a lot more about just how well I am going to ultimately like the show. It had a slapstick way of introducing the players which does remind one of Ocean’s Eleven to some extent. All of that quickly vanishes in the second episode with “The Homecoming Job” (it was just wonderful). Said episode is a tribute to American soldiers and comes off without being too political (although it is to a degree), then there is “The Wedding Job” that delves into the meanings of love, and with that sets a pattern for individual episodes (i.e. “The Snow Job” sees Nate tackling demons). As a pattern, the show kind of tackles addiction and emotional life issues as a background story to each job. And, then there are the characters; let’s look at them each individually (L to R), shall we…

Eliot: here is a guy who knows how to properly use his hands as weapons of self defense! (And, gosh, doesn’t he even look fierce!?) Sometimes it might seem like that is all he is good at, but the further the show goes, the more we learn his skill set isn’t limited to one thing. When I was first getting to “know” Eliot, he seemed the one least likely to have much of a past but I wound up being terribly mistaken. As it would happen, parts of his past turn out to be kind of clich├ęd, but he has a soft spot for mistreated kids.

Sophie: little do we know much about Sophie when Nate first suggests bringing her into the fold… however it does not take long for us to realize she is a terrible actress except when it counts. She is a hopeless romantic and her part of the job often involves charming whatever scumbag Leverage is currently conning out of millions of dollars. It is her relationship with Nate where she stumbles, sometimes faltering in the next move…

Nate: here is the boss man. Nate is the brains, the thinker with the most logic in this band of thieves. Most the time, one or all of his team wants to become involved with a job that requires them to be thinking with their hearts, not head – they become caught up in the emotion, wanting to help someone in situations where there is too much of a danger to the rest of the team. It isn’t that Nate is heartless (he isn’t), he simply wants to make a plan before charging in as a “white knight.” The demons in his past are a really sore subject for Nate, and it is often Sophie who gets through to him.

Parker: she is just hilarious. I am not even sure how to describe her. She bluntly lays out what is on her mind with no chit-chat or softening of the blow. In that way, we perhaps can all learn a little something from her by being honest but there is something to be said for being a generous human being who always tries to find something pleasant to say even when you do not agree with certain topics.  In Parker’s defense, she kind of does have an “excuse” for such a friendless personality – it stems from a rotten past.

Alec: oh, the computer genius! Alec or as he is more fondly known, “Hardison” is the funny-guy of the group. He is the one most often telling everyone to be “cool,” to just let go of any heated arguments that might arise. He is also the guy who is constantly reminding Nate to listen to the people around him, to not be so quick to dismiss the rest of the team when they have an idea or find a person in need of help – especially when it comes to Parker; the two of them easily relate to each other.

And through all their faults, everyone is equally likable. I think the show knows it’s funny and plays up that allotment during the forty some minutes because it can. If we can recognize that, and simply sit back and relax, I think this is an awesome show. It isn’t always as intellectual or as complicated as some of its fellow competitors, but its good clean fun. And with me, that is worth a lot. Bring on the popcorn!

(Cautions: there is some scattered swearing, maybe a few innuendoes. A few tense situations unfold; some weapons are fired, but nothing terrible.)


  1. I LOVE HARDISON. And Eliot. The whole team, really. :)

  2. I think the whole team is awesome, Ruth... but I do love Eliot. And Parker. And Hardison. They are like Nate's "kids" who are constantly squabbling at the dinner table. Sophie once telling Nate that she is the only one who actually likes him? Yeah, that just doesn't jive with me. =)


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