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Leverage: The Top Five List Job

September 9, 2010

Leverage ended its current season last Sunday with a thrilling, funny episode entitled “The Morning After Job”. There are three long months before the series returns for another round of fun, smart heists. In the meantime here are my top five favorite “Jobs”.

5. The Nigerian Job

    One of the things Leverage does exceptionally well is taking a trope – in this case the “Nigerian” scam artist – and turns it on its head, with smarts and generous amounts of non preachy, fist pumping, “screw you, bigots!!!”. The other notable thing about Leverage is I watched it from its pilot episode (this one) and was immediately hooked. This is pretty rare for me. Most shows have such shaky, stagey, slapdash pilot, crammed with everything producers think you have to know in case the damn show gets shitcanned (which is probably a reality in most cases) that pilot episodes aren’t generally very watchable. Even great shows. Ever tried sitting through the first ep of The X-Files? Shaky special effects, the characters screaming story arc exposition at each other and lots of painfully miscast extras are a few of the horrors awaiting you if you happen to catch that ep of the X-files. Not the case with Leverage! This show came out SWINGING. First up to bat, the great character actor Saul Rubinek in a wonderfully against type role. Brilliant stroke of casting! Had me invested because I am familiar with Rubinek’s numerous nice guy roles. This was followed by exposition unfolding in a leisurely and highly entertaining pace and concludes with a surprising, yet inevitable resolution. Not to mention the first instance of Sophie’s (Gina Bellman) preternatural command of accents.

4. The Bank Shot Job

    This was the episode where I realized how brilliant Timothy Hutton’s portrayal of Nathan Ford was. I hadn’t much cared for Tim’s endless portrayals of hustlers and jerks in the early 90s, so I was nervous about investing in a show which seemed to offer more of the same. But I gave it a chance and was thoroughly rewarded for my devotion. His acting abilities were never in questions; he’s still one of the finest actors of his generation. More often than not, Nate Ford is the master of hats. I mean, all he needs to effective evoke a different persona is some kind of hat! He puts on a hat and suddenly he’s a trash talking braggart. Anyway, the team finds their heist interrupted by a bank robbery, which provides the team with countless opportunities for hilarity – particularly Parker and Hardison. The best moments involve Parker and Hardison masquerading as FBI agents “Elmore” and “Leonard”.

3. The Mile High Job

    Hardison (Aldis Hodge) stays up all night playing WOW and ends up missing out on the big heist? Or does he? This was my favorite episode when I first started watching the show and I hadn’t seen season two. Everything about this episode works, particularly the guest appearance of Sara Rue! Hardison nearly owns the episode with his, “For the horde!” fist bump with a faux coworker, but it’s Parker-as-an-airhostess rant that makes me shoot diet coke out of my nose, if I happen to be drinking it while watching:

    “In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. But let’s face it, if this thing goes down in the water, more than likely the impact will kill you. Please take a moment to locate the nearest emergency exits; if this plane’s on fire, you’re gonna want to get out quick. Jet fuel burns at over 1,000 degrees — that’s hot, folks.”

2. The Inside Job

    “The Inside Job” boasts a glorious guest appearance by Mr. Thornbirds, himself – Richard Chamberlain – as Parker’s father figure and mentor. The episode is also notable for being one of the better episodes involving cons gone wrong. There are few episodes, which utilize this trope with varying degrees of success, the worst being an episode in season 3 called The Gone-Fishing Job, which also has the dubious distinction of being my absolute least favorite episode of the series. Well, “The Inside Job” is nothing like that one and strikes the right balance between comedy and dramatic tension. I could watch this episode over and over and to be honest, I almost never remember the con at the center of it or what I’m sure is a killer reversal of fortune.

1. Three Days of the Hunter Job

    Of course the episode evoking my favorite Sydney Pollack film Three Days of the Condor is all but guaranteed the top spot on the list. It had me at, “Three days of the…”. I knew what to expect and I was not disappointment with this cheeky, hilarious send up of conspiracy theories, black helicopters and Hardison in an assortment of costuming usually reserved for the “tin foil hat” set. I also enjoyed the way mental illness was treated in this episode, by using so-called “mental illness” to set up a mark who had proven quite intolerant to a person experiencing depression who sought treatment to relieve the symptoms.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2010 8:29 pm

    This is one of the most satisfying shows I’ve seen in a long time. Aside from the tired Nate and Sophie storyline that’s thankfully been abandoned, there’s terrific chemistry among the characters. And the way they pull off their jobs reminds me of the old Mission Impossible TV show, with a little more wisecracking but no less intrigue.

  2. September 9, 2010 9:01 pm

    It’s so true about The Nigerian Job episode, they came out banging and established a level of trust with their audience — it’s so nice to be highly entertained AND appreciate their moral universe. I know most people shy away from that word and tend toward the term “political” instead, but that feels inaccurate and misguided.

  3. IrishUp permalink
    September 10, 2010 4:02 pm

    “One of the things Leverage does exceptionally well is taking a trope – in this case the “Nigerian” scam artist – and turns it on its head, with smarts and generous amounts of non preachy, fist pumping, “screw you, bigots!!!”

    Thank you for putting your finger on that. I hadn’t quite had that organized in my head but YES!

    This is evident too in my “beefcake favorite”, season 2s “The Tap-Out Job”.

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