Leverage: Order Up!

By Julia Bergen

Aug 13, 2012

Leverage S05E04: "The French Connection Job"

Last week, I complained about Leverage's fake alien con. After I wrote up my review, I whined about the episode to my husband, who wasn't able to tune in when it aired. He watched it later... and loved it. The fellow has pretty good taste, so I decided to rethink my approach to this season. With "The French Connection Job," I was determined not to scrutinize every little thing. I don't know if it was my new outlook or not, but I really enjoyed this episode.

Toby Heath, the man who taught Eliot how to cook, lost his culinary school and the affiliated restaurant he was almost ready to open to his investor, David Lampard. Kind of the same premise as last week, when a scientist's investor stole the scientist's invention, and it's kind of weird that we've never heard about this guy from Eliot before. But I promised myself I wouldn't nitpick—and besides, this is Eliot we're talking about. He's not exactly chatty about his past or his personal life. Plus I loved how the situation it raised the stakes. Every week, Leverage faces the challenge of making each job feel important. The show usually does a good job at this, but this week knocked it out of the park.

The culinary school gave underprivileged students a chance to learn something productive, and the restaurant would have given them a place to work. Lampard planned to use the school to earn $30,000 per student, and the restaurant to overcharge patrons. Toby was convinced Lampard was dealing drugs, after he overheard a conversation between Lampard and some sketchy foreign-types.

At the same time, Sophie was enthralled in her new acting school. Seeing Sophie so happy with her acting and Eliot so into his cooking made Parker worry that she wasn't particularly interested in anything. Besides thievery, of course. So she got Eliot to teach her how to like cooking. As you can imagine, it did not go so well, but it was hilarious to watch.

Eliot and Hardison infiltrated the school as teacher and student, respectively. It was fun seeing Hardison get so into molecular gastronomy, but hasn't the boy ever read (or seen) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Something that tastes like a three-course meal but isn't sounds way too close to Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum.

And if now you're picturing Hardison swelling up like a blueberry, YOU'RE WELCOME.

Eliot smelled what the dealers brought but it wasn't drugs—it was truffles. Apparently black-market truffles are as valuable as drugs, since they're so difficult to cultivate. Nate posed as a dealer and tried to sell Lampard truffles grown locally in Portland. Sophie played the part of a free-spirited farmer who owned the land the truffles grew on. Looking back, there wasn't all that much point to Sophie being there. Nate could have pretended the land was his. But I did really like Sophie's hippie chick, so I let it slide. Hilarity should always trump logic.

Nate sold Lampard a bag of truffles, and then Hardison used his cameras to find where Lampard was hiding his stash at the culinary school so the crew could steal them back. On opening night of the school's restaurant, their plan went into action. Hardison set up Parker as a famous food critic so Lampard would be too distracted keeping her happy to notice he was being robbed. Parker had a hard time even pretending to appreciate food, despite Eliot's lessons. So Sophie had to coach her on what facial expressions to use to look like she was enjoying her meal. It's always great watching Parker trying to be normal.

However, Lampard's supplier was angry that he was being replaced. He sent his minions to kidnap the chef to get back at Lampard. Which was AMAZING. Of all the people in that restaurant, he had to choose Eliot. Completely unfazed, Eliot kept running the kitchen while fighting angry French minions; now THERE'S a challenge I'd like to see on a cooking show! How is it that no one's tried combining American Gladiators and Top Chef? Did I just solve television?

With everyone else busy, Hardison had to scuttle up an air duct and steal the truffles, plus the wads of cash stored there too. His escape was a little dicey, as he wound up getting chased through the restaurant's dining room by Lampard's body guard. Sophie's acting class took care of that, though. Perfectly in character, she encouraged the diners to give Lampard hugs for such a successful opening. Since the restaurant was full of Sophie's acting students who had been prepped for this, their hugs let Hardison get through the dining room and into the kitchen, where Eliot was waiting.

Eliot apparently had a history with the bodyguard, made even worse by how badly the bodyguard had beaten Toby. Eliot cleared out his students, and then got serious. And honestly, it has been WAY too long since we've seen Eliot get serious. A lot of Leverage episodes don't have a place for Eliot to hulk out, and that's fine. I just need a little taste, every now and again.

It's not a problem, I promise. I can stop whenever I want.

Lampard fled the country (I didn't catch why, but no matter), but on his way through customs, agents found truffles on him. So the villain got arrested, Eliot's mentor got to keep his school—now with extra funding!—and Parker is learning more about how to be excited about things besides break-ins, concluding an episode that was just so much fun to watch. Screw cynicism, for the rest of this season, I'm just sitting back and not worrying about the details.


– Would you take Sophie's acting class?

– What other hobbies should Parker try?

– When do you think we'll see more of that secret Nate and Hardison were talking about in the season opener?

– Would you eat Hardison's science projects?

  • Comments (13)
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  • AntonyChurana Aug 17, 2012

    i don't like reviews. no offense to you. i haven't read ours yet, but i like to enjoy tb episodes without the premonition of it being good or bad in whoever's opinion. even if it doesn't 'spoil' persay, it still gives me a slight predilection about the how based on that person's review. i've enjoyed the new flavour of leverage in its fifth season so far, and now that i've watched every episode up to the french connection job, i'm ready to read the reviews to see what other people think.

  • bluemystique Aug 17, 2012

    -I love Soph, but probably not.

    -I think Parker should stick to being Parker. Her appeal is that she's clearly not normal.

    -Probably the episode before the midseason finale.

    -It's Hardison. He can be persuasive enough. So sure.

    FINALLY!! I loved this episode because for the first time this season it finally felt like Leverage. The previous episodes were bordering on being dull if I have to admit it. But this episode was everything that makes Leverage, Leverage, so I loved it and it was my favorite of the season so far. Also, I love any chance we get further insight into enigmatic Eliot Spencer. I love that man, and getting to learn more about him, and seeing him fight always makes me giggle like a lovesick schoolgir.

  • DavidJackson8 Aug 15, 2012

    Not very complex or anything, but I really liked this episode. It flowed along quite nicely and there were more than a few scenes that I giggled at. It was fun.

    I wouldn't take Sophie's acting class. Well, not if I had to pay for it, anyway. If it's free and I had time to kill, it seems like something I can amuse myself with.

    Oh, but I wasn't exactly sold on Parker's little side story, though. What exactly was she bummed about? I know she has trouble "feeling" and her emotional responses are often inept, but she CLEARLY likes, enjoys, and feels happy about thieving, especially if they involve ropes and harnesses, and it was shown in a previous episode when she kept planning her dates with Hardison that revolved around, I guess, extreme sports that she enjoys those too. Maybe her point, then, was that she had no hobby she liked outside of her craft? But then Eliot was really the only one who's hobby was separate from his main discipline. Hardison's hobby and craft are both with technology, both of Sophie's are acting, and both of Nate's are, uh, being controlling.

  • JustinJohnson9 Aug 14, 2012

    I just love how this show can combine the serious and the comical in their heists. Eliot taking this job so seriously was great to watch, but I also loved Eliot and Hardison making fun of each other as teacher and student, plus Eliot trying to teach Parker to like things more?!! Lmao!! It's episodes like this and last week's that make this show one of my top 10 favorite shows on television.

  • Gislef Aug 14, 2012

    I thought it was a so-so episode. They don't seem as sophisticated as the last couple years. Basically this one was: "get the bad guy to go for his stash, steal his stash, set him up to be arrested afterward." Everything went as planned, and the only (minor) complication was the wussy bad guys going after Eliot. Marshall Teague is cool, but we know he can't take down Eliot. As someone once noted, the complication should come from either the team being too good at their job, or running into some major complicationt hey weren't unaware of. That just ain't happening this year. Anybody catch the Women's Soccer Team shoutout?

  • badpony11 Aug 14, 2012

    HeT! That pretty much sums up what I think of this season so far.

  • JT_Kirk Aug 14, 2012

    No, this week's episode was good and last week's episode was not, it's as simple as that. One can enjoy something without it being good, hence: Twinkies, McDonalds. It wasn't just the finer things that did it in, it was the fact that last week's episode made little sense, had nebulous goals, and was just over the top silliness - it wasn't a con, it was just dopey.

    Eliot doesn't talk about much in general, so it didn't bother me that his culinary tutor wouldn't have come up before - Eliot's culinary skills have, so that's good enough foundation.

    I liked this episode, it was smart, there was a real con going on, real risks, and real rewards at the end of it. There was a bit of character development for Parker, who really didn't get to do much here, and Eliot got to do stuff outside his normal range, while the rest had fun with what they were doing. The villain was a scumbag who was using sleazy tactics to take things from others, and eventually got his comeuppance.

    The parts I felt could have used more exposure:

    - the school's original underprivileged students didn't get any screentime, so it was hard to care about them and their needs;

    - the villain's henchman and his connection to Eliot;

    - Parker's story seemed to lack a middle, we had setup and payoff but little in between;

    - the threat of not having enough black truffles by 4 kilos got solved by simply walking right past it.

    You are also right that Sophie didn't have much to do, and her students that were supposed to play into it, that whole part seemed to evaporate, but overall it didn't feel like a huge loss.

    Anyway, no I wouldn't take Sophie's acting class based on what we saw here mainly because it wasn't consistent and she couldn't devote her attention to it during class hours; Parker should try a sport, try go-cart racing, macrame (just to watch her freak out and make something ridiculous), and perhaps some THERAPY; I have totally forgotten about Nate and Hardison's secret already, oops; and I think molecular gastronomy is a goofy fad so no I wouldn't try it.

  • Farmerluk2 Aug 15, 2012

    The reason Lampard didn't do anything about the 4 kilos is he was getting a "brilliant" deal, 2k a pound instead of 12k.

  • LeBuzzE Aug 15, 2012

    dude they said 12K a KIlo, so yes 2k a pound is cheap so it would round up 4.4k a kilo... still its a third of market value as they pointed out.

  • iellalein Aug 14, 2012

    my absolute favorite moment was Eliot saying "so now I'm asking the other guy". which means a) telling this other guy how important he really is, b) setting up a great scene of betrayal when the crew catches up with the secret.

  • GCCHumanBeing Aug 14, 2012

    Take him Sneed!!!!

  • MicahSmith3 Aug 14, 2012

    I still prefer Hustle to Leverage.

  • JT_Kirk Aug 14, 2012

    That's understandable, Hustle is a little more serious and less whimsical while still being fairly light, but there's only 48 episodes across 8 years and they've wrapped the show; Leverage has 66 episodes across 5 years and is still going, so if you want light heist TV, it's a viable alternative.