Leverage: Different Places, Same Old Faces

Leverage S05E01: "The (Very) Big Bird Job"

Oh, Leverage. How I missed you, with your clever cons and ragtag crew of misfits. Never go away again!

Season 5 shook some things up. The crew left my native city of Boston for Portland, Oregon. Psh. They'll miss us. It was kind of inevitable though, since the show has been filming in Portland since Season 2. I will miss the extras' mangled Boston accents, though. Good times.

Along with the location change, the crew was in the process of opening up a restaurant to hide their schemes and allow Hardison and Parker to experiment with their handcrafted beers. I'm so happy the show finally let those two get together. The whole "I like you but I'm crazy" thing was getting increasingly weird and awkward. How amazing were the scenes of their vacation? Of course Parker's idea of a romantic getaway involves jumping off of tall buildings!

Despite the changes, Leverage is clearly still Leverage, and this episode was all about proving that.

There are a lot of shows that can be summed up as "stop the villain." But Leverage has a very specific type of villain it stops, and it's right there in the opening—the rich and powerful who think they can get whatever they want. Some episodes don't emphasize this as much, but the writers obviously wanted to start this season off by reminding viewers exactly what sort of bad guy the Leverage crew is after. I'm guessing—and hoping—this is going to play into this season's overall arc.

Scott Roemer was the embodiment of a Leverage target. He was arrogant, blasé about human life, and thought himself above all things like laws and morals. The connection he feels to Howard Hughes, a wealthy industrialist from the early 20th century, just drives home how off-base his morality is. Hughes was a brilliant man, true, but he also spent four months living in a film screening room using empty milk bottles as a toilet. Not exactly the best role model.

Roemer was an airline executive who allowed for the usage of faulty planes. When his neglect killed a pilot, the man's widow asked for Nate's help in getting enough money to send her daughter to college. Nate followed Roemer to the Evergreen Aviation Museum to scope him out. Yeah, we get it. Portland has cool stuff. Whatever. Boston has the Citgo sign, couldn't they have had a con revolve around that? Like, some corrupt politician turns off the sign while in a mad rage and suddenly no pedestrians can locate Fenway—okay, fine. You win this round, Portland.

Inside the cockpit of Howard Hughes' famous plane, the Spruce Goose, Nate asked Roemer about the charges against him. Roemer proceeded to do pretty much the worst thing he could have done in front of Nate: brag about how he can get away with anything. Roemer went on and on (and on!) about how great it was that his company could literally kill people and only have to pay so much as a fine. The look on Nate's face was pure disgust—you could pretty much tell the only thing he wanted to do was cause that man as much pain as possible. But for Nate, pain isn't physical.

It's offering to help Roemer buy the Spruce Goose.

Nate told Roemer he was working for a group of foreigners who wanted to buy the iconic plane. After the deal went wrong, the crew led Roemer into believing that the plane, made entirely out of wood (which is true) was an early form of stealth technology (which was not true—historically the Spruce Goose was made out of wood because the US Government wanted Hughes to build a plane that wouldn't use the strategic materials it needed for World War II).

The con ended with Roemer thinking he was flying the Spruce Goose to safety, when he was actually just sitting in a stationary plane Hardison had souped up to feel like it was flying—then crashing. After Nate punched him out, the crew placed Roemer's unconscious body (must have been some punch) near the Canadian border and surrounded him with fake plane wreckage. I love how much trouble the team goes through to pull these cons off, by the way. When the authorities found him, it was clear to them that he was fleeing the country, because no one would believe his ridiculous story about flying a plane that never actually left the museum.

I'll admit, I thought this episode's con was a little weak. I tend to like the more complicated ones, when there are a bunch of different pieces that only start fitting into place within the last five minutes of the episode, as you realize that everything that seemed like a mistake was really just part of the plan all along. But truly, this episode wasn't about the con. It was about establishing where the characters will start out for this season's arc, and re-establishing what they're all about—cutting down the corrupt who think they're impervious to consequence.


... What were Hardison and Nate plotting at the very end of the episode?

... What was Nate doing on that boat at the beginning?

... Anchovy/pineapple pizza. Yay or nay?

... Would you drink Thief Juice?

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