If Season 5's first episode was about reinforcing who the standard villain is, then Episode 2 was all about shaking that up. "The Blue Line Job" took a turn away from the Leverage crew's natural habitat.
Usually Leverage kicks off with some downtrodden, victimized everyman character looking to Nate for help against the corporate giant who wronged him or her. This time the victim didn't come for help: His son did—and not because his father had died or was otherwise unable to seek retribution. He came to Nate because his father was convinced nothing was wrong.
The father, Craig Marko, was a semi-pro ice hockey player. Craig was an enforcer, the player designated to keep fights from happening on the ice. But the owner, Peter Rising, realizing audiences love fights, started giving Marko a bonus every time he fought another player. Marco's doctor assured him he was physically fine, but his son was suspicious. Parker broke into the doctor's office claiming to be one of the player's wives with a shoulder injury. Sure enough, Marko's health was anything but okay. One more head injury could have been enough to kill him.
It was hardly the typical Leverage set up, but I actually liked that. In real life, victims often don't realize what's going on. sometimes the person taking advantage of them is too skilled, and sometimes to victim is too proud to admit they've been had.
As a professional athlete, Marko wasn't the typical everyman character. At the same time, he was still in danger from a rich, powerful man he had no ability on his own to stop. The scenes with his son also reinforced that no matter what Marko did for a living, at the end of the day he was just a dad trying to take care of his kid. When little Marko Junior (did we ever get his actual name?) came into the locker room after the game and told Nate not to fuss at Marko even though Junior knew Nate was right, I got the feeling there was a powerful bond there. I know telling someone not to tell your dad what he needs to hear may not sound like love, but in that scene, it was.
There were more classic Leverage moment as the episode went on—Rising wasn't just paying Marko to get in fights, he was also paying enforcers from other teams to intentionally get in fights with Marko. This way, Marko would get too injured to play, which means Rising wouldn't have to pay him his bonus. In essence: evil team owner had evil scheme that would likely kill an innocent man. And because that wasn't enough to make him evil, Rising started skimming from his team's profits, unhappy with the earnings his team could get him.
And we got one of Sophie's best aliases to date! I loved her turtle-obsessed Russian hockey mogul. The crew's plan had originally been to trick Rising into paying Sophie half a million dollars to join her fictitious global hockey league. To sell the scam, Sophie called in her ex, Vlad, a famous hockey player. Their relationship felt a little unfinished, though, so I hope the show brings him back. I mean Nate and Sophie's relationship is on the verge of getting a little too complacent. We can't have TV characters in happy, well adjusted, drama-free relationships, can we?
When Rising decided to go backrupt rather than compete with another organization, the crew had to return to one of their own classics—stealing the money. Rising was taking his ill-getten gains out of the stadium the night of the season's final game. Using a high-powered electro-magnet, Hardison and Parker stole the money out of its lockbox. I'm not entirely convinced elctro-magnets work like that, but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief.
So in the end, the hockey players took control of their own team, Rising was left penniless and Marko was safe. And that right there, is a classic Leverage ending.
...What type of industry tycoon would you like to see the Leverage crew take down?
...How do you think their restaurant is going while the crew is distracted by all this Hockey? Has it failed already?
...Will Vlad be trouble in the future? Are you hoping he will be?