See you November 27, Leverage! It's been a good summer, and I'll be sad to see you go.
For Leverage's big summer finale, TNT aired two episodes back-to-back. The first featured Hardison, Parker, and Eliot; the second focused on Nate and Sophie. Splitting up the characters worked really well. Team HPE was able to concentrate on the exciting elements of the show, while Team NS was able to focus on the humorous aspects. On one hand, this actually underlined the show's biggest weakness: It tries to do so much, and it has five VERY strong characters, but it has trouble squeezing all of its awesome into an hour-long episode every week. Maybe that doesn't sound like a problem, but it is because it means we sometimes go a few weeks without an Eliot smackdown, or Parker breaking into somewhere impossible, or a scene that makes us laugh at an immature volume. It's a balance issue, really. I'd love to see Leverage figure out how to fit all of its awesome into one episode... and then do that every week.
The first episode, the "Rundown Job," was about a terrorist attack. At first I was nervous because that's SO not typical Leverage material. The chances of it being a terrible episode were pretty high. But then we cut to Hardison, Parker and Eliot finishing up a con in Washington, D.C., and within the first five minutes I got to see Hardison do a cool tech thing, Parker gymnastic through some lasers, and Eliot beat someone up. Worry ELIMINATED! Plus the pacing was much faster than most Leverage episodes can handle, which made for an extremely exciting installment where the stakes were really high.
As they finished the job, Eliot received a phone call from someone he knew in the past who wanted to hire him to kill someone. He turned it down, but that meant the job was still getting done, so the crew scrambled to find and save the target from a sniper. After saving her (using a combination of aerosol cans and golf clubs) she told them she was in charge of 911 emergency services for D.C. To Eliot, that screamed that this attempted hit was part of a terrorist attack. Weaken the infrastructure so the city will be more vulnerable, right? So he talked to his old friend Colonel Lance. There had been other attacks that morning, all on similar types of people. The Colonel would be restrained by pesky laws and regulations, but the Leverage crew doesn't have to worry about that kind of stuff, so they began making moves. Lance helped them steal a fancy van to work out of. Poor Lucille, she stays at home only to have Hardison running around with a bigger, better van!
After some research, they found a forgotten lab that had been walled off in a basement. Awesome. I want to find an abandoned lab! Only I'll take mine without the Spanish Flu, thanks. Because that's what they found down there. After more digging they found that the people killed earlier in the day had all attended a conference where Dr. Everett Udall talked about bio-terrorism. Recently, Udall had been going more and more crazy. They found the pig farm where he had been breeding the Spanish Flu, which included a hella creepy shot of a ginormous pig pen full of dead pigs. Then they found Udall's house and Parker had to do acrobatics over Hardison to disarm a claymore bomb. Then Hardison rigged a car to use Morse Code to warn Lance and his team away from a decoy van before it exploded. It was all so thrilling!
Eventually Hardison was able to trace Udall's phone, which led them to a subway station. Parker climbed on top of the train, then as it sped along she got inside and worked her way toward Scalzi. Hardison and Eliot stole a car, raced to the next subway stop, and out-foxed the police chasing them for car theft.
DUN DUN DUN.
Hardison figured out that Udall must have vaccinated himself, since there were lots of eggs in his fridge, and that's apparently how that works? Parker squeezed people's arms until someone winced. Eliot smacked Udall, but the bomb was already armed so Parker took it outside and used her mini-blow torch to ignite it.
Nate and Sophie's adventures in "The Frame Up Job" weren't quite as thrilling, but they were absolutely hilarious. With the others gone, Nate and Sophie were free to relax. Sophie got Nate a ticket to a film festival, then went off on "personal business." Knowing Sophie's personal business generally involves theft and expensive pieces of art, Nate followed her to an art auction. Good thing he was still able to match his tie to her dress.
An old man, Jonas Gault, had just died and his daughter was selling off all of his paintings. He had a massive collection of paintings by an artist named Mettier. One of them, Ma Mystere, had only ever been viewed by the artist and Gault. However, when Ma Mystere's vault was opened, it was missing. Since Sophie was the only known art thief (or ex-art thief, as she kept insisting) around, things didn't look good for her. And when Sterling showed up (YES!!), he assumed it must have been her. Which left Nate and Sophie to prove she didn't do it.
Such a good set-up, and they did such amazing things with it. Nate and Sophie were so good in this, I just loved their witty banter so much.
So Nate and Sophie searched the house and found that Gault's pills didn't add up. Which meant... murder! Again, YES! Stepping up from a robbery to a murder is almost always a recipe for amusement. They interviewed possible suspects: Gault's curator, daughter, ex-wife, lawyer, and semi-estranged son. They all had good motives, except (SEEMINGLY) for the son, who had been cut out of the will. Gault was considering putting him back on, but after he died that was no longer a possibility.
While searching, they accidentally found what looked like a Mettier painting in the manservant's room. Sterling was satisfied, but Sophie insisted that it couldn't be Ma Mystere. To prove it wasn't, they stole the presumed Ma Mystere, and also another Mettier painting that had just been sold. To distract Sterling, Nate pretended to have noticed something wrong with Sterling's case against the manservant, but wouldn't say what. It was so much fun to watch those two play hot and cold with where the missing (and non-existent) clue was.
Nate tested the paint on both paintings and discovered they were indeed mixed the same way. Nate proposed both were fakes. They told Sterling, who jokingly put it in front of the assembled guests. The curator, not knowing a joke when she heard one, ran away. They chased her, but found her dead in the pool. Now, the episode still had about fifteen minutes left on the clock, so I figured there had to be more to it than that. Sure enough, Nate went back to the safe... and Gault's son pulled a gun on him. WHAT?! The one person without a motive! So clever! He had been forging the paintings, then getting the curator to help him swap them out. When the old man realized what was happening, he had to be taken out of the picture (hur hur hur!).
Sophie helped Nate get away, but not without first doing some couple-y arguing. After Sterling took everyone away, they went back down to the vault and found Ma Mystere hidden in the wall. Sophie had known the first painting wasn't Ma Mystere because she had been the model for it. Aww. So the two decided to keep the priceless painting for themselves. THE END.
– What do you think of Eliot's new hair?
– Which episode did you like better?
– Does anyone out there actually enjoy taking mid-season breaks from shows?
– Who's your favorite Leverage supporting character?