This was a very different type of episode from rest of the season: It was entirely serious. It only had Eliot, Parker, and Hardison. It focused considerably on a guest who wasn't the villain, Firefly's Adam Baldwin as a government security agent Col. Vance who works outside the confining rules. And it really wasn't meant to trick or fool the villain, a frustrated scientist who wanted to prove that terrorism was a threat by committing an act of terror - just stop him before he killed everybody.
I really was surprised by the episode, it worked very well, it looked great most of the way (only Parker on the subway didn't hold up for viz FX), had good pacing and editing, it was quite suspenseful. Characters were smart, afraid, clever, selfish, concerned, loyal and eventually selfless - it wasn't quite my favorite episode of Leverage since there wasn't a heist in the main storyline, but if more episodes were like it, I'd definitely enjoy them quite a bit - if there was more conning and Nate & Sophie, that would be the type of thing I'd like to see Nate be building, using bad guy tricks to take on more serious criminals, to help people on a bigger scale, to open up Leverage to a larger need than just 1 at a time.
Ultimately, watching our heroes use their skills at a higher level for greater stakes made for a very compelling episode and gave a greater sense of risk to a show that too often feels like its heroes are invincible. Eliot, Parker, and Hardison got to show dramatic range beyond what was expected. So thumbs up on this one for me.
Just Parker, Hardison and Eliot today, and it worked better this way. A trio comparable to the originals from Burn Notice, and you really had a fast-paced, high-action season finale, the kinds of scenes these characters are usually in for the whole show, instead of just when Nate and Sophie were not on.
A great premise, and some cool moments. Definitely a quality episode.