LEVERAGE “The Inside Job” Review

LEVERAGE

LEVERAGE‘s “The Inside Job” opens with Parker running for her life down a hallway at Wakefield Agriculture Corporation. She’s alone and trapped by a Steranko security system, the smartest, toughest program in the world, after a failed attempt to steal a canister of wheat blight for Archie, her former mentor/surrogate father (a supremely suave Richard Chamberlain). The team is shocked to hear about Parker’s outside job but quickly rallies to get her out with Hardison and Sophie posing as auditors John Steed and Emma Peel and Nate on a nearby roof working with Archie. They almost succeed, but Parker decides she must steal the blight after all because Dr. Hannity, the dirty VP of Research and Development, plans to release the blight and destroy all of America’s wheat supply except the resistant strain she created leading to an increased market share for Wakefield via a famine. Archie protests, but the team over-rules him, getting both Parker and the blight to safety.

Oh, Leverage, you had me at “Let’s go steal a Parker.” It’s easy to focus on Parker’s quirks and lack of social ability, but she is such a layered character with her trust issues, unswerving loyalty, and simultaneous desire to fit in and need to stay separate. Beth Riesgraf is wonderful, balancing humor, vulnerability, and bravado and she really shines in “The Inside Job.” Whether she is sweetly accepting she never could have been a part of Archie’s “real” family but that she now has one of her own or blithely asking Eliot what sexting is (“Parker, I’m so not having this conversation with you.”), she lights up the screen.

One of the best parts of Leverage is the chemistry between the characters, and it’s on full display here. Nate and Sophie’s cozy moment over breakfast when she refuses to discuss their kiss because he’s still working off the slap is sweetly hot and the varying reactions to Parker’s bizarre living space is spot on. Of course it looked exactly as Eliot expected and of course Sophie’s real name is Parker’s password. I need to know that real name, by the way. Why do we have to suffer along with Nate? It’s these small touches, like Sophie and Hardison using aliases from The Avengers and Nate’s paternal jealousy that Parker helped Archie that raise Leverage above the average heist show and make it so much fun to watch. Casting a terrific actor like Richard Chamberlain, who clearly has a blast playing Archie, doesn’t hurt, either.

“The Inside Job” was a nice change of pace. The story unfolded slowly, so we were as initially in the dark as the team and really only the last few minutes resembled the normal Leverage con. While I love the usual formula, seeing the team struggle against a tough, albeit computerized, foe while playing catch-up to save one of their own made for a great ride.