LEVERAGE “The Long Way Down Job” Review

LEVERAGE "The Long Way Down Job"

LEVERAGE “The Long Way Down Job” Season 4 Episode 1 – This stylish, cool and charming show is back for another season. This good guy heist gang are pulling off their usual stunts and this week their unlikely non-super superhero group find themselves in the snowy mountains with millionaire investment hotshots from all over the world. This week they’re enlisted by the widow of one of these hotshot millionaires to do something involving climbing up a mountain to find a notebook in a cave while distracting a party of mountain climbing millionaires, one of whom is definately the killer of the widow’s husband.

The plot isn’t important. The show’s writers are smart enough to realize that the last testament of some random guy is sad, sure, but its little more than a MacGuffin: what’s really interesting is seeing these characters who, over three years, we the audience have grown very fond of, in varying situations. These characters are good looking, smart, ultra cool, super talented and they each have their own interesting personalities and relationships and we care about what they do which is why Leverage is one of the better offerings of the summer.

So the team splintered to reach their objective: Nate’s alcoholism mixed with high altitude sorta kinda but not really threatens his performance as leader. Sophie is living the grifters’ dream as she goes businessman to businessman, finally landing the Aussie.

She and Nate decide to put their night of romance behind them, which is a pity: the will they/won’t they plot device is one so old on television that it’s hard to come up with decent resolution, but resetting the clock and pretending it never happened does not help in the development of the story, often times it just hinders it. Community managed to avoid this problem with Jeff and Britta by revealing near the end of the second season, much to the surprise of their classmates, that they had been sleeping together the entire time. Countless other shows try to wedge the two star crossed lovers apart through convenient and ill conceived tropes like an old ex returning from nowhere.

But Leverage does not have the problem of other shows in that Sophie and Nate, lovely as they are, are not the show’s star crossed lovers. This honor, such as it is, goes to the far more interesting pairing of Hardison and Parker and even though they hadn’t a lot of screen time, shippers of this pairing are probably very pleased with the final scene between the two. Parker’s social ineptitude mixed with his lovely and lovable social graces make them both a charming and comedic pairing.

Eliot and Parker were stuck together, not Parker and Hardison, but the highlight of the episode came from a rare glimpse as these two characters acknowledged their darker sides. Finding the body of the widow’s husband trapped in a cave, they have to make a choice: leave him and save themselves, or try to bring his body back to his wife, potentially at the cost of their own life. I was not expecting the writers to take such a turn, but the result was one of the best moments the show has ever done. Parker wants to take the body back, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because of reasons balancing between pathetically sad and selfish: she wants to prove to herself and to Hardison and Nate and Sophie that she is capable of doing the right thing. Eliot reminds her that she and he are not the heroes the others are: deep (though not so deep) down, they’re still capable of being bad guys. Often they’re just masquerading as heroes.

The poignant, unpredictable Parker is easily the best character on Leverage: funnier than Hardison, darker than the brooding Eliot, even more magnetic than the gorgeous Sophie: when there’s a scene of all five characters, my eye is most often turned to Beth Riesgraf to see what the hell she’s going to do with her face. Nate’s there to keep things together but Parker is there to keep me interested and as far as the first episode of this season is turning out, I hope the writers keep giving her more stuff to do because this thief without a soul trying to pretend that she does have one but unable to make it fit is killing me.

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