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The Steranko Who Knew Too Much

LEVERAGE: “The Inside Job” and “The Scherezade Job”

By Tyler Weaver, Guest Contributor
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303: The Inside Job

Parker’s in trouble and it’s up to Nate and co. to bail her out. Taking a side gig from her “father,” Archie Leach (a deft nod towards the true name of Cary Grant), played by the always awesome Richard Chamberlain, she tries to outwit the Steranko (another nod towards LEVERAGE creator John Roger’s comic book writing), a big mean bastard of a security system as she tries to steal a canister of wheat-killing germs, which turns into Nate and co. going after leverage against the head scientist, the evil sexy Dr. Lady, played by Lisa Brenner.

Whew.

The writing in this show never fails. Each episode is ridiculously clever, with wonderful little nods towards influence, and a perfect mix of drama and comedy in the vein of the best con movies of old, like THE STING and my favorite, PAPER MOON.

While the first season of LEVERAGE was geared towards the “con of the week” and Nate’s arc of revenge, the second did the “con of the week,” with a bigger focus on character, leading to Nate’s ultimate acceptance of who he is (the final lines of season two, “I’m a thief.”) Season three takes the con of the week, adds more individual character moments (this Parker-centric) episode, gives just enough insight into the individual, then leaves you wanting more. Then on top of all of it, they have added the “Crime World” – Damien Moreau storyline, plus a healthy dose of Nate (who has become similar to House in many regards, but more on that in the next episode’s review).

Richard Chamberlain was a fascinating kinda foil for Nate, his struggle with accepting who Parker has become vs. what he made her a great character arc for a character that I hope we see again. Chamberlain always classes up a room – even when the show’s already a classy and fun affair. Must be the scarf.

 

304: The Scherezade Job

The overly-ambitious, diamond smuggling, arts patron brother of an African leader has designs on being his brother’s successor, and Nate and co. jump in to help a journalist with a story to tell and a country to save. Along the way, Hardison plays a violin, Parker does Parker-y stuff, and Elliot kicks some ass. So simple – and so pleasurable!

If 303 had its nods towards influence, 304 wore them on its sleeve, with the climactic heist taking place at an orchestra performance, the explosion timed at just the right moment in Scherezade so that no one would hear it, echoing a similar device in Hitchcock’s THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. No Bernard Hermann though.

Last episode was Parker’s episode, this episode it’s Hardison’s, as his violin-playing ability was front and center, taking him out of his comfort zone (the van), and onto the orchestra stage. His arc, from fear to confidence (and playing really, really well) was a fun one to watch – even if Nate kicked him in the balls at episode’s end. Aldis Hodge always brings that something something to every episode, his slips in and out of “Con Character” always fun to watch.

While not as much fun (or suspenseful) as 303, this episode definitely had its moments – the aforementioned orchestra heist, Nate’s hypnosis revelation to Hardison (and subsequent House-ification of Nate ending the episode with a notable, “wow, what a dick!” moment), and Nate’s GODFATHER-esque fear of getting Luca Brasi-ied (GODFATHER fans will know what I’m talking about) should he go on a dinner date with “The Italian.”

While Nate is the lead of the show, the glue holding the entire team together is Gina Bellman’s “Sophie Deveraux,” (which isn’t her real name, and apparently we, the audience, like Nate, have to earn the right to know – which I appreciate). Each and every episode, she turns in a fantastic performance as some new identity (the PR-rebrander of dictators in this, and Emily Peel (wink wink) in the previous). Her chemistry with Timothy Hutton is palpable, and she always makes every scene she’s in light up. The void left by her absence in the second half of season two was as much a loss for the viewer as it was for Nate, Parker, Elliot, and Hardison.

For all of you who watch the show (and if you’re reading this, you probably do), I can’t recommend enough LEVERAGE creator John Rogers’ blog, Kung Fu Monkey. Each week, he pens posts filled with wonderful insight into each episode, and paints a deep portrait of how a show works. Well worth the RSS.

Another great back-to-back night of episodes, making for the most pleasurable (and oddly difficult) reviewing experience I’ve had. There’s a break next week for fireworks, then it’s back to business on July 11.

Until then…

Tyler Weaver is a filmmaker, writer, critic, and the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate. He’s currently making new things and yaks about that and more on Twitter under the creative guise of @tylerweaver.

 

Source: Pulp Tone

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