December 20, 2010

Episode Review: LEVERAGE Season 3 Finale

Season 3 of TNT's hit show Leverage started off with a very interesting premise. Nate Ford was able to break out of prison with the help from the mysterious Italian (Elisabetta Canalis), but she wanted him and his Crew to help bring down the international Big Bad known as Damien Moreau. The Moreau arc was only mentioned in a handful of episodes at the start of the season, and was sidelined until the very end (things picked up again with "The King George Job"). During the season finale, we finally met Moreau and found out what this year was leading up to.

In "The Big Bang Job", the Crew learned some interesting details not only about Moreau, but about Eliot as well. The two have a history, and Eliot even worked for Moreau during his checkered past. Spencer was able to use his former ties to Moreau to get the Crew a way in despite his hesitations. You see, Eliot's primary mission was to protect Nathan, and he knows that they not ready to tackle someone like Moreau, but they did anyway. The Crew found out that Moreau was planning on selling an EMP bomb that could wipe out an entire city, so half went to find the bomb while Nate and Eliot met with Moreau. Instead of the baddie, they found the Italian bound up, which led to an ambush. Nate and the Italian escaped while Eliot engaged in a massive fire fight with Moreau's men. The episode ended with Nate telling Moreau that he was setting him up with the Italian's crimes, but Moreau was able to hop on a plane to San Lorenzo. Instead of letting things go, Ford decided to finish Moreau once and for all.

One thing you have to accept while watching an episode of Leverage is you need to go in willing to suspend disbelief. Some of the jobs the Crew pull, while usually based on real cons, can seem a little far-fetched, but dissecting them will ultimately lead to a less enjoyable episode. The reason I bring this up is because the viewer really had to accept a level of absurdity during "The Big Bang Job". The story itself was pretty strong with a nice share of twists and turns, but the action scenes involving Eliot were a bit much and this is when the audience had to give up on reality.

Action sequences (explosions, special effects) are not Leverage's strong suit despite having some very good fight choreography, and this small weakness was exposed during "Big Bang". After Nate and the Italian escaped Moreau's trap, Eliot had a one-man shootout with a gang of baddies. This trope has been used many times before on Leverage, but the fact that guns were involved changed things up a bit. Eliot was very capable with a gun despite his displeasure for them, but this scene moved him from badass to super hero as he took everyone out while shooting double fisted, sliding on the floor, and dodging bullets Matrix style. While I love Leverage, it was hard to take the show seriously after that sequence not because it wasn't done well, but because it didn't fit the rest of the series. Leverage is at its best when it is deceiving the marks and the audience; not when it's blowing stuff up.

Crazy stunts aside, "The Big Bang Job" was a good installment of Leverage. Out of all of the Eliot-centric episodes, this one was the best because we got a clearer picture of character and his backstory. Also, an element that was kind of abandoned after last season was the strenuous relationship between Nate and Eliot, and we got a little bit more of the dynamic this time around. While Eliot knows his place on the Crew, he's the closest to being Nate's equal (besides Sophie), and for the first time in a long time we saw them as partners rather than leader and enforcer. I've felt that out of the four, Eliot could run the Crew without Nate, and he was being groomed to do just that. Here's hoping that some great Nate/Eliot moments are in store for Season 4.

"The San Lorenzo Job" picked up where "Big Bang" left off, and we found out that not only does this little nation have no extradition policy, but its president was also in Moreau's back pocket. The Crew decided to head to San Lorenzo to take down Moreau by getting the president's only competition elected into office by using every campaigning trick in the book (vilify the opponent, beloved first lady, etc.). While the underdog candidate didn't technically win, Nate's end game was to crate civil unrest so great that the current president had no choice but to arrest Moreau and concede the election.

While "San Lorenzo" did not have the action that "Big Bang" had, it was still a nice complement and a good way to end the season. Seeing Nate and the Crew take on corrupt politicians was nothing new, but having them actually get someone elected the way they did was a nice touch. My only minor complaint about the season ender was how easy it was for them to take Moreau down. He's supposedly one of the most dangerous men in the world, but the Crew handled him with very little difficulty or risk. I never once felt that they were in any real danger because of Moreau. This lack of suspense may have been impacted by the fact that the season long arc didn't plot out the way the show runners had planned, but having a Big Bad that didn't pose any real threat was kind of pointless. That being said, I do hope this is not the last time we see Damien Moreau because he could present more compelling story lines, and I enjoyed Goran Vijnic's take on the character.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Eliot's plea to Parker about not asking questions was probably one of their best scenes together. I really enjoy watching the dynamic between those two characters.
  • Pretzels!
  • The last shot in Nate's hotel room was anti-climactic (in more ways than one, hey yo!), but still a fun little scene. It'll be interesting to see where things go.
While Season 3 of Leverage had a lot of potential with its Moreau arc, the follow through fell a bit short and kept it from being the best season yet. That's not to say it was a bust because we still got some great episodes like "The Inside Job", "The Scheherazade Job", "The Studio Job", "The Gone Fishin' Job", and "The Rashomon Job". We also got some great character moments and growth this time around (especially from Parker and Eliot), and that's never a bad thing. As a whole, Season 3 had some minor missteps, but a messy season of Leverage is still better than most shows, and I am still hooked and can't wait for more.


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