August 14, 2011

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Grave Danger Job" and "The Boiler Room Job"

After a week off, Leverage was back with back-to-back episodes. While, "The Grave Danger Job" and "The Boiler Room Job" were adequate installments of the show, they didn't quite live up to some of the previous Season 4 outings.

After a hinky funeral parlor was found scamming grieving families out of money while also stealing identities to sell to drug runners, the Leverage Crew decided to get involved. While on the job, Hardison was kidnapped by the dealers and buried alive, and it was up to Parker and the rest to save him in time. Of course, Hardison wasn't in any real danger and was unearthed just in time to set up the unethical undertakers and drug smugglers.

On paper, "Grave Danger" should have been one of my all-time favorite episodes, but fell short of my expectations. My main gripe with "Grave Danger" was how uneven it felt because it didn't have the right combination of comedy, tension, and action. To me, it felt like it was heavier on the latter with not enough lighter, humorous moments. And don't get me started on the flawed "buried alive" gimmick.

Despite its weaknesses, "Grave Danger" had a very strong ending. Everything that involved Parker and Hardison was spot on as they both had some strong character moments, and seeing their relationship evolve was worth the wait. When it was all said and done, this episode wasn't about the marks, the drugs, or people being trapped in graves; it was about two people and their growing affection for one another. There isn't anything wrong with that.

"The Boiler Room Job" continued the con-a-con theme as the Crew had to take down a grifter posing as a stock broker who would swindle people out of their hard earned money. This shady individual, who nicknamed himself the "Mako", also was a descendant from a long line of hustlers, so they had to change up their plan of attack. Instead of out right conning the mark, they had to beat him at his own game.

While "Boiler Room" did bring the jokes unlike "Grave Danger", I actually liked this episode substantially less. First off, it didn't even try to hide the fact that it was an outright rip-off of 2000's Boiler Room, and that just rubbed me the wrong way. I'll be the first to admit that Leverage is not the most original show on TV, but for some reason "Boiler Room" just felt lazy. Matters where not helped by a complicated plot, too many twists, and the worst bad guy in the show's short history. On the plus side, it was fun watching Parker all hopped up on chocolate, and I appreciated the fact that we got some light shed on the mystery man who bugged the headquarters.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • It was nice having marks who weren't corrupt business people for a change. I know they've had non-corporate baddies before, but it's felt like they've relied heavily on these kinds of villains as of late.
  • I choked up a little when Eliot hugged Hardison. Such a great moment.
  • That was the sweetest kiss on the cheek ever.
  • McSweeten!
  • We need more scenes of the Crew just rattling off cons.
  • The Mako? Seriously?
  • Using the people who were ripped off by Sherman was a nice touch.
  • "Hey, claustrophobia is a very serious condition. I got a note from my doctor. You wanna see it?"
  • "He doesn't need me. He needs you."
  • "What the Hell's an Eliot?"
  • "Hardison, you have to make it through this because...because you're my friend, and I need you. Do you hear me Alec? I need you!"
  • "You can't con a con artist. We're just gonna have to steal from him."
  • "I'll give you my word as a member of the SEC, the BBB, and the JLA..."
  • "Yeah, but what are we stealing? Is it: let's go steal a mountain, or a potato, or a funeral, or a panda?"
  • "I told you not to let her go to that festival unsupervised."
The back-to-back episodes of Leverage were definitely serviceable but nothing too special. The moving moments at the end of "Grave Danger" were by far the highlights of the night, but everything else ranged from  OK to lackluster. With only two more episodes of the summer run left, I'm hoping things pick up again and the show ends on a high note.


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