November 27, 2011

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Experimental Job"

I will never quite understand the cable network business model. The last new Leverage was all the way back in August, but our gang of favorite grifters was finally back with the back-8 episodes of Season 4, and it was a pretty decent return.

The Job-of-the-Week revolved around a homeless war vet whose body was found in a river. While the police were saying that it was a case of the man having a heart attack and falling into the water, the vet's daughter thought that something was up, so she hired the Leverage Crew. As it turned out, Travis Zilgram, a psychology grad student and member of a secret society for spies was running experiments on veterans to test post-traumatic stress disorder, but he was really helping a government plot to figure out new ways to interrogate prisoners of war.

In order to get on the inside, Hardison posed as a student to earn the trust Travis while Eliot pretended to be a homeless vets so he could be recruited into the experiment, and both had to endure their own version of torture. Hardison had to put up with rush week in order to join Travis' little club, and Eliot had to succumb to actual torture.

While Hardison's version of Hell wasn't as harsh as Eliot's, his cover was blown which led to his capture at the hands of the frat boys, and Eliot caused a jailbreak to save his partner and friend. The Crew was able to regroup, save Hardison, and trick Travis into giving up his high-powered accomplice (who was conveniently watching things unfold thanks to Nate), so everything wrapped up nicely by episode's end.

In a lot of ways "The Experimental Job" felt like a stand alone episode because it really didn't tap into the larger story arc (although it was touched on at the end), and it didn't provide any forward momentum from a big picture stand point. It was a typical job that involved a typical (albeit very slimey) mark, and that was about it. That being said, it was a strong episode from a character stand point, especially for Hardison and Eliot.

We've seen these two men be all sorts of people for the sake of the con, but "Experimental" needed them to be slightly exaggerated versions of themselves, so the audience got more insight into what makes these characters tick. Sure, we may not have learned anything new (Hardison's brilliant but insecure and Eliot has a dark past), but the structure of this episode made it feel fresh.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Question: If the client was concerned enough to hire the Crew to find out what happened to her homeless father, why didn't she just have him live with her?
  • What's the deal with Parker shocking people?
  • Hardison's Greatest Hits of Cons was great. British people! HA!
  • This was also a good episode for Pardison shippers, and that's always going to be a win in my book.
  • A Harry Potter shout-out!
  • That scene between Eliot and the interrogator where he talked about the people he killed was mesmerizing.
  • Jealous Parker's so cute!
  • When did Hardison learn how to fight?
  • Question: So they were able to convince the Boston PD and a band of homeless war vets to join their con?
  • "Clever. Creepy? It's creepy."
  • "Merry Christmas mother..."
  • Nate: "Ever been quail hunting Hardison?"
    Hardison: "Do I look like I go quail hunting?"
    Eliot: "How're you going to ask him something like that? Have you ever played a video game where you go quail hunting?"
  • Parker: "You remember the other night when you were playing with your pretend friends?"
    Hardison: "They're real people. Look, they're not pretend. They're just not in the same room with me."
    Parker: "They're an elf, a dwarf, and a thing with a tail. Pretty sure they're pretend."
  • Sophie: "That actually worked?"
    Hardison: "No, but the fact that she thought it would work...that worked."
  • Frat Guy: "You're no Dust Man. You're a geek!"
    Parker: "Should I tell him it's the Age of the Geek?"
    Hardison: "He'll figure it out eventually."
"The Experimental Job" was not a pivotal episode of Leverage, but it was an entertaining one that showed off the talents of Aldis Hodge, Beth Riesgraf, and Christian Kane. Really, that's the number one thing I'm looking for, so I was happy with what we were given this time around. Although, we do need to get back to the Crew dealing with higher stakes sooner than later.


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