August 20, 2012

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Gimme a K Street Job"

One of the truths of television is every episode cannot be a winner, and even though "The Gimme a K Street Job" had a ton of potential, it was an outing of Leverage that didn't quite work for me.

The action kicked off with a cheerleading squad preparing for a competition and the coach complaining to Wendy Baran, CEO of a company called Pep Athletic, which essentially runs competitive cheerleading, about the shoddy safety measures. Cue one of the girls being dropped and injured, and the coach going to the Leverage Crew for help. Since cheerleading's not considered a sport, it does not have the same safety regulations as actives that are, so Nate decided the way to right the wrong was to con Congress into protecting athletes since Pep was unwilling to. So, everyone headed to Washington, D.C. to "steal some Congressmen." The plan was to introduce a bill that would classify cheerleading as a sport and to convince four of the seven politicians on the hearing committee to support said bill. Nate, Sophie, Eliot and Hardison all had their respective marks who took them on a winding road of politicking and bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, Parker was put into place to act as the squad's temporary coach so she could do some recognizance work on Baran since she was the main target, and as it turned out she was not only trying to get the bill to fail but was also planning on buying Pep. When Nate figured out what Baran's plan was, he called an audible in order to trap her. He convinced her that voting for the bill was pushed up, which put her in panic mode because she needed to buy the company before a decision was made in order to keep the buying price lower, so she scrambled to move money around to do just that. The trick was Hardison rigged it so the only place she could get the funds to buy the company was from the insurance company that covered cheerleaders (also owned by Pep), which in turn got Baran in trouble for insurance fraud. Back in Washington, the Crew secured enough votes (thanks to backdoor dealings, power lunches and fake bribes/blackmail) to pass the bill into law.

You would think that an episode that combined cheerleading and Congress would be interesting, but "Gimme a K" proved that it's not. First off, while I appreciated the show putting competitive cheerleading in the spotlight, the client and the mark were not interesting enough to pull me in. Leverage has a rich history of having amazing female baddies (Earnshaw from "Juror #6 and Hannity from "Inside" to name a few), but Wendy Baran just didn't do it for me. For some reason, she didn't have the edge or come off as evil as some of the past marks, so I was largely indifferent about whether she was going to be taken down or not. Then again, it wasn't like there was much doubt. The Congress side of the story also should have been more captivating than it was, and while it was decent at highlighting how politics work albeit in a dramatized fashion, all of the red tape just bogged down the story.

There were some good moments among all of the pom-poms and politics though. For one, putting Parker in a situation that's foreign to her will always be worth a few laughs, and I really enjoyed how the writers used her role as a cheerleading coach as a way to develop her character. She's never been afraid of repelling from skyscrapers, but being asked to connect with people will always terrify her. So, the fact that she needed to bond with the girls, which in turn helped us realize that what she fears most of all is letting down those closest to her, was a solid bit of growth for someone who can sometimes come off as being two-dimensional.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Aside from some early bickering about being pushed off a building, we did not get nearly enough of Hardison and Eliot. Come to think of it, the Crew was split up for the majority of the time. That's probably why I didn't like this one as much. Leverage will always work best when Parker, Eliot and Hardison are together in some form or fashion.
  • Admittedly, another reason why I didn't care for "Gimme a K" was its need to be too twisty and overly complicated. I don't watch Leverage for crash courses in political science and civics.
  • Bring It On? Really Leverage? That just felt lazy.
  • Another interesting aspect was the sub-plot about Nate and Eliot as the former tested the latter. These scenes added to the mystery of this season; what's Nate up to, and what will Eliot do when he finds out?
"Gimme a K Street" was largely up to par with your standard Leverage episodes, but it still lacked some punch for me as a viewer. It still had some good pieces, but it was ultimately forgettable, and it just made me want to see next week's '70s themed job even more.


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