September 17, 2012

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Rundown Job" and "The Frame-Up Job"

Do you remember all of those times when I complained about how Leverage wasn't trying anything new this season? Well, it looks like it was trying to get all of the regular episodes out of the way so it could wow with the final three installments of the first part of Season 5. "The Rundown Job" and "The Frame-Up Job" were two separate episodes that not only complemented one another but showcased what the show does well, and they were a great way to end on before break until November.

In "Rundown," Eliot, Hardison and Parker were wrapping up a job in Washington, D.C. when Spencer was called by a mysterious man to see if he'd be willing to do a hit. After turning the offer down, Eliot knew his refusal wouldn't stop anything, so the three took it upon themselves to save the mark, but then they got caught up in bio-terrorism plot that could wipe out the nation. The trio were asked by one of Eliot's old military buddies (played by Chuck's Adam Baldwin) to help track down the person behind it all. They were able to use all of their skill sets to figure out who was orchestrating the attack and helped bring him to justice.

Meanwhile, Nate and Sophie were back in Portland and she tried to distract him long enough so she could attend a high end art auction. Since Nate never quite trusts anyone, he popped up to throw a wrench in her plan, and even though she insisted that she was not there to steal anything, a priceless painting disappeared. To add to the craziness, Sterling was also in attendance and his first suspect was Miss Devereaux. In order to clear their names, Sophie and Nate helped Sterling with the case but stumbled across a forgery ring and a murder. Much like in "Rundown," the grifters saved the day, but this time Nate and Sophie still ended up swiping the painting for good measure.

Out of the two, "Rundown" was by far the best because it was non-stop tension from start to finish because not only did the three of them have to figure out who the bad guy was, but they had to race the clock at the same time. Admittedly, the plot of the episode was nothing new or special, but it's something that Leverage has yet to try, and the fact that it didn't involve the typical set-up made it feel like it was new and special. Plus, I've been very upfront about my affection for these three characters in particular, so seeing them work together on their own was a real treat, and I would love to see them front their own version of the show, which isn't too far fetched since this season's continuing to ask questions about the future of the Leverage Crew.

While I didn't love "Frame-Up" as much as its predecessor, it also had its share of highlights. Since I'm not a big Nate and Sophie shipper, I was afraid that I was going to dislike everything about the episode, but they too seemed to be freed up by the fact that they were on their own. Nate wasn't constantly thinking of the job at hand or what his motivations said about his daddy issues, and he was looser and more fun to watch especially when he and Sophie would flirt just to make Sterling mad. By the way, it took way too long for Mark Sheppard to show up again, but it was nice having him back and he alone can take an average episode to the next level. What I also enjoyed about "Frame-Up" was its old-school, murder mystery vibe which was more successful this time around than it was during last season's "10 Li'l Grifters Job."

Other Odds and Ends
  • I mentioned it last week, but I really do prefer Christian Kane's shorter hair.
  • I was so happy to have Adam Baldwin back. For a second there, I thought we were only going to be getting that brief cameo at the start of the season.
  • Still getting a kick out of Pardison.
  • Eliot, Parker and Hardison felt like a badass version of The Mod Squad. I smell spin-off.
  • Sophie's Doctor Who shout-out was so obvious that even I got it, but it was still appreciated.
  • Was I the only one who was impressed by Sterling's band of Robert Palmer-esque INTERPOL agents?
Usually, I'm not a fan of mid-season finales like this one because they're such a stall tactic, but it's actually welcomed this time around. With the fall television season gearing up, it'll be nice having a break from Leverage so I can dedicate some time to other shows, but I also feel like these first 10 episodes wrapped up fairly well. Sure, there wasn't a cliffhanger or an arc that needed to be sewn up, but it ended on such a high note that I'm reinvigorated and excited to see what it does in November. And isn't that the point of a season finale?


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