December 26, 2012

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Long Goodbye Job"

After five seasons, Leverage went out on a relative high-note with "The Long Goodbye Job," especially if you don't think about it too much and start pulling at threads.

The episode opened with a distraught Nate being questioned about a job that went sideways, and we learned that the crew was hired to get information on a new drug that could save the lives of children during a flashback. The only problem was the building was near impenetrable due to the fact that it also housed a top secret server that held classified information for various federal law enforcement agencies including INTERPOL. And the kicker was the security system was a Steranko (the same one they beat in Season 3's "The Inside Job" but only better).

After they put together a plan that involved an adjacent building, setting off alarms as a distraction, and a performance of Macbeth that was to be put on by Sophie and her acting class, it was revealed that a shootout occurred during the heist along with a car crash at the river which cost Nate the lives of his crew. This all would've been devastatingly sad if Nate wasn't playing his interrogator. He knew that she was working with one of the law enforcement agencies, namely INTERPOL but she wasn't alone. Enter James Sterling, who ended up being a key piece to the entire con and responsible for letting Nate and the rest go free.

As it turned out, nothing that we saw up until this point was real. No one died, and the Leverage Crew was not after medical information but a record of corrupt businessmen who were responsible for the financial crisis (aka the Blackbook). You see, breaking into this particular building to get this specific list of names was Nate's plan all along, and it was why they set up shop in Portland to being with. They now had the ultimate hit list, but it was time for Nate and Sophie to move on, so they got engaged and left the crusade in the hands of Parker who kept fighting the good fight with the help of Hardison and Eliot.

At first glance, "Long Goodbye" was Leverage at its best. There were so many twists, turns and fake-outs that it was kind of hard to keep up but it all added to the fun. The show works best when it keeps the audience guessing, and it was successful at just that in spite of the fact that it was totally obvious that no one really died because the episode played that card way too early. But what made this one even more special were all of the callbacks to the pilot, and how everything came full circle. In a lot of ways, "Goodbye" was a love/thank you letter from the creators to their loyal viewers for sticking with them over the long haul, which made for an emotional and proper send-off.

But like I mentioned earlier, the episode plays much better if you turn off your brain and just go along for the ride because there were an awful lot of contrivances thrown at us during the hour. For example, why did we just now learn about the Blackbook? It was convenient that Nate and Hardison just happened to offhandedly mention their true intentions during the episode because it hadn't been referred to in what felt like forever, and it seemed like the writers remembered at the last second that they put something in motion and needed to tie up loose ends. And I've watched every episode and I still don't know why Sterling let Nate go and how that made them even. To be honest, it shouldn't be shocking that some of these elements were sloppier than others because Leverage has never been all that great with the long cons (ironic, right?) and its overarching stories tend to take a backseat to the jobs-of-the-week, which is all fine and well if those are entertaining enough and they were for the most part. No harm, no foul.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Am I the only one who feels slightly short-changed in regards to Nate's son? He was mentioned at the start of the episode but was quickly dropped. It's like the one thing that has been motivating Nate since day one didn't mean anything in the end. Maybe that opening scene was to depict how far Nate has fallen now that he's willing to use his son's death for his own means?
  • I'm always giddy when the Shanghai tunnels are mentioned.
  • So many great callbacks, but my all-time favorite was the elevator bit involving Parker, Eliot and Hardison for obvious reasons.
  • Even though I knew that it wasn't real, I did tear up when Eliot, Hardison and Parker died in the back of the van. It sounds twisted, but that would've been a fitting end for them. I'm glad that it wasn't though.
  • I'm all for happy endings, but I couldn't muster much emotion for Nate's proposal. That's probably because I never cared for him and Sophie as a couple. They're the Carrie and Brody of Leverage.
  • For a while now I've been clamoring for a spin-off starring just Eliot, Parker and Hardison, and I was happy that the finale left the door open no matter how unlikely it is.
  • Hardison: "20 pounds of crazy."
    Eliot: "5 pound bag."
OK, so it may seem like I'm being unnecessarily nit-picky, and that wasn't my intention. I did really enjoy "The Long Goodbye Job" because it did remind me of why I fell in love with Leverage to being with. It was just so much fun watching things unfold that it was easy to forgive it of its sins while getting caught up in the action. Sure, I would've appreciated a tighter series finale, but the one that we got was a effective enough and the right way for the show to ride off into the sunset. Thank you, Leverage.


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