TNT’s Leverage is one of the best kept secrets of this television season. It stars Oscar Winner Timothy Hutton, as Nathan Ford, an ex-insurance adjuster, who is the champion of the little people and leader of The Misfit Thieves, played brilliantly by Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, computer genius extraordinaire; Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer, the muscle whose power clearly comes from his Samson-like hair; Beth Riesgraf as Parker, the quirky blond who has not met a building she cannot break her way into; and last, but certainly not least, Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, a horrible aspiring actress who happens to steal high priced items to support her lifestyle until her big acting break comes. Oh, and she is a wonderful actress as long as it is a con, she freezes in auditions for the actual thing.
The premise of the show can best be described as an Ocean’s Eleven ragtag gang for the downtrodden who have nowhere else to turn to right the injustices they have been faced with. These aren’t someone slashed your tires injustices, these are major wrongs that need to be righted, and Our Gang are just the ones to do it. I fully intend to recap the episodes that preceded this one, but for now what you need to know is in the first episode of the series, The Misfit Thieves and Nate pulled off a job that made them all very, very rich while righting a wrong. The moral is, don’t ever try to con a group comprised of the best con artists in the game. Nate used his portion of the money from this job to start Leverage Consulting & Assoc., where his mission is to provide help to those who literally have nowhere else to turn. I know, it does sort of sound like Angel and his mission to “help the helpless”, except there are no vampires here, and they use brains, incredible skill, and, yes, a delicious piece of brawn in Christian Kane. Captain Nate convinces The Misfit Thieves in the second episode of the series is time to go legit, and thus is born The N Team, as they will henceforth be known by this recapper. This is going to be a doozy of a recap, because I believe in this show so much, and there is just so much comedy gold that cannot be left out if I ever hope to get you as addicted to Leverage as much as my friends and I already are.
This episode begins in the conference room at Leverage Consulting & Assoc., and a grieving couple is telling the heartbreaking story of how their daughter, Ashley, died after Genogrow Industries allowed a fertilizer to contaminate drinking water. Their daughter was soon ravaged with lung and heart disease and giant masses in her chest. Genogrow paid experts to lie and say that there was nothing to suggest the company did anything of the kind, in fact they try to blame Ashley’s preexisting thyroid problem for her death. The N Team needs burden of proof that Genogrow knew fertilizer was leaked into the water supply, but where to find it?
Los Angeles: 4:10 a.m., Sophie, in full-on actress mode, staggers into Genogrow Industries acting like a French party girl looking for a rave. A very, very hot French party girl. She pretends that she needs help with with using her GPS, and expertly handles the security guards who are smitten with the flirting French damsel in distress. They both go over to help her, leaving the security monitors unmanned. This is what Parker needed, and she breaks in past the security cameras with Eliot and Captain Nate in tow. They are looking for Allen Haldeman’s office, who is the C.E.O. of Genogrow. There is a slight snag in the entire operation because their hacker genius, Hardison, has not shown up on the communication devices they all wear in their ears to do his magic and get them past key card locked elevators, doors, and any and all security and computer networks.
Nate, Parker, and Eliot start heading up the 30 flights of stairs to Haldeman’s office. Honestly, I was a little surprised Parker didn’t have some device strapped around her waist that would allow her to shoot a harpoon with a cable on it all the way up the stairwell and zip line her way up in approximately 3.2 seconds, but in her defense, she didn’t know Hardison was going to drop the ball on the operation. They reach the 30th floor, only to find another key card protected door. Parker rigs it with an explosive, and they run for cover.
Meanwhile, at Leverage Consulting, Hardison is microwaving a Hot Pocket with not a care in the world. He drops it while taking it out of the microwave, and clearly misinterprets the “three second rule” to mean if you get down on the floor IN three seconds, and proceed to blow on your food to cool it off, while it is still on the floor, it is fine to eat it off the floor. Hell, for all I know this is common guy behavior that you cleverly conceal when women are around. Nourished, he wanders around watering some plants, and being generally useless to The N Team, who depend on him for a lot, as you will see later on.
Parker has picked the lock on Haldeman’s office door, and the three proceed to start looking for anything that could prove to be the smoking gun. Hardison finally clues in when he accidentally hits a button on his computer and hears the operation going on through the communication equipment, henceforth to be known as the comms. Every operation at Leverage involves comms, so learn to love the word and the actual devices, they kick ass. He does a quick hack and discovers what appears to be a liquidation of all of the assets of the agricultural division of Genogrow, and a flight to the Cayman’s. That is never, ever a good sign on TV. Seriously, have you ever seen any show where a trip to the Cayman’s was just a fun little romp on the beach sipping Mai Tais? Me neither. That is what is Hawaii is for to the entertainment industry. So to sum up: Cayman’s=nefarious goings on.
The N Team hilariously escapes the office building by getting a Hardison provided assist with a elevator ride to the ground floor where the three barrel out of the elevator, hauling ass and screaming, “It’s right behind us! It’s chasing us!” They grab Sophie as they run past the baffled security guards, and they are safely out of Genogrow Industries! Thank goodness Hardison is a fast eater!
LAX: Hardison is working on getting them on the plane and he needs to know what fake identifications they have on them. Nate has “Peter Davison”, “Sylvester McCoy”, and “Tom Baker”. I think I have a friend Who has a Doctor or three by those names, but I think they may have retired, leaving their practices to a new Doctor. Sophie is carrying a “Sarah Jane Baker” identification, so Hardison gets them first-class tickets as a married couple. I hope she gets more out of their marriage than a dog named K-9 when he inevitably leaves her for a younger woman. Anvils? Me? No way, I much prefer dropping sonic screwdrivers.
Eliot has a fake Air Marshall identification card. Sophie is concerned an Air Marshall may already be on the plane and is comforted immensely when Eliot tells her there is only one on every 100 flights, so the odds are on their side. The odds are not on the side of the other 98 planes. You know, I have a serious fear of flying, in fact I have prescription medication for this exact reason, so these little fun facts are not making me feel especially confident about my upcoming vacation. It is a damn good thing I have those little pills, or I would never make it anywhere I couldn’t reach easily by car. I wish I knew someone with a TARDIS.
How to get our quirky blond on the plane? Hardison makes a phone call to one of the flight attendants scheduled to be on the flight pretending to be from Animal Control. He tells the poor woman she might want to hurry as “we can only hold unclaimed animals for a certain amount of time before…you know….” Poor nameless flight attendant freaks out, allowing Eliot and Parker to perform a switch of her flight attendant carry-on bag. Hilariously, our last sighting of her for the rest of the episode is her sprinting through the airport screaming “Fidget, I’m coming! Be strong, Fidget! Mommy’s coming!” I laugh, but anyone who knows me can tell you I would have reacted the same way. Oh, yes, my therapist loves me, as does his weekend home in Colorado.
Parker changes into Fidget’s Mommy’s flight attendant uniform while Sophie asks how the men knew there would be an extra uniform in there. In unison, “slept with a flight attendant” and “worked airport security” are given as the answers. If you need help figuring out which one answered which way, Google Christian Kane. You can thank me later.
Oh, poor Nate, Sophie has grabbed a random bag from unclaimed luggage for their decoy married couple carry-on, and it is stuffed full of bondage gear, leather whips, something pink and fluffy that I cannot identify, and handcuffs. Nate looks like he would rather the airport screeners had told him they needed to perform a cavity search on him while Sophie says, “Woo! Second honeymoon!” and slaps the mortified Nate on the ass.
Over the comms, Captain Nate tells Hardison he needs to get back to Genogrow to find “the smoking gun”, they need to figure out exactly what is going on, and don’t have a lot of time to do it in. To sum up what they do know so far, there are assets being liquidated, the Genogrow C.E.O. has an account set up in the Cayman’s, and he is really invested in something on that flight, The N Team just have no idea what that might be.
The other flight attendant on the plane is confused as to why Fidget’s Mommy is not on the plane, and Parker lets her know that she was promoted. This furthers the confusion as Fidget’s Mommy had only had the job as a flight attendant for three months. Parker gives her a knowing look and says, “few more layovers and she’ll be piloting one of these things, huh!” Not helping the recapper, Parker.
Nate and Sophie are working on their cover, and Nate says it would be best to just stick with the truth, they met eight years ago, and the conversation comes to a screeching halt when Sophie informs him it has been ten years. It might be important for you to know that there is a back story with these two that we have yet to learn, but their chemistry is off the charts. Nate tells Sophie he was just rounding it off, to which she pissily replies, ‘by subtracting two years?” Nate sighs and asks, “is this going to be a thing?” The laser beams shooting out of Sophie’s eyes say yes, emphatically. Damn, these two don’t need aliases, they are married, but I suspect they are both wrong and it has been for more like 25 years.
The plane is about to take off, and Flight Attendant Parker is delivering the most perky, yet terrifying pre-flight list of helpful information in the event of an emergency. “Place the masks over your mouth and nose, and breathe normally. In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device, but let’s face it, if this thing goes down in the water, more than likely the impact will kill you.” After a brief pause, she continues her perky pep-talk with, “Please take a moment to locate the nearest emergency exits, because if this plane’s on fire, you’re going to want to get off quick! Jet fuel burns at over a thousand degrees! That’s hot, folks!” I swear it seems she’s almost hoping for a disaster, probably because she knows she is the reincarnation of Sydney Bristow and can get herself out of any disaster. I suspect Parker likes a challenge. The passengers look rightfully concerned that their flight attendant is so damn perky about the possibility of their impending deaths.
Comms talk: They have five and a half hours to figure out what they are looking for on the plane, steal it, and manage to get off the plane without being detected. Sophie gives a “business as usual, then?” Hee! And yes.
Nate asks for a splash of vodka in his orange juice and Sophie gives him a look any husband who has a disapproving wife will instantly recognize. These two just need to have sex, and move on.
Flight Attendant Parker is feeling harassed by a poor woman, played by the awesome Sara Rue, who is terrified of flying and would like some ginger ale because it calms her down. Parker helpfully hands her a barf bag and basically tells her to suck it up.
Genogrow Industries: Hardison has hilariously decided the best way into the building is disguised as a Spanish speaking fish caretaker. I don’t speak broken Hardison Spanish fluently, I caught the word Koi and then, “You know fish…muerte, muerte, mi muerte! Sprinkle! Sprinkle! Sprinkle!” He delivers the last part while flicking massive amounts of water on the security guard from his giant bucket of water. HEE! I don’t know what kind of office building this is, but he has a net that looks suitable for skimming an Olympic sized swimming pool. How big is the freaking Koi pond? The entire disguise is hilarious. He gets on the elevator, using his ridiculously large net to keep anyone else from joining him, and when he gets off the elevator on the 30th floor, he is in a suit and tie, and the fish paraphernalia is gone.
The man who couldn’t get on the elevator due to said fish products is confused because he took another elevator up, and he swore there was a janitor on the elevator. Hardison, who is a black man, gives a quick, “oh, I suppose we all look the same to you”, and then proceeds to say, “If I have to go to another one of those sensitivity seminars, I know who I am blaming! You! You!” Just like that, he is in!
Comms talk: The N Team are ruling out anyone with children or the elderly. They need to search the carry-ons of everyone else.
Eliot starts his search, getting a really strange look from a passenger, and he gives a hysterical, “Can I help you with something? Watch the movie!” You don’t mess with Samson, he could take you out with one of those decorative umbrellas in tropical drinks from 100 yards away, and his facial expressions show it.
Flight Attendant Parker is getting a request for more ginger ale from Sara Rue. Apparently, she thinks it works as a placebo effect for her fear of flying. Parker gives her a snotty, “Yeah, so, when’s that supposed to kick in?” She then proceeds to give another perky pep-talk saying, “Look, flying is not really all that scary when you think about it. I mean there are a lot more likely ways to die than on a plane. Car crash, house fire, electrocution, drowning, auto erotic asphyxiation! I mean, the fact is death haunts us every day, no matter where we are! M’kay?!” Have I mentioned I adore Parker? Because I really, really do.
Genogrow Industries: Hardison has worked his way into some water cooler talk and apparently has found a kindred spirit when some chick says “For the Horde!”, resulting in a “For the Horde!” and a fist bump from Hardison. It’s a “World of Warcraft” thing, and he launches into geek speak about the great new expansion pack, and before he can go any further he gets stern Comms Talk from Captain Nate. “Hardison. You bailed on the job because you were up all night playing a game?” Whoopsie! Comms can bite you in the ass, try to remember that N Team. Captain Nate gets further annoyed when he realizes Hardison hasn’t even managed to get to Haldeman’s office.
Have I mentioned that I love Hardison? Because I really do. If I have to pick a favorite character on pain of death, it would be him. Next thing you know, he has bopped into Haldeman’s office with a, “meeting’s starting….” Haldeman looks confused, but don’t all C.E.O.s, a lot of the time?
Hardison is LEADING the meeting, complete with what looks like a kick ass Power Point presentation. He’s rounding the room, giving fist bumps, talking about turning the company into the next great global powerhouse, and all the executives in the room are totally buying what he is selling. Hardison then fakes a gastrointestinal difficulty, and turns the meeting over to a baffled exec. named Steve. Poor Steve then gets a, “Come on, Steve, I don’t have all day!” from C.E.O. Clueless that he is in a Totally Bull Meeting.
Hardison discovers that two employees of Genogrow are on the plane, and he sends their photos to The N Teams’ phones. Uh, oh, Ginger Ale in Coach is actually Marissa Devins, an accountant who has only been with the company a short time. The other Genogrow employee, Dan Erlick, is in first class.
Captain Nate prompts Eliot through the comms through a series of questions for Marissa Devins. It turns out that she discovered accounting irregularities in the form of checks that were cut from the Agricultural Chemicals Division for research that never happened. Captain Nate quickly deduces they are bribes to researchers for keeping quiet about the safety studies never being completed. Worse yet, this makes poor Marissa our Smoking Gun. Dan Erlick is security for Genogrow on the plane to make sure The Smoking Gun gets where the boss man wants her. Oh, and she so thought she was going to get a great business trip to the Cayman’s out of this. Poor Marissa’s day gets a lot worse when Flight Attendant Parker informs her, “The guy in 1-D wants to kill you. Ginger ale?!!” I love this perky Parker, she vacillates between many different personalities, you will learn to love it about her, I promise.
Eliot uses his elite bad ass knowledge to inform the team how the hit will go down. Erlick is on the plane to make sure Marissa gets off the plane, and there will be two men waiting on the ground to whack her, or whatever the current terminology is.
Hardison or “Dave” to his “fellow employees” is now moderating an argument in another meeting. “Carrot on the cob? That’s going to scare some people, Brother!” Amen. My brother and I still haven’t gotten over those freaky tiny corn on the cob things that show up in our Chinese food to torment us.
Plane: Sophie convinces Marissa that a walk is just what she needs to calm her nerves, when really it is all a ruse to get Erlick to follow them. Sophie gives a knock on the lavatory door as they pass, and out flies Samson, who pulls Erlick into the bathroom to give him a really sound ass kicking. He is KNOCKED.OUT. Eliot adds a toilet flush. Heh.
“Dave” is now back in Haldeman’s office wearing a birthday hat, having informed his co-workers it is his birthday, thus diverting them to put together one of those awkward office birthday parties everyone feels obligated to attend, but really hates. Does anyone really like free cake enough to willingly go to one of those things? Hardison is hacking Clueless’ computer, yet again, dude needs his privacy! The birthday hat is making it hard for me to stop laughing long enough to figure out what is going on. OH! Haldeman has put a stop payment on the check to the Cayman’s, which was for services rendered by Dan Erlick. This is bad, this is very bad. Captain Nate tells us how very bad it is as, “they are getting rid of the evidence and the guy in charge of covering it up.”this plane is going down. My special little pills may need to make an appearance for the remainder of the show.
Hardison is “remote accessing the plane’s electrical system from 3,000 miles away. You know, if you were a geek, you would be really turned on right now”, he informs Parker, who has been dispatched down below where the baggage lives to assist Hardison in figuring out what they have done to the plane. Uh oh, they “spoofed the Black Box data” and can crash the plane without anyone knowing it was sabotaged. I am not geeky enough to follow that, so I did a little research, and that basically means that they can send packets of information to the plane’s Black Box informing it of whatever they want it to think the reason the plane crashed is. Fantastic. Please, someone tell me this is not possible. Lie to me if you have to.
They have hacked into the navigation system, auto pilot has been disengaged, and they are bringing down the plane, fast. Hardison, usually the first to think of a solution to any problem in 3.1415926535 seconds is stumped. Not good. Captain Nate, proving why he is, indeed, the Captain of The N Team, comms to Hardison, “You are the only guy I can count on in a situation like this.” More pepping, and Hardison is struck with a flash of brilliance, per usual.
He instruct Parker to sever all but one wire between the Black Box and the device they are using to spoof the Black Box. “As soon as the code stops cycling, sever the last wire.” Damn, it is a good thing it is Parker down there, if it were me, my shaking hands would have severed everything, including probably one of my own hands, and then I would have knocked myself unconscious flailing about the luggage compartment. Parker is one in control chick.
The flight computer is reset, unfortunately the plane is at 2,500 feet, and it’s not going anywhere but down. Thank goodness there is the world’s longest two lane bridge with no support beams above to land on. OK, I love this show, but I will admit that the CGI and the bridge landing were painfully over the top.
Hardison proceeds to get “Dave” fired, and is leaving with the requisite box of just been fired stuff, while still wearing the birthday hat. Of course, the box really contains all the evidence they need from Marissa’s office. Well played, Hardison, this is not your usual area of expertise, but you pulled it off brilliantly and hilariously.
Hardison: Man, I love it when a plan comes together!
Welcome to The N Team!
The show comes to an end with Sophie and Nate discussing the first time they met, when she was stealing a Degas, and he spotted her and made chase, ten years ago. Nate then says eight years ago, she turned around and made eye contact with him, and introduced him to Sophie Devereaux. Nicely done, Nate. Hook, line, and sinker.
I know, it’s been wordy, but I am not quite done yet. You can go to http://www.tnt.tv/series/leverage/ , where they stream episodes of the show. Also, they have some fun stuff at http://www.leveragehq.com/ that is worth checking out. Stick with me, folks, it is an excellent show, with an excellent cast, and I promise you will enjoy the ride!