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April 23, 2014

Review: Leverage - The Runway Job (mid-season premiere)

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 13th 2010 11:01PM

(S02E10) "Tara Cole is the best. I wouldn't have sent her if I didn't trust her and I know you're going to love her, so just give her a chance." - Sophie to Parker, Alec and Elliot/"Well, she is hot." - Elliot


No one makes for a better enemy than some kind of ruthless fashion designer. They are the epitome of bloodsucking evil. They want everything, produce nothing and expect to get even more than everything for even less. They are the real world equivalent of a James Bond villain, only not as tastefully dressed.

So it's a perfect way to reacquaint us with the wily antics of Nathan Ford and company as they permeate the seedy underbelly of the world's most powerful evil, even if the way they take them down does have a tiny number of noticeable holes.

Since this is the first episode that features Tara Cole, played by Jeri Ryan, as an official member of the team, a fashion con is a great way to let her stretch her legs. And oh, what a pair of legs they are. She, of course, takes the angle of a big name in the industry to take down a really ruthless sweatshop couple who run their own con on Chinese immigrants to get them to work in their fashion knockoff factory. The husband and wife team of sweatshop working berating yuppies are really ruthless and bad and make you wish you could knock something off of them.

As the truth starts to unravel, they do take some interesting and weird turns. For instance, the Yakuza angle does up the ante at the right time and helps move the episode to a bigger climax, but the execution feels a little weak in places like when they blow up the Pans' house in an attempt to knock one of them off and divert attention from a wanted man. Yes, nothing says subtle like planting a butt-load of C4 in a McMansion and blowing the holy living hell out of it.

Then there is Ford's false identity, Jacques Bouvier who plays Ryan's fake financial backer. The character was very funny and could just be one of Ford's silliest and most over the top characters to date, but it doesn't feel believable for the situation. A show like Leverage deserves some leeway since the emphasis is just as much on the action as the drama, but it would felt more believable if Ford's rouse had taken a Tim Gunn approach that felt more grounded in reality than some caricature.

Hutton still does a funny job playing this character as he weaves an even more complicated con around the action. The payoff felt a little smushed together, but it did a nice job of turning the subplot of Ford and the team's slight distrust of their new team member into a tricky little fake climax that even caused an unbeliever like me to have a mild bout of asthma.

Other observations:
- Did it feel like the art department tried a little too hard to make us believe Sophie's world-hopping locales in her video conference calls with Tara and the rest of the team? Here's a prediction: if she goes to Australia, she'll have a hotel room with a desk that allows her to precariously aim her web cam towards the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Tower or Yahoo Serious' house.

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johnnymac

the clip of a red carpet interview that they dubbed to have the interviewer talking about Tara's "character", was that not Liz Lemon??? i watched it like ten times, sure looked like her.

January 15 2010 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TimothyNewman

Who was that fashion show worker that Parker was messing with, with the crazy hair? She was awesome!! :)

January 14 2010 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordy

I'm hoping that Sophie is lying about her travels. The videos just look so cheesy--with the trite backgrounds--but Leverage isn't one of those shows you can give the benefit of doubt. I'll just say I hope they are supposed to be staged on script.

January 14 2010 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Davis

The Chinese gangsters were Triad (Japanese gangsters would be Yakuza).

January 14 2010 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Keller

My apologies to those who were surprised by this review coming out early. It was a mistake on my part; also, thanks to those who corrected us on fact that it's a mid-season premiere and not a new season. That's also been fixed.

We're wiping the slate clean on the comments so those coming to the post tonight won't be confused. Thanks.

January 13 2010 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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