Review: Leverage - The Zanzibar Marketplace Job
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 28th 2010 4:45AM
(S02E12) "[Nathan's] drinking is not a problem. It's a symptom." - Eliot to Tara
Action dramas don't have to be so layered. As long as the screen is filled with lots of explosions and tough guys with their backs to them, smirking at the camera as if to say, "Oh yeah, that's an explosion behind me and I caused it. I'm a badass, even if I would face federal charges for detonating an explosive device in a public area. So who out there wants to sleep with me?"
Even though this week's Leverage had a couple of moments like that, it still managed to be more layered in both its plot and characters than it has a right to be.
It wastes no time kicking into fifth gear when Nathan's old insurance partner/evil troll wanders into the bar to ask him a favor. Eliot, the team's "hitter," dispenses with giving Nathan's old chum his insurance card and shows him his role by beating the holy living tar out of him in a Matrix style montage that could make an Agent's head spin. There is something to be said for shows that take their time and reveal plot points slowly in order to keep a nice pace, but Leverage deserves to go from zero to blinding, blurring, needle-pushing speed in a second in just about every episode.
Things immediately get interesting when we learn that Nathan's old flame and former wife is the victim, even if the insurance monkey came to them for help, after she's been framed for stealing a $9 million Faberge egg. The whole time, of course, the insurance lackey seems to have other motives up his very baggy sleeves, and even though they don't pay off into anything wildly exciting, it does present a nice little "mini-obstacle" to the team later in the episode.
The team wastes no time springing Nathan's ex from prison, thanks to Tara's political meddling, really the only major contribution she seems to make for this episode since this particular scam didn't call for distracting a mark by massaging their ego. And by ego, I mean, of course, willy. She has a brief stint as Nathan's flame when they learn that the ex's boyfriend is actually the target, but doesn't really contribute anything, even to that scene. I guess the writers are saving her for when they need a blonde hottie to "pinch hit."
The major twist involving Alexander, Nathan's ex's wimpy flame, made for a nice surprise since everything seemed so well sewn up midway through the episode. It fit the characters rather well and gave the whole scheme and plot a nice rounded out feeling that didn't leave any saggy loose ends twisting in the wind. It didn't rely too much on trying to explain everything, but filled in the gaps enough to make it all plausible.
- Did the technology seem a little over the top in this episode? The team has always had an impressive array of gadgets, gizmos and what-nots, but some of it seemed a little too good to be true, particularly Alec's mini-netbook/wireless video conferencer/data transfer device. Apple's iPad better be able to do all that, plus let me play "Words with Friends" twice as fast.
- I try not to let my personal influences and basic instincts get in the way of my reviews, but wow, did Parker look hot in that pink dress or what?!? If life obeyed cartoon rules, my head would have turned into a drooling wolf with a rolled up "Fruit by the Foot" tongue.