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April 19, 2014

'Leverage' - 'The Three Strikes Job' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 11th 2010 11:05AM

(S02E14) "This is how we're going to take down the mayor...We're going to steal his ball park, and then the team. Not necessarily in that order." - Nathan to his team


Of course, that's what the show wants you to think. It has sprinkled that little tidbit on promos and commercials and even as a billboard opener in last night's episode. It turned out to be a great trick, a bit of slight of hand magic with a major cable network.

At one point, you think it's going to be a political mystery, a promising start since the story can literally go anywhere and make coherent sense. The plot could turn to S&M midgets selling pony meat on the black market and it would make a great twist as long it points back to the corrupt politician caught holding the riding crop.

But then it switches gears over and over into whole new mysteries and directions until your head becomes a revolving restaurant leaving you both confused but strangely satisfied.

It starts rather ominously with a cop getting plugged in some of kind of "meet me under the bridge" meeting between two heavy metal armed strongmen. The cop turns out to be Nathan's police connection and he has a young son, which triggers a very disturbing image of a clean cup Nate running into a hospital room screaming as he hugs the lifeless body of his son.

This seems to be his sole motivation for taking down a corruption and wormy mayor, played by Richard King Kind, and bleeds into his work as he shouts at the team. The motivation for this wasn't really clear until the end, but Timothy Hutton did a nice job of pulling off Ford's suppressed feeling as they slowly boiled over into a sludgy foam.

Kind also makes perfect casting for a corrupt politician. He goes soft under pressure but knows how to twist arms with this thin visceral line of tediousness and annoyance as he pursues Nathan's real estate cover for a new waterfront ball park in his town.

Things eventually kick into drive from a long period of neutral rather late in the episode and jarringly goes from a political mystery to an action standoff, but the pay off of the escape is exciting, clever and even funny as Alec has to sacrifice his beloved van "Lucille" to distract the federal fuzz while they make a break for it.

The truly clever part of all this is it is so down to the wire that the plot has you wondered if it won't end in time and lead to a two-parter. Then it suddenly wraps and still manages to make a good cliffhanger for the show's season finale episode by bringing back one of the show's more interesting characters, Sterling, who is now an Interpol agent.

Every great action drama uses their season finale to push the lead or leads to their limits and test their alliances, their drives and even their lives to the very edge. Sterling should make for a nice bulldozer in next week's finale.

Other observations:
- If any of you out there have FBI training or federal intelligence backgrounds, can you confirm for me if agents use goofy code words like "Jabberwocky" with their wired informants? "Splendiferous" and "Abracadabra" seem more subtle and useful in general conversation in comparison.
- What kind of man names his van? An Aston Martin DB9? Sure. A Ford Mustang? Absolutely. But a van? I drove a van in college and the names I had for it cannot be repeated here without me suffering some sort of suspension.

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Val

I really wish we could get more character development besides Nate.. Ive been waiting for this romantic relationship between Hardison and Parker to blossom since the first season.. I want to know more about Elliot and Sophie too..

First season was great.. This season was enjoyable but could have been much better. Next season I hope they flesh out these people instead of the con of the week.

February 11 2010 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Val's comment
MAKB

Hey Val, I'm catching up on some old review today after last night's season finale and came across yours. At the beginning of this season, I remember reading or hearing somewhere there was going to be A LOT of character development this season and like you I don't think that came to pass. There has been some subtle clues alluding to the gang's past (i.e. we learned that Parker lost her brother when she was younger and we learned that Elliot was most likely physically abused as a child) .... but I was hoping for so much more. I find Hardison fascinating and would love to know how he became a computer geek. I hope that Season 3 will fulfill that promise since Sophie will be back and Tara will be gone and things will be 'back to normal'. Fingers crossed until the summer !

February 18 2010 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

I really hope that woman FBI agent at the end never comes back. She was a walking cop cliche and her acting and lines were cringe worthy.

February 11 2010 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

Hey! He loved that van.

It was like a major character dying.

February 11 2010 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Alan

I did like the episode, but indeed my head was spinning a little too much at times. For example...if Kind was actually a good guy working undercover, why was he so intent on making a deal with Nate? Unless I missed something, he had no prior reason to think Nate was corrupt, which means that his dealings with Nate would pretty much amount to entrapment.

Just a minor thing...looking forward to see where this leads next week.

Of course, it's not "Richard King".

February 11 2010 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George

For what it's worth, the phrase is actually "sleight of hand".

February 11 2010 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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