'Leverage' - 'The Maltese Falcon Job' Recap
by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 18th 2010 1:20AM
(S02E15) "My job is to get your back, all the way down, but I need you to do your job." - Eliot to Nathan
"What's that?" - Nathan
"Be Nathan Ford, be the person we came back for." - Parker
My eyes have only seen a few episodes of 'Leverage,' and my brain is just now starting to understand its appeal. (My bodily organs don't work very well together. It's a long story. Words were said, tempers flared, pancreases made an off-color remark about someone else's mother. Enough said.)
Sure on the surface it appears to be a mid-adrenaline, action-adventure spy/mystery/crime show, but the season finale gave it an emotional depth and character progression that even most serious dramatic shows fail to accomplish. And it goes way beyond "not sucking."
Picking up from where we last left the team with the entire federal law enforcement force hunting them down after a diversion explosion lands them on every terrorist watch list, we learn that Sterling, Nate's old nemesis, is hot on their collective tails. Of course, they still need the wormy mayor, played by the ever-wormy Richard Kind, now that he is a turncoat for the feds to take down other corrupt officials to save their own skin. So the heist turns from a simple political entrapment scheme into a full blown kidnapping job.
Eventually, the team discovers that Nathan really wants to take this guy down more than anything, which can make matters sloppy and slipshod and leads to a little division. The great story behind the story of the series has been the family element of the team and the way they fall back on each other, not just during a job but in an emotional realm. There have been hints of it throughout the last half of the season, like when Eliot notices Nate hiding his drinking habits, but they bubbled to the surface in the finale and played a bigger part in the plot than they have in the past.
Of course, the big twist, one they gave away in some of the show's preview promos, is the fact that Nate managed to get himself pinched by his rival in a rather stupid move, and Tara tries to strike a behind-the-scenes deal with their target. Prior episodes lead you to believe this is just all part of some big set up that will be rolled out in a black-and-white flashback sequence later on, but it actually manages to surprise, even when you think you've got it all figured out. And instead of laying the trick on thick, it sticks with the dramatic angle and lets the subplot take hold of the episode.
The Sophie angle, which really hasn't been that well explored in the middle of the second half of the season, could have been tacked on, but it actually played an integral part to the story and the awesome cliffhanger, in which Nate takes a bullet (both figuratively and literally) for his team and gets them off the hook instead of the other way around by setting himself up as the only piece of evidence in Sterling's case. The moment did feel a tiny bit syrupy, but it still was a nice way of letting Nate prove to his team how much they mean to him and prove to himself who he is, no matter how hard he has tried to fight it.
- Kudos to casting for letting Jackie Martling, Howard Stern's former writer, cameo as the cantankerous FBI file clerk. I imagine every person who has the word "file" in their job title must have nothing to live for but complaining about having nothing to live for the way Martling did in the finale.
- The first half's humor felt a bit gratuitous from the predictable reference to hotel room porn between Parker and Alec to Jeri Ryan's awesome naked bellboy diversion tactic. Not that I'm complaining. For my money, Ryan has the best "top boob" in the TV business, and I'm willing to blow it all away to prove it.