Episode: Leverage 1.02 – “The Homecoming Job”
Original Air Date: December 9, 2008
For this review, I am going to switch gears from my first one. I realized after several attempts to write a review of this episode that I was too focused on the plot of the show. This show, however, isn’t really one that you watch for the plot. It’s kind of like House – you know that in the end the case will be solved, but it’s the character interactions that keep you watching. The same is true of this show – it’s not so much the plot that’s interesting, it’s the dialogue and the characters.
In this episode, we really begin to see how the show will work: a client hires the team to seek justice for some wrong that cannot be resolved by normal, legal means. In this case, it’s Corporal Perry, an Army Reservist who was injured by a private contractor, Castleman, when they tried to keep him from unintentionally videotaping a shipment of stolen cash they are handling.
Next, the Leverage team pulls a con that results in helping their client – they turn a bribed congressman and the head of Castleman against each other, eventually causing them to confront each other in an incriminating (and videotaped) argument. The job also nets the team an “alternative revenue stream” from the mark. Hardison and Parker manage to steal a portion of the cash that Castleman wanted hidden. Of course along the way there are complications (obtaining an RFID chip from Dufort, the head of Castleman, for example), and there is always some event that the audience hasn’t seen that is revealed in flashbacks just as we think the team is going to get caught or otherwise fail to do whatever they have been hired to do (Parker seems to have blown the lock on Castleman’s container, but has actually blown the one next to it, which is how Congressman Jenkins and Dufort end up incriminating themselves as they argue over what they assume are the missing contents).
Unfortunately, this episode suffers from “second pilot syndrome.” It’s pretty obvious that the writers have tried to bring in an audience who missed the first episode. I realize that this makes sense, and I certainly don’t mind the writers’ attempts to bring in more viewers, but it doesn’t make for the most exciting episode. Even so, it does have many elements that make me want to continue watching.
One of these is the dialogue. I always appreciate dialogue that shows the viewer the nature of the characters. In this episode, for example, we get Parker’s reaction to Castleman’s stolen cash – it “feels real,” she claims as she rubs it on her face. Elliot attempts to get Dufort, the head of Castleman, to speak certain sounds so that Parker can hack his voice activated lock by pretending to serve him some French dish. Dufort speaks almost all of them except for “F,” “uh,” and “k” according to Parker. We don’t quite hear his reaction to finding out that the dish is actually shrimp, but apparently Parker got all of the sounds and rather loudly as well.
We also get Corporal Perry’s line referring to Parker, “Doc, a cute blonde shows up with a couple million dollars, I say we take the win” when the team arrives to give him and his fellow reservists their share of the money. And the doctor’s reaction to this – “The world doesn’t work this way.” To which Nate replies, “So change the world.”
Another endearing element is the character interactions. For example, Nate tells the team that they can leave any time they want a couple of times in the episode. Of course, everyone is up for finishing this one, but no more after that. And, of course, we know that the team won’t be able to resist coming back. It’s a theme that will recur throughout the first season. Hardison sets up a “legitimate” business for the team, Leverage Consulting and Associates, complete with back stories for the characters (Parker won the company sack race a year or two ago), tax records, and even a dental plan. He also painted a portrait of the founder, Harlan Leverage III, which looks suspiciously like Nate (which prompts Nate to yell at Hardison when he sees it).
We also see that Nate is starting to drink, a point that will become important later. He also is using his money to do good – after buying the office and a car (actually it’s a Tesla Roadster), he gives away the rest of his take of the jobs the team pull to charity. Elliot also reveals more about his personality in this episode – he can identify guns by their sound as well as trained fighters by their fighting styles.
All in all, it’s an enjoyable episode despite some flaws. If the first episode didn’t win you over, this one probably won’t either, but that doesn’t mean later ones won’t. In this way, it’s a bit like Firefly – it wasn’t until about the fifth or sixth episode that I was really truly sold on the show. It’s only by going back and rewatching the series that I can truly appreciate the early episodes for what they were – a good, solid introduction to characters that I would grow to love.