Episode: Leverage 3.01 – “The Jailhouse Job”
Original Air Date: June 20, 2010
Nate’s in jail, having taken the fall for the rest of the team. And he doesn’t want them to bust him out. Until, of course, he meets a truly innocent man, Billy Epping (played by Aldis “Hardison” Hodge’s real life older brother, Edwin) serving an excessive sentence for a minor offense. That’s right, Nate manages to find a client in jail.
As it turns out, the warden of the prison, Adam Worth, isn’t just a warden. He’s the CEO of the private prison, and he’s using the inmates as a cheap workforce, in collusion with four judges who hand out excessive sentences to honest citizens who won’t challenge the system (since, according to Eliot, they believe in the system). Since Worth has also made some unsuccessful attempts to run for Senate, Sophie (whose real name the whole team except Nate now knows) convinces him she can get him the win this time. Apparently the incumbent has been having an affair with someone who looks an awful lot like Parker (the photo session for the Photoshop job involved Parker stripping down, Hardison looking away, then saying, “Why am I looking away?” Why, indeed?). Sophie will put $250,000 of her money (actually Nate’s) into the campaign fund to match Worth’s $250,000.
And thus they take down the warden. When Nate and Epping make an escape attempt, Nate climbs in the trunk of the warden’s car, unseen by the prison cameras that see him get into a black van. The warden then drives to the bank to get his money back (since he’s figured out Sophie must be playing him), takes his money and Nate’s, then returns to the prison to find that Lt. Bonanno (glad to see him back) has been tipped off about his activities. Bonanno knows about bribing the judges and assumes Worth must have taken a bribe from Nate as well. So Nate’s out of jail, and a corrupt warden is out of a job (and presumably Epping will get released, too).
It’s definitely a strong start to the new season. The plot was solid and interesting with the usual twists and turns along the way. I love the subplot of the team knowing Sophie’s real name but not being allowed to use it around Nate who hasn’t earned the right yet, possibly because he’s drinking again (“I tried being a drunk honest man and a sober thief, so I’m gonna try being a drunk thief. Try that for a little while,” he tells Sophie when she calls him on it. We’ll see how that works for him). When he guesses Sophie’s name at the end of the episode, I almost believed he’d figured it out, but no, he just keeps on guessing names. So far not yet.
There were some great moments, too, like Eliot showing up at the prison as a doctor, complete with elbow patches on his jacket (do you have any idea how hard those are to find? It’s not easy, trust me!). I do have to wonder if it’s a deliberate reference to the 11th Doctor. There’s also a return of the Hardison / Parker relationship (yay!). In addition to Hardison taking pictures of Parker, there’s a scene when they’re kissing in the back of his new van (the aforementioned van that Nate and Epping supposedly entered) in order to distract the prison guards during the escape. “See, I like this. I like when we pretend to kiss,” says Hardison. “Pretend?” Parker asks. Hardison is struck speechless. Did I say, “Yay!” yet? I think I may have…
There’s also a new big bad in the series (and Hardison even calls him “the big bad”), a guy named Damian Moreau that everyone on the team is scared of. There’s an Italian woman who wants the Leverage team to take him out for reasons she has not yet revealed. She’s blackmailing Nate by threatening to put him in a prison with very thick walls; “Right now they have the leverage. What we have to do is, we have to get it back,” Nate tells the rest of the team. I have a feeling it won’t be that easy.
Finally, I love the deliberate deception of the title (and the title of the second episode, “The Reunion Job,” which also aired the same night). Of course you assume that the episode will be about getting Nate out of jail and then they have their reunion. But that’s not quite right, as it turns out. Nicely done!
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars