Episode: Leverage 3.04 – “The Scheherazade Job”
Original Air Date: June 27, 2010
Alexander Moto is the brother of the president of Wadata, an African country. He’s also a diamond smuggler, aspiring kleptocrat (Nate’s word since he wants to steal his brother’s position), and exploiter of children. A Wadatan reporter, Jane Akinyemi, hires the Leverage team to stop him; she tried to write an article about him, but since he’s an informant for the US, identifying potential jihadists (who are actually just his rivals), the government won’t go after him.
In order to bring down Moto, the team sets up a smear campaign against him that he blames on Akinyemi. Sophie then steps in as a PR consultant to help him defeat the campaign. She convinces him that helping out one poor Wadatan will go a long way to fixing his reputation. That Wadatan? Violin virtuoso Timmy, aka Alec Hardison, who actually used to play violin before giving it up for computers (“Turns out you can’t see naked pictures of girls on a violin,” is his explanation for why). It’s worth noting that Aldis Hodge actually did study violin, according to his Wikipedia entry. Hardison is going to play Moto’s Stradivarius (purchased to make him seem like a patron of the arts) in the Scheherazade suite (according to Sophie, “Scheherazade… [is] one of literature’s all-time great grifters.” Only Sophie would think of her that way…), which features a difficult violin solo at the end. While the concert is going on, the motion sensors in the vault below the concert hall will be turned off, allowing the team to retrieve Moto’s stolen diamonds and thus prove how corrupt he is. Unfortunately, security catches the team in the act, but Nate manages to convince the president that his brother created a plot to assassinate him. Although the assassination charges will never stick, Alexander’s chances of becoming president are ruined because his corruption will be revealed.
It’s pretty typical for Leverage to start really strong and then coast for a few episodes (actually, I suppose that’s true for any number of shows, but I’m not reviewing them). This episode probably marks that transition. One thing that kind of annoyed me about the episode was Hardison’s sudden desire to lead his own team some day. Unless I missed something, I don’t recall him ever expressing such an interest. Admittedly, it did lead to some amusing moments such as when he tells Nate, “I am the Super-Skrull. Okay, I have all of y’all’s skills. I hack, I grift, I thieve…” (and he has a dog named Megabite as his hitter), but it seemed out of the blue.
The episode also featured a bit more of the subplot with the Italian woman. She wanted Nate to exchange one envelope in the vault for another, claiming that it had something to do with Moreau. Nate doesn’t look at the contents of the envelope (although he did use its contents as a bluff with the Wadatan president), but he does figure out that it must have something to do with her, not Moreau. I’m really curious to find out just who this woman is, and which side she’s on (other than her own).
Another subplot that’s been brewing for a couple of episodes is what Nate learned in prison. Last episode he revealed his cooking skills. This episode he revealed that he can read music (which is necessary to time the break-in with the Scheherazade suite) and that he can hypnotize people. The latter is how he managed to get Hardison to play the violin so well that it brought a tear to Parker’s eye (and led to a standing ovation). It also makes Hardison angry when Nate reveals that this is what Nate can do that Hardison can’t: he can push his team to do whatever needs to be done. Hardison storms out of McCrory’s, followed by Parker, who seems equally upset. This might have made more sense as a reason for Hardison to think of starting his own team, but it was written exactly in the opposite order. Odd, but certainly not something that would make me stop watching the show.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars