Ok, so Leverage isn’t a new show to me—I started watching when it first aired in…2008 (wow, that was a while ago). But it’s still one of my favorite tv shows and one I find myself re-watching on Netflix—the visual equivalent of comfort food, and one of the few not murder-based (the shows, not the food, which are mostly mystery series). It’s just fun watching the Leverage crew take down the bastard of the week with cons and heists and well-choreographed fights. And though the show has its serious moments, it never takes itself too seriously.
So here’s my quick rundown on each season.
Season 1—Meet the Criminals
Season one starts off with the assembly of the crew: three criminals—Eliot the hitter, Hardison the hacker, and Parker the thief—each a genius in their field but also all loners, and ex-insurance agent Nathan Ford hired to be the mastermind and “one honest man” to keep them in line. Not that the job goes as planned—their employer tries to kill them, prompting the crew to stay together and get revenge. Which leads to adding Sophie, the grifter, to the group.
After the preliminaries of getting everyone together are done with, the season continues with a strong roster of episodes in the same fun, adventurous con-games on a corrupt big wig. All the episodes in season one are solid, with “The Juror #6 Job” being one my favorite. My only complaint, and a small one, is that “The Two-Horse Job” would’ve fit better later in the season, given the emotional development it implies for Eliot. Season one also ends strong, with a 2-part story that provides some much needed closure for Nate.
Season 2—Organized Crime and Faking the Plague
Season two is another solid season, despite Sophie’s temporary departure to find herself—in reality, actress Gina Bellman was pregnant and the writers did a good job of turning necessity into plot and character arc. And who can complain when the grifter Sophie sends to help out while she’s gone is played by Jeri Ryan (Seven-of-Nine, whoo-hoo!)? My favorite episodes of this season are “The Order 23 Job” and “The Three Days of the Hunter Job”; in the former, the gang fake an outbreak disaster and in the later, con a reporter (played by Beth Broderick) into believing a conspiracy. The season finale is another emotionally satisfying two-parter, with Nate accepting who he is now (a thief) (also, you’ll notice a lot of the emotional backbone of the series revolves around Nate).
Season 3—Politics, High School, and Personal History
Season three is more of the same—not that that’s a bad thing—except this season the gang is being blackmailed by “the Italian” into going after one of the biggest and baddest crime lords in the world, Damien Moreau. This adds an interesting through-line to the season and provides for my favorite season ender of the series, “The San Lorenzo Job”. I just love that the episode’s arc words “Damien Moreau will never leave San Lorenzo” take on such different meanings. My other favorites of the season are “The Inside Job” where we get to meet Parker’s father, “The Underground Job” wherein Parker learns to steal souls, and “The Morning After Job” where Parker gets to be a corpse. (In case you can’t tell, Parker’s my favorite.) The season also has the first episodes I disliked, but that’s a matter of personal preference, not because they’re badly done, so I won’t name them.
Season 4—Greatness and Revenge
Season four is the best season—seriously, almost every episode gets into my “favorite” list. There’s a ton of character development for each of the crew, the individual episodes are fun as hell, and the over-arching plot starts with a slow build that leads to some epic revenge. The bastard that first brought the Leverage crew together makes a comeback, as does Nathan’s father, and a bunch of other characters from the last three seasons. I cannot say enough good about season four, it’s about as perfect as things can get.
I wish I could say the same for the last season.
Season 5—Split Personality
Season five is split between good episodes and overblown ones. There’s a difference between “over-the-top fun” and “over-the-top you’ve lost my suspension of disbelief.” Maybe if the first episode of the season hadn’t been one of the latter, the bad wouldn’t have overshadowed the good in season five. Which isn’t to say it’s not worth watching—even the overblown episodes, if only the once for the various season-arc plot developments. But I’m still glad this was the last season, not just because it seems the creators were running out of good ideas, but because the ending was perfect.
Few tv shows these days (at least American ones) get a proper ending instead of just another cliffhanger. One thing I always liked about Leverage was the the season endings felt like proper endings—not of the world, but like a book has a proper and satisfying ending. But season five—I truly cannot think of any better way for the show to have ended. I won’t say anything specific, just that the echo of seasons past—the tradition of the gang all walking away—gets twisted in the most satisfying way. Season four brought a lot of other elements full circle, but the end of season five—the end of the series—does too. Because it’s the end of things as they were, and the birth of something new out of the old.