The Homecoming Job (1x02)
After a slick, stylish pilot, Leverage goes for the heartstrings in its sophomore effort. “The Homecoming Job” reunites our band of merry thieves in order to help out an American soldier wounded by private military contractors in Iraq.
The getting-the-band-back together sequence at the beginning of the episode amusingly showcases each of our heroes in their natural element, a reminder that they’re not normally the good guys. This point is driven home again later in the episode, when they uncover a much bigger and more dangerous conspiracy than they expected, and instinctively balk. “I didn’t sign up for any of this,” Hardison says. “What I did before, nobody got hurt.”
They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t heroes at heart, though, so it’s no surprise they eventually find the mettle to go after the CEO of Castleman Security, (a thinly-veiled stand-in for Blackwater) and the corrupt, bumbling U.S. congressman in his pocket. There is no shortage of cunning capers in this episode, including an impressive sequence in which Parker physically hijacks an appropriations bill live on C-Span from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The highlight of the episode, however, comes at the end, when, after bringing down the evil empire, the team presents Corporal Perry and his doctor with enough money to pay for not only his rehab, but the rehab of all the other soldiers at the center. The fact that the extras at the rehab center are all played by actual veterans only amplifies this heart-tugging scene. “The world doesn’t work this way,” protests the doctor who accused Nate of giving her patient false hope at the beginning of the episode. “So change the world,” Nate tells her.
Favorite Quote: “I’m sorry it was too far away for you to punch. I’m sure that really frustrates you.” (Hardison)
The Mile-High Job (1x08)
For an episode that begins with two teary parents describing the death of their young daughter after an agricultural conglomerate’s toxic fertilizer contaminated the water supply, “The Mile High Job” is actually a rollicking good time. An initial investigation into Genegrow’s CEO uncovers some information that quickly sends our team scrambling to catch a flight to the Cayman Islands on which company assets are being smuggled out of the country.
Nate and Sophie pose as married first-class passengers, Eliot plays Air Marshal, and Parker takes a turn as a flight attendant, leading to a hilarious and intensely terrifying safety briefing. Hardison, meanwhile, stays on the ground and infiltrates the company, seamlessly blending into middle management in the sharpest send-up of the meaningless and soul-deadening culture of corporate America since “Office Space.”
The "assets" they’re looking for turn out to be an innocent Genegrow accountant, played to nervous perfection by the talented Sara Rue. When it turns out the plan to “liquidate the assets” meant taking down the whole plane mid-flight, it’s up to Hardison and his hacking skills to diffuse the bomb remotely and save the rest of the team.
The whole episode is fast-paced, packed with humor, and fun from beginning to end, assuming you’re willing to believe a company would blow up an entire commercial airline flight just to keep an accountant from talking.
Favorite Quote: “Please take a moment to locate the nearest emergency exits because if this plane’s on fire you’re gonna wanna get out quick. Jet fuel burns at over 1000 degrees. That’s hot, folks.” (Parker)
The 12-Step Job (1x10)
Leverage has been hitting us over the head with Nate’s alcoholism since the pilot, so it should come as no real surprise that they have decided to dedicate an entire episode to beating that dead horse all the way into the ground. Despite the tiresome and overly-obvious parallels between Nate and the mark, an out-of-control investment broker, being shoved down our throats, “The 12-Step Job” is remarkably enjoyable.
Watching Nate suffer through the effects of withdrawal as he goes undercover to follow the mark into a rehab center is exactly as tedious as you might expect, and Sophie's incessant I-told-you-so-ing doesn't help. Fortunately, we’ve got Hardison and Eliot’s antics to keep us entertained as they follow the trail of stolen money. Their quest leads them to a strip club, a car bomb Eliot has diffuse before Hardison gets blown sky high, and a showdown with not one, not two, but three criminal organizations, all punctuated by their trademark bromantic bickering.
The real gem of the episode, though is Parker’s undercover turn as a patient being treated for kleptomania. “Rose’s” group therapy sessions reveal tiny glimpses of truth about Parker’s mysterious and broken childhood, and her medication-induced transition from an anti-social thief to a cheerful, affectionate inpatient is surprisingly moving.
Favorite Quote: “I’m gonna go and freshen up a little bit. Maybe cry a little.” (Hardison)