Dec 20, 2012

[TV] Leverage: Season 2

So Tobie introduced me to Leverage and since then the show has started to grow on me. And while I can't say I'm a huge fan of the storylines on their own, I do admit that I've fallen quite in love with the characters themselves. And that's where the story really shines.

Sure you can put together any group of actors together and hope the writing carries things on their own. But if you really want a show to shine, you need strong players who can bring good character writing to life. And this show has definitely managed to put a lot of those pieces into play.

The show seems to have a tendency for ending its seasons on rather stressful cliffhangers, which is a classic trope in the TV world. But given the fact that Tobie and I have just gotten into the series while the fifth season is currently airing, it does somewhat soften the potential impact of said cliffhangers. Not that this takes away from the show or anything like that - if anything it does provide a degree of assurance

And given a show like this, we do need some sort of a lifeline to carry us through the tricky spots.

Synopsis: Leverage is a television drama series created for TNT by John Rogers and Chris Downey. Using Live +7 data, the average second season episode of Leverage was viewed about 4.5 million times, which is a pretty impressive feat for a cable TV program.

At the end of the first season, we pretty much had the team going its separate ways although definitely wanting to continue the work that they had started. This second season, Nate (Timothy Hutton) has left Los Angeles and is back in his hometown of Boston, where eventually the rest of the team finds him, as circumstances would have it. One thing leads to another and of course the team re-forms and now operates out of Nate's Boston apartment.

The second season more or less follows the same episodic formula of the first - some victim tells their sad story, Nate comes up with a plan to get even, there are complications in the middle of the "job" and eventually the flashback reveal of how things still followed the master plan. And while this seems rather predictable, the exact details of how things come together is really where the fun is to be had.

Plus this second season is when the show actually has a true title sequence instead of the typically colder openings where we just see the title of the show flashed on some random city scene. It comes complete with theme song and specific "titles" for the members of the crew.

The season certainly had its fair share of highs and lows. We had episodes that truly demonstrated why the team is the best at what they do and we had the lame ones that had us thinking, "Seriously?" But it wouldn't be good television without these sorts of things. So let's round up some of the more memorable episodes.

You can't talk about this second season without considering the episode "The Three Days of the Hunter Job", which is the one where Sophie (Gina Bellman) is the one who brings in the job and sort of has a score to settle, and thus is the one who plans the operation. It's a fun little romp that has various members of the team performing roles outside of their normal and thus exploring their characters a bit more.

Then of course we come to "The Two Live Crew Job" that introduces a rival con team similar to our beloved Leverage crew. So they have equivalents for all the different players (with a few quirky gender swaps while we're at it) making it a true rivalry and the results do become rather interesting. Plus Wil Wheaton.

Mid-season we had the weird plot twist that has Sophie going on some soul-searching journey, which really means that she's pregnant and can't film more episodes until she comes to term. Thus "The Lost Heir Job" introduces Jeri Ryan's character of Tara Cole, who takes up the reins as the team's Grifter, although it's tricky to figure out where she stands like in "The Runway Job".

Then the real gem of the season for me was "The Bottle Job", which had the crew running the "classic" wire con within the span of two hours in the very pub at the ground floor of Nate's apartment. And at the same time, the episode is one where we further explore Nate's on-again, off-again drinking issues.

I am totally liking how Jim Sterling (Mark A. Sheppard) has become quite the intriguing recurring character. One moment he's clearly their adversary. The next he comes to the team for help. The next he's taken advantage of the team in order to get further ahead in life. And thus we come to respect how Sterling truly is a match for Nate in many ways.

On the whole, I liked how the season tried to advance more of the character plots beyond just pitting the crew against more and more unusual challenges. Plus things seemed a bit more realistic this time around, if only in comparison to the first season. Thus Leverage season 2 gets 4.5 almost double-cross moments out of a possible 5.

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