Jan 2, 2014

[TV] Leverage: Season 5

Across the seasons, I've come to enjoy Leverage as TV series. There's something about the whole caper-mindset that has kept things pretty compelling plus some pretty well-written characters to keep things going along smoothly. The show certainly had its ups and downs, but on the whole you could trust Nate Ford and his Crew to get the job done.

But like many other shows, it's hard to maintain the consistent level of quality that you get when the production really hits it big. Then again, I guess that's the challenge of any good television show - to find ways to continually elevate the narrative to new heights while still keeping things generally consistent and familiar to audiences. You want to give them something new but also not too radical to scare them away. And there's no easy way to get that done.

With this being the final season of the show, it's clear that the writers were somewhat grasping for ideas during the development of the stories this time around. It's not that they were particularly bad, but they weren't all that much better than what we had seen in years prior. And with shows like this, viewers and critics alike tend to expect the show to always be amazing - otherwise things are horribly bad or something.

Synopsis: Leverage is a TV drama series created by John Rogers and Chris Downey. It aired on cable network TNT from 2008-2012 - this fifth season was also the final run for US TV.

This fifth season has the Leverage team setting up shop in Portland, Oregon using a microbrewery as a base of operations. But beyond their usual confidence games to help people in need, Nate (Timothy Hutton) also has another plan brewing - one that only Hardison (Aldis Hodge) seems to know about. As a meta-plot item, this part of the story lies low for most of the season but rather violently towards the very end of the run.

This season felt a lot like the first one in the sense that it pretty much just featured a bunch of different stories that didn't quite tie together in any significant way. As much as they alluded to Nate's secret mission in the first episode, it feels like little was done to go back to it over the course of the season until things came to a head with the show's final episode.

There were certainly some interesting episodes that stood out a bit more. Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek fame directed "The First Contact Job" that actually involved trying to convince the mark that he had been approached by aliens. "The French Connection Job" had Parker (Beth Riesgraf) needing to understand a different side of her through cooking.And "The Broken Wing Job" once again had Parker in the spotlight as she tried to resolve a case while nursing an significant injury that had prevented her from joining the primary job with the rest of the team.

These are just samples of some of the interesting stories from the season, and I can give the show credit for these. However again it's not like there was anything really tying the adventures together - something we've gotten used to experiencing given other seasons of the show. Not having that sort of took away from where this season could go.

To be fair, there was a recurring theme that was not truly evident to me until the very end involving Parker. In hindsight things made a bit more sense in terms of how they resolved and it was a nice touch on the part of the writers. However a lot of the other characters really didn't get much in terms of development, which may not have been a good trade-off. Yes they had individual episodes that brought each of them to the foreground a bit more, but their individual backstories weren't advanced all that much even with those added stories.

On the whole, the fifth and final season of Leverage was decent but nothing amazing for the show. I don't agree that it deserved to be cancelled just yet, but I can also see that this season was not the best example of what the show was known for and such. Thus I can only really rate this season as 3 efforts by the Leverage team to manipulate the market out of a possible 5.

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