This episode was all kinds of wonderful. From Hardison’s wig to Parker’s awkward interactions with people to the tongue-in-cheek homages to the great thrillers of the ’70s, from start to finish: fun. By switching up roles in an effort to allow Sophie to seek some comfort and excitement after her breakup, everyone got a chance to use some of the skills they’ve been developing in their ongoing effort to become more well rounded thieves and grifters. We’ve seen more of this, extending back to the latter episodes of the first season, and each time the writers have found a way to make it interesting. Sophie isn’t a master planner and never will be; it would be far more boring if she slipped into Nate’s role without some trouble. Likewise Parker scamming and Eliot playing computer geek.
If I were to complain about anything it would be that Eliot didn’t struggle enough finding information on Hardison’s interrogator and that Nate seems too comfortable in the midst of a grift. The weight rests on Beth Riesgraf’s shoulders to be the awkward, uncomfortable one when playing a role; I’d like to see a little more of that from everyone but Sophie.
That small grumble aside, this was good.
Edit: I wrote my review off the screener. I should have waited. During the episode, TNT had cross-promotion of Raising the Bar with *Nancy Grace*. An hour in which Leverage bashes her loosely fictionalized stand-in and they put her smug face right there in the middle of it!
In what I can only surmise is Time Warner’s blindness, the team took down Nancy Grace tonight. A shrill, idiotic, fear-mongering harridan whom no one takes seriously as a journalist. ((Had Hunter been a man, I’d have assumed it was a Glenn Beck stand-in.)) After viciously twisting the truth, lying, and slandering an innocent man in order to secure ratings, the exonerated bus driver finally tried to kill himself. His good name had been muddied by Hunter – would have been muddied just to be uttered aloud by so despicable a person ((Seriously: Nancy, Glenn…what I’m writing here applies to you.)) – until he finally tried suicide. Fortunately his daughter found him in time and then found her way to Leverage’s door.
It’s probably good for her that Sophie is looking for something to fill the emptiness she’s now feeling; Nate appeared ready to walk away from this job restoring a man’s name. But Sophie thinks they can do it by tainting Monica Hunter and forcing the network to issue a complete apology. And if they taint her enough, all her victims will be rehabilitated in the public’s eye.
The team chose a straightforward con but failed to take into account the extreme pettiness of Hunter. Handing her a story about secret prisons peppering America, she opted not to run with it when she realized her fans wouldn’t be interested. They’d be happy to know such prisons exist in their midst.
Unlike most of the setbacks on Leverage, this wasn’t a failure of the mission or the result of a clever mark seeing through their machinations. This was, plain and simple, an idiot. No sensible person would think a respect- and power-mad “journalist” would pass on a story of that magnitude and import for short-term ratings. I believe Hunter would pass; it’s just so shocking to encounter someone that stupid in real life or fiction.
As opposed to many of the team’s cons, the conflict was not a result of Hunter resisting for any rational reasons. The biggest obstacles they faced were the result of her bad choices. Jumping the fence at the military base was “Lucy trying to get into the show at the Copa” stupid. And while it did lead to some difficulties in getting her and Hardison back out, it ultimately helped seal her fate.
As much as I enjoyed this one, I’m not sure what to say about it. We’re all aware of the problems of cable news and cable “news” but fear mongering isn’t a new thing. As long as there have been crowds there have been demagogues ready to excite and yoke them for their own nefarious purposes. Historically, those have been about military power and political and religious control but even petty capitalists have capitalized on fear before. Hell, even Henry Hill used fear to whip up the good citizens of River City into a band uniform-and-instrument buying frenzy.
On the personal front, it was nice to see Nate acknowledgment that Sophie “carried his drunk ass for over a year.” Their relationship has evolved into something much greater than the passionate banter and battling of the past into a true friendship. The spiritual void she’s feeling right now will presumably test her convictions about who she is and what she does; having a true friend in Nate will make that much simpler.
What did everyone else think?