If you’ve been paying attention to my Twitter recently, you might have noticed a very brief blip where I mentioned a new show: Leverage. And by new, I do mean new to me, since Leverage first aired in 2008, and came to a close in 2012.
(And if you’re a couple of my friends who’ve already seen Leverage, bless your hearts for letting me yell in your DMs before I wrote this post.)
Whether or not you noticed my new interest, though, doesn’t matter. After all, that’s what today’s post is for. This morning, I’m here to introduce you to the anti-capitalist heist wonders of Leverage, not to mention gush about some of the sharpest character development I’ve witnessed in years. And to cry about the state of that finale, which is, again, one of the best things I’ve watched in recent memory.
And did you know a revival is coming?
Buckle up, folks. There’s a lot of ground to cover today!
A little groundwork, before it gets exciting.
If you’re not familiar with it, Leverage premiered in 2008, and it centered on a group of five thieves whose criminal activity was entirely focused on taking down bigger criminals. Not other thieves, necessarily, but the untouchable sorts: corrupt CEOs, unethical pharmaceuticals, international smugglers, and so, so many more. They don’t steal for themselves, but for the people who don’t have the power to fight back against the rich and famous.
And despite insisting they all work alone, before long, they’re a family.
I bet you see now why I first got into this show, huh? Heists? Found family? A general contempt for the rich and powerful who thrive on the evils of capitalism?
That’s right. This show has all the good stuff.
Where Leverage excels, though, is its characters.
From the start, this is what kept me hooked. Sure, the premise caught my attention, but the characters are the biggest reason I stayed. Listed as the mastermind, the grifter, the hitter, the hacker, and the thief in the opening credits, our five thieves are the heart and soul of the show. Each of them has a distinct personality, but even more importantly, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s truly a joy to watch them grow into their roles over the course of the show, and to watch them attempt to fill the roles of other characters in a pinch.
Naturally, my personal favorites are Eliot Spencer, the grump with a heart of gold who serves as the team’s hitter, and Parker, the energetic cat burglar who’s pretty much the best thief in the world. Raise your hand if you’re shocked. (No one is. Trust me, I checked.)
But beyond having outstanding, vibrant characters, Leverage does an incredible job of making them flawed. I’m not just talking about weaknesses in their con game, though those are well done too (like Hardison, the hacker, always struggling to grift because he oversells himself). I actually mean their personality flaws.
Nate Ford, I think, is the best example in the whole show. A former insurance agent turned thieving mastermind, he is a phenomenal character, but he’s not a good person. He sure thinks he is, and some of his actions are ultimately good, but really? He’s kind of a dick. And it’s a testament to the show’s writing that you appreciate him despite his flaws. He’s a good character without being a good person, and I love it.
Did I mention there’s an OT3? The Ot3?
Anyone ever seen that one post that says something about the goal of polyamory being the accumulation of enough partners to successfully pull of a heist? Yeah, that’s basically Leverage.
Of course, let me give you a disclaimer. This was 2008-2012. Featuring queer characters front and center, let alone a polyamorous trio? Not gonna fly on a major network (unfortunately).
The writers of the show, notably John Rogers, have regularly acknowledged the hitter/hacker/thief OT3. Whether it’s on Twitter or in DVD commentary or elsewhere, it’s incredibly clear that the crew values the OT3 and got away with every bit of it that they could without the network breathing down their necks and threatening the show. Not to mention the way the cast plays their roles. “The Rundown Job” in Season 5 is one of my favorite episodes out of so many good episodes because of the incredible amount of OT3 energy it radiates. You can tell that these three thieves love each other to the ends of the earth, that they would die for one another, no questions asked. Cap it off with one leg of the OT3 made of slowburn softness, another made of rivals to lovers, and the third built on unspoken but powerful trust?
I will literally never stop thinking about these three. Never.
And I haven’t even mentioned the story!
Really, I think I would have stayed for the characters even if the story sucked. But the story was a riot. Sometimes, the episodes are just filler cons. But there’s not really a single mediocre filler episode on this show. You always get to see some bad guy taken down a notch, always get to watch some clever and probably illegal antics.
And when there is story? Oh, friends. Friends, the story is exceptional.
When the jobs get personal for the Leverage team, the story absolutely shines. We often get to seem them at the peak of their skills, or at the very bottom of the moral barrel, and then comes the aftermath. So often, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see exactly how they were going to succeed, exactly how they were going to escape with all apparent exits blocked off. It’s truly gripping crime when the show gets serious, and a delightful romp when it’s not nearly so strained.
And I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t mention the finales. All of them are exceptionally good, especially since the writers refused to write major cliffhangers, the worst thing that can happen to a show when renewal isn’t guaranteed. But the series finale in Season 5 is one of the most emotional, heart-pounding, terrifying finales I have ever watched in my entire life. Certain scenes well and truly haunt me in the best of ways even though I watched the finale about three weeks ago, and I’d watch it again right this second if it wasn’t going to make cry buckets, both from the tension and the joy.
I’ve saved the best part of Leverage for last, though.
You thought all of this was good? Then I have a surprise for you.
That’s right! It’s coming back, not as a reboot, but as a revival! All of the original cast will return save for Timothy Hutton as Nate Ford (though Aldis Hodge as Hardison will only guest star due to other filming commitments), and it sounds like the original writers will be involved as well! I’ve never had the luck in my entire life to watch a cancelled TV show and have it return so soon after falling in love, and I have such high hopes for the show’s future. Plus, Noah Wyle is joining the cast, and since I liked him so much in The Librarians, I’m hoping he brings a really fun energy to the revival.
But while you’re waiting for the revival, now is the perfect time to watch the original. You can find it on IMDbTV, a free streaming service available either as an app or through their desktop website, or via Amazon Prime.
Join me in appreciating these thieves. I promise you won’t regret it. 💙