It’s so rare these days to come across a TV show that ends when it should’ve. So often, shows will continue as long as they’re making money, and more often than not that means we get a season or two (or more) near the end that most fans just prefer to ignore. Just as often, we’ll get a show cancelled before its time, ending on a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, leaving fans frustrated and bitter.
Leverage is one of those preciously rare shows that falls into neither trap. It’s five seasons long, five glorious seasons, and while the end may leave you wanting more, it’s still an extremely satisfying ending that is well worth the watch.
Leverage is a series about four criminals—a grifter, a hitter, a hacker, and a thief—and the former insurance investigator who masterminds their heists. But they don’t take just any jobs, oh no. They target wealthy CEOs, mob bosses, and anyone else who has used their power and money to crush ordinary people. Their clients are people who’ve exhausted every normal legal avenue in their attempts to find justice, and the Leverage gang is their last hope.
It’s difficult for me to talk about this show without devolving into what can most charitably be described as “incoherent flailing.” Leverage pushes so many of my happy buttons that it should be no surprise to anybody that I loved it enough to binge-watch the entire thing four times on Netflix within a single year.
The main character of the show, ostensibly, is Nathan Ford, the aforementioned insurance investigator. He left his extremely lucrative job after the insurance company he worked for refused to cover a potentially life-saving treatment for his young son, claiming said treatment was “experimental.” His marriage fell apart after his son’s death, and Nate’s dealt with his grief by basically crawling into a bottle of alcohol.
But he finds a purpose again—and a new family—when he basically adopts some of the world’s greatest thieves and recruits them to help him stick it to the bad guys (and make a shitload of money along the way).
There’s Sophie Devereaux, a talented grifter who’s a femme fatale and also the most maternal person on the crew (even if she’s not terribly good at it). She and Nate have a history, and from the very first moment they meet up on-screen, we can see that there’s going to be a will-they-or-won’t-they between the two of them. Shockingly, I didn’t mind it too much, perhaps because Sophie can and does call Nate on his shit.
But my favorite characters are the other three members of the team: Eliot Spencer, Alec Hardison, and Parker.
Eliot is the hitter, basically the muscle for the team. He’s a country boy, former military, and he’s done some extremely shady things before going “good,” as it were.
Hardison is the hacker, both the smartest person on the team and the youngest. The shit he gets asked to do on a regular basis is astounding, and if things go wrong on a job, it’s usually because Hardison did his part a little too well. And he’s such a genuine sweetheart that you just want to hug him.
And then there’s Parker, the thief. I can’t go too much into detail about Parker because 1) if I do, I won’t stop, and 2) a lot of it would be spoilers for future seasons. Suffice it to say Parker has one of my absolute favorite character arcs ever, and seeing where she goes from the pilot episode to the series finale is a joy to behold. Even if this show didn’t have 8 billion other things that I love, that arc alone would be worth watching.
Together, these three make up such a fantastic part of the team that by the end of the show, you just can’t picture any one of them without the other two. (Honestly, my feelings on Parker, Eliot, and Hardison could be another blog post in and of itself.)
But while our mains are amazing, the show also gives us some wonderfully memorable secondary characters. Mark Sheppard makes an appearance as Jim Sterling, an insurance investigator who took Nate’s former job, and he’s one of the regular antagonists the team faces. Maggie is Nate’s ex-wife, and the show deftly avoids literally every divorced couple/ex trope in such a way that Maggie is one of my favorite characters in the entire show, despite only appearing in a handful of episodes.
Plus, if you’re sci-fi fan, get ready for more Doctor Who and Star Trek references than you can handle, in addition to several Trek actors making appearances (including Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, Jeri Ryan, and a very brief cameo by Jonathan Frakes).
But perhaps one of the most important things is that the show always feels hopeful. Despite the fact that there’s another bad guy just around the corner, despite the fact that there are many difficult things that it deals with, the show itself never gets dark. There’s a scene near the end of the second episode, where a doctor they’ve been helping says to Nate, “The world doesn’t work this way.”
Nate’s response is: “So change the world.”
And really, that feels in many ways like the theme of the show. They don’t like the way the world works, so they set out to change it, one con at a time.
Leverage is available in its entirety on Netflix. If you like heists, cons, and found families, then you owe it to yourself to give it a watch.
Images courtesy IMDb