Leverage Summer Finale Review: The Return of Sterling

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Welcome back, Jim Sterling! 

Prior to tonight, we had not seen Nate’s longtime friend/nemesis in a while. But that didn't stop him from falling right into the groove in the summer season finale of Leverage, "The Queen's Gambit Job."

Mark Sheppard on Leverage

I’m a fan of Mark Sheppard. I have enjoyed him on shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and Warehouse 13. So, yes, I was thrilled to see him back.

I was also thrilled that the episode didn’t disappoint. I loved every minute of it, from opening car chase to the concluding toast. In fact, had Parker and Hardison smooched during their touching dance-dance scene, or after she got in the van, it would have received a perfect rating from this critic. 

Speaking of Parker and Hardison’s dance-dance training, how awesome was his reassurance that she wasn’t alone? And then to follow that up by having packed her a parachute, knowing she might need it? 

It was also very cute that she needed him to hum the music so she could remember the steps they practiced. I adore the two of them together. I just wish the powers that be would let them move forward a step. Would a kiss really kill anyone?!?

Meanwhile, Nate was his typical clever self, but when I saw Olivia tapping the bishop on the table, I connected the fact she was Sterling’s daughter before the reveal. She spent way too much time talking about her “real dad” for it not to be obvious.

Adding a daughter to the mix for Sterling makes me wonder if we have seen a new side of him. He seems to have not only accept Nate’s choice in helping those who need it, but embraced it himself to get his child back. I hope we get to see more of him on the same side as the team, or as much as he's capable of.

We can all agree he would be a great contact. But am I the only one rooting for Jim and Nate to figure out how to repair their friendship? Okay, maybe Eliot isn't rooting for them to become pals.

Who can blame him, given that Sterling drugged his coffee and locked him in a control room? Then again, Eliot has a semi-healthy way of working out his anger issues by beating up bad guys. So maybe it’s all part of the bigger plan. 

On the topic of plans, I worry that so many of them include Hardison dying. Yes, I know Nate said them as if he were kidding, but given the level of danger in their job... exactly how much was he kidding? Hmmmm... 

While we still have two or three episodes from this season due in November, I am starting my wish list for Season 5 now:

  • Hardison/Parker relationship moving forward - check!
  • Nate and Jim start rebuilding friendship - check!
  • Eliot finds a girl as badass as he is to date – double check!

Am I missing anything?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (30 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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    10 Comments New Comment Subscribe

    Avatar

    I Love watching Leverage Series.
    Cos I can learn a lots of the fact and technique from them.
    When I watched season 4, I found out that Leverage is giving the wrong fact that everybody knows. One of Hardison's dialogue say that Burj Khalifa is the second tallest building in the world.
    I hope this is not cause of race.
    I will honestly appreciate if Leverage is providing correct fact.
    You will be trustworthy. You are the Best.
    Thank you.

    Realdiehl

    I hope I'm not wrong. I took the comment about plans resulting in Hardison's death as nothing more than a joke. Just the crew teasing him. After all, he has been in more than his fair share of dicey situations over the past few seasons.

    And please, if anyone can clarify this, it would be appreciated: One of the characters mentioned that the Burj Dubai was the second tallest building in the world. I thought it was by far the tallest.

    I agree with George about Sophie being caught with the mirror. She is waaay too good to be tripped up by that.

    Wish list? Well, it's more of a "What the heck have you been smoking?" list.

    -I was a huge fan of Leverage's BBC parent, Hustle. Truth be told, I just might like the latter a wee bit more. Hustle's crew, headed by Michael Stone (a.k.a. Mickey Bricks), did manage to pull off selling the Hollywood sign in an episode after all. Anyway *puff-puff* I'd love to see a two-part episode in which the two crews work together. *exhale*

    -I'd also like to see Jeremy Roenick reprise his security guard cameo appearance from a season 2(?) episode.

    -It would be cool to see the show take a page from the Psych playbook and get some major guest star appearances.

    Blu

    Oops!
    there is always uncertainty on whether or not they are returning so they dont always have the time to draw out certin things. progression and character growth and development are needed .I like hardison and parkers awkward phase and I like it in contrast to nate and sophies sexual relationship.it fits both pairings.

    I love sterling and I made the coonection betweenhim and his daughter rather soon. I hope he continues to return as a weird ally/nemesis. I like the ambiguity of his character.

    Why does hardison have to die in allthe plans?lol As a character that does the bulk of the grunt work under impossible time constraints(usually put on him by nate) I always feel for him. I love the family teasing and bantering but I'd love for them to realize how much they take the guy and his skills for granted and not make him the butt of their jokes so much. I think he's 'stronger' then they give him credit for and has some survival instincts of his own, not worthy od dying in multiple plans!lol

    Blu

    I enjoyed the summer finale. Sure, it had moments that one could nitpick over as George pointed out. I wondered about a couple of things myself. Eliot got me the most though, it was so out of character for him to not only drink anything Sterling gave him, but continue sipping on it after saying more then once that it tasted funny.

    Ok the hardison and parker thing, I somewhat agree that some of their scenes seem forced. Those were the moments that hardison and parker shippers could save and make cute little avatars for. (just like that scene of eliot and parker undressing near each other last week made their shippers squee for a week). The thing is, even though it was forced I couldn't bring myself to care.they shine when sharing scenes together.It's hard to give the masses what they want w/ detracting from the show or enduring the Moonlighting curse, so I give the writers credit for doing what they can. Realistically this is a fantastc show that doesnt get the ratings that other hits do so there is

    Avatar

    Sorry I agree with George.

    I don't like how they are writing Parker and Hardison at all.

    It's contrived to say the least. I feel like I am watching a different show to everyone going on about how sweet it is.

    They are criminals!! And grown ass people. It's clumsy and getting in the way of my love for this show.

    Since when do we want soft and humming and all that?! We shouldn't need banging over the head with their development, the show has years under its belt if we don't get the progression through the story without huge signposted scenes then surely that tells the writers something? at least with Nate and Sophie its interwoven with the plot, not just random I got you girl scenes. I love funny Hardison!! They work better apart.

    Avatar

    I generally liked this episode. I liked that sterling was back and while I don’t quite like the idea of them becoming friends with sterling. I like the idea of him coming back more frequently and teaming up to work with and against them. And while I did spot the connection between Olivia and sterling before it was revealed I did like the “twist” at the end.
    [and I do realize im probably in the minority with this but…] I am generally not liking how they are writing the Parker-Hardison relationship. To me most of the scenes that are supposed to “highlight their relationship” just seem forced, like the writers are trying to say something like “hey guys here’s this scene to just show these two REALLY do like each other.” I just don’t think the scenes seem natural and it’s kind of two-fold why I don’t like them. 1 (as I just said) the scenes seem forced which makes me initially not like it and 2 each “forced” takes time away from better explaining another situation/character.
    That brings me to the next point. I don’t know if im simply just analyzing the episodes more but the writing has gotten sloppier. They build up a situation to the point of “OH NO!!! how are they going to get out of this” they cut to another scene and then when they cut back they are just magically out of the “situation”
    Like this week when parker is in the room and ball bearings fall out she cant move yet somehow next time we see her she is hanging from the ceiling. And then as far as her getting to the roof. Pretty much half the episode was showing and solidifying that she CANNOT MOVE in the boots but pretty much after the alarm goes off we see her moving normally which made me assume she took the boots off, but yet they were still attached when she needed them to weigh her down as she jumped. And this one is smaller but I didn’t like Sophie getting caught you really mean to tell me that SOPHIE, the MASTER GRIFTER that she is couldn’t think of a better explanation/way out of “why a woman would have something as simple as a MIRROR” then stammering and shouting out “that’s not mine” like a boy caught with a playboy
    And then a few weeks ago when Hardison was buried alive, in one shot we see the coffin still buried, we cut to the gun fight scene, parker tells hardison to take a deep breath and then the next time we cut back to the coffin its uncovered.
    Hey maybe im too nitpicky but It’s things like those that just take away from the show for me. But, all in all I thought it was a pretty good episode

    And PS Olivia stepfather was played by Tom Amandes…I recognized him from his everwood days

    Avatar

    I really loved the season finale,
    I like jim sterling and believe it will be fun to watch him as an aid in the future plus i would for elliot to get a chance once again to punch him out. Looking forward to watching what happens between Parker and Hardison the whole sweet build-up is okay but enough already.

    Avatar

    Who played the part of the step-father of Olivia (Ayla Kell)? I see no mention in the credits.

    Thecurlymuse

    I love me some Mark Sheppard as well. It would be nice for Sterling to possibly turn a new leaf and be more of a cooperative, nice chap, but then I think he might be better "al dente" meaning overall good intentions with a side order of do-his-own-thing bad boy. Also, did they explain the whole stepfather thing? I mean, Sterling had to abduct his own daughter. Are they on the run now? WTFrak? (Also the girl seems to be a bit of a genius. I wouldn't mind seeing her again.)

    I do agree that I would like to see Hardison and Parker's relationship develop more, but I am honestly enjoying the sweetness and intimacy they share while they get there. Like when she calmed him down while they found the grave he was buried in the previous episode. That little moment they shared where he kissed her cheek and nuzzled her face... and the face she made when he did it... just melted my heart. -- Perhaps since Nate and Sophie are shagging, they're going in the opposite direction with Hardison and Parker. Also they're a bit more awkward when it comes to the dating, expressing their feelings for each other thing since Hardison is the gamer tech recluse who seems awkward around girls, and Parker is just awkward around people in general. Yeah she's gotten jealous that one time when that girl was paying a lot of attention to Hardison, but remember the conversation she had with Sophie in the gazebo about letting people in and caring about them? In many ways she's emotionally still a child and is learning how to cope with her emotions.

    Random comment: LOVED Parker's parachuting off the building. Yay! (I'd love to do that.)

    I'd personally like to see a little more of Hardison's backstory told. We had Nate's son, that guy that tried to kill Sophie with a bunch of flowers, Parker's mentor, the horse ranch chic/ex-love interest of Eliot. I think the most we got of Hardison is a young nerdy reference to gaming as a kid and then his nemesis Wil Wheaton. I'd like a little something more since not only is Hardison wonderful, Aldis Hodge is amazing. (I know you know I'm talking about the Danny Glover episode. Damn, I think that's my favorite episode thus far of the season.)

    The name Nate gave Sterling... we're assuming it's the baddie that bugged Nate's office. After "Mr. Strickland" tried to steal a little boy's transplant heart, I thought perhaps that would sway his opinion of getting the really bad guys per the mysterious man's offer. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    As a total random comment... it was mentioned in the show that Nate and Sophie are sort of the Mom and Dad of the group, but I find that my favorites are tied with Eliot, Parker and Hardison. It reminds me of Will & Grace where the supporting characters of Jack and Karen were deemed funnier than the two main characters. I find that to be my opinion of this show. Don't get me wrong, I love everyone... I just love my Hitter, Hacker and Thief a little more than I do the Mastermind and Grifter. That's all.

    Okay, I've babbled on enough. [end of line]

    Fortyseven

    Good review Jim. I loved the parts with the singing, the parachute and the end with the plans. I hope we see Sterling and his daughter again. I like the development of Parker/Hardison's relationship but I agree they are past due for a kiss even a small/short one. And I don't even like tv relationships since so many are unrealistic or handled badly by writers/producers.A season finale is the best time for such a threshold break. If it happened in the middle of a season, it'll fall to the background due to the nature of serialized television, not counting the fact that episodes are sometimes broadcast out of order. I don't care about Nate/Sophie having a romantic/sexual relationship or not.




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