Leverage Review: Missed The Landing

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Leverage is typically clever and brilliantly written. 

But this week? I was reminded of the old saying, “If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullsh*t,” as Nate and his team took on Congress... I think. Or was it a CEO? Was it a CEO and Congress?  

Parker Becomes a Cheerleader

Beyond being baffled, it felt like this episode started with a clever play on words for the title "The Gimme a K Street Job" and then the series tried to build the story around that instead of writing a clever story first. Many of the things we love about Leverage got left out or glossed over in this process. Allow me to point out a few of them.

Who was the true mark? Was it the CEO? Was it the sub-committee? Both? Normally we get a really nice break down by Hardison and that allows the audience to follow the bouncing ball all the way to the end. 

By the time Nate confronted the CEO did the big reveal, I didn't care. In fact I’m referring to her as “CEO” because I don’t think they ever said her name and even if they did, she was such a flat and boring part of the story, it doesn't matter. 

Going through the motions. Since when does it take Parker longer than 10 minutes to break into anywhere? When would Nate send the same team member (Eliot) after a mark three times? Does nobody in Congress verify whose walking into their office? Sophie was changing accents and cloths mid-stride!  

It felt more like someone had an idea of what the characters could do more than really knowing what makes them tick inside and what they should do. While I get that Nate was trying to get Eliot to expand his skills, the rest of the team interactions were caricatures of the characters we love. For example, I really thought Parker would have trained a squad of “Little Parkers” while coaching the girls, yet they barely touched on them using them once with a shotgun microphone to listen on the CEO. 

Muddy plot equals lame payoff. There were too many moving parts in this episode and it resulted in me (and others I’m sure) not seeing the big picture before (or even after) Nate’s reveal. Had this been a job about getting Congress to pass a safety bill for cheerleaders OR about a corrupt CEO playing the system to make millions, it might have worked better. Mixing them together was just too much and caused both plots to fall flat. 

I know that not every episode is going to be great. As Eliot said last week, sometimes you crush it and sometimes you don’t. Here is hoping that this one is a fluke for the season and we get back to the team we love and the crushing it next week.


Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

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


I agree that they tried to do too much with this episode--I thought it started off well. One thing Leverage does that a lot of shows in this genre fail to do is highlight (usually) with some sophistication, legitimate real-world issues. Sure, the cons are often over-the-top, but it's actually true that 3% of high school female athletes are cheerleaders & they do account for two-thirds of all catastrophic and fatal injuries in girl's high school sports. Muddying up things with Congress was probably a bad move because it diffused the focus too much. And I expected to see a lot more Parker. Still, I liked it overall.


I agree with the review, muddy plot, lame payoff. However, the villain was better than the ridiculous cartoon villains we had in weeks past (Cary Elwes was way too over the top in that Spruce Goose episode---and that episode had an even lamer payoff). For all your criticisms, your star rating for this episode looks way too generous.


I thought Sophie trying to explain everything she had to trade, promise and finagle to get corn subsidies to trade for one vote on one committee was funny and sad at the same time. It's the game that is played. Your government at work. I was however expecting Parker to show the cheerleaders some spectacular move. But I guess the point was it wasn't safe for them to do any of the moves with the current equipment.


@Lori, I don't think it needs to be the same each week, but sometimes too many cooks can ruin the broth... same goes for Nate "too many marks can ruin the con.." ;)


I too, always rejected cheerleading as a lame activity. Ok, so I was wrong. I was hanging around when these people were filming and I was impressed that there is major athleticism involved in cheering. As to the episode? It was a complicated set up, with the mark clearly ID'd at the beginning. If Leverage followed the same exact format, process and payoff each week, someone would complain about that, too. I still enjoyed the episode.


I liked it but it was muddled and a stretch at times.


While I enjoyed many aspects of the episode, I totally understand this review. The questionable mark (s) was a bit off compared to how it is usually. The entire thing with Eliot seemed forced because it was clearly put in there just to lead up to that cryptic exchange between Nate and Eliot at the end that left an ominous taste in both Eliot and the viewers 'mouth. I truly did expect more out of Parker and how she interacted with the cheerleaders. It lacked the humor that Parker provides when she is forced to interact with people outside the team. And some of the characters were more like caricatures but not in the exaggerated fun way that Leverage is known for. I still enjoyed this episode better than the first couple but not nearly as much as last week's.


I liked the episode I thought it was funny. I liked seeing Parker coach cheer leading. I was never confused through the episode and I knew they where going after the CEO the whole time ever since the episode started I thought it was obvious and they where taking her down by getting the safety law thing passed or what ever because she didn't want it to happen yet so they made it happen.


i had recently made the decision that though challenging, impressive and spectacular, cheerleading is not a sport - because their purpose is to support other sports - therefore i had to reject this episode in the first five minutes.


"You called me a tree frog?"
Still great writing! It's the little things that make me smile and eant to watch these episodes again.

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Leverage Season 5 Episode 5 Quotes

Yeah, the guys got integrity. Elected official or not, you can't con an honest man.


Sophie: Did you know about this? Girls being dropped from 20 feet, it's unbelievable.
Parker: I know right. 20 feet, walk it off.
Sophie: Parker, you do know that normal people just don't "walk off" a 20 foot fall, right?
Parker: So, all those times I pushed Hardison off a building, and he was all AAAHHHHHH, he wasn't just being funny?
Eliot: I thought it was funny Parker.