I refuse to talk about Hell's Kitchen this week. I simply refuse to do it. The foolishness needs a week off. Instead, how about a brisk discussion of tonight's Leverage?
As previously noted, though the second season started off a little wonky, it rapidly improved and tonight, in the season's fifth episode (how time flies!), they've really hit a high note. The episode, "Three Days of the Hunter Job," focuses on the team conning a sleazy cable news host, Monica Hunter (Beth Broderick). The character, who seems for the most part to be modeled on Nancy Grace, is the epitome of everything the news shouldn't be – a quick and easy way to make a name for one's self by climbing on the back of others and trampling the truth in the name of ratings.
It's over the top, and Leverage likes their broadly drawn bad guys and Monica Hunter is not only broad, but truly a bad guy, and quite funny to boot. The Leverage gang, led by Gina Bellman's Sophie Devereaux this time around (Hutton's Nathan Ford is throwing her a bone), feed Hunter a fake story which convinces her that the water we all drink is polluted and going to kill us. Well, not only that, but that the government is aware of the situation and the rich and powerful are going to end up in bunkers safe and sound.
Leverage does over-the-top cons exceedingly well, and this one ranks as more over-the-top than most. The team hijacks an office in the Pentagon, sneak onto a military base, hack a TV news control room, that sort of thing. Oh sure, the ways in which they accomplish those things are laughable, but the audience is laughing with Leverage, not at it.
At it's base, the series is about the characters – Sophie, Nathan, Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), and Parker (Beth Riesgraf) – and the characters are good ones. The notion behind the entire setup is that the team needs each person on its disparate talents, and that with those talents come disparate personalities, but what that has allowed for is some truly wonderful interactions between the group. For instance, despite the fact that Nathan allows Sophie to run the con tonight, and Nathan is ostensibly in charge of the group, everyone on the team has their own little say about Sophie get another shot at leading the team, and it's something that they discuss over and over and over again.
It's in those moments – which I don't want to spoil – where the show really comes alive. The team is great and fun when it comes to the cons, but their spectacular when it comes to each other. As con artists they clearly know how to read people, and watching them use that ability to poke and prod (lovingly) at one another is something to watch.
Thankfully this episode has that – and a con directed at someone who deserves it – going on, because while Hunter deserves to go down and while Broderick is great at portraying her, making fun of Nancy Grace has been done before… a lot. She's been parodied on Boston Legal and SNL and made fun of by Jon Stewart, just as a start. Whether or not she deserves it (and more) is not at issue, I just wish that Leverage had opted to go another way – the did a great job with the route they chose, but it would have been nicer to see the road less traveled.
Leverage's "Three Days of the Hunter Job" airs tonight on TNT at 9pm. Check out a sneak peek: