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Leverage – S04E18 – “The Last Dam Job”

TNT's Leverage

Leverage – S04E18 – “The Last Dam Job”

Spoilers of Previous Episodes

In S04E17, “The Radio Job”, the audience was left with a shocking cliffhanger, a promise of payout for what had been a ho-hum back half of the season. A death that literally came out of nowhere along with a call back to the pilot episode which no one saw coming left me tingling in anticipation. What’s more, the Leverage crew would be teaming up with their bad guy counterparts and rivals in order to take down the snake, CEO Jack Latimer.

While the interactions between our protagonists and their temporary pals was just one shade short of awesome, the last act of the episode felt pushed, forced and off tone. If they could have had at least another half hour (full hour would have been good) then it would have been the best episode of Leverage of all time. As it stands, “The Last Dam Job” is simply a fun segway into a hopefully more energetic fifth season.

Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

>Spoilers<

TNT's Leveragage - S04E18 - "The Last Dam Job"

"What is this?" "Don't ask."

When we left off, Nate’s father Jimmy (Tom Skerritt) was killed in a warehouse bombing which was set up by Jack Latimer (Leon Rippy) and Victor Dubenich. Dubenich being the first bad guy the Leverage team put behind bars back in the pilot episode and played by the wonderful Saul Rubinek. It was an unexpected call back to the pilot and promised so much for the finale.

Turns out, Dubenich, who originally put the team together, knows the team better than they know themselves… which doesn’t make as much sense as it should since they have all grown as characters over the last four years. But the facial reorganization stuff is an acceptable foil. So because of this, Nate decides to bring in people Dubenich would least expect, those who they don’t trust, aren’t in the game, etc. This leads to the middle chunk of the episode which is pure gold.

Elliot picks Quinn (Clayne Crawford) as his alter-ego, the same guy who gave him a run for his money in the first season finale. The two actors are actually friends so the way they play off each other is nothing short of perfect.

Parker recruits father figure Archie Leach (love that name because it’s Cary Grant’s birth name), played by Richard Chamberlain who brings a certain amount of charm and class to the episode. It’s also good to see Parker smiling so much, not to mention the exchanges between her, Archie, and Hardison regarding the couple’s burgeoning relationship is underplayed and sweet.

Hardison and Chaos

Hardison (Hodge) and Chaos (Wheaton)

Speaking of Hardison, he has the displeasure of asking Wil Wheaton’s ‘Chaos’ for help. Wheaton has gained a new career out of being the person who we love to hate and in this episode he gets a bit of redemption. In the end, the two hackers still hate each other’s guts but there is a new found begrudging respect formed between them. Some of the best lines come from these two’s interactions. They really need to do a Haridson and Chaos episode… maybe the Leverage team gets caught up in something and Hardison has to save them and needs Chaos’ help… it would be glorious.

Sophie gets someone not in the game to take her spot and that ends up as Nate’s ex-wife Maggie (Kari Matchett) who has little more than a cameo. It’s an important moment though, showing that Maggie is okay with Nate’s relationship with Sophie. The two are even friends… that could be dangerous for Nate.

As for the rest of the episode, what we get is a pretty pushed story of how Nate plans to take everything from Latimer and Dubenich, slowly wrecking everything, his business, his possessions, and his name. The thing is, Rubinek isn’t given much to work with on Dubenich’s character other than he’s gone a little crazy in prison, I guess, and the character often runs around with a bit too much anxiety and bolster.

TNT's Leverage - S04E18 - "The Last Dam Job"

Nate (Hutton) confronts Dubenich (Rubinek)

The whole story line of Nate thinking about killing Latimer and Dubenich as revenge for his father’s death is also forced, leading to an almost cartoonish ending. I know, it’s suppose to show Nate as the better man and that the two characters did this to themselves… but it falls so flat in more ways than one. The great thing about Leverage is that the bad guys are always left to stand in the mess they made. Anyone can kill a bad guy, but there is a distinct pleasure in knocking the bad guy down to the very bottom rung where they were so happily throwing people during their reign. This… this was high school drama schlock and we know the show is so much better than this.

If they only had more time to stretch out and rework that ending… but it was at least enjoyable right until that point. Here is looking to season five with a fresh slate.

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Television

 

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Warehouse 13 – Overview – 3 Seasons

SyFy's Warehouse 13

This overview encompasses the first three seasons as that is all that has aired at this time.

Minor Spoilers

When someone describes the Syfy series Warehouse 13, the words ‘unholy mix of’ usually followed by at least ‘X-Files’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ seems to come up. It’s about the most accurate description of the scifi drama but not a discouraging one. Warehouse 13 may be a mix of different shows but it’s the right mix, the perfect storm of genres, twists, actors, and production which makes for one very fun ride.

Warehouse 13 is built into the side of a mountain in South Dakota and holds powerful artifacts from all over the world. The idea is that events and people can imbue items with something of mystical/magical/scientifically explainable abilities. It is kind of a physics issue actually, because energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. During a catastrophic or highly emotional event, energy is transformed then trapped inside an object. That energy then affects the world around them when activated. Sometimes one person simply using an item for most of their life can create an artifact, as it becomes an extension of their psyche and thereby attracts energy. And that’s about as science-y as I’m going to get on this subject.

Anyway, this makes the items dangerous and they have to be kept from running amuck. It is similar to the late 80s tv show Friday the 13th in that the main characters have to hunt down these artifacts, only in this case the protagonists are Secret Service agents, this is a government run (sorta) facility and so far the Devil has nothing to do with the reason these items exists.

Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering

Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering

The agents are Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Peter Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), your typical odd couple law enforcement partners. Myka is more straight laced while Peter is a goof ball. While the dynamic is pretty much cliché in this day and age, Kelly and McClintock are able to keep it fresh several ways.

For one, there is no overt sexual tension between the two leads. It never fails that when you get a male/female partnership the writers end up putting in the “they secretly want to hook up” vibe which becomes a ‘will they/won’t they’ tug. While that can be fun, it’s nice to see a show that can go three seasons without degrading into the trope. There is still the chance the characters will start to swim that way, they haven’t completely degraded into a brother/sister relationship, but for the time being the show doesn’t waste time with that romantic subplot which allows more time for everything else.

Secondly, Kelly and McClintock have wonderful chemistry together and play off each other perfectly. You could believe that they are either siblings or an old married couple, take your pick. When you get two main characters who work so well you can’t help but want to keep watching them perform.

Mrs Frederic, Artie nelson, Claudia Donovan, Leena

Mrs Frederic, Artie nelson, Claudia Donovan, Leena

It also helps that their task master, Arthur “Artie” Nelson is played by the great but underappreciated Saul Rubinek. Rubinek is one of those actors who literally can play anyone and each time you see him you have to wonder “is that really Saul Rubinek?” because even if it’s filmed in the same time, he makes the characters look so different, right down to their mannerisms and speech patterns, a true actor. He owns the Artie character and takes the cliché old, grumpy, but wise boss and makes him a real enjoyment to watch. Someone get this man an Emmy and a Golden Globe!

Then there is the enigmatic character of Mrs. Frederic. She is the warehouse gate keeper who has a special bond with the location and mad ninja skills. C.C.H. Pounder plays Mrs. Frederic, an impeccable performance which both leaves the characters and audience in awe. It’s one of those you got to see it to understand the level of awesome.

You also have Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) who takes her Wesley Crusher character and manages not to be annoying, a feat indeed. Leena (Genelle Williams), whose complete roll is a bit unclear, is a solid, down to Earth character for the others to latch onto and played just as solidly. And there is also Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) who could have also been real annoying as he can always tells when people lie, but the character is underplayed giving it just the right amount of focus. Here’s hoping he returns in season four.

There is a slew of other supporting/recurring characters, including the always wonderful Jamie Murray. They also manage several scifi alums like Mark Sheppard, Joe Flanigan, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Lindsey Wagner, Rene Auberjonois, Tia Carrere, Tricia Helfer, Anthony Michael Hall, and Eureka’s Neil Grayston (as Fargo!), Erica Cerra, Niall Matter, and Joe Morton. Acting wise, the show is very nicely rounded out.

The production values are good despite being an effects-reliant series on a basic cable channel. You can look at sister program Eureka and see a marked contrast. Warehouse 13 could easily be put on a network channel but I doubt its ratings would be good enough for network as the series is a throwback to the late 80s to 90s serials like Friday the 13th, Relic Hunter, Poltergeist: The Legacy and in addition it has a distinct steam punk element. While steam punk is gaining momentum, there isn’t really a big call for that at the moment among network viewers right now.

Warehouse 13 "Don't Hate the Player"

"I said myself, not elf!"

Warehouse 13 is one of those shows which could have gone horribly wrong but manages to keep it fresh and interesting in its story telling. The writers/producers are well aware of the cliché and trope pitfalls it has before it and instead of falling in either manage a good twist or run in full steam, no holds barred. The artifacts are fun, different, and often not all that you expect. If they hadn’t done this, then it would have been a very bland tv show, so kudos! I love a show that can recognize its own weaknesses and deal with them properly.

The series is strong going into its fourth season and its third season cliffhanger should be enough to bring viewers back to see how they are going to deal with the mess (literally) that they made. As long as the series keeps up the good work and the actors are up for it, I see at least a fifth and a sixth season in the future.

Score for first 3 Seasons: 4 ½ Ratings Star

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Television

 

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