In the second half of Season 1, the camera angles (the 360 is back), lighting and background improve, but the chemistry is still lacking. There was some joy to be found from some in-jokes.
Episode 9: The Bucket Job ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
The Leverage team’s holiday good deed goes awry when their attempt to give a small-town librarian the spy-thriller adventure of a lifetime is interrupted by a shadowy organization.
The charm of this episode is LeVar Burton of “Reading Rainbow” and, of course, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” plays the role of the small-town librarian, Mr. Blanche. Fans of Christian Kane and Noah Wylie will also have a giggle because those two were together in the TV series “The Librarians.” As you might expect, there’s a TNG reference.
The Leverage crew is having a Christmas party. Blanche is dying and although he reads a lot of adventure books, his life in Kenner, Louisiana seems humdrum. The team decide to give him adventure (for his bucket list), but Blanche turns out to be more than an ordinary librarian and an old computer holds the key to his real identity.
The steely Bligh (Lacy Taylor) reappears.
TOS “Leverage” previously had some Star Trek connections with Brent Spiner appearing in “The Juror #6 Job” and Jonathan Frakes appeared in uncredited cameos and directed 13 episodes. Frakes more recently directed Redemptions Episode 7: “The Double-Edged Sword Job.”
Christian Kane has a reunion with Marsters. Kane played Lindsey McDonal in 21 episodes of “Angel” (1999-2004) who was a frenemy of Angel. Marsters played Spike.
The episode is also a tribute to the late actor Robert Blanche who played Lt. Patrick Bonanno in TOS “Leverage.” The book Burton’s character is reading is supposedly written by Patrick Bonnano and the book jacket has a photo of Robert Blanche.
Episode 10: The Unwellness Job ⭐︎⭐︎
The Leverage team sets out to discredit a lifestyle and wellness guru targeting desperate people and peddling snake oil instead of actual medicine.
The set up is a woman, Dr. Beth Duque (Tadasay Young) breaks into her sister’s apartment. Her sister has a yet to be identified illness. Medications have been prescribed to help her control the symptoms, but the woman has been taking supplements like “Himalayan Chakra Rebalancing Extract” to cure her symptoms.
Browyn Lark (Brianna Brown) is one of those social media health gurus who specializes buying up health supplements and rebranding them as her own tand peddling the worthless health products at a quick turnover to her gullible followers. Supplements (Harry Wilson informs us) do not come under the same scrutiny as medicine–supplements have to be proven harmful before they are taken off the shelves. Browyn does have a well-meaning assistant, Melanie Brown (Ashley Tavares). The team try to peddle her a honey-based product, but find that she can turn a scandal around. They then target a bit-coin dealer Chad Deihle (David Clayton Rogers) who is trying to buy Browyn’s list of followers which he means to sell and mine the data.
Episode 11: The Jackal Job ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
The Leverage team explores the failing memory of a legendary grifter to try and find her greatest score before her abusive elder guardian gets his hands on it and takes over her life.
Breanna Casey (Aleyse Shannon) was caught trying to steal a watch and after Harry Wilson’s legal finagling, has to do community service delivering meals. Through this, she meets a woman, Stella (Joanna Cassidy), who attempts to steal Breanna’s cellphone. The Jackal is the nickname of a famous grifter. In flashbacks, Sophie becomes Stella’s younger self as the Jackal tells how she fell in love with her mark (Sophie says, “Cardinal sin of any con.”). In current time, Stella has come under the predatory practice of a professional elder guardian Phil Hinkley (Kraig Dane), over bills them, sells their stuff, their house, and then dumps them in a cheap nursing home.”
Sophie pretends to be Antonio Alvarez’s (Gabriel Myles) replacement as her home healthcare aide. Stella has early stage Alzheimer’s and has been found wandering around. She even wanders off while Sophie is supposed to be watching her. “More and more my thief is stealing pieces of me,” Stella tells Sophie and Breanna. She can only remember that they were happy there, in this house.
Somewhere, with Stella’s greatest mark, is her durable power of attorney. The two hints are a portrait that resembles Sophie (and meant to be a young Stella) and the 1902 Teddy Roosevelt gun. That takes us to the past and a bar across the pond . That’s 1976 London and a gangster named Earl (Hamish Allan-Headley) and his girl named Jo (Helen Sadler) whom Earl isn’t above hitting.
Episode 12: The Golf Job ⭐︎⭐︎
An old friend visits, sparking self-doubting Harry to uncover an unlikely client on the links at his exclusive golf club.
The old friend is Jack Hurley (Drew Powell) who appeared in the first season (“The 12-Step Job”). Hurley was an investment broker who embezzled money from a charity but an alcoholic who needed rehab. Hurley then reappeared in Season 4 (“The Girls Night Out Job” and “The Boys Night Out Job”) where he believes he’s doing an honest job, but the statues of the Virgin Mary he’s been delivering has drugs in it.
In New Orleans on this Leverage team, Breanna is already away, off as a camp counselor at a coding camp. Parker and Sophie are off to a job in Colombia.
Now Hurley (no gambling, no booze, no drugs, no tacos) is part of a Leverage International team and has a layover from Seoul. He drops in to visit the original Leverage team. Eliot (Christian Kane) and Hurley are golf buddies. On the course, Harry runs into Carl Bishop (James Marsters) as Eliot and Hurley take advantage of Wilson’s membership at an exclusive golf club. Harry realizes that Carl’s caddy, Bao (Kevin Phan), is being coerced to play a bait-and-switch con.
Carl is in business with Mai (Jamie Tran) who runs and nail shop. Carl is also buying and selling people, immigrants on the wrong side of legal. The immigrants are supplied by Frank Dupree (Eric Salazar). For legal assistancea, they have Rick Saffron (Michael Francis Horn) and law enforcement is in their pocket.
For his part of the con, Harry Wilson brings in a young lawyer ready to go on the dark side, Sarah Nichols (Morgan Lindholm).
Carol Hathaway is one of the pseudonyms used by Sophie (“ER” reference).
Episode 13: The Hurricane Job ⭐︎⭐︎
Stuck together during a massive hurricane, Eliot and Parker must stop a band of corrupt cops who have taken over a small hotel and find what the cops are searching for, before it’s too late.
After from a job, Harry Wilson and Sophie have returned to base, but Parker and Eliot take refuge in a small hotel run by McCloud (Dennis Cockrum) and Roxie Jimenez (Jade Fernandez) on Greenbeach Isle. On that particular island, two weeks ago, two policemen, Boggs (Eltony Williams) and Abel (Ben Thompson) have been beating up a guy, Omar Solina (Marco Guerrero), for his phone. Solina is hospitalized. Abel was suspended.
Harry is sent to the hospital and there will be some ER references. Even though Harry Wilson is a lawyer, he learned enough medical terms from TV.
The team is down a person: Breanna is off to a “geek fest.” Eliot and Parker were the last off of the mark’s yacht and end up at Beacon Inn because Eliot chose a getaway boat held together by duct tape and a hurricane called Esme has trapped them on the island. Eliot calls for (US Marshal) Maria Shipp (Andrea Navedo) to save them. Maria and Eliot are an item, but Maria still doesn’t know what Eliot does for a living.
Abel (Ben Thompson) is looking for something, but his friends think it’s a phone. It isn’t and the motivation here is money, of course. Here Eliot takes the lead with Parker going into her crazy woman act for distraction. Using an old ham radio, Eliot contacts Sophie and Harry.
Episode 14: The Great Train Job ⭐︎⭐︎
Two local farmers are targeted by a hate group, but something more poisonous on the farm leads Team Leverage to a crooked green energy innovator and an old-fashioned train heist.
The two farmers, Leon (Prince Hammond) and James (Choppy Guillotte), of Famille Farms are a mixed race gay couple being harassed by white supremacists. Leon is one of the last Black-owned legacy farmers in the State. The two know Eliot who vouches for the high quality of their vegetables. It’s not the White nationalists who are the problem; it’s what’s poisoning the crops and the people.
This episode brings into question the disposal of electrical batteries as a man raises money for an electric airplane with more talk than actual show. Breanna finds a possible new love. Harry gets to team with Eliot and is prepared in a way that almost screams serial killer. He’s not, but Harry does come to Eliot’s aid.
Sophie, Parker and Breanna get on the train, which has beautiful old style private cars with wood panels and a 1910 Glenn-Rieder safe (after the first-year writing team of Melissa Glenn and Jessica Rieder) which is behind the frame of an early Kandinski. Sophie plays German aristocracy, an expert on European green aviation, and Senator Gwynette (David Dahlgren) introduces Sophie to Blake Whitcomb (Jon Fletcher), the man behind the electric airplane who owns the private cars. He’s guarded by Karl (Jeremy Landon Hays), a White nationalist and his private car has a biometric lock.
Blake is trying to find investors and bring the world back in order (“It’s in our blood to be back on top,” Blake tells Sophie’s Lady Lili-Marlene von Bismark), but Blake’s more the fake-it-until-you-make-it, “green-washing” type. He does have an actual scientist on board, chief engineer Emily (Aury Krebs) who Breanna finds geekishly attractive. Emily doesn’t know what’s happening with the batteries because Blake is incredibly hush-hush about it. Parker is the one who realizes that the things hidden are in the car walls and not the safe.
In the end Sophie, Breanna and Parker handle the details on the train with the help of the Canadian Monties to take care of the villainous greenwasher.
Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003) is mentioned in reference to a hatchet which is supposedly a screen-used proper. Riefenstahl was a director best known for her Nazi propaganda movies.
Episode 15: The Muddy Waters Job ⭐︎⭐︎
The Leverage team infiltrates an oil rig and a small-town trial to find evidence that a corrupt oil CEO is hiding a dangers oil leak in the gulf, causing illnesses along the spill zone.
In this two-parter, we finally meet Harry Wilson’s ex-wife Grace (Amy Motta) and his daughter, Becky Wilson (Auden Wyle). His daughter is frightened by a confrontation and feels the stepfather, Ethan Bradford (John Hans Tester), isn’t taking it seriously enough. The stepfather is a good-guy, despite what Parker finds is a bad-guy hairstyle. Do hairstyles ever lie?
This is about Harry’s redemption and the muddy waters are literal (oil spill) and figurative, unfinished business between Harry, his ex and his wife’s current husband. Harry tries to tell his ex-wife the truth about her husband, and instead of saving his daughter and his ex-wife, he will end up destroying their world.
Eliot, Breanna and Parker end up on Hyperion Oil Rig while Sophie and Harry are in court with the people suing over the illnesses they believed are caused by the spill. Things get worse before they get better and the action spills into the next episode where we figure out who Ethan is working with.
Sophie is considering leaving for England to manage a theater.
Episode 16: The Harry Wilson Job ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
The team has to infiltrate the shadowy RIZ to stop it from unleashing a worm that can take down the entire electrical grid, and they must use Harry to do it.
The Prime Video summary gives away that Harry supposed betrayal is actually Harry going undercover. There will be more surprises and who will return next season is left up in the air. Harry is undercover with a cushy office and a custom-made very expensive desk at RIZ. The information the Leverage team needs to prove the corruption of the oil company and how RIZ is linked to it (and RIZ’s ultimate plan) means going into the RIZ headquarters, with Sophie, Parker and Eliot on the inside. There will be a surprise guest and Sophie and Harry will come to an agreement.
Eliot and Maria seem to have come to an impasse; she understands that he’s doing something illegal and won’t cross the line. Will she be back in Season 2? Maria finally got Parker on her side.
The verbal showdown between Sophie and Bligh is a thing of beauty, but still, the episode is uneven.
While the second part of the season is better, no episode rises to the level of the best of TOS “Leverage.” Part of the problem if the chemistry between the new members as well as trying to push the characters forward in terms of personal development. The production values have definitely increased, and perhaps, the storylines are somewhat hampered by COVID-19 restrictions, but the quality of the writing, the wit and the twists are still subpar.