Leverage has been one of my favorite escapist pleasures since the pilot. I watched it and just knew this was a show I'd want to talk about every week. Four seasons in, while the show isn't as addicting as it once was, it's still a fun way to spend an hour of my summer weekends.
Less than two weeks after San Lorenzo, Nate pulls the team back together on behalf of a woman whose husband disappeared during a climb of Alaska's Mt. Kibari (in reality, that's Mount Hood). She suspects foul play on the part of one of her spouse's business partners, a rich guy who's been busy with mortgage fraud. The only hope of bringing down the bad guy is to locate a notebook detailing the fraud - which happens to be on the body of the missing man, somewhere on the mountain. Eliot and Parker are sent up to search, while Sophie has to schmooze in order to distract the mark, and Nate must contend with the sudden arrival of the missing man's widow. This con is no one's idea of a good time...unless you count the audience.
What's great about "The Long Way Down Job" is how it seamlessly drops us back into the lives of our heroes as if we never left. Yes, we touch upon Nate and Sophie's tryst, but the show doesn't beat us over the head with it or let it consume the story. We see Eliot getting tetchy with Nate over his drinking problem. The Hardison and Parker flirtation is still present. Within the first ten minutes we're reacquainted with everyone and it's woven perfectly into the flow of the episode. Furthermore, there's some excellent material between Eliot and Parker that both Christian Kane and Beth Riesgraf hit out of the park. It demonstrates just how far both their characters have come since joining Team Leverage. Nate also has a heart-to-heart with the widow in which he shares what he learned from the loss of his son. These are protagonists who have clearly changed since we first met them, which highlights how well-developed they are.
The plot itself is typical Leverage: pull that starting string and a whole arc unravels. Sophie quickly discovers that the bad guy is secretly negotiating a buyout of his company that will allow him to get paid and escape scot-free. It's up to her to foul up the deal by causing consternation amongst the other bigwigs at base camp. This is what she does best; I don't know if I mentioned it last season, but as much as I loved her in her earlier series, Gina Bellman has definitely left her Coupling character Jane in the dust. Meanwhile, Eliot and Parker have a Vertical Limit moment after they fall through the ice (leading to the aforementioned great material) and tangle with a Russian hitman. (Is there any other kind?) Leverage is never overly twisty, but it usually manages to have something up its proverbial sleeve. It's not challenging to me, which is why I think it's not quite as high on my list as it once was, but it's never boring.
Another thing I appreciate about this show is that it's one I watch with my family. I've said this before, but there aren't many programs that I can do that with. For example, this episode is a TV-PG show, and it gets by without a trace of bad words, adult content, or even insinuations of such. It proves that while you can go to such places, you don't have to.
Leverage is a perfect summer series in my opinion. It's an equal mix of light fun and character depth. There are other shows I might love more, but there's something to be said for the series that I can enjoy with my parents, a bowl of popcorn, and not a care in the world. Welcome back, Team Leverage. You were missed.