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Leverage - A Series Review

I finally finished watching Leverage last night. So, I figured I'd tell you all what I liked and didn't like about it. Just in case anyone is interested. 

For those that don't know, Leverage follows the adventures of a team of ex-thieves, who are technically still thieves - only they're playing Robin Hood now. Each episode is a different heist that leaves some corrupt CEO/Politician/Whoever ruined and the balance (partially) restored to the universe. 

Likes:
1. I really like heists, so I really liked the show. I think, actually, that someone recommended it to me after the Supernatural episode The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo - just because I was going on about how much I like heists.

2. The other thing I liked about the show was the fact that it's only got a casual emotional depth to it. It doesn't swallow your soul like Supernatural or Sherlock does. The episodes are more about the heists than they are about the characters.

3. I also like the fact that each member of the team has their own specialty. It's very much like the old-school Mission Impossible (I'm pretty sure old-school MI fans completely ignore the Tom Cruise movies, but maybe that's just me.) 

Anyway, for those who don't know, the team consists of Nate (Mastermind), Sophie (Grifter), Parker (Thief), Eliot (Hitter), Hardison (Hacker). 

4. I like Aldis Hodge. He was at my first Supernatural convention, and I really took a liking to him there. I mean, who wouldn't like a handsome geeky violin player who knows martial arts? He's like the best of everything. And he's still older than my younger sister, which makes it perfectly not creepy for me to crush on him.

5. Threesomes - as I'm sure it's already come up countless times, I'm a sucker for threesomes. I really love it when a show has good threesome dynamics, and Leverage does. Now, it takes until S4, but then the show starts to simultaneously both set Eliot/Parker/Hardison up to be the perfect threesome AND try to not do that by suddenly having the previously nearly-celibate Eliot suddenly having casual hook-ups left right and centre. Of course, if the show was really trying to destroy the idea of Eliot/Parker/Hardison they could have done a better job of it, since they suddenly had Eliot both hitting on chicks and also hanging out with very handsome male "friends" too. Also, it's actually very rare for the third in a threesome to be monogamous...so really, they aren't fooling anyone. Plus, the series finale pretty much makes it canon in more ways than one.

(And before anyone says anything, yes, someone has told me to watch White Collar. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I'm sure I will one of these days.)

Dislikes:
So, at first, I disliked Eliot's (Christian Kane's) batman voice. But I got used to it.

1. My main dislike is that when there IS emotional depth, it's always about Nate (Timothy Hutton). Now, I've poked around enough in the (relatively) small fandom to know that there ARE people out there that find Nate (and Sophie) interesting, so the following is just my opinion, but....

LIsten, there are only three interesting characters on this show, and Nate isn't one of them. I think you've probably guessed by now who the three interesting characters are, in my opinion. But, even leaving beside the shipping, Hardison, Parker, and Eliot are interesting as individuals. Think of it this way: On one hand, you've got an ex-secret military assassin type, a personality-disorder loner dare-devil thief with a tragic past, and a super genius who just wants everyone to get along (also with a relatively tragic past).... and then, on the other hand, you have an alcoholic who acts like the world revolves around him and that his pain is the only pain, and you have a girl who for some reason finds this attractive (oh, and she's also a good liar but that's really all we know about her). Now, which hand is more interesting to you?

Seriously, Nate kind of pisses me off. He gets into the Robin Hood business not because he's dismayed at the injustice out there (that comes later), but because something bad happens to HIM. His entire world-view is shattered because here he was a rich white guy and then his son dies because his insurance wouldn't cover a new treatment...and Nate is like "but I'm a rich white guy!!" and yet it still happens...and so Nate becomes an alcoholic who NEVER GETS OVER ANYTHING. Seriously, at some point we meet his ex-wife, who you know ALSO LOST HER SON, and she's completely well adjusted and happy... and the show tries to explain that it's because she never knew of the possible new treatment and the stupid insurance company, but even when she finds out, she's like "well that sucks. Ah well, time to get on with my life."

And even in S5, when you think, okay, it's been long enough that maybe we don't have to hear about the dead son anymore...there's a perfect opportunity to learn something about the other team members, but then Nate is like "let me tell you a very depressing story about how my son died"...ugh. There's also a lot of back and forth about whether Nate's alcoholism is a problem or not, and I don't think the show ever really decides one way or another and eventually it's just swept under the rug and not talked about again. It's like they couldn't decided what the hell they were doing with that storyline.

Anyway, I think my next personal editing project is going to be to edit the 5 seasons of Leverage down to only being Eliot, Parker, and Hardison scenes.

2. Leverage also has some of the same problems that Merlin had - there's very little emotional follow through (unless it involves Nate) and there is absolutely no good h/c follow-through even though Eliot was basically MADE for it. Basically, there's a potential for absolute awesomeness, but the writers fall short of reaching it by focusing their story on the wrong thing. 

Actually, I'd fault them a bit for their design of Eliot, because they accidentally on-purpose made him super human... just because it's a little bit funny. The problem with doing that is that because they made him "impossible" (ie: super-soldier who can take multiple massive blows to the head and be perfectly fine), you lose the emotional depth of actually having him be a real person. They can't delve into his past, because they've made his past too crazy, and there's a loss of emotional depth between the characters, because they're just like "Oh, Eliot was shot again, AH WELL" and then they all look like douchebags who don't really care about each other. (It should be noted though, that they really treat mostly every injury this way - whether it's Eliot or someone else... they fall prey to the "bullets can only kill you if they hit you in the head or heart; if they hit you anywhere else, you can walk it off" myth that Hollywood always subscribes to.)

Even when Eliot (or Hardison or Parker) does get a good storyline or character point though, there's no follow-through on it. We find out that Eliot's estranged from his family...nothing comes of that. At one point, Eliot tells Nate not to tell the others about something he just did, and Nate is just like "okay" so nothing every comes of that - even though it would have been great to see an scene where the others know and, you know, respond in a way that shows Eliot that they aren't ashamed of him or whatever the heck he's afraid of.

Fics and Fandom:
I've only explored a little, but so far the fanfic doesn't seem to make up for the deficits of the show, which I think is one of the main purposes of fanfic. I was hoping to find fics that would bring more emotional depth to the characters that got ignored on the show. 

And before you say anything, I know that one of my likes about the show was the fact that it had only a casual emotional depth, and yet here I am complaining that the fic doesn't have more emotional depth... but that just shows you the difference between what I like in a TV show and what I like in fanfiction. Basically, I think it's a job of fanfiction to fill in the holes of a show and expand on themes and explore characters more indepthly. In Leverage's case, the concentration on Nate's pain/relationships above any of the other characters is something that I want to see corrected in the fanfiction. Leverage is already a very fluffy show, so I don't want the fic I read to be fluffy.

To date, I've really only found one Leverage story that impressed me (Not including the one that ratherastory wrote, because I always like her stuff.), and it was a fic that tried to make up for a lot of my above complaints about the treatment of Eliot. 

The potential for a lot of fic is there, but sadly the fandom seems very small and probably unlikely to continue for much longer now that the show is over (I'd love to be mistaken about this though.)


If any of you do know of good Leverage fic, rec me them in comments! :)

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
missyjack
Jan. 15th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC)
I only watched the first 2 seasons but one thing I always wondered was - how did people find them? I mean they offer a pretty amazing service, so why isn't there a queue around the block of of people who have been ripped off wanting help???

Also Christian Kane makes me laugh ;D
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 09:56 am (UTC)
Haha, I had the same thought! My headcannon is that Hardison somehow rigged google to somehow trigger their website to come up if people were searching for certain combinations of words...like some sort of secret cryptic password. Otherwise, why weren't all the law enforcement agencies finding them too?!

Christian Kane makes me laugh too ;)
ramblin_rosie
Jan. 15th, 2013 05:18 am (UTC)
Never watched Leverage, but as an old-school M:I fan ('66 and '88), I can emphatically confirm that the Tom Cruise movies are waaay AU and can safely be ignored. Had to watch the first one in HS and hated it, and we didn't even get to the end.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 09:59 am (UTC)
Yay, I knew I couldn't be the only old-school M:I fan who was pissed off by the Tom Cruise films. The whole point, I always thought, was that it was a TEAM effort - not another James Bond/Jason Bourne deal. :P
franztastisch
Jan. 15th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
I've only watched the first seaon of Leverage. And the reason I stopped was because Nate and Sophie bored me to tears. The whole show should just be Eliot, Parker and Hardison.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
Agreed!
epeeblade
Jan. 15th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
I wrote some Leverage xovers, but I don't think they meet the requirement of fixing what you didn't like about the show:) Both are crossed over with SPN, so you might find them interesting anyway? http://archiveofourown.org/users/epeeblade/works?fandom_id=5280

The other one I wrote (The New York ComicCon Con) involves just Elliot, Parker and Hardison, no Nate or Sophie in sight:)
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Cool, I will check them out! Thanks :)
percysowner
Jan. 15th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
I watched Leverage until last season. I thought the first season was the best, partly because I loved Maggie, Nate's ex-wife, and she was in during those seasons. I felt bad that in the first season Elliot was identified as a retrieval specialist and then by season 2, he suddenly got downgraded to "Hitter" with superpowers. To me Elliot is the super smart guy with great skills who also knew how to break into places and retrieve all sorts of things.

I couldn't agree more that Nate is the most boring character and Sophie is up there with him. I never bought the romance.

Although I don't read a lot of Leverage, there is a lovely lj community that does recommendations in all sorts of fandoms here is the link to the Leverage recs http://crack-van.livejournal.com/tag/leverage Most of them are cross-overs and I've read a few of the White Collar/Leverage ones and they were good. I can't say if the stories here will answer your needs or not, but it is a place to start.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they really did Eliot a disservice - because in the beginning he was kind of this awesome hitter/grifter/specialist combo - and then suddenly in the later seasons they made it seem like he didn't know how to grift... but he was grifting on their very first gig right alongside Sophie.

Thanks for the LJ comm rec! I'll check it out. People really like to use Leverage from crossovers for some reason... maybe one of these days I'll have to bump White Collar higher up the "to watch" list.
percysowner
Jan. 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Looking over the Leverage list, there were a lot of crossovers. There is at least one Hardison/Parker/Elliot story.

White Collar dovetails nicely into Leverage, so I understand why they get crossed over so often. I love White Collar and it does a very believable OT3 relationship. Anyway, I hope you find Leverage stories to enjoy.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 15th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think the only two shows on my "to watch list" right now are White Collar and Warehouse 13. So, maybe I should give White Collar a go... I do love a good/believable OT3.
metallidean_grl
Jan. 21st, 2013 03:49 am (UTC)
I watched every episode of Leverage. I loved and enjoyed the show, and was sad to see it cancelled, but then again, not that sad. I am in agreement with you about Nate and Sophie. I felt the episodes focused way too much on them, which like you, there are times I did find that a little boring. I wanted to see more of Eliot. He was an interesting character, my favorite, of course he was. They had a few episodes where he was more of the focus and I thought those episodes were great. It seemed that in the last season they focused less and less on him and more and more on Nate and Sophie, which I was very displeased with. I am sure there was a whole lot of story they could have done with him, but they just seemed to use him less and less as the years progressed. Which is a great shame.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 21st, 2013 04:01 am (UTC)
I agree completely. I think the problem is that they wrote him up too much, they made his past too mysterious... they used allusions to it as comedy, rather than actually putting any thought into exactly what circumstances actually were for him. Basically, I don't think they realized how interesting the character COULD have been, or actually WAS, even though he was ignored.

Such potential for great character driven plot, and they never used it. It's a shame.

metallidean_grl
Jan. 21st, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
Eliot was a great character for so much plot and story and he was the one character that was the least flushed out. He was really ignored. All the other characters were fleshed out a lot more. I was fairly disappointed with the show for that reason.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 21st, 2013 04:24 am (UTC)
Indeed. I'd say him and Hardison were the least fleshed out - but Hardison at least benefited from having a romantic storyline with Parker, so we got to see a little bit more of him. Eliot wasn't fleshed out and he also didn't get any subplots. A damn waste of a good character and a good actor.
metallidean_grl
Jan. 21st, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)
Totally agree. Eliot was the most interesting character for me on this show and the least used. A total waste of Christian Kane's acting ability. I hope he can find another series where he will be utilized more.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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