|“||Sometimes bad guys are the only good guys you get..||”|
Leverage is a U.S. television drama series. It premiered on TNT on December 7, 2008 and concluded on December 25, 2012. The series was created by John Rogers and Chris Downey, and is produced by Dean Devlin for Electric Television. Leverage follows a five-person team of cons, headed up by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford. Doing business as Leverage Consulting & Associates, the team uses its skills to right corporate and governmental injustices inflicted on ordinary citizens.
The action follows former insurance investigator Nate Ford and a small team of cons, who are hired to recover a set of stolen aviation plans for aerospace executive Victor Dubenich. When the team, made up of Parker, an expert thief, Alec Hardison, a computer hacker and Eliot Spencer, a so-called retrievals specialist discover it's they who have been conned into stealing the plans for Dubenich, they recruit international grifter Sophie Devereaux and stage an elaborate con to recover the plans and discredit Dubenich, with Ford as their mastermind. The con results in a life-altering payout for each member of the team, and the discovery that each develops a taste for using their skills to do good. With Ford as their reluctant leader, they set up business as Leverage Consulting and Associates, first in Los Angeles and later in Boston, helping ordinary people who have fallen victim to fraud, theft, cons and other misdeeds by corporate America. Using their individual skills, they turn the tables on the mark, staging elaborate cons that bring the mark to justice.
- Nathan (Nate) Ford (Timothy Hutton): Know as the team's mastermind, Nate is a former insurance investigator for I.Y.S. insurance who at one time chased each member of the team. Nate is initially a reluctant leader, and is plagued by the demons from his past. Divorced from art expert Maggie Collins, he carried a long-time grudge against Ian Blackpoole, CEO of I.Y.S., who denied payment for a controversial treatment that would have saved the life of Nate and Maggie's young son Sam. Angry and bitter, Nate's begins drinking heavily, leading to his divorce and departure from I.Y.S. When Nate's opportunity to lead a team of cons on a mission to retrieve stolen blueprints leads to the financial score of a lifetime, he finds himself using the his skills to help ordinary people who fall victim to corporate greed and wrong-doing.
- Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman): A grifter with a gift for characters and accents, Sophie has a long, complicated history with Nate. Sophie is a would-be actress with no talent for the stage, but a gift for playing characters on cons, which is often her role. She can transform herself on the fly, sometimes playing multiple characters in the same con. Sophie has been known by many aliases, including her current name, although other than Nate, only the members of the team know her real name. Sophie feels a strong attraction to Nate, but is frustrated by his drinking and emotional distance, leading her to attempt to manipulate him into admitting his feelings for her. Over time, the two have grown closer, but their relationship remains a complicated one.
- Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane): The team's retrieval specialist with a marked distaste for guns, Eliot is often charged with protecting the team from physical threats during their cons. He is adept at hand-to-hand combat, and has a wide range of martial arts and weapons skills, although he uses them only when under attack. Eliot is deceptive: often viewed simply as the team's hitter, he has a range of sophisticated interpersonal skills he can draw on when he must recover a person or object. He is the team's pragmatist, with a dark past he is reluctant to discuss.
- Parker (Beth Riesgraf): Parker is the team's expert thief, with skills ranging from picking pockets to international jewel theft. Seemingly fearless, Parker uses a range of rappelling apparatus in the team's cons, and has developed a recent fondness for her taser. Parker was raised in a series of foster homes, teaching her to be self-sufficient at an early age, but leaving her with few social skills. She was mentored as a young thief by Archie Leach, who taught her acrobatics and honed her skills. She is closed off emotionally, but her relationships with the team, particularly a budding romance with Hardison, have helped her begin to open up and recognize her feelings.
- Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge): If it can be hacked, Hardison can hack it, and he uses his extensive technology skills on the team's cons. Hardison is a geek, and proud of it. Despite coming from a seemingly well-adjusted home life with his Nana, Hardison chose the life of a con, and is well known in the hacker community. Although Hardison can set up nearly any technological scenario the team may need, he is far less adept at playing characters than the others. Hardison has a dry sense of humor and a fondness for gummy frogs and orange soda, particularly while he's working.
From the world of the conEdit
- Tara Cole (Jeri Ryan): A grifter friend of Sophie's who she calls on to help the team, and keep an eye on Nate, while she takes a journey of personal discovery in Season 2. Unlike Sophie, Tara grifts for money, and was paid by the team while with them, but slowly develops an understanding of why the team operates as it does. Strong and self-assured, she is not reluctant to call Nate on his bad behavior, and soon finds a niche in the team. She also has skills that suggest she may have worked in some form of espionage in the past.
- Maggie Collins (Kari Matchett): Nate's ex-wife, and occasional collaborator in the team's cons. A free-lance art appraiser, Maggie has begun to slowly rebuild her relationship with Nate into a new friendship.
- Colin "Chaos" Mason (Wil Wheaton): A gifted hacker like Hardison, who is his rival. He carries a burning grudge against Sophie, and once attempted to kill her.
From law enforcementEdit
- James Sterling (Mark A. Sheppard): Nate's rival insurance investigator, now an Interpol agent with a habit of appearing when least expected. Sterling both admires Nate and is doggedly determined to bring him to justice, which results in his occasional collaboration with the team.
- Det. Captain Patrick Bonanno, Massachusetts State Police (Robert Blanche): An honest police detective with whom the team covertly works. They occasionally provide key evidence to Bonanno that allows him to arrest the team's mark, and have come to respect him. When a corrupt mayor hires a hit man to murder Bonanno, the team takes on the job of the mayor to justice, uncovering an international gun-running syndicate as they do. Bonanno knows Nate leads a team of cons, and would arrest them if he could, but also recognizes the good they do.
- FBI Special Agents Taggert (Rick Overton) and McSweeten (Gerald Downey): A team of FBI agents whose rise in the agency is largely due to the team's activities, for which they occasionally receive credit. As a result, they were transferred from a desert office to Boston. The team interact with them via Parker and Hardison, who they believe to FBI Special Agents Hagen and Thomas. McSweeten has a small crush on Parker as Hagen, of which she is seemingly unaware.
Plot by SeasonEdit
Nathan Ford, former insurance investigator for IYS Insurance, sits alone at a Chicago bar nursing a drink, when he's approached by Victor Dubenich, President of Bearing Aviation. Dubenich has assembled a team of expert thieves to retrieve plans for a new jet which were stolen by a competitor. All he needs to complete the team and recover the plans is one honest man to run the job. Nate agrees and that night the team, consisting of Eliot Spencer, a retrieval specialist, Parker, an eccentric thief, and Alec Hardison, a youthful hacker, complete the job only to discover the next morning that they are the ones who have been conned into stealing another company's plans for Dubenich. Determined to get even with Dubenich, Nate brings in a secret weapon: grifter (and would-be actress) Sophie Devereaux. With Sophie on board, the team executes an elaborate plan to con Dubenich, recover the plans and make a tidy profit. What none of them expects is the taste for using their skills for good that each develops.
The team relocates to Los Angeles, where they set up business as Leverage Consulting and Associates. Their first client is a military reservist in need of treatment after he is injured by mercenaries working for a corrupt military contractor (The Homecoming Job). Soon after, the team takes on international traders in illegal adoptions (The Stork Job), a mafioso who frames a restaurant owner for murder (The Wedding Job), a chemical company attempting to hide evidence of a toxic fertilizer (The Mile High Job), con men taking over homes when the owners refuse to pay for shoddy repairs (The Snow Job), an investment manager swindling charities (The 12-Step Job), and woman determined to buy a jury in order to take over the defendant's company cheaply (The Juror #6 Job). A foiled bank robbery leads them to take on a corrupt small-town sheriff (The Bank Shot Job), and the team saves St. Nicholas when a priest friend of Nate's church is purchased by a tacky property developer (The Miracle Job). When the father of an old flame of Eliot's needs help, they take on New York businessman killing horses to commit insurance fraud (The Two-Horse Job), and confront the man who becomes their most persistent adversary: Nate's former colleague James Sterling.
With Sterling on their heels, they take on their most daring con: bringing down Ian Blackpoole, President of IYS Insurance and the man responsible for the death of Nate's son. They also gain an unexpected ally: Nate's ex-wife, Maggie Collins, who helps them run an elaborate pair of cons designed to steal two bronze maquettes of Michelangelo's David and force Blackpoole's resignation (The First and Second David Jobs). The team succeeds, but at a price: their headquarters is destroyed, and they must leave Los Angeles and scatter for six months.
With the team dispersed, Nate moves to Boston, and struggles with new-found sobriety. Determined to return to his old life, Nate interviews for a position with an insurance company, but disappears before the interview ends. On his way home, he witnesses an accident, and rescues the car's passengers, a teenage girl and her father. The girl asks for Nate's help, telling him the accident was no accident. That evening, Nate attends a performance of "The Sound of Music", starring Sophie. Also there are Parker, Hardison and Eliot. They greet each other awkwardly, and we soon learn Sophie's invitations to each of them were designed to bring them back together. The five gather at the McRory's Pub, below Nate's loft, and the conversation soon turns to reuniting. Nate is unwilling to lead the team, but tells them about the girl, and they agree to do one job: to help the girl. The case leads them to a corrupt bank official and encounter with the Irish mob, and they find a new ally: Massachusetts State Police Lt. Patrick Bonnano. With Nate reluctantly back on board, Parker, Hardison and Eliot begin setting up a new headquarters in Nate's loft, much to his surprise.
As they settle into their new base of operations, the team takes on a crooked fight promoter (The Tap-Out Job), an media-hungry reporter willing to create news where none exists (The Three Days of the Hunter Job), unrepentant white-collar criminals hiding clients' money (The Order 23 Job and The Fairy Godparents Job) and a giant food conglomerate hiding tainted food (The Top Hat Job). The team, and Sophie, reach a turning point when they find themselves pitted against another team of cons, headed by Marcus Starke, who are trying to recover the same painting (The Two Live Crew Job). The job has some unexpected consequences when the team must fake Sophie's death after one of Starke's team makes an attempt on her life.
On the heels of her faked death, Sophie makes some major life changes as she realizes Nate may never be able to tell her how he feels about her. She takes break from the team, and begins a world-wide journey of personal discovery that begins at her own funeral, with the realization she has used so many assumed names and identities, including Sophie Devereaux, that she doesn't know who she is any longer. While she's away, the team finds themselves reluctantly accepting the assistance of Sophie's friend, a fellow grifter named Tara Cole. With Tara on board, the team takes on sweatshop owners holding workers hostage (The Runway Job), an Irish numbers runner attempting to steal their home base (The Bottle Job), and a fake psychic defrauding his clients (The Future Job). They must also team up with arch-rival Sterling to save Maggie and recover a Faberge egg (The Zanzibar Marketplace Job) before taking on a corrupt mayor and his gun-running associate, who attempt to murder Lt. Bonnano (The Three Strikes Job). By season's end, Sophie returns only to have Nate make an unexpected, life altering decision, but not the one she'd hoped for (The Maltese Falcon Job).
Season three opens with Nate on trial, and the team conspiring to break him out of prison, against his wishes. He soon convinces the team he means to serve his sentence in a private supermax prison, but the case of a young black man serving a long sentence for a minor crime leads to the discovery that the warden was engaged in bribery and fraud for his own gain. Nate pulls the team back together, and with the help of Det. Bonnano, breaks out of prison and brings down the warden. Nate's freedom comes at a price, when a mysterious Italian woman gives him a choice: find an untouchable international crime financier named Damien Moreau within six months, or return to a prison of her choosing. Nate also learns the remainder of the team knows something only he must earn: Sophie's elusive real name.
With Nate free and the team back together, if not entirely ready to forgive Nate for leaving them, they return to work, but with a second objective: to use their cases to help them build a trail that leads to Damien Moreau. Over the intervening months, they take on a software company executive in league with the Iranian mob (The Reunion Job), an amoral pharmaceutical company executive marketing a lethal drug (The Double Blind Job), a group of domestic paramilitaries funded by a corrupt IRS agent (The Gone Fishin' Job), a record executive stealing music from new writers (The Studio Job), a mine owner covering up mine safety violations (The Underground Job) and a race driver trafficking in stolen cars (The Boost Job). Along the way, they unleash Hardison's hidden talents as a violinist to bring down a corrupt African official (The Scheherazade Job), must rescue Parker's mentor, Archie Leach (The Inside Job), and take down a group of Russian and Irish mobsters lead by Nate's father, Jimmy (The Three-Card Monte Job).
They also manage some fun, when a brief respite allows them to reflect on one job from five points of view (The Rashomon Job). But with the Italian watching closely, the team's jobs eventually lead them to one of Damien Moreau's associates, a fine-arts dealer who uses children to smuggle illegal artifacts from the middle east (The King George Job). That in turn leads them to a former professional hockey player committing securities fraud who holds the key to accessing Moreau's accounts (The Morning After Job). After a little time off to save the reputation of a mall Santa and face off against old rival Colin "Chaos" Mason (The Ho Ho Ho Job), they finally come face-to-face with Moreau when he arrives in Washington D.C. to sell a bomb, learning a stunning secret from Eliot's past (The Big Bang Job). With Moreau on the run, the team follows him to his tiny island sanctuary of San Lorenzo, where an earnest presidential candidate and a stolen election lead to Moreau's final downfall (The San Lorenzo Job), and a surprising turn of events for Nate and Sophie.
Season 4 opens on an Alaskan mountain top a few days after the team leaves San Lorenzo, a planned two-week break interrupted by their latest job. Nate and Sophie come face-to-face for the first time since their unexpected morning after in San Lorenzo, and must decide their next move. The team discovers their headquarters bugged.
After bringing down a corrupt PR consultant, Nate receives a phone call from Jack Latimer, a professional investor who bugged Leverage's offices and uses the information to invest.
Episodes typically consist of a short prologue that sets up the client's case, five acts, and an epilogue where the team debriefs on the case. Run time is approximately 42:30 without commercials. Beginning in Season 2, the prologue is followed by a 20-second "saga sell", which sets up the premise for the show and introduces the main characters; this is typically omitted in the season opener and finale. The credits appear over the beginning of Act One.
Act One generally includes the client's meeting with Nate and one or more team members, the team's briefing on the case, and planning the con, which concludes with Nate's signature line, "Let's go steal a..." Once the con is underway, the client is rarely seen. The cons are designed to use the specialized skill of each team member, and typically meet with at least one major complication that requires the team respond on the fly, either by altering the con or by initiating a new one. In the final act, the con concludes with the downfall of the mark, and includes a series of flashbacks revealing how elements of the con worked.
In the epilogue, Nate meets with the client to sum up the outcome, the team debriefs on the case, and we see its impact on the individual team members. Woven through many of the episodes is one or more characters' personal story, such as Nate's battle with alcohol or Eliot's mysterious past deeds. Figures from their individual history occasionally appear, such as Parker's mentor, Archie Leach. Elements of individual episodes may also advance one of two romantic sub-plots: Nate and Sophie's complicated romantic history, and the budding relationship between Parker and Hardison.
Following production of the pilot in Chicago, Season 1 of Leverage was set and filmed in Los Angeles, at Glendale Studios. The team's fictional headquarters were on the top floor of an office building in downtown Los Angeles; exteriors of the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, Pacific Electric Building and adjoining buildings are used as various views of the Leverage Consulting and Associates headquarters. Much of the location shooting was done in and around Pasadena, CA, including the campus of Ambassador College, which featured in the First and Second David Jobs.
Beginning with Season 2, the team moved its base to Boston, and production moved to Portland, OR. New permanent sets, including John McRory's Place (named for the Irish version of creator John Rogers' family name) and Nate's loft were constructed in Clackamas, a suburb of Portland. Location shooting featured downtown and suburban Portland, the Portland metropolitan area and Vancouver, WA. One episode was filmed in part on Mt. Hood.
As of Season 5, the show was set as well as filmed in Portland. A new headquarters set was constructed, and the production moved to larger facilities at their Clackamas location. Dean Devlin and John Rogers both noted their desire to feature Portland and its well known locations more prominently in the show, which lead in part to the decision to relocate the Leverage team's base. The Season 5 premiere episode was filmed, in part, at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum, and featured the Spruce Goose.
- Leverage averaged 3.9 million viewers for Season 1, 4.1 million for Season 2 and 4.5 million for Season 3 (figures are live + seven-day, including time shifted viewing). The premiere of Season 4 drew 3.42 million viewers (live + same day), up 10% from the Season 3 premiere, and 4.60 million Live + 3 Day, up 16% from the Season 3 premiere.
Leverage has been nominated twice for a Saturn Award as Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series (2009 and 2010).
- In March 2010, the show sponsored an official Leverage fan event, Con-Con, held at the Governor Hotel. It was at the time, the only TNT show to have its own convention. A second Con-Con was planned for June, 2011, but was canceled following poor ticket sales. A small group of fans "stole" Con-Con and held an informal "Fan-Con" in its place, which included a set tour, screening of the fourth season premiere and a series of social events.
- In 2010, the cast appeared at San Diego's Comic-Con, and hosted a panel.