Leverage Season 2, Episodes 10 & 11 Reviews: The Runway Job and The Bottle Job

Next week Leverage returns to TNT with six new episodes starting with a fashion-focused episode and a new face. Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) joins the group of grifters and con artists as con-for-hire Tara Cole.

For the benefit of those who missed last summer’s finale ‘The Lost Heir Job,’ Tara is a friend of Sophie’s who is filling in for her temporarily while she travels the world and tries to reconnect with herself. In that episode she managed to upset the team by not revealing her real identity to the group until the end of the con, saying that she wanted to see how good they really are.

Though the team is prepared to work with her again, the early episodes manage to extract considerable dramatic tension from the situation as she clashes with their established way of doing things. While this provides considerable drama and, at times, humor, crucially it does not damage the great chemistry between the members of the team.

In this episode the team works to take down a pair of sweatshop owners by appealing to the wife’s dreams of becoming a fashion sensation. It is an entertaining enough premise which allows both Ryan and Timothy Hutton to spend much of the episode dressed as fashion designers and sporting some outrageous accents. Leverage followers will probably extract even more amusement from the sight of tough guy Eliot (Christian Kane) awkwardly wearing eyeliner.

As amusing as the dabbling in the fashion world is however the episode is let down a little by its plot and underwritten villains. The episode quickly moves away from a confidence trick into a heist situation which, although generating some amusing moments and dialogue, ultimately plays out in a fairly straightforward way.

Though ‘The Runway Job’ may not be a classic Leverage episode, it does at least work well as an introductory point to those who have never seen the series before. Much of the episode’s focus falls onto the new member of the team and her learning and adapting to the way the group works.

Much more satisfying is the one that follows it on January 20th, ‘The Bottle Job.’ In it the team tackles a predatory loan shark, playing a vintage con trick on him in an attempt to save a bar in which group leader Nate spent much of his childhood.

Adding to the challenge are the difficult conditions the team has to work under; pulling the con off within a two hour timeframe, and Nate’s well-established drinking issues on top of the usual Leverage twists and turns. When its conclusion came around I was caught genuinely off-guard, surprised and entertained by a clever final twist. Not only entertaining in terms of its plot but also as a character drama, ‘The Bottle Job’ is one of my favorite episodes from this second season.

Although I have not seen the final four episodes of this second season I can say that they do sound promising. Indeed, fans of the show will be delighted to see the return of a couple of familiar faces in one episode while I’m also intrigued by casting of Luke Perry in a guest spot playing a fake psychic swindling cash out of the bereaved.

Hopefully these episodes will match and maintain the high standard established by Leverage throughout this second season. In this I am reassured that the addition of Jeri Ryan to the team seems not to have negatively affected the group’s chemistry and that her character Tara quickly establishes a fun, slightly antagonistic relationship with the others that feels different to the one they had with Sophie.

With the team’s chemistry still in tact and an array of interesting scenarios to put them into, Leverage remains as entertaining as ever in its 2010 return.

– Aidan Brack

Leverage is all-new starting Wednesday, Jan. 13, Only on TNT at 10/9c.

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