Episode TItle: 'The (Very) Big Bird Job'
Writer: John Rogers
Director: John Rogers
When Hardison (Aldis Hodge) learns that a cargo airline company got off the hook in an accident negligence lawsuit in which a pilot was killed, he assembles the team together in their new Portland, Oregon base of operations - a micro brewery.
Hardison briefs the team on Scott Roemer, the corrupt head of Global Transit Airlines. Roemer had the company's aircraft maintenance off-shored to Mexico despite safety risks and corner cutting, resulting in the accident. Nate (Timothy Hutton) talks to the pilot's widow and daughter and assures them he plans to make Roemer pay, at no charge to them.
As the mother and daughter leave, they are attacked outside the brewery, but Eliot (Christian Kane) comes to their rescue. Meanwhile, Sophie (Gina Bellman) and Parker (Beth Riesgraf) infiltrate Global Transit's office, which is in disarray.
That's because Roemer (Cary Elwes) is pre-occupied with Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, the largest aircraft ever built, now housed in a museum. Nate encounters him there and using a cover story, convinces Roemer that he can arrange a deal that would allow him to own the aircraft. Later at the brewery, the team comes up with a plan to discredit Roemer and stop Global Transit from going through with a merger involving two passenger airlines.
Eliot asks the pilot's widow if there's anything Global Transit could be after. She tells him that the company recovered her husband's laptop and Hardison is able to access it. He quickly discovers video footage of Global Transit operations the pilot shot with a hidden camera.
Hardison poses as Nate's foreign business partner for a meeting with Roemer, but he sees through the rouse. Just then, Sophie arrives and pulls a gun on Nate. Roemer's security head, Busey, recognizes her from the office. She shoots Roemer's men with a stun gun and he and Nate flee with Hardison.
Inside Hardison's car, Roemer spots a bomb under the dash. They get out of the car seconds before it explodes. Nate suggests to Roemer that someone in his office is out to get him, possibly someone with ties to the CIA, like Busey.
Nate tells Roemer that his foreign partner wanted to take the giant aircraft apart. At first, Roemer is dumbfounded but when he and Nate examine the plane's blueprint, he realizes it's actually a kind of stealth bomber. Meanwhile, a Global Transit agent steals a teddy bear from the pilot's daughter.
Back at the museum, Eliot takes on Busey and his thugs. WIth backup from Sophie and Hardison, he gets the bear back, which contains the camera the pilot installed at Global Transit. Roemer and Nate, now hiding inside the plane, make their way to the cockpit. Roemer fires it up to make an escape. He believes the plane has taken flight but it's actually just a projection the team set up hours earlier.
Roemer wakes up among plane wreckage, convinced he crashed the plane. He calls Busey to warn him the but FBI is already at Global Transit. Roemer tries to convince the feds of his story but they aren't buying it. Back at the brewery, Nate gives the pilot's widow a check to help with her expenses and tells her Roemer won't be doing business, anytime soon.
Later, Nate and Hardison talk in private over a drink. Hardison says he has reservations about lying to the team but Nate tells him it's for the best, as all good things must come to an end.
I'm new to "Leverage" but judging by the season five premiere, it's a pretty accessible show for new viewers. And starting with an episode that has Cary Elwes playing an eccentric Howard Hughes wannabe opposite Timothy Hutton's con man, Nate Ford is as good an entry point as you can ask for.
What "Leverage" lacks in plausibility it makes up for with clever twists and turns. Though this episode felt somewhat slow for a season premiere, by the latter half things picked up enough to hold my interest. Timothy Hutton is a charismatic rogue and his team is full of interesting characters, though Christian Kane's hair doesn't exactly scream badass Army weapons expert but rather, '80s martial arts action movie star. And Cary Elwes is great at playing comedic baddies and was a fun villain-of-the-week for this season opener.
While the show remains largely episodic, there's a bigger scheme in the works, as we saw in the final moments of the episode as Hardison and Nate raised a glass to what's ahead. Whatever it is, it involves lying to the team, which troubles Hardison, as he's dating Parker.
Of all the quirky, con artist-esque procedurals out there (and there's quite a few these days), "Leverage" might be the smartest. The season premiere definitely pulled some serious shenanigans but there was nothing inherently stupid or silly, which the genre is prone to. Ok, maybe Cary Elwes stumbling around fake airplane wreckage is silly, but in a good way.