Episode Title: 'The Blue Line Job'
Writers: M. Scott Veach and Paul Guyot
Director: Marc Roskin
The teen son of a minor league hockey player comes to Nate (Timothy Hutton) and Eliot (Christian Kame) in hopes they can save his dad. He explains that his father, Oregon Otters "enforcer," Craig Marko's health is in danger. However, Marko keeps getting cleared by the team's doctor and believes he's indestructible.
Hardison (Aldis Hodge) briefs the team on the Otters and their owner, Pete Rising, who's tripled revenue by marketing the team for fighting rather than playing hockey. Parker (Beth Riesgraf) infilitrates the office of Marko's doctor and gets into his file. According to a recent MRI, he could die if he takes another bad hit.
Nate talks to Rising (Treat Williams) on the ice at the Otter's arena. He tells Rising he's an agent and tries to interest him in his player, but Rising blows him off. Nate challenges Rising to a shoot-off and wins with a little help from a gadget Hardison and Parker installed earlier. Rising agrees to sign Nate's player, Eliot aka Jack the Bear.
Eliot proves to be a force of his own on the team, upsetting Marko. After sneaking into Rising's office, Sophie (Gina Bellman) and Hardison learn that Marko is getting a bonus for fighting and that Rising has put a bounty on him with other teams to avoid paying his bonus.
After hearing about another hockey related con Sophie pulled, Nate encourages her to bring her old partner, Hall of Famer Vladimir Busiak on board. Sophie poses as the head of the World Hockey League, making Rising eager to sell his team to her. But when Vlad shows up and Sophie asks Rising for half a million to join, he realizes he's literally out of his league.
In the middle of a game, Marko demands an opposing player fight him but they're unwilling after Eliot told them of Marko's condition. Later, Marko and the rest of the team, along with Nate confront Rising about declaring bankruptcy. Nate forces him to sign over ownership of the Otters to the players and Marko gets his bonus.
So after watching my second episode, it seems "Leverage" is a show about greedy rich guys who clearly "have it comin'" and the team of tech savvy con artists who take them down. Sounds interesting enough.
'The Blue Line Job' did one of my favorite things when it comes to procedural storytelling – it hit the ground running. Straight away, we've got a kid concerned about his father's well being after taking hit after hit on the ice as a minor league team's "enforcer."
"Leverage" works well as a slick procedural but aside from Nate, I don't find myself drawn in by any of the other characters. Eliot's a distant second but probably only because of the screentime he had in this episode.
Treat Williams was fine as the bloodthirsty hockey team owner, willing to sell out his own man for a monetary edge. Otherwise, there wasn't a lot to chew on as far as the dynamics in this episode. We're to believe Sophie and hockey stud, Vladimir Busiak were hot and heavy when they stole the Stanley Cup. I'm sure there's supposed to be a great story there, but their scenes in this episode didn't sell it.
The episode, and the show in general it seems, also like to fastrack some of the more elaborate technical maneuvers by the team through flashback. Sometimes it works, aka Eliot spreading the word about Marko's condition to his teammates, and sometimes it just feels like a cheat ala Hardison and Parker's placement of the device that messed with Rising's bag o' money.
"Leverage" has its charms and though sometimes it feels like a show that relies more on the cute factor than its characters, there's obviously something to it. Perhaps I haven't fallen for the con, just yet.