Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Leverage" spoiler alert: The show goes out on a high note, imagining a lovely conspiracy of the world's overprivileged elites


The Leverage team: Nate (Timothy Hutton), Sophie (Gina Bellman), Eliot (Christian Kane), Hardison (Aldis Hodge), and Parker (Beth Riesgraf)

"The world's economy would never stabilize with endless parades of bankers being led around in chains. The system has to work. The guys who used to run it have to keep running it."
-- Interpol agent James Sterling (Mark A. Sheppard), in last
night's final episode of Leverage, "The Long Good-bye Job"

"Leverage was one of the few shows that pointed out how outmatched individuals are by profit-obsessed corporations. In its last season the show tackled pro sport's concussion problem, weak occupational-safety laws, how the rapacious policies of big box stores threaten small towns, and the inadequacy of consumer-protection regulations in the toy market—among many other little-guy-versus-the-world story lines. The show also reminded viewers of the similarities between scam artists and marketers. Did you think they'd be allowed to get away with that forever?"
-- Slate "Browbeat" culture columnist June Thomas

by Ken

I'm sure you remember the Obama administration's storied preference for "looking forward" over sifting through the wreckage of the economic meltdown with a view to bringing any malefactors to justice. In last night's Christmas finale of TNT's Leverage, we were treated to a wonderfully wacky but delicious image of that refusal to prosecute.

During the week I'd heard the Christmas episode of Leverage promoted as both the season finale and the series finale. It turns out, as of last Friday, that "series finale" is correct.

After watching the episode (about which more in a moment), I've learned from Slate's "Browbeat" culture blogger June Thomas that showrunner Dean Devlin explained in an open letter to fans earlier this month that, amid uncertainty about renewal for a sixth season, and facing the departures of star Timothy Hutton (as scam-team mastermind Nate Ford) and Gina Bellman (as the ever-mysterious grifter Sophie Devereaux), decided with series co-creator (with Chris Downey) John Rogers decided to end Season 5 --
with the episode we had planned to make to end the series, way back when we shot the pilot.  So, the episode that will air on Christmas is, in fact, the series finale we had always envisioned.
You could see from the end of the episode that it left open the possibility of a Closer-to-Major Cases-type afterlife-conversion, but on Friday, as I noted, the hammer was dropped.

I like June Thomas's take, grieving first for all those people put out of work. I suspect I'll miss the show, which she points out "was all about sticking up for the rights of the little guy against powerful corporate and governmental interests," less than she will, but I take her point about it, which I've put at the top of this post.

And I have to give the show folk credit for going out in a blaze of glory, with Nate secretly bamboozling the team into a mission that turns out to be the capture of a government computer file he calls the Black Book. When the heist appears to have gone catastrophically wrong, he's interrogated by an Interpol agent and her superior, a long-time nemesis of Nate's.
INTERPOL AGENT CASEY (Catherine Dent): What is the Black Box?
NATE: Five years ago, when the financial system crashed, the FBI, SEC, IRS, Interpol -- they all did their jobs. They investigated, and they found massive fraud. Market manipulation, secret deals, pension funds loaded with bogus paper, people's life savings burnt. And because they knew they'd broken the system, well, they were too powerful -- they got all the money out. Now you think I'm a thief, Agent Casey? One-third of the world's entire wealth disappeared then. Biggest heist in history. And we know who did it.
INTERPOL (HIGHER-UP) AGENT STERLING (Mark A. Sheppard): We decided not to prosecute. Order had to be restored.
NATE: That's why you joined Interpol? Screw justice, you're the order guy?
AGENT STERLING: It's not a choice.
NATE: It is. Justice, or order? One day you are going to have to make that choice.
AGENT STERLING: The world's economy would never stabilize with endless parades of bankers being led around in chains. The system has to work. The guys who used to run it have to keep running it.
NATE: Government agencies -- they closed all the cases. They took all the files of all the cases they could have prosecuted, all the savings accounts with all the stolen money, and they filed it away. That file . . . is the Black Book.
AGENT STERLING: The Holy Grail of the ones who got away with it.
"The ones who got away with it." I like that. (By the way, in the end Agent Sterling did indeed make his choice, and it probably wasn't the one most of us would have expected.)

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At 5:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The ones who got away with it." ROLLO TOMASI


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