The Two Live Crew Job
Original Air Date: August 26, 2009
Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer
I’ve seen this episode twice in less than a week, and I still am excited. It’s just that good.
Team Leverage is on the case of trying to recover a painting quite important to an elderly couple, which has been acquired by a private buyer on the black market – a buyer not above bribing a judge to keep his paws on it. Their big plan involves the entire team posing as cops and stealing the painting back…but someone has beaten it to them first. In fact, there’s a whole other Not Team Leverage involved, led by a guy that recognizes Sophie. Say it with me now: this is bad.
When Sophie doesn’t turn up for the post-fail meeting, everyone goes to her apartment to find her holding a flower bomb. Cue panic. (If you’re me, flash back to an episode of The Unit with a bomb, a cake, and Hector.) Parker uses instant pudding to add stability to the flowers, tricking the bomb into thinking it’s not moving. Everyone runs like hell and Sophie’s apartment explodes. Man, they do blow up buildings in big fashion on this show. But who would want to kill Sophie? The team decides to fake her funeral and find out. Parker gives the most awkward eulogy ever, and Nate runs into a guy named Starke…who is oddly like Nate. Can you guess where this is going? There’s an entire Not Team Leverage led by Starke, comprised of people hilariously like our heroes. There’s Apollo the anti-Parker (played greatly by Apollo Robbins, the show’s real-life sleight-of-hand advisor); Mikel the not-Eliot (Noa Tishby) and Chaos the arch-rival of Hardison (excellently done by Wil Wheaton, who is so severely underrated it’s not even funny).
Team Leverage decides to barter with them to get back the painting by stealing something else Starke wants. In a hilarious sequence of events, the entire team gets one-upped by their opposite number. Parker and Apollo play an amusing little game of back-and-forth that ends with Apollo lifting Parker’s phone; Nate finds out from Starke that his team’s exploits are becoming infamous; Hardison and Chaos have their own little who can hack better than whom contest. Everyone is equally counterbalanced, which is what makes it so much fun. This includes another Star Trek reference from Hardison, which just so hilariously happens to be about Chaos, making Next Generation fans like myself squeal, and an amusing sequence of cuts between two virtually identical briefings.
Both teams try to break into the gallery to steal the painting, and they end up bonding instead. Nate and Starke trade stories; Parker makes a friend in Apollo. The painting ends up back with its rightful owners after Sophie makes a deal with Starke, giving him the painting he wanted for the one they need (allegedly). The only one who isn’t in a good mood is Chaos, and we soon find out why. He’s the one who tried to kill Sophie, as he doesn’t really like that Starke wanted to recruit her to his team. As a parting gift, the team gets him detained at the airport with a bunch of paintings, presumably fake.
I’m reminded of a short-lived, great little fun action show called John Woo’s Once A Thief (if you haven’t seen it, check it out). It was fun and campy, and one episode did a sight gag involving an identical team of similar-looking people made to replace the protagonists. This episode of Leverage brings that gag to life and does so in a way that isn’t stereotypical or overdone. Each of the characters is developed and interesting. I especially have to give props to Apollo Robbins, who isn’t even an actor! These are characters I hope we see again.
Oh, and did I mention Nate tries to kiss Sophie? On another show I’d be choking on the idea, but I don’t mind it here – as long as it is handled with care and in due time.
All in all, another marvelously done episode with a great guest cast that helps to carry some excellent writing. Long live Team Leverage.