Several years ago, my wife and I binged our way through Leverage. Originally airing on TNT from 2008 – 2012, Leverage was a lighthearted and thoroughly enjoyable blend of action, mystery, comedy, and heists. In other words, the perfect thing to watch after our kids were finally in bed.
The series followed a rather dysfunctional group of individuals — a thief, a hacker, a grifter, a hitter, and an insurance investigator — who used their skills to take down villains whose wealth and power put them above the law. Basically, if watching weaselly executives, greedy corporations, crooked politicians, and unscrupulous bankers get conned and outsmarted sounds like a good time to you, then you’d probably enjoy Leverage.
Leverage: Redemption is an attempt to revive the series nearly ten years after it ended, with most of the original cast returning. We began watching it last week — it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime via IMDb TV — and though we’re only a few episodes in, Leverage: Redemption is once again proving to be the perfect show to watch when we just want to relax after a long day.
The premise hasn’t changed too much. If anything, the revival’s point seems to be that things are even worse than before. The growing sense of injustice over the inequities of the world’s wealth certain informs the revival’s tone, as do topics like the opioid crisis, online privacy, and shadow security forces. While this does seem to paint Team Leverage’s actions in a somewhat Quixotic light — are they really making a difference, anyway? — it also makes the case that their skills and “unique” sense of justice may be necessary now more than ever. Besides, getting bogged down in questions over the efficacy of their heists would just ruin the fun of said heists — and who wants that?
As for the series’ cast, they’ve slipped back into their roles so seamlessly, it’s like Leverage never stopped in the first place. Sophie (Gina Bellman) is as classy and elegant as ever even as she mourns the loss of Nathan Ford, who died some time before the season premiere. (Due to sexual assault allegations, Timothy Hutton wasn’t brought back to reprise his role as Nathan.) Spencer (Christian Kane) and Hardison (Aldis Hodge) still have their delightful personality clashes (“Dammit Hardison!”). As for Parker (Beth Riesgraf), she’s still… well… Parker.
The revival also features some new faces. First is Harry Wilson (Noah Wyle), a disgraced lawyer who wants to make amends for the years he spent defending the worst of the worst (like a billionaire who got rich from the opioid crisis). And second is Hardison’s foster sister Breanna (Aleyse Shannon), who takes over on hacker duties when he leaves to deal with some other business. (Because of his filming schedule with City on a Hill, Hardison left the revival after the season premiere. Hopefully, however, he’ll pop up in later episodes.)
If you’re looking for something gritty and hard-boiled, then I suggest you look elsewhere. On more than one occasion, we’ve found ourselves chuckling or rolling our eyes at the series’ ridiculousness, be it Parker’s antics, a villain’s sudden fondness for EDM, or — in the last episode we watched — Spencer’s love of carrot cake. There’s something intrinsically goofy and whimsical about Leverage: Redemption, which is actually one of its greatest strengths. Our heroes might be battling the Russian mob or risking imprisonment on foreign soil, but you know they’re going to be just fine; the fun is waiting for the eventual flashback that reveals just how, exactly, they pulled off their latest harebrained scheme.
Given that we’re only a few episodes in to Leverage: Redemption, there are still plenty of questions. Will the season remain episodic, or will a bigger storyline eventually emerge? At one point Harry mentions a daughter; how much more will we learn about his past, as well as Breanna’s? And if Team Leverage’s efforts are now international (as stated in the revival’s premiere), how will that factor into the series? Will there be more exotic locations? Will they ever have to deal with the international fallout of a scheme gone wrong? Or is that sort of thing too heavy for a series that’s at its best when it’s at its most light-hearted? Suffice to say, we’re here for it all, whatever happens.
Eight episodes of Leverage: Redemption are currently available, with eight more coming later this year.