Odd to do the post-game on an episode we shot six months ago, but I'll see what I can drag out of my Irish Whiskey-and-rpg-addled mind.
This episode was written fast. Very fast. Never mind why (such things just happen in television), but basically, we needed extra time to write the introduction episode for Tara. Sliding a new human into a tight ensemble is tricky as hell, and it's not like we're a hospital show. "Oh, that new intern from Mercy General showed up ..." That meant her second episode moved up a full two weeks in production. And, since were already three weeks behind on the writing schedule ...
This is why you try to treat your staff well. Because their young, healthy brains will bail you out when your showrunner brain is mush. For your edification, a one act play of how this episode was born:
Albert Kim: "How about that fashion show idea we've been kicking around?"
John: "Gah, the problem is, there's no threat in the fashion show episode. No menace."
Albert: "My research shows the Triads make more money from counterfeit fashion than they do from narcotics."
John: "I love you, and have always loved you."
Albert: "Please let go of me now."
The kids wrote like the wind, we shot the bastard in six and a half days (half hour comedies shoot in five days). My one regret is that we didn't get to use the original ending, based on my Lovely Wife's patient explanation of how fashion shows work. Turns out, immediately after a show, all those one-of-a-kind dresses are then driven -- driven in an anonymous white truck -- to a showcase room, so the buyers can then walk among different kinds of models (apparently called "fit" models? memory's a bit hazy), deciding what to order.
So, in the original version, what Nate and Hardison were off to do in Act Four was steal that truck -- then, when the cops arrived, our friend Russel Pan would have a full truckload of stolen dresses in his factory as part of the frame-up. I generally don't like "on-screen only" con payoffs. Scheduling, etc being what they were, though, we wound up with a very satisfying trick of multiple thumb drives with layered files, and I am personally amused at the idea of a factory in Shanghai churning out Pilgrim Chic.
The scheduling also meant that Jeri's first day off shooting were all the HQ scenes where nobody likes her and Nate is openly hostile. Weird vibe. Jeri is hard-working, incredibly sweet, and immediately became friends with everyone on the show (she and Beth were inseparable). But first day on the new job, everyone's telling her to go to hell.
So, as always, all virtues of an episode are thanks to the very hard-working writers, actors and crew, and all failings are my own. But, hey, that's the joy of shooting television. The. Train. Never. Stops. And I have an opportunity to fuck up again just a few days later.
On that note, before we launch into questions, I want to brag about the rest of the season. The staff, actors and crew really stepped up and nailed it under insane circumstances. Seriously, the work they did on the next batch is just ... oy, I'm kvelling.
The next episode, "The Bottle Job", is one of my favorite episodes of the entire run. In "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" the Wonder Twins took an episode about a land grab deal in Venezuela, moved it to a museum scam in the Ukraine and gave us one of the best Eliot episodes -- not to mention a whole new vibe with Sterling. Oh, and the return of Maggie.
Berg and Downey dream-teamed "The Future Job", which lays out some (implied) Parker backstory and gives us one our most hate-able bad guys in two years. And the two-part finale is big. Gigante. Baseball stadiums, civic corruption, oil tankers, explosions, helicopters. Although I have a soft spot for the Season One two-part finale , everyone who's seen it digs this one even more.
All kidding aside, I think this Winter Season are some of the best episodes of the entire two year run. So I can't wait to hear your reactions.
Right. Into the mail back, you surly bastards. If you don't mind, I'm going to skip the straight kudos -- which I think you for, sincerely -- and just focus on questions:
@Caitlin (and others): How did Kane react to being put in guyliner? It was hysterical to see BTW
Kane is ridiculously confident. He found it funny, and didn't even blink.
@Sherri: do have one sort of overarching question, one of those that has a long wind up (sorry). Elliot has always treated Nate with the most respect, deference, and concern of the group. He may complain about doing something, but he jumps up and does whatever Nate asks without arguing. In the series pilot, he was the one who voiced the most concern about Nate. Even when he got angry with Nate (in the Snow Job) it was because he feared Nate was not in control, not able to handle things. So, why? What's in Nate and Elliot's relationship or past or understanding of each other that gives Elliot such complete trust in Nate? We've seen some expansion of relationship between Nate and just about everyone else (Mostly Hardison and Sophie, of course). So what's up with Nate and Elliot? Is Elliot just that kind of guy, the second in command sort who takes orders? Also -- Parker has only one name, but everyone else is called by their first name, except Alex Hardison. He's always called by his last name. Why's that? Just a thing? Did I miss something? Good gravy, I think about this show far too much for someone who isn't paid for it.
This turned into a discussion in the Comments of whether Eliot plays a primarily "back-up" role in the team or not, so I'll take a minute to spin it out and answer some of those questions at the same time. It's an okay description, but probably not in the context most people think.
If you go back and look at the pilot, there are several intentional implications that Eliot and Nate see each other as peers. The way I originally described it to the actors, back when we were shooting in Chicago, was: "Gunslingers. You know each other. You know how good you are. Half of you wants to settle it once and for all, and half of you is glad to have someone around who's that good."
Eliot aquiesces to Nate's wishes out of respect for his talent, and because he appreciates a clean chain of command. But it's also because Eliot plays a generally independent role in the team. He's the escape route. There's actually a speech about this in #215, and it becomes pretty damn clear in #212. Eliot lets Nate do his job because -- and only because -- Nate lets Eliot do his job. And Eliot's job is to be the failsafe that never fails. When it's that character's turn to run the game you get the hell out of the way, because things have gotten very, very bad. And as we'll see, the rest of the team respects that.
You see quite a bit of that Nate dynamic with the other characters in the back half of the winter season. Nate has a plan, but execution is up to the individual team member. He lets them run, they focus on their own part of the con, confident that Nate has them covered on their blindsides. They are expected to solve their own specialty problems, often on the fly. For example, I'd say Hardison actually drives the middle of "The Future Job".
When Nate can keep his control issues in check, he's actually a very good boss. Too bad he's a rage-addicted obsessive compulsive who self-medicates with booze.
@WWWeaves: So, Hyundai is a sponsor?
Not just a sponsor, a friend. A savior. I would suggest checking out a Hyundai dealership. Mine makes me look thinner.
@OhShinyTomato: Okay, I have to ask. Parker's "hot" comment about Tara... is she canonly bisexual now or was she just trying to mimic Hardison and Eliot? You never can tell with her... haha.
As always, the characters' sexuality is ... whatever makes you want to watch the next episode.
@Rick: I guess my only real Leverage related question is if there is any news on the Season 2 DVDs yet? Are they going to break it into 2.0 and 2.5, a la Battlestar Galactica? Or wait and release it all as one set. And will it be out in time for ConCon? (Not likely, but had to ask.)
We were going to break it, but now it's one set (which means there's some funky dancing around spoilers in the Commentaries that only make sense of you know this.)
@MelodyAnne88: And now for the question. There will be NO Tara/Nate right? The whole "Sexy because he's broken" thing did not sit well with me (Apparently it didn't with Sophie either!)
Hmm, new gorgeous co-worker, spiralling emotional collapse ... sure, nothing will happen. Nothing ever does in those situations.
@Nicole: A.) Nate was obviously having control issues with butting heads with Tara. It seems like the team is worried that he's starting to slip (and he did come across as a little manic, or sloppy) but the risk he took was after he and Tara had come to an understanding. You've said before the back half of the season is more geared toward Nate - is he really starting to slip, or is this just team conflict? B.) You guys were awful teases with that conversation between Tara and Sophie. Will there be any hints as to what Tara owes Sophie for? C.) And finally, I know you guys are gearing up for s3. You've said before that the second season can be a little experimental. Are there any story telling devices (ie: flashbacks) that you want to bring back that you stopped using, or anything you found in the second season that you're going to continue with?
A.) Oh, Nate is not doing well at all. B.) See above. C.) Flashbacks are definitely back. There are some internal script structure tricks that we found we liked, but nothing that you folks would notice. I think if anything, we're going to stylistically hew to S1 a little tighter.
@Becky (and others): Is Gina going to be back (and not just on a tv/computer screen) by the end of the season or are we going to have to wait for season 3?
That is a super good question.
@Matt: A.) Who on the team wrote the fake fashion article? Was it just a cut and paste job or was it something more elaborate? B.) I kind of want to see the team go after NBC right now. Er.. BCN right now. Can you manage that for season 3?
A.) Hardison has a flair for fake text. He actually constructs them with a software algorithm. B.) Our team go after Zucker? No, that wouldn't be cool ... besides, we may have gone after evil contractors, baby traffickers, murderers -- but the network television world is too evil for even us to play in.
@Caitlin: At the end, when Nate and Sophie were talking and then he started shouting at her, he sounded a lot like he did when he was drunk before. We both also noticed that his hair was ruffled like before and his eyes were a tad bit bleary looking, also as before. While we know that Nate is going to be drinking again in the next episode thanks to the preview, was Nate drunk in the final scene of this episode?
No, but Tim was.
No, no, just kidding. But I was.
No, no just ... wait, I was. Anyway, no. But as mentioned, Nate's not doing well.
@Anonymous: Or give Eliot a girlfriend at all?Mikel Dyan seemed a good match for Eliot.Like she could take him down a peg when he needed it...Just wondering.
Eliot's off-Leverage hours are full. But he keeps it out of the office.
@Nikki: A.) Tara had an interesting look on her face as Nate handed her the envelope containing her 'cut.' Will a sense of guilt develop, and will Nate intentionally facilitate it? B.) Sort of springboarding off the previous question: will there be another instance, such as in the Lost Heir job, in which Nate doesn't exactly let everybody in on the penultimate plan?
A.) Guilt? I don't ever think she'll go that far. B.) Fuck. Yes. But first, there's one where they don't let him know ...
@Klep: A.)(various questions all around Nate falling apart) B.) How many models has Eliot dated?
A.) Nate's condition is ... accelerating without Sophie. B.) Not as many as you'd think. He prefers doctors.
@Kristin: My question is about Tara's cut: if Nate gave the client fifty thousand dollars, which is what they got from the mark, then where did Tara's cut come from? Who is paying for Tara?
Nate took it out of his own pocket. Tara's getting paid, one way or another, and Nate respects that.
@Calla: A.)One of the repeats on TNT today was "The Ice Man Job" and while Nate was busy distracting the mark, Eliot was directing Parker and Hardison on the vault break-in while keeping Nate informed. It was a difficult situation and I thought Eliot handled things pretty well - he has potential. Will we see Eliot running a con in the future? B.) will we find out why Tara owes Sophie?
A.) Yes. B.) Nope. Although you can probably figure a bit of it out, from context.
@Scott: What style(s) of martial arts does Eliot practice?
Kane and the fight guys based it off Panantukan and Eskrima, if I remember, with some Krav Maga and that vicious Russian style I can never remember the name of ...
@sjrSpike: If Tara is SUCH a good grifter/thief, why didn't Nate recognize her/chase her for IYS? Hard to believe she never stole anything insured by IYS ... just too big a coincidance.
Tara's criminal career was directly linked to her original non-criminal career. She never went after the shiny art bullshit Sophie so loves. Different areas of Crime World.
@Anna: Did I detect some Elliot/Parker flirtation going on at that clothes rack? Whoa.
No, you detected Kane and Riesgraf cracking each other up at 4am. That scene was actually shot much later, during the season finale, and inserted in post. They just tortured each other. If you look again, you can see they're playing it as Eliot suddenly realizing he's bugging Parker, and poking her back a bit for all the poking -- physical poking -- she's done in the past.
@Rob Donoghue: But the initial con raised a question in my mind: why not just steal the money? It was a cash operation, and the safe would not have been a challenge for Parker. It's curious that this does not usually come up because, frankly, it is very rare that the client just needs cash (and, relatively sspeaking, such a small amunt of it).
The money was step one of a slow con. We just never saw what the back end was going to be. It was STILL going to end with the Pans ruined, though -- Nate doesn't just do money. He does justice.
@Annie: How much time does Christian usually have to choreograph (he does, right?) and rehearse a fight? And if the fight is complicated or long does that affect how much Eliot appears in the rest of the episode?
A day planning with the fight master, and they rehearse right before they shoot. As far as how that affects his availability for the rest of the show -- well, there's a reason he's having shirts made up called "The Second Meal Brawlers." During the finale, everyone else went home after hour 14. Roskin and Kane and the dedicated stunties and the B camera heroes shot the finale fight until dawn.
@DHS: Where is Sophie, really?That bad green-screen is obviously deliberate and the matching headwear-background is trying a bit too hard.
Nope, she's on the road. What you're seeing is a side-effect of issues we had with the monitors this year. The color temperature was off, so the comps ... anyway, no she's on the road. And, to be honest, we're having a bit of fun putting her in places with matching costumes.
@gwangung: a) is Nate and crew going to be on the hit list for the triads? There was a reason Nate never wanted to get involved with organized crime... b) and wasn't Hardison a bit sloppy not checking for aliases for the Pans? Not the first time they've run across money laundering schemes and financial whitewashing is supposed to be one of his specialties....
a.) Nate is making enemies, although David Hunt covers our thoughts in the Comments pretty well. b.) Hardison is not perfect.
@FatherDog: Spent this week catching up on the Season 2 stuff I missed. Couple things - a.) Thank you for being the first show I've ever seen do an MMA episode and not completely fuck it up. Really. b.) Is Marcus Stark's name a callback to Donald Westlake? c.) Who runs the nastiest crew on the OTHER side of the Atlantic?
a.) Thanks. When you're working with real MMA fighters, you're highly motivated not to tick them off. Seriously, big props to Albert and Roskin for researching the hell out of that episode.
b.) Nope, just a cool name.
c.) Season 3.
@briddie: Did Tara steal an earbud so she could keep up with them later?
Nope, she specifically yells in Eliot's ear. She is budless for the back half of the ep.
@SueN: It's well established that Eliot is a low-tech (no-tech?) kinda guy, yet today's law enforcement is extremely high-tech. How has he managed to stay off the radar? Or is the fact that he's still on the loose rather than a guest of the government somewhere just another testament to the complete inability of intelligence/enforcement agencies to play well with each other?
Eliot has an agreement with some people. In suits.
@USRaider: The only problem I would have with it is that Tara (Jeri) doesn't seem to be in the typical "grifter" mode. Sophie (Gina) would never reduce herself to fighting to get out of a situation. A grifter, after all, will talk themselves out of most situations. How do we explain the difference between Tara and Sophie?
Because they're different grifters from different specialties of Crime World. That's not a problem, that's a clue. And she can't hack -- not sure where that came from. She's just got a source for very good quality fake ID's that'll stand up to NSA level scrutiny. Again. Clue.
@L: a.) How did Gloria end up working at a sweatshop herself, and how did she get caught? b.) We know Sophie was in Paris when the team was talking to her, Uzbekistan when she talked to Tara, but where was she when she was talking to Nate? c.) Gina mentioned in her TV Guide blog that she worked with a coach to get the langauges/dialect/accent right for all the different personas she had to portray. Did Jeri do the same?
a.) She's on the run. That was a non-linear flash. b.) Good question. c.) Yep, as did Aldis. Mary McDonald-Lewis is not just our dialect coach, she was also the voice of Wonder Woman in the Superfriends cartoon. A fact Downey is just a liiiittle too obsessed with.
@StaggerLee: So, were Parker's green Docs in her first scene a deliberate costuming choice or has Beth just been taking advantage of filming in the same city as the Dr Martens store for the US? =)
Our wardrobe goddess Nadine got those for her. Although I think I've seen Beth in them off-set.
@NateSophieFan: a) What did Nate do at the Russian border? b) Which book was Nate reading right before he called Sophie in The Ice Man Job? c.)Okay, Nate said that he'll try to communicate better for Sophie, now how about communicating better with Sophie?
a.) He may have technically hijacked a train. b.) A collection of Seamus Heaney poems c.) Oh, he kind of sucks at that.
@SethFourTen: Settle a bet: Parker fell off the runway to either A) Provide Elliot a distraction to retrieve the USB stick or B) The world's greatest cat burglar is no good in heels and a long dress. Thanks, and keep up the good work.
@Puspa: (various questions in multiple posts, the answer to precisely one of which gives away something too big for me to spoil ...)
@briddie: "Cleavers - haven't done that in a while." Is that just a callback to the Butcher of Kiev, or is it a hint that Eliot has dealt with the triad before?
Both. Nice catch.
@Anonymous: So, if Nate knew what Tara meant when that whole deal went down in the sweat shop, why didn't he tell the others about it when they were questioning his decision and talking about how he put her in danger?
It's was still a bad call, and a bad plan on the fly. If you look, they're talking about his call to leave her, not the aftermath.
Interesting actor note: I was on set that day, and Beth asked "How is Parker saying this 'You wouldn't have left Sophie?'" All I said was "It's not about Sophie, or Tara, it's about Parker figuring something out about Nate." She then came up with Parker's thought process was (no need to tell me), and that's what informs that line read.
@Melissa: I dont think anyone has asked about when Nate & Parker went to the Pan's house. They were walking up the driving way on one side as Gloria was driving down the other side. Was it a con thing to not pull all the way up to the front of the house? or just convenient for the script. I would think if you were gonna pull in the drive at ALL that you would pull all the way up.
I wish we were that thorough. Physical blocking issue at the actual location, that's all. The car was an insert shot later.
@mktackebery: a) was there a specific designer or design trend you were making fun of with the buckles? The designs looked familiar to me. . .
b) Jeri Ryan's accent in the con was hysterically funny. Who's idea?
c) Not knowing anything about the fashion world, I was kind of shocked that security would be so terribly lax at such an event, but it seemed easy for the team to take advantage of it. Convenient fiction for this story?
d) I too am wondering why Tara would casually drop Nate's real name to the Triad guy--I realize you were setting us (the audience) up to believe Tara was going to screw Nate because she was pissed at him, and is just a callous bitch and happens to roll like that, but the consequences seem to be severe. Seems a pretty short jump for the Triads to find out who Nate really is and get the drop on him someday.
a.) Nope. b) She landed on it after reading the script. She's doing Versace, I believe, while Nate does Lagerfeld. c.) People got into the White House. It ain't rocket science. d.) They got it covered. Although we are discussing Nate's ... identity issues for S3.
@Ann: You stated that we get 15 episodes again next season. That is quite a few less that other networks. Is that a choice of TNT or you, Dean, cast...?
Bog standard for cable television. And one of the few reasons I returned to TV -- I think it's unspeakably difficult top maintain quality over 22+ eps. Particularly for a con/heist show. 15 is my top-out number of eps per season.
@Rosie: 1. I re-watched The Bank Shot Job the other day and spotted our pet FBI agents at the end - but of course, since it was aired before the Wedding Job, we hadn't met them yet! As the insane geek that I am, I'd like to sometime watch through the episodes in the order they were originally intended to be aired. Have you (I couldn't see it but you might've) or could you post a list of them in that order?
It's the order on the S1 DVD set -- which is both informative and affordable.
1.) The Nigerian Job
2.) The Homecoming Job
3.) The Wedding Job
4.) The Snow Job
5.) The Mile High Job
6.) The Miracle Job
7.) The Two Horse Job
8.) The Bank Shot Job
9.) The Stork Job
10.) The Juror #6 Job
11.) The 12 Step Job
12.) The First David Job
13.) The Second David Job
@zvi: Okay, so, clearly Parker likes blondes (Alice, inappropriate sniffing of Maggie, inappropriate crowding of Monica Hunter, vocal appreciation of Tara.) Is this going to be an issue in Parker and Hardison's budding romance, or can they go out and pick up women together? (I am in favor of option #2.) Speaking of, is their romance going to do any more budding? I mean, I get it, you can't force the lock, but you do still have to keep trying to unlock it or you stay outside the door.
Parker has ... personal space issues. But as to the other ... Season 3.
Hmm, you folks are putting a lot of work into this whole "watching TV" thing. I hope you and your friends (you are recruiting even more friends, right?) are back next week. We just found out our winter launch numbers were our the second highest ratings of the entire run. Holy crap. More and more people are showing up for our little Heist Movie of the Week, and I'm convinced it's thanks to you superfans out there spreading the word.
Next week: we meet the owner of the bar, see Hardison shirtless, and hear Nate's Dad.