Sorry for the delay -- family business, all of which is resolved swimingly.
#212 started as an Eliot story. Kidnapping for profit has become a giant industry out there in the world (and even here in the US). Eliot is a "retrieval specialist." For a price, he will go out and get something for you that you have lost. Maybe it's a baseball card. Maybe it's your niece. Whatever, it's marginally less blood on his hands than he used to have.
In the first pass, this was married to a corporate plot involving the current Venezuelan government land-purchase program. (The Wonder Twins researched the hell out of this). This version was eventually dropped for a variety of reasons, including -- we shoot in Portland. It's worth noting that the exact same government program wound up as the lynchpin of last year's Burn Notice premiere. Crime minds think alike.
As naturally happens during the course of a season, this half-ep wound up absorbing elements from other half-formed eps, notably one involving a mark holed up in his embassy. We could never get the stink of mid-1960's Mission:Impossible off that one, and so it was carved up into pieces and steampunked onto other stories.
(Remember the weird countries M:I invented during the height of the Cold War? Blends of South America and Russia. "South Baruchistan." The sort of place that could be run be either Ricardo Montalban or Bernie Kopell. Ah, who the hell am I kidding, most of you don't even remember the Cold War. Here, catch up: The Cold War: A New History)
We also had cards on the idea board reading "Bring Back Maggie" and "Bring Back Sterling". We made Maggie the kidnap victim, originally, and then realized that no, the fun was in seeing her interact with the team. This folded us back into another old pitch: "Nate runs a con while a hostage" ... about two gruelling, sleepless weeks later (including a brief interruption for "The Bottle Job") and a detour into an episode where they destroyed Sterling (by using his Big Secret), the Wonder Twins had themselves a very fine episode.
The history of the "Zanzibar Marketplace", a criminal clearinghouse, is quite interesting, but you're going to have to buy the DVD to hear us discuss it.
As an interesting aside, we were trying to find a locale with a sketchy local law enforcement system, as the original pitch had the local Police Chief as a much larger character. This led to an entertaining afternoon of researching Eastern European hellholes, only to discover that in the 21st Century Eastern Europe has become a very nice place.
"Now a parliamentary democracy, top ratings in civil and press freedom. NATO member."
"Skype was invented there, also top-rated in press and civil freedom. According to Reporters Without Borders, its press is more independent than the US. Highest number of seats in the federal government held by women in the world."
"Wow, I think I'd like to visit Estonia."
We basically settled on Kiev, not because of corruption (the Ukraine is actually a rather nice place), but because the Kiev Flickr pages showed us it's practically Portland's sister city when it comes to shooting locales. Sometimes you go to television with the army you have.
The ending, btw, with Sterling joining Interpol, was not the original ending. The script ends with Sterling being interviewed on the BBC and hailed as a "modern-day Sherlock Holmes". While the episode was shooting, Dean and I were on a ridiculously late-night Skype call discussing the season finale. We were breaking both episodes, trying to nail down the Authority Figure.
Me: "We have to introduce this guy, establish him as a threat, and put him into play .... Gahhh."
Dean: "You know, this would be a lot easier if it were Sterling,"
Me: "Yeah, but we can't just make Sterling Interpol. (beat) Can we?"
Dean: "Why can't we?"
Me: "Are we doing this because it's a good idea or because it's late?"
We wound up looping the dialogue on the newscast and the shooting a tag with our post supervisor, Benjamin Raymondjack, as the newscaster. Yes, that is his real name. Yes, it is a ridiculously cool name. He is not a SHIELD agent. Maybe he is, I'm just not aware of it.
Right, let's try questions, so how deep in the weeds we wind up.
#212 "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job"
@Rayhne: At TorchSong Mark Sheppard said that his son requested a fight between Sterling and Eliot. Was Max there when the fight was filmed? I seem to remember Mark twittering that his family was there when that episode was film.
He was indeed there to see his dad fight Christian. There's loads more footage of that fight kicking around -- including the shot where the two of them hit the table so hard, it shattered underneath them. And they kept fighting.
@MelodyAnne88: Sterling was my favorite part of this already awesome episode. Will we be seeing anymore of him in season 3? Being hired by interpol can't be good for the team. lol
I think we've seen how that worked out. Every season will have a little Sterling, although we're broadening out our threat bullpen in S3.
@Brooke: Please, please, please... if you ever have another football-watching bonding scene... please could you have a woman there? We chicks love football too. We even understand it! You know, when our little heads aren't confused by all the big strong men in tight pants. ;)
Sophie likes proper football, just not American football. Parker gets bored.
@Matt: So tell me that on Earth-Leverage, Sterling now gets to cash in and have a TV show based on his international crimebusting exploits with some British actor portraying him (I'm thinking Eccleston).
Consider it canon.
@Sherri: Are you planning to reuse/revisit others (characters) from the team's past?... There are, in my mind, lots of little bits from the past that could/should catch up with the team one day, or could pop back up just because of the circles in which they travel. Are you making notes for that for future seasons?
We're not only planning on bringin back the Two Live Crew characters, but we've had a Hurley jones for two years now. (And I think we finally cracked it.) Not to mention, Parker never gave up that "Alice White" identity ...
@OhShinyTomato: So, question, Hardison suggesting that they should go to Tokyo to be tourists, not to steal, was he asking her on a date? If so, awwww. Or was he saying the whole team should take a break, while probably still trying to ask the girl out and just make it not look obvious? lol. Parker's so oblivious.
It was a date, and yes, she's oblivious ... and probably yanking his chain a little. But she's cracking ...
@SueN: So much love for Maggie! Please say she'll be back in S3! She's a great character, and Kari just infuses her with so much warmth, wit and intelligence.
We all have a Kari crush. However, she just got a lead on another show, so we may not get her for this year. We'll try like hell, though.
@Lindsey: You seem to be teasing some serious sexual tension between Eliot and Tara. Will we get to see them hook up at all?
You know the answer to this by now, but it's worth re-stating that Eliot does not crap where he eats. Besides, he's so busy dating all the female leads of other shows in the fanfics, when would he have the time?
You realize that you people are basically constructing a spontaneously evolving Wold Newton universe, right?
@jarodrussell: May was please have more scenes of Parker listing off the technical details of heists? That was simply my favorite part of the season so far. :)
S3 opener. She sometimes forgets, however, she is capable of things others are not.
@Russell Cohen: Question: I really love what you've been doing with Eliot lately, but I'd like to see a bit more with Parker and Hardison. Those two characters are great, but seem to me to get a bit less play (and I may be mistaken on that I havent actually tracked it). Can we expect to see a few stories that let them both shine a bit more? Either together (Parker and Hardison) or singly?
Because we needed to compress the Sophie arc this year, I think it's fair to say Hardison and Parker didn't get to drive quite as many episodes this year as they did last year -- although "The Future Job" is both pretty Parker-iffic and a great showcase for Hardison's artistry. They're definitely heavy in the first few of S3.
@Monica: So My question is. Does Nate realize that they are in contact with Sophie and is he just letting them think they are fooling him. Or is he so unfocused that he truly doesn't know.
He does not know. He's drunk.
@USRaider: Finally, Sterling cannot win in the long run. Is there a way to end him much as Blackpoole was?
Sterling. Never. Loses.
@Caitlin: Parker's kit for Maggie was the cutest thing ever! Why does Parker relate better to Maggie (The honest one) than she does to any of the people around her who for the most part share her interests and um... hobbies? She even seemed to be closer to Maggie than Sofie.
I think that may be Maggie's superpower. And it's more like ... Parker finds honest people fascinating. Like exotic animals. She feels she has to take care of them in a world she knows as corrupt and evil.
@Lexie: I remember you saying that in the pilot Eliot's line was supposed to read "I don't like guns, but you knew that" Are we ever going to find out how Nate knew Eliot had a gun issue?
Hmm, maybe. There's a specific reason we're doing that, and it really doesn't pay off for a long, long time.
@Improper Bostonian: mildly OT. We see where Nate lives. You've mentioned Eliot's "possible" digs. I'm curious, where would Parker live? (No Meffa jokes allowed! :P. )
I think you find out in 305. Which I may be directing. We'll see.
@L: (1.) The drunk act Sterling put on to distract the guards for Parker, is that something he came up with on the spot, or is that something he's done numerous times during his investigations for IYS? (2.) "I can explain." How long has Nate been saying that to Maggie to try to get out of trouble? (3.) Did Christian and Mark enjoy doing the fight scene at the bar together? (4.) How was the team sure about what kind of bomb had been planted on the elevator, and that it would be ok for Parker to snatch it up and make the switch? (5.) I liked seeing Elliot's leadership skills emerge and showing us *again) that he's more than mere muscle and brawn. Did Christian like the idea of getting to "channel Nate" as it were, and to show that Elliot is capable of leading the team and shouldering the responsibility of the teams success and safety? (6.) I know you've said that Sterling never loses, but the next time the team runs into him (and I'm assuming/hoping that Sterling will be back), will they at least be able to take him down a peg or two, if not deliver a complete smackdown? (7.) I loved Parker's care package for Maggie! But is what Parker put together a standard gear for criminals on the run in Crime World, or is this package a "Parker Special?" If Hardison, Tara, and Elliot had put a package together, would they have included other things? (8.) Did they just leave Alex in Kiev to fend for himself? Did they have to do anything to make sure he'd stay quiet and not blab on the team? And how hard did he take it when Maggie broke things off?
1.) On the spot. You know, there's a reason he and Nate used to work together ... 2.) Yeah, he pretty much said it nonstop during their marriage. 3.) See above. 4) They would have adapted if it hadn't been. Eliot, too, has a Plan M. 5.) See the write-up. Eliot isn't channelling Nate here, he's being Eliot, just in a way he hasn't needed to up to this point. 6.) I really don;t have to type it again, do I? 7.) Yes, every pck would be different. 8.) Alex went bankrupt, and is precisely as broekn hearted as you would be if you saw your girlfriend kiss somebody else when you though you were going to die, and then leave you. Oh, and she's Kari Matchett.
@Russell Cohen: Hardison mentions Tokyo, Sterling is moving on to Interpol, Sophie's been jet-setting around the globe, I'm feeling a real push to take the team international. They all have clearly stated international history (except Hardison, I dont recall much from Hardison about major gigs outside the US). Is this something we should expect for season 3? (please say yes :) ) Would it be a significant part of team's focus? (i.e. will we regulary see them at exotic locals, or will that just be a few times a season? (cause we all know there must be several more seasons (and I wonder how many imbedded parenthesis I can do))).
Season 3 is all about opening up our fictional Crime World.
@Chris: One utterly random question I've had for years: How hard was it to find the rotary phone on the Ukrainian cop's desk? I have a hard time remembering the last time I saw a corded, non-office phone so that jumped out at me.
Eric Bates, our Prop Master, has a magic truck within which all things can be found. It's like the TARDIS of props.
@Kerri: This is sort of a general production question - In those scenes where the characters write something or whisper something that the audience never sees/hears, is that information in the script for the actors? Or is it just whatever?
It depends. usually the actors wing it, although they'll sometimes ask the writer on set what is intended.
@Raligh: it makes sense for Nate to be something of a Jack-of-all-trades. That being said - where/why/how did he learn to strip live wires to make a DIY-stungun?
Before he worked at IYS, Nate interned at the Phoenix Foundation. You go figure it out.
@chopdog: How real was the "caning" of Kane? It looked VERY painful yet Christian did'y flinch!!!
Mark put his full weight on those. Kane had pads, but a couple landed off-site. Mess of bruises the next day.
@Melissa in St. Louis: (1) Why can’t Maggie know the team helped? (2) I don’t understand why the Russian cop actually CALLED the number Eliot wrote down for him. What compelling event transpired that we didn’t see? And – was the number to a Russian throw away phone? (3) Wouldn’t Sterling have already run a credit history on someone he thought was a suspect? (4) Who pulled Parker up out of the elevator? (5)Am I the only one who didn’t like Maggie’s dress? (okay – maybe a tiny bit of snark) (6) General question – How does the team know what to pack for an out-of-town con? I mean – they have no idea what they are going to run into. Hell, I have a hard time packing for a week long business trip and I KNOW what I am getting into.
1.) Maggie is by nature an honest person, and wouldn't want Nate to hack the system for her. Also, Nate can be a little patronizing. Besides, she can take care of herself. There was that time she and Sophie ... oh, never mind. 2.) They were from the Embassy, he had to say he'd done what he could. And yes, burn-phone. 3.) That credit history is what Nate was reading off the wall. 4.) She was using her powered-rapelling gear from the pilot. 5.) You're high. 6.) The team shares my one bag obsession. they tend to pick up what they need on locale.
@Al: (1) I was kind of surprised Nate didn't guess that Sam was the real culprit. Did he fixate on Lundy just because he was jealous or did he just miss that one? (2.) Is it just me, or is Sterling handing Nate drinks every chance he gets? Very insidious way of keeping a bit of the upper hand in their relationship?
1.) Oh yeah, jealous. And as you've seen, Eliot calls him on it in #215. 2.) They have a complicated friendship.
@TomGalloway: One question though; why would Sterling leave a powerful, well-paid, position (he's up to VP, right?) with a major insurance company to "join Interpol"? Run Interpol, be on the twelve member Executive Committee maybe, but I'm not seeing how this really links to his motivation as previously shown such that it counts as Sterling. Always. Wins.
Interpol, in the Leverage-verse, is essentially S.H.I.E.L.D. or Maybe U.N.C.L.E. No, come to think of it, The Italian probably works for U.N.C.L.E. ...
@Anonymous: What inspired you to cast the Middleman in this one?
Because he's an amazing actor.
@SueN: Nate, Eliot and Tara are at a table going through possible cases. Together. We've never seen that before. The understanding (or my understanding, anyway) has always been that Nate selects the cases by himself, *then* discusses them with the team. So why the committee approach now? Have they always done it this way, or is it a tacit nod to Eliot and Tara as the "grown-ups," with Nate acknowledging Eliot as his equal and Tara as pseudo-Sophie? Or is it Eliot and Tara cutting themselves in and maybe acknowledging they don't quite trust Nate's judgment right now?
There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes when they pick clients. After all, Hardison always has those backgrounds prepped ... I like the idea that there's "Leverage work" going on behind the scenes. When you hint at it, rather than explore it, it adds to the texture of the fictional universe.
@Anonymous: Did Tara and Sophie meet in Russia? That might explain why they are both so knowledgable about Russians/Soviets (Sophie saying you can talk your way out of Russians, and Tara's knowledge of cryptology and telling Eliot and Hardison that you can't budge a Soviet/Russian Bureaucrat with mere paperwork?
No, but it involved Russians. And Dubai. And artwork, and uranium.
@EmanG: But since no one else has mentioned it, what is up with Hardison's super remote? That thing looks about as big as my mini van key fob yet he has instantaneous access to multi-media presentations, all internet info and anything else called for by anyone. Any tech background on this unit? Can I have one?
It's not the remote, it's the laptop. He has a very complicated series of gesture/click macros set up.
@Joan: 2. Maggie doesn't want Nate to work with the team, or use the team to get her out, but at the end she says "I really like the man you've become". Isn't he that man precisely because he has the team?
Two separate issues. And she kind of came to that realization over the course of the episode.
@Rayhne: What is the range of the ear buds?
As described in S1, "The Mile High Job", they actually feed through the phones when extending long distance. Also, Hardison is experimenting with UWB transmission. The Daemon is coming.
Right, we're going to dive straight into "The Future Job" tomorrow, and then tackle 214/215 as one long post. Thanks for hanging about. I'll soon toss up some goodies from Season 3.