#213 is one of the few episodes where I can give almost no background. I was off writing the finale, bombing into the room occasionally to look at the cards. This one was a Dean request: psychics get right in under his skin. We'd played around with psychics quite a bit in development -- after all, we use the same techniques in our cons -- but never landed on a good twist.
It was one of those eps we were overthinking. We were so familiar with all the tricks, it never occurred to us to just do a straight expose. We just never assumed people wouldn't know what we knew.
The only insight I can offer was a bit of drunken writing. I'd staggered into the room while they were breaking the villain plot for their complication -- the Recently Converted Felon. Glass in hand, I asked "What, we're just going to have this guy announce his problem ..." and then spun into a long, unnecessarily baroque bit of exposition in the thug's voice. When I finished, the room looked at me and nodded. "Yes, yes that's it exactly." That is almost word for word what Wade Williams says in the warehouse, with Luke Perry trembling in a chair before him.
Luke Perry was amazing. Not just a great performance, but during the week we spent with him he revealed a ridiculous knowledge of television production and history. This is a guy who's starred in, produced and directed more hours of television than most people accumulate in three careers run together. I will go on record -- Luke Perry Has Game.
Also, the partial revelation about Parker's brother was a last minute addition. Dean felt strongly we had to have a real connection to the victim, and also needed to show how even people we consider smart can be duped by these sorts of performers. I am not too proud to admit that I fought him on it, and was ultimately proven wrong not once, but twice. a.) when you see Parker tearing up in the HQ, you absolutely want to murder this guy. b.) Her reaction to the brother's hug -- and what the "missing brother" says about her dynamic with the rest of the team -- added even more dimension to the character Beth's built over the last two years.
Also led to one of my favorite Eliot moments. Parker blurting "I want this guy dead. Can we make that happen?" led to that great read Kane gave on Eliot raising his hand -- like "I know I'm not supposed to do this, but ..."
Jeri's great in this, of course, doing a much softer look than she normally gets to do on television. She just booked a pilot, and I hope they realize that she has the funny in her toolbox.
Oh, and big kudos to both Marc Roskin, our director who's shot some of our best episodes, but also the Portland crew for pulling off that stunning Matrix-style speed-track from Perry at the cafe to the crew at the van. During the freeze, we had to lock up four blocks of traffic to control the sightlines. If you watch it again, btw, you'll see a CGI pigeon in mid-flight, to help sell the bit.
And, of course, this episode was Amy Berg's swan song on Leverage. She's gone on to help run the new season of Eureka. She was there at the birth of the show, wrote some of the defining episodes, and we couldn't have launched the joint without her. She's already missed.
Right, questions. Only 165, this one's not bad:
@OhShinyTomato (and others) : 1.) Okay, number one: OH MY GOD PARKER HAD A BROTHER?! Can I ask, younger or older? I know you won't give a name, so that's my question lol. Also, it must of been when she was really young cause all the flashbacks of her never included a brother. Makes me wonder if he was even in foster care with her or was only around when she was with her real parents, whoever they may be... 2.) Second, did Parker give her own money to that guy? It was a bit confusing at the end. If she did, MAJOR points to her.
To paraphrase Terry Pratchett's comment about why there's no map of Discworld -- you can't map an imagination ... and you can't put a timeline to it either. The characters' backstories are amorphous grey fogs of coolness.
The money MAY have been the missing money from the bank heist. Depends on whether you think Hardison and Parker were yanking Eliot's chain or not.
@Zenkitty-714: Loved the episode! Just have to know: would Eliot really have killed the guy if Nate had said go? 'Cause I kinda think he would.
I think eventually cooler heads would have prevailed. But it was a serious offer.
@SueN: Nate actually seemed in control in this ep. Was that because he wanted to do this right for Parker's sake, or just because he didn't really have a chance to fall apart? Or did getting Rand suitably exorcise his demons for now?
His rage kept him focused.
@Brooke: Question: Was Jeri reluctant to appear un-glamorous as Bethany? I mean, she looked gorgeous but she was doing a plainer look.
She loved doing it, and I think kind of looked even hotter -- if that's possible -- in the Bethany look. I can say she looked hot because she doesn;t work for me anymore, and it's not technically harassment.
@Brooke: Please tell me that Tara & Eliot are not fucking
No. Not anymore, anyway.
@Anonymous: Completely unrelated to this episode, but what would happen to the team if they were forced to do the con in a loud workspace so the ear buds or microphones didn't work?
We have had interference issues with the buds before. However, please note that in the pilot they were tagged as bone-conducting technology. Loud noises would have much less of an effect.
@ Greer: So, a question: Eliot's bitchfit at the end of the episode: what was that about? I couldn't tell whether it was because Hardison and Parker were sharing something without him, that they pulled a con without letting the rest of the group know, or whether it was something else.
He was ticked that they were holding out on him, whether they found the bank money or not. It annoys and worries Eliot when Hardison has any aid in his campaign to, well, annoy and worry Eliot.
@ Rebecca: After all the times we've seen Eliot take down big ass thugs, how could those two idiots manage to escape from Eliot and Tara *together*?
Eliot had dual priorities. Protecting Tara was his main goal, and he accomplished it.
@Coren: Yknow, I think this is the first Sophieless episode - right? Did she have a scene that just got cut, or was it getting too close to her due date, or..?
We were also Sophie-less in "The Bottle Job". And no, Gina's pregnancy did not interfere with her duties. As you've now all seen, she returned for the finale and was, well, magnificently preggers when we shot that. She just didn't fit in to this ep.
@Amanda: Anyways, just wondering if we'll ever get to see what the Leverage team does on the days in between clients? Keep up the wonderful work!
We're working on just that episode now for S3. Not sure if we'll do it, but yes. You can probably glean a fair bit from teh S1-S2 eps anyway.
@Red: 1.) The Leverage team isn't a family, but people have been commenting about the Nate and Sophie being the parents and Parker, Eliot, and Hardison as being the kids. I don't really agree but have noticed that at the end of the episodes, it's generally P, E, and H together and N and S/T together. Why? 2.) Nate and Sophie generally meet with the clients and then take the case to the others. Parker and Eliot (if I remember correctly) have also sat in on these initial meetings, and now Tara but not Hardison. Why not?
1.) You're usually tying up subplots at that point, and those pairings are how we tend to write those emotional arcs. It began naturally, as Sophie and Nate had the most backstory, and it made the most sense for them to discuss their issues.
2.) Parker's only tried to sub in once, and that didn't go well. Hardison's more a behind the scenes guy, but actually starts coming to the intake meetings in S3. For a very specific purpose.
@Livlife: My question is this: in Nigerian we learned that they made oodles of money. It's never specified but my brain is leaping to bajillions. Yet, in this season...post blowing up the offices, it seems the gang is touchy about money. Is there something I'm missing here? They should have enough money ten times over for anything they need. Paying Tara should be no sweat. Giving money to a pregnant woman...why would that be an issue? Couldn't they have just given her money? Did it have to be that they stole it or found the loot? Or was that set up that way for a reason?
If it were just giving out money, the team would have no purpose. No, the Leverage team is there to break the bad guys. Revenge, not restitution. Not only will they right that wrong, they will make sure the bad guy can never sin again.
That is precisely as evil and fucked up as it sounds. End of day, our people are protagonists, not necessarily heroes.
@ChelseaNH: Oh, yeah, what was the smell in the van?
As Hardison stated: "That's the smell of hard work." As you've seen, the van hints paid off in the finale.
@CandyMaize: Tara's scar on her head. Team didn't seem to know about it .. so will we find out more about that scar before end of season?
Nope. Although she once told Sophie that story, when they were both drunk.
@SueN: During the flashback sequence detailing how the team fulfilled Tara's "predictions" for Rand, we see Hardison working with … something … while studying a picture and profile of the officer who goes to see Rand. The stuff looks like latex or some such. I just know I missed something terribly obvious there, but what?
Huh, I went back and looked, and I have no idea what he's doing other than calling up the profile. But yeah, something's going on with his hands. Weird.
@Dylan: my question is.. if Hardison's fave snacks are his gummy bears and the orange soda, what are Eliot's and Parker's?
Parker's favorite snack is, of course, cereal. Eliot's is ... justice.
@Anna: What was the original con meant to be though? If Kusen hadn't butted in?
A variation of revealing his chicanery, but just in front of the audience and network human. If not for the convict, this would have been a light one for the team.
@Barbara: I haven't read every question/answer ever posted, so this may be a repeat, but how do "clients" find the team???
We discussed this back in S1. Hardison's put a bunch of proxy links out on legal aid websites, and also has newscrawlers trawling for possible victims. It's not so much the vics find Leverage, as Leverage finds the vics. Just like they might find you, the day you really need them.
@Jimbo: Was Christopher Brookmyre's book "Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks" an influence on this episode? Both feature a semi-famous "psychic" being exposed as a fraud, and I noted a similarity in lines. It could just be me wanting to find connections though!
Never read it, but I'm looking for it now. Thanks for the recommend.
@Anonymous: When Eliot planed the camera in the control room, he said sth like...that is this wizard... was that meant like..yk..an abracadabra wizard, or a reference to those guys who work at the airports and watch for suspect activitys. I know they are called wizards and they are trained in 'cold reading'....
The Wizard of Oz, who hides in his booth and secretly runs the show.
@Lostnthought: Did you know that Parker had lost a brother back in season one or was something that the writers as a group decided on when they were breaking the episoide or something Amy Berg (and Chris Downey) added?
Answered above. It was Dean, actually.
@Snowyowl: And in a not-episode related question: On the season one DVDs there are minor cuts made. Noticeably in Homecoming Job where the scene with Hardison and the sports channels and Eliot's "Hockey" is missing. Any idea why? Or who I can poke for that? :-)
It turns out we had the rights to the sampled sports footage for broadcast episode, but not for the DVD.
@Zenkitty: Thank you for mentioning this! I thought I was making scenes up in my head. I think there was a little cut in the first episode too, after the explosion Nate opens his eyes and all three are standing over him looking at him.
Nope, that scene is only in the short broadcast version of the pilot, where we had to cut the hospital sequence for air time with commercials. It is a bastard episode, that cut, and we will never speak of it again. Oh, and I think I got most of your other questions in the above section, Zen.
@Emily2214: Obviously you don't need any help with your guest-casting, having found Saul Rubinek, Mark Sheppard, Wil Wheaton, and Kari Matchett. But could I please request Ed Quinn, lately of "Eureka" fame? He'd make an excellent villain. And I need him back on my television.
Ed Quinn is also a ridiculously funny guy. I'd love to have him on. We'll see what we can do.
@Michael: just one quick question before I head into a meeting: the "et tu brute"-quote the victim brings up as something her husband used to say to their dog: Is that just a quote that Americans would know and/or understand, or were you implying a higher than average level of education on the part of the victim, which would make the falling-for-the-psychic kinda even better. Because, lets face it intelligent people fall for cons all the time.
It's one of the few Shakespeare quotes most Americans would know. However, IQ and education seem to have very little effect on those who fall for psychics.
@Jenny: Two questions - 1) Did Nate bring Parker to the psychic's show as bait? He brings the most socially twitchy member of the crew to the show and then catches the psychic's attention by heckling. Then he sits back and observes what happens when the bad guy goes to work on Parker. 2) Who is Nate's AA sponsor? We know he went to the meetings regularly for a while. Some poor sap has a thankless job.
1.) Not bait, but he let his distaste of the mark get away from him there. 2.) Matthew Scudder.
Okay, finale two-fer, #214/#215 next. As always, thanks for tuning in and paying attention.