Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LEVERAGE #309: "The Three Card Monte Job" POST GAME

Well this one was a bitch.

As we've occasionally discussed, we left the backstories of the character in Leverage intentionally vague. Shows are living things -- one of their advantages over movies -- and you never know when some spontaneous moment either on set or in the writer's room is going to deliver a cool moment to you. You don't want that gift crushed by a story bible.

That's how this episode came about. During "The Bottle Job" we introduced Nate's criminal father as a way of filling in Nate's personality. It was a throw-away, to introduce the idea that Nate has been fighting the duality of his nature for his entire life. Hell, right up until the last day, we weren't even sure if we'd establish whether Jimmy was live or dead. At the end of the episode as Cora toasts to fathers, Tim Hutton threw an unscripted look at the barstool where his father used to sit ...

... and watching that look in the first edit, we said "Wow. We're going there again."

So Jimmy Ford was born. He started as a much more genial character, kind of a rogue, who led the team on a convoluted con to build his retirement score. (A really great little con, by the way, we will eventually pillage for another episode.) But we kept going back to that look. I'd seen that look in bars, in Irish families. That look says "If I see you again, I will fucking put hands on you," as an old bouncer friend of mine would phrase it.

On a meta-level, genial Jimmy didn't give us a great threat., Knowing "The Rashomon Job" was coming up, we really didn't want to do two off-speed episodes that close together.

And so, over weeks in the writer's room -- a chunk of it done, admirably and efficiently, while I was up in Portland directing -- the entire concept was recrafted, and bad Jimmy Ford was born. It would be father vs. son, no holds barred.

Now here's why you don't want to do that.

In police procedurals, the cops are usually chasing a murder or crime that's already committed. In particularly awesome episodes, there's some counter-plot by the villain that's still in play. But generally, in 99% of television crime shows, it's a straight chase. The bad guy is either trying to lay low or escape with the dog's end of his plan.

In shows like ours and, say, Burn Notice, we generally intersect a bad guy's ongoing life of corruption or crime with an intense, short-term crime, and play into that. Not necessarily harder, but trickier. Psych actually does this a suprising number of times for a straight investigation show, btw.

What makes Jimmy Ford come back to town? Well, he'd want to commit his own short-term crime. Annnnnd he 's Nate Ford's father, which means to make this a fair fight, he has to be as smart as Nate, and his plan as tricky.

That means we need to create an intense short-term crime that legitimately appears to be one thing (or can be read as multiple possible plots), intersect it with our protagonist's short-term crime to wreck it, reveal (and, if you can pull it off, it's a proper reversal) that there is in fact another short-term crime in play, then derail that crime with another short-term crime either by coming up with it on the fly or showing that it was in play during the entire episode -- which requires you to make sure you track dialogue that can be interpreted multiple ways and/or who knows what when.

That's four plots burned in one episode. Ouch. All this and the emotional beats to give a great actor like Hutton a chance to swing at a great actor like Skerritt. Screen real-estate gets a little tight.

We'd had the "police station heist" on the wall since Season One. It seemed appropriately ballsy for Jimmy Ford. Looking for inspiration, we considered when he would be at his prime -- the late 60's and 70's. We'd just had a little crime-movie kick in the room and so what came to mind as a reference was The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The informant in our plot, as a matter of fact, is actually one of the characters from that movie.

Doing the math, Jimmy would need some muscle. That gave us the Russians, and all the beats there -- using innocent people as throw-away criminals, the phones, the tattoos -- came straight from copious research. The idea of Jimmy Ford being a legendarily smart guy in prison, teaming up with young hungry thugs looking for a brain, came together.

The mechanics of the heist came together ... gruellingly. At one point we had the entire episode up on the wall except for the third act. Just a blank space. We knew the hook, the meeting, the mystery of multiple innocents. Boylan had come up with the "Three Card Monte" motif, so "three targets" seemed to make sense-- but no idea what the hell they were breaking into the jail for or how they were going to do it.

Again, research saved us. Two facets, in this case: the evidence room, and bank alarms.

For all you Spec-Monkeys out there: never be afraid to call someone. A very nice lady from the Boston PD Public Relations Department spent a good hour with us on the phone explaining how evidence is stored and transferred in the Boston PD system. The valuable stuff is indeed cleaned out of the precinct basements and hauled out to Holyoke every so often. (We briefly considered hitting the storage facility in Holyoke, but it's not full of police. Being "full of police" is a prerequisite for location to host a fun, challenging heist. Also, wide air vents. And lasers.) The whole indexing with UPC symbols -- real.

Then, we got some vague answers from bank-alarm companies about the protocols for bank alarms and how police deal with them. There's a very fine line between "quick response" and "waste of time" ... by cross-referencing the answers we got from the companies to fill in the blanks, we got a very good sense of how these things go down.

At which point Boylan and I, who were the ones working on the script (the rest of the room had moved on to #310), realized we should totally go rob a bank.

Sanity prevailed, but yeah, that turns out to be one of those "wish I didn't know that" fields.

All this done in about two weeks, to create a plot you kind of never really notice while Tim and Tom Skerritt are doing giant scenes of pain. (Boylan, always the playwright.)

Right then, let's see what you guys scrawled in the margins:

@Sherri: I'm guessing we won't get any more details about Nate Ford's past -- he's his mother's son, eh? THERE is some space for speculation. I can't think of a question right now, except, really -- what was Elliot smiling about? Comment -- more Sophie with Parker! They are such a COOL pairing! OH! Question -- how did you guys fake the crowbar to the head thing? I mean, was it a fake crowbar, a feint, CG, a fake skull on Christian Kane, or is his head really that hard? I felt it!

When you need to know about Nate's mom, we'll go there. You still have to meet his sister ...

Beth threw the fighting rubber crowbar at Kane's head. Without warning him. And by "rubber" I mean "soft enough not to kill you, but really frikkin' hard to fake the fight properly". BTW, CGI sparks in that fight.

@Mandi: I may have missed this due to the fact that I was slightly distracted, but - what happened to the ledger? Did Jimmy Ford just hop on the boat with it in his pocket and the cops never saw the evidence again?

Nate returned it. He of course, made a copy for his own use.

@Sarah W: When Jimmy was talking about his wife, I wonder if Nate was thinking about Sophie . . . the parallel is perfect. Especially since, as you've said before, Nate isn't a nice guy.

Well, Sophie isn't that nice either, to tell you the truth.

@Christina Lollobrigida: They turned the corner to look at McRory's and I'm hoping that this'll get answered in an earlier Post-Game that I asked about the exteriors, but man tonight? That's got to be a physical location that's somewhere in Portland unless you guys really expanded that set. It looked FANTASTIC with that long hallway. I'm hoping it's a practical location though - I just want to know WHERE. Google Street View shows some other building where they're looking, but I know that could be years old and the way things change downtown...

We extended the set for "The Bottle Job", and Dean had us keep it. That's all on Stage A in Clackamas.

@Stacy: Watching Tim Hutton and Tom Skerritt play off each other was like watching an Oscar nominated film. I am in awe.

Weird tricia: Skerritt was originally up for Donald Sutherland's role in Ordinary People. So you kind of did.

@Sean Fagan: Why does the upstairs not have access to the back door?

Refitted building. It has access on the other end of the corridor, but that bar door is the easiest way near Nate's apartment.

@Taellosse: This isn't a question quite so much as a plea: do whatever you can to get the current season back on Netflix Watch Instantly, please?

We're working on it. It's corporate stuff.

@briddie: I'm loving the reveals with the crew, or the bad guys, or whoever. It's like they suddenly appeared out of thin air. Y'all have used that really well this season, tonight included. My other favorite time was on Inside Job, when Parker runs into a room and the camera turns to show us the bad guy, who magically appeared just after Parker disappeared. Are the actors there the whole time, or do they run into scene while the camera is turned the other way?

It depends. Sometimes it's just a camera angle, but usually they step in from OS. Always love in-camera tricks like that.

@Joe Helfrich: Did Nate just leave a pistol with his prints all over it in the Organized Crime office? Because it was still on the table as he was headed to the air shaft.

He, ahhhh, went back for it before he climbed in the vent. Yes.

@Jordan: I was just wondering, since this episode dealt with the police, when our two favorite FBI agents, Taggert and Mcsweeten, were coming back?

As I've said, the trouble with TV is actual human beings with schedules are attached to these characters. But by now you know somebody's swung by for a visit ...

@Oona: 1) Beth totally almost cracked up in that scene where Parker and Eliot are sneaking up the warehouse. Parker is looking around furtively, looks offscreen, and a little smile appears that is quickly supressed. Do other cast members just stand offscreen making faces? (cause I could totally see this cast screwing with each other that way.) 2) The three Irish mob families probably have a fair amount of international ties. Do we see any of those names popping up later on. For instance, in connection with a big crime financier?

1.) They do screw with each other, but that one was just Beth having Parker enjoy sneaking. 2.) No, they don't show up later in this season ...

@Gentry: Great episode! Question though...the McTeague family mentioned in the episode, is that the same McTeague family who ran the McTeague Capital Investments in LA that Jack Hurley worked at in The 12-Step Job?

No, pre-cleared name.

@Calla: My question: You seem to have a long list of excellent actors who want to be on your show - so, basically, what was the thought process/casting process that lead you to Tom Skerritt as Jimmy Ford?

Our fine casting humans put together a list of suggestions. We knew we wanted a name, somebody with big acting chops, and also promotable for the network. Then it's a matter of checking availabilities, submitting scripts, and conversations with the actors.

@Dan Reads COmics: So I noticed as he spent more and more time with Jimmy and the Russians, Nate's native accent became more and more pronounced, until he dropped it completely when he confronted his Dad at the police station. It was a subtle, yet effective way to demonstrate Nate's return to (and denial of) his roots. Was that written into the script, or was that Tim's idea?

Tim's idea, although we did have a conversation about how that accent creeps back whenever you're home. I get about two days back before I'm dropping r's. Or "ah's"

@Katie:Throwback question to 302: Was the 'trimmed a banzai' thing Eliot was talking about as filthy as it seemed or am I just a pervert? And is it just me or is Sophie a big sister to Eliot, well everyone except Nate?

Precisely as filthy. And Sophie is one hot sister. But it's a decent characterization.

@Kate: My question on #309 is this: How did you decide on which direction to take Nate in emotionally throughout the episode? Was there a moment where things kind of came together and you knew how he'd react to his father in this situation and where he'd end up or was it a process of building the progression?

As above, the relationship began in that look in "The Bottle Job." Then it was a matter of finding a plot to set them against each other.

@Larry Fleming: 1) Why not get a black box with 2 remotes? 2) They are being seen too much by the local police, aren't they afraid someone will remember them. 3) How is Jimmy going to retire with no money? This job was going to be his last. 4) What was the crowbar made of?

1.) Hardison didn't build it, and he is suspicious of redundancies. 2.) There are 2000 cops in Boston. They should be okay. 3.) He's set up with a little fund, courtesy of Hardison, to match his new ID. 4.) Hard rubber. Like you use to subdue rioters.

@JoJo Dancer: What happened to the phones to keep the cops from calling each bank to confirm that acutual bank robberies were underway before sending the whole force? Did I miss something?

Multiple alarms freaked them out, making it more weirdly viable than a single alarm. I don't want to get into the details we found out in the research, but they roll cruisers out in the "dead zone" of confirmation.

@pkate3: I do have one question about McCrorys though. Hardison owns the building with the apartments and the bar in it but did he buy the bar itself? Or does the grateful owner allow them free run of the place? I remember last season them helping the ...daughter? granddaughter?... of the late previous owner. Just not sure of this point.

No, they own the bar and the liquor license.

@Sherri:

Yes, Nate is as screwed up as you think. And yes, we put work into it, but a lot of times we just say "What is the most screwed up choice Nate could maker", and let character consistency do the heavy lifting of character continuity.

@USRaider: 1) Sophie (Gina) seemed to be the "voice of reason" in this ep, stating several times to Nate (Tim) that he didn't have to be the one to take his father down. Will this have some "foreshadowing" of a future con where perhaps Sophie is in Nate's place? 2) Cora owns McRory's and is well versed in what the team does. I wouldn't think that she would allow anyone, even Nate's father, to set up shop there. Was there something we missed along the way? 3) Jimmy stated that, at one time, he was the best fixer in the city. Isn't that what Nate has become, albeit in a different sense? 4.) By the way, Sophie whipping out handcuffs on call. You've probably sent fanfic writers into a frenzy with that one!

1.) It's more representative of Sophie's new peer relationship with Nate. 2.) Jimmy probably conned Cora into thinking it was okay. Also, Cora grew up in that world. Jimmy is a very famous person in that bar. it owuld be like saying "no" to your dead dad's best friend. 3.) B-I-N-G-O. 4) I did not anticipate the ... casual appearance of the handcuffs in actual shooting. But come on, we're not that vanilla a show to begin with ...

@Bigu2fan: Usually the victim who initiates the story gets rewarded in the end. But for this episode, there is no 'payback' for the victim. What's to stop the Russians from going after him? Is this an untied loose end for the episode? Just askin'

The Russians are shut down, and with the conspiracy unmasked the vic will receive protection. Also, they prevented the vic from doing an actual crime, keeping him out of it. Blame shoudl fall, in fact, on Jimmy for involving his son.

@Lydia: Questions: 1, who's idea was Parker's bad aim with the crowbar? I had to rewatch that part several times because I was laughing so hard (and cringing for Eliot, of course). 2, there's really only one way out of Nate's apartment? I admit I'm a bit surprised that they'd set themselves up to be trapped like that...

1.) Beth. 2.) They never retrofitted the way Eliot insisted they should. The Leverage offices in LA had multiple Stainless Steel Rat-like exits.

@Dea: Also-- The best scene of the night for me was Nate and his Dad conning the guy for the papers from his briefcase. It seemed a really complex moment, because it was obvious that both Nate and his father enjoyed working together and yet Nate was trying to take down his father and deny that he had anything but contempt for him.

That's really the most important scene in the show. These men could have been friends, but time and blood stopped them. Great work by Boylan.

@Kenderman: You also keep saying Nate is a bad, bad man, and yet he's not arrived in bad-town yet. He burned his own father, yes, but didn't shoot him, or send him back to jail, or let him steal fake evidence. Maybe he's not as bad as you want us to think?

He may not sin, but his soul is black. And "not" shooting him was a near-run thing.

@Zenkitty: My question is, how did Hardison get out of the evidence locker before the door locked without being seen? Maybe I'll catch the answer when I watch the episode again... shortly.

Watch again, he's on the other side of the door already, by the second exit to the room. Weird blocking on that, forced on by shooting from both sides of that chain-link. Totally confusing, I admit. Just happens sometimes.

@Video Beagle: So Cora nor Frank the Bartender mentioned "Hey, Nate, Jimmy's back in town." And no one noticed a big production going on in the poker room? I'd almost think that Hardison would be scanning everyone who walks thru the bar doors in case cops, feds, or crooks walk in.

I'm not sure how the "scanning" would work, but assume that Cora left a voicemail on Nate's phone that he blew off. Because he's bad that way.

@Modern day Molly Brown: Who chose the music for this episode? It was seamlessly perfect for each scene.

As usual, our amazing music supervisor Joe LoDuca crafted every bit of music you hear int he ep.

@Anonymous: 1) How old was Nate when his Mom died? 2) Was it Jimmy’s fault that she died?
3) Do people really ever do the Three Card Monte by switching out the queen? This fit in nicely with the plot (and I loved that you didn’t really reveal the trick), but when I learned this trick the queen was always among the cards on the table, just not where ... 4) Watching this reminded me about a scene from the Two Horse Job: At the beginning of the poker game in that episode, did Hutton do the hot-shot cut himself or was it someone else? 5) Was this Jimmy Ford's first "job" since he got out of prison? When did he get out of prison, and how long had he been in?
6) Has Nate been estranged from his dad since he went of to priest school? Or did Maggie make sure they kept in touch for Sam’s sake? 7) It seems that Nate sees it as a weakness that he “only” ran his father out of town and didn’t put him in jail. What does the rest of the team think? It was Parker’s “Is Nate gonna be nice now” comment at the very end of the episode that confused me. She seemed to so get him in that scene where she came to get Nate out of the police station (btw, I loved that parallel to the times when Nate went easy on her because he got why she made the choices she did), but she seemed to so not get him with that last comment. Why was it so weird that Nate “just” ran his father out of town and didn’t put him in jail? The team doesn’t always put the bad guy in jail they sometimes have alternate punishments.

1.) Not sure, but I think when he was in the seminary. He was training to be a Jesuit, btw. 2.) ... not really. 3.) Yes, this is a variation where the queen's lifted. Apollo's shown it to us. To be fair, when he showed it to us, the Queen wound up in my shirt pocket. But I think he was just showing off. 4.) That was Apollo for some of it, but mix of Hutton in. He's a pretty good card player. 5.) First job since he got out, hes been out for a few months, and I don't want to nail down how long he was in for. 6.) They stayed in touch for Sam -- there's actually a very nice beat that was cut from the script about that. 7.) Parker thinks that's what humans call "closure".

@Anonymous: So was the Mob ledger "black box" and was the police security alarm black box "ledger"?

Okay, meta and hilarious.

@xjill: I'm always amused when you throw in Con names (Orphan Annie, Pill) - are the names really so common that all the team would know them without asking or is just a nice shorthand way to show they're cut from the same cloth?

We use a mix of real ones, complicated ones that are real with no name where we coin the name for shorthand, and made-up ones. The "Orphan Annie" is a real con, but we came up with the name.

@workworkwork: Does Parker's line at the end ("I know") when she finds that Nate let Jimmy go relate to her own experience with Archie? Leach was not as nasty as Jimmy but he was still not the warm fuzzy type.

No, more about how she understands Nate a little better than Nate understands himself sometimes.

@Sullivan: Funny thing though, Nate's crazy schemes always do seem to work out somehow, while everyone else is rolling their eyes and saying "not again." This is becoming a little bit annoying. I'm reminded of Eureka, where everyone always says "Carter, that can't be right" even though Carter has nearly always had at least a piece of the puzzle.

Nate's schemes ... do not always work out. But it's more Nate's behaviour during the scam than the plan itself. if Nate were smiling these in, they'd be perfect and the team would be happy. But being tied to the angry functioning alcoholic who comes up with these plans -- not always fun.

@Mktackaberry: 1) It occurs to me that most of Nate's back story was about trying to reconcile the "bad things" his father taught him to do with some "doing good" drive. Was the insurance co. incident just the final straw of a series of incidents when witnessed people claiming to be good actually hurting people (being bad), leading him to choose to "do good by being bad" instead of "doing bad by being good?" 2) Any chance we will go back to Nate's journey as a priest? I suspect Nate saw something seriously off in seminary? Which also prompts me to ask, would you ever go anywhere near the subject of pedophilia scandals in Boston, or would you rather be boiled in BP crude?

1.) It was the final straw, but go back to the pilot. He wasn't on this crusade when we met him. He was five months off drinking himself to death. The team saved his life. 2.) No, no, no way are we doing that story.

@Nic: 1.) I've noticed when rewatching the episodes in season 1 and 2 on DVD, the cons seem more obscured, the execution flashbacks more hint than explanation. They require you to watch carefully. By contrast, in this episode I guessed the gag based on the map graphic with arrows leading to the three banks and away from the police precinct. I feel that this season there's been more explication and less room for inference. Am I wrong? If not, is there a reason for that choice? 2.) Second, when in the con did Nate make his choice about throwing his dad to the three families? I replayed the flashback and couldn't identify the room. (My fave personal explanation was that he threatened him with the gun as a frying pan to distract from the giant fire Jimmy was about to enter, hence the "I had to let him go (so the trap could snap)" but that's because I like to think of Nate as infallible.) As always, thanks for your time and attention!

1.) We do spell it out a bit more in certain episodes. We had a real issue in feedback form first season, where a giant chunk of casual viewers just were not getting the con reveals. In this one in particular, though, I think WE had to work so hard to track the plot, we put that stuff in the script to make sure WE understood it all properly. 2.) ... whichever choise makes Nate Ford more interesting to you.

@JonS: I have to ask this: 1.) Jimmy Ford mentions to Nate that they have some "pretty cousins" in Ireland. My question is, are they, the cousins, also involved in crime? Is this a setup for future storyline and will we expect to see Nate's Irish (and distant, I suppose) cousins sometimes in the future? 2.) Also, considering the fact that Nate's grandfather, as Jimmy stated, came into America, what decade would the Ford have come into the America? I'm guessing somewhere in late 19th century to early 20th century.

1.) We're thinking about it. 2.) This branch of the Fords hit Boston right after WW I.

@Anonymous: It was great to see some more Nate and Sophie scenes this time, I love their connection, how they care about each other and are there for each other. Is there any chance we get a nicer Nate once he and Sophie get together? Would love to see a softer side of him with Sophie. He has that inside of him and Sophie is the one to bring it out of him.

No.

Now, which question I'm answering is entirely different matter.

@Murphy: The one question I have is this; this is the second season and the second year the team has been in Boston, and a lot of their jobs have been in the city. They've ventured some distances (Ukraine in season 2, other cities in Massachusetts, and I think Vermot in The Gone-Fishing Job) but because they're not moving a lot, doesn't that mean they've made a lot of enemies in their base town? Are they worried about not just the cops but other criminals and villians in the city recognizing them and muddying up the waters?

They tend to tackle white-collar criminals, so they have a "look, but don't touch" rep with the local CrimeWorld.

@SKEMERGrrl: So we've seen Nate's dad (his mom has passed on). Parker and Hardison were foster kids. Sophie has never mentioned her family. Eliot has mentioned a nephew and he even went back to his hometown for the "Two Horse Job". Does Eliot see his family? He seems like the only one that does. Will we see them?

He does see them, but we probably won't. until we think of a cool reason to do so.

@Kris: Bit of a flashback question, but applicable now because of the content of this ep - did you intend from the very beginning to reveal Nate's 'dark' side? Just wondering because I re-watched the pilot today and there was SO MUCH emphasis on how he was the "white knight"/"honest man" in that episode.

He was an "honest" man, but we always meant to explore how tempting the dark side was, and how close he was to crossing over. Admittedly, I don't think we'd established what a bastard his father was, but we always intended that he came from the "cop or crook" culture.

@LynnM: 1.) The bonding scene with Nate and his father at the bar. I know it started off with Nate conning his father into believing he wanted to be like him. I haven't yet figured out how it ended... Did Nate buy into his father's wishes to retire, drop guard and actually get conned? Or did he continue his con, only to get outconned by dear old dad? I lean towards the later, it's subtle, but telling. 2.) Second, the whole gun scene. Jimmy would have outright shot Nate had the roles been reversed, he even said as much. Jimmy isn't just a bastard, he's a heartless bastard. When Nate said he couldn't, it was more saying he couldn't BE his father. Instead, he went 'Nate' on him. Set him up so that everyone else would kill him, AND took away his respect. It's elegant, and far crueler (and maybe it's the protestant in me, but so much more Catholic). The out to Ireland, well, that just seems to show that little bit of heart he does have. I guess that's the question - does Nate have a weakness, or a heart?

1.) I think he genuinely WANTED to believe his father, but he still went downstairs to shut him down. Complicated. 2.) A weakness or a heart? Who says you can;t have both, or they're not the same thing in Nate's head?

@carol: I have a kind of general question - do you have fantasy story lines in your head for certain actors? Like, do you think, 'oh, if I could ever get Bernard Cribbins, I have a good plot for him'. Or any other favourite actor of your choice. (As an aside, I'm personally campaigning for something starring Betty White and Bernard Cribbins, cause...awesome)

David Tenannt. As Sterling's best friend in Scotland Yard ... never going to happen, but it's been cooking for a while.

@Anonymous: Why was Sophie so adament that Nate sit this one out? I understand the Dad is blood, but with the history they have and Nate's feeling she had to have known not to ride him about it like that...I just found it odd the whole team was so conscious of it especially with their own family issues. What prompted that response choice?

A mix of the team's own daddy issues and Nate's tendency to melt down on a graaaaand scale.

@AliKatKaniac: It seems this season to expand on the growing trend of actors known for playing 'nice guys' roles lately showing up as 'bad guys' on Leverage. Christian and Aldis have both played bad guys on popular 'cult' type shows. (Have the others?) Anyway, is that a draw for some of the actors to guest star - the fact that they play against type? Also, there has been a lot of 'six degrees (or usually less) of separation' between Leverage and some shows that are popular more in the sci-fi/fantasy world (Lost, Supernatural, Buffy, Angel, etc) than the crime/drama type world. Is that more because of the creative teams roots?

To tell the truth, yes, we're one of the few shows with out and out "villain" roles rather than "suspect" roles in crime procedurals, so we've gotten some great actors who just want a chance to do the Evil Speech of Evil. His speech in part 2 of the finale is what hooked Goran, actually.

And I think yes, the crossover's from shows we geeks writers watched.

@Oona: 1) How long has Jimmy been in jail? 2) Were he and his wife divorced? 3) In the flashback, Jimmy says something to the effect of, don't piss me off. I read Jimmy as the kind of guy who was not a serial abuser but who certainly wouldn't blink at smacking his kid when feeling provoked, correct? 4) At the briefing, it's clear that Hardison and Sophie are uncomfortable about having Jimmy as the mark, and Eliot could care less. Parker never really states her affiliation. What's going on in her head there? . . . And don't say "the pros and cons of various bank security systems." ;)

1.) Not long, but longer than a year. 2.) No. 3.) He had a fast hand. 4.) Parker knows, objectively, that this is a bad idea, but she's more concerned for how she understands this would affect Nate. It's not "empathy" per se, but ... she's making a best guess.

@Macie: Okay, so I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but Jimmy NEVER ONCE in all the series (Even in the Beantown Bailout flashback) calls Nate 'Nate.' He ALWAYS calls him Nathan. WHY?

The same reason my mother calls me John Michael. Every time.

@Kris: My question isn't really related to the episode. I assume it's been said before, but Christine Boylan has a GREAT voice for, well, anything. Listening to it on DVD commentaries has convinced me that Ms. Boylan has hidden grifter powers herself. True or false?

She has a theater voice, honed with booze. I don't think she could go on the grift because, well, she'd spend WAY too much time picking out the properly theatrical hat.

@Kathy432: Was it a conscious decision to make the team's wardrobe all black, gray and white colors (except when Sophie was playing the drunk)until they determined that they were going to take down Jimmy Ford? Nice touch.

That's the amazing Nadine Haders, keeping the wardrobe subdued to match the emotional tone of the ep. Great choice, eh?

@Dawn: 1.) Noticed when the Russians were scanning the evidence boxes, there was a timer on the leader’s device to let them know how much time remained to get things. After the gate closed & locked the men in, why did the device’s timer go from 01:01:00, to 01:00:00 then to 01:59:00 instead of 00:59:00? Any significance? Did Hardison maneuver that too? 2.) Did Nate call the families to let them know his dad wanted cash for the ledger before or after he held the gun on Jimmy? If before, how did Nate know the families involved without seeing the all the info on the investigation boards in the Organized Crime office? Newspaper?

1.) That was Hardison hacking their phones to throw off their sense of timing. People really should keep their watches, even though their phones tell time. 2.) After, but he knew those families from his time in Boston.

@Odie: When they're in the police station installing the alarm sensor, why is Sophie's 'way out' with Parker?

If you think Sophie's going to trust anyone but Parker to get her out of a police station, you're high.

********************************

Whew. Forgot how long that takes ... and how fun it is. We'll be all caught up by the time our Christmas episode rolls around, so stay tuned and see you soon for the next write-ups.

51 comments:

Stacy said...

As always, thanks for taking the time John. You rock.

So can we call you John Michael now?

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen promos yet, when does Leverage start up again. This is very much appointment television plus dvring and asking for the dvd's for christmas. I think I am addicted.

Teri
thorthsj=viking jesuit

CandyMaize said...

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer so many questions. Can't wait for the rest of this season to air .. even though that means a lengthy hiatus again *sob*

GreyDuck said...

"If you think Sophie's going to trust anyone but Parker to get her out of a police station, you're high."

Eliot.

Sarah W said...

Mr. Rogers, welcome back and thank you! These posts are a gift.

If you can get David Tennant, I will pay for his plane ticket.

@GreyDuck: Eliot could totally get Sohpie out of the PD . . . but not without the cops noticing all the serious collateral damage.

Kris said...

You are the man, Rogers.

@GreyDuck
This might not be the official answer, but I feel like Sophie would have concerns, in anything less than an "Oh God, oh God, we're all gonna die" situation, regarding Eliot's relative lack of subtlety.

SueN. said...

@Anonymous, Leverage starts up again Dec. 12 w/the Christmas ep (yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, because I asked for this last year!) and the two-part season finale on the 19th.

@Rogers (John Michael?), He was training to be a Jesuit, btw.

This just makes me love you even more. Somewhere a Jesuit provincial weeps at his order's loss.

@GreyDuck, Sarah W and Kris, I would think Eliot could be quite subtle if he had to, else he wouldn't still be alive. It's just that subtlety isn't his default setting. ;)

Kris said...

Oh, I think you're right (SueN), but I also think Sophie still sort of (good-naturedly) sees him as the team brute. ("You were probably in a CAVE in Afghanistan...") From an outside perspective that's quite generous to brutes everywhere, but we are talking about Sophie. ("Meat should never be used as an adjective!")

Michael said...

thanks again also from me for doing this for us!

Incidentally, as you seemingly are interested in this sort of "how can creatives make money from here on out", what are your thoughts on putting a flattr-button on your blog-posts? These Leverage post game posts would be the prime example of something that is really hard work and that people who read it might think "I want to add a little money to my appreciation" about ..

At least I would and I have an account already .. though OTOH for now flattr seems quite euro-centric .. on the gripping hand, this right here would be a good introduction of the concept to USians who don't know it yet ..

Rachael said...

So excited to see you back! Thanks so much. You have no idea how interesting all of this is on so many levels.

I read this:
I have to ask this: 1.) Jimmy Ford mentions to Nate that they have some "pretty cousins" in Ireland. My question is, are they, the cousins, also involved in crime? Is this a setup for future storyline and will we expect to see Nate's Irish (and distant, I suppose) cousins sometimes in the future?
1.) We're thinking about it.

And my mind immediately went to Fiona from Burn Notice. (My other obsession.) It's so obvious. They are clearly related. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I can feel the jitters ebbing already – I’ve been in a state of all-things-Leverage withdraw. Happy to have you back, John Michael ;) PS – the fact that Beth actually hit Kane with that crowbar, without him anticipating it? Funniest. Thing. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Nate training to be a Jesuit very much fits.

And having grown up Irish Catholic in New Orleans, this one it close to home.

Liz said...

The post game is back! Thanks John!

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Season 3 DVD so I can read the post games again, followed by the corresponding DVD commentary. Working on my Leverage degree, you see. ;-)

alikat7 said...

Great review as always :) Thanks so much for answering my question. We've had many discussions of the Supernatural/Leverage guest stars/connections alone. I think someone needs to create a diagram for this! Someone...not me but someone! :P

Sherri said...

Thank you so much -- and just in time, too. I already re-re-re-re-watched S1 and am into S2 for the 5th or 6th time, so I'll be going through the DVR shortly.

And Nate is actually as twisted as I think he is? I fall at the feet of the writers and I will bring the Scotch. (I became infamous in my gaming group for my complicated RPG characters, so, yeah, I kinda love this stuff.)

antisocialbutterflie said...

Thanks again John. This was challenging to read, I can only imagine how daunting it was to answer. As always we appreciate the effort.

Kristin said...

Man Rogers, why do you have to be so awesome??? Thanks again for taking the time to write these post-eps... I can't even begin to tell you how much more they add to the show.

Hope you're enjoying your hiatus before you get to go back and start on season 4!

Video Beagle said...

I'm not sure how the "scanning" would work,

Security cameras feeding into facial recognition software.

I mean, I'm pretty sure the show's even already done that.

re: Who owns the bar. Seems like the answer got said..then reversed...
So Cora sold the bar to Hardison? And she now manages it?

So, Rogers new Medieval Leverage comic is in the stores...it's called Dungeons & Dragons, but we know what it really is:D Go buy it!

msd said...

After a day of dealing with new policy from clueless bureaucrats and a car that will/won't/might need a new transmission - being able to read this post game was actually soothing to my soul. Thank you, thank you for the time you take to do this.

I was sad to read that most of the writers (the Wonder Twins, Boylan, Kim) are not going to be with us for Season 4. Are there really better shows, to write for, than Leverage??

wv: dicalk - something to use on da tub?

LynneM. said...

It is amazing what seeing a new post-game here does for me. It's happy dance time, then clear the desk and settle in with a fresh cup of coffee (even at midnight!) and no distractions. It's like sitting down to the sunrise with the morning paper and everyone knows to leave you alone till you finish your favorite section. The posts are all so warm, funny and informative and the tone has a familiarity that is really comforting to read. It's almost like....like you do it for a living!
Thank you! Not just for the creation of a great television show in the age of mindless reality, but for welcoming us into the process and showing us around like a good host.

Daisy Bookworm said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Thank you so much for answering the questions we pose for you. My friends sometimes think I'm odd for wanting to derail the fun train, but I think of it more as extending the fun train to make sure the scenery is all correct and in place.

And as for David Tennant: Don't say that!!! Miracles can happen!

Anonymous said...

You really seem to hate the idea of Nate and Sophie as a pairing in a romantic sense, don't you? That's the sense I get from your blogs. I don't know why you started working on that relationship in the first place in the Pilot. Got people hooked and then let them down. You and Hodge have both said many times that Parker and Hardison will get together yet you've never said the same for Nate and Sophie. That's not right. I'm slowly falling out of love with this show of yours...

Dawn/StL-MO said...

John,
Once again thank you for your time & the much needed Leverage ‘fix’.

‘I did not anticipate the ... casual appearance of the handcuffs in actual shooting. But come on, we're not that vanilla a show to begin with ...’

Really, not anticipated? Handcuffs appeared in a ‘borrowed’ suitcase in “Mile High Job” along with a whip if I’m not mistaken.

Come on, John Michael: You had the balls to ask Tim Hutton, why not Tennant? He’s finished with Potter & actually all he can do is tell you “No” (or maybe “Hell, no!). I’d GO for it!!!

Dawn/Stl-MO

P.S. If ‘Leverage 101’ was taught in a nearby college I’d even camp out overnight, in a sleeping bag, to make sure I got in the class. Buy the way, my idea of ‘roughing it’ is Holiday Inn.

Dawn/StL-MO said...

In above P.S. It should be "BY the way..." NOT "Buy the way". Sorry After 4 am in St. Louis & time for bed!

Dawn/StL-MO

Rob Pugh said...

Thanks for this. Always awesome.

Jesuit? That explains sooo much, actually.

"2.) No, no, no way are we doing that story."

But you really should. Cheers and can't wait for the hiatus to be over.

Rusty said...

Another awesome post, John Michael. Thank you! I still find it incredible you make the time fr this; being able to see what all goes into putting such an awesome show is a wonderful opportunity.

Leverage 101 - can this be taught as an online course, so that we all have access? :-)

LarryFleming said...

Another great job, we are getting back in gear for the return of Leverage in a couple weeks...

Thanks again John

msd said...

John - you may come to regret telling us that your mother refers to you as "John Michael"! Come to think of it, one of my former co-workers had a son named John and she always called him "John Michael" too!

wv: solimpe - opposite of sohard

Video Beagle said...

EW.com has an article and pictures regarding the return of Leverage:
http://insidetv.ew.com/2010/11/17/leverage-season-finale-first-look/

Warning: It reveals who's playing Moreau (not that it hasn't been revealed elsewhere).

Lot of focus on Elisabetta Canalis, "the Italian"....She's apparently dating George Clooney...something that hadn't been mentioned here before :)

Robin said...

"David Tenannt. As Sterling's best friend in Scotland Yard ... never going to happen, but it's been cooking for a while."

AAAAAHHHHH!!! That would be awesome!

@Rachel: "[Nate Ford and Fiona Glenann] are clearly related."

I like the way you think, lady. :)

@Anon: re: Nate and Sophie

In the commentary for... an episode in season 1 (can't remember which), the writers lamented the fact that their romantic plans for those two had become unfeasible for the foreseeable future due to Nate's extreme brokenness and Sophie's identity issues. So they want to get N & S together too, but it has to be done in a believable way. More character growth required first.

Now that Wheaton's posted the Chaos Elf picture on his blog, I'm really excited for The Ho Ho Ho Job.

jarodrussell said...

@Video Beagle: "Security cameras feeding into facial recognition software."

I promised myself I wouldn't nitpick...*sigh*

Just because Hardison thinks to preemptively hack neighboring building's sprinkler systems...which, is impossible since that's not how sprinkler systems work, but Hollywood, right...what would make you think he'd think to put up a camera or some other kind of security measures after the Italian and her thugs broke in?

Seriously.

Oona said...

You are the greatest show runner ever! Thanks so much for the write up. You really do spoil us, and I know it's not like you're swimming in free time for these, so glad to hear they're fun for you too.

The crow bar thing is hilarious, and I love near-casting trivia, so I can't believe I didn't know about Skerritt almost being in Ordinary People.

Anon re: Nate/Sophie - I think they've come a long way character-wise. Both of them have evolved so much more than most characters on big sh ows out there - and in realistic ways. I think their relationship makes a ton of sense where it is now, and I'm glad they didn' force the romance early on.

Now, that said, I would have no objection to more touching, preferably of the mid-con, can't hold back, walking out of an elevator smoothing their clothes down and putting their ear buds back in while the team is all like "waitaminute what?" kind. Tim and Gina have great physical chemistry, and Nate and Sophie can still get steamy and be screwed up personally and as a couple. Just sayin John Michael . . . .

xjill said...

You're back! Yippee!! Thanks as always!

Kes said...

Not specifically related to any particular episode, but someone recently described Leverage as "The A-Team without guns."

It fits. And the idea of Templeton Peck and Sophie cooperating on a con made me giggle probably far too much.

I can so see Murdock belonging to Hardison's guild on WoW, too.

SueN. said...

Um, any chance we'll see something TSA related next season? 'Cause, seriously, I want to see some TSA'hole try to force Eliot into the scan-or-grope corner. ;)

ttv said...

Very interesting buddy.

Kevin said...

Now that John has admitted they are 'geek' writers. I personally hope felicia day gets on the show w/ wil wheaton one day.

Sara said...

"David Tenannt. As Sterling's best friend in Scotland Yard ... never going to happen, but it's been cooking for a while."

Oh my god, I would give a LUNG to make this happen. Seriously, who must I bribe and/or beg endlessly? I really need a DT-played character and Sterling being besties in my life more than I can even say. It is an amazing thought.

These posts are awesome and so appreciated. I am nth-ing all the thank yous. :D

katieh said...
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katieh said...
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katieh said...

Thank you so much John for answering all these questions. Us fans will never be able to properly express our gratitude for your time and energy, you are incredible.

For all the fans: there have been requests for Google Maps of the Portland locations. Here is one for this ep!

Leverage 0309 Google Map



i have kept it public so everyone can see it, and have left it editable, too, in case there's something i forgot that anyone would like to add.

If people like it, maybe we can create one big Leverage Map and just tag each spot w/ the ep #... anyway, just wanted to give something back to Leverageverse ;o)

gwangung said...

For all the fans: there have been requests for Google Maps of the Portland locations. Here is one for this ep!

There's only one word for this: INEFFINGLY COOL!

Anonymous said...

Hey John. I'm a huge fan of Leverage, and only recently discovered this blog. First of all, Thanks for taking the time to answer questions and interact with the fans. Surprisingly, many shows aren't nearly as willing to do this. Second (an actual question): You've mentioned before that many of the cons you guys use on the show are real or have real life variations. Is there any chance we could get some sort of con glossary, detailing some of the classic cons and the variations or completely made-up cons that you use on the show?

adc1966 said...

As you all know, I believe the government is best that governs least.

I prefer to say "the government is best that governs exactly as much as it has to... no more, and no less."

Sophie's been schooling Parker off and on for three years now.

Is that what they're calling it these days? :-)

(As a SoParphiker fan, I feel much more at peace than all those frustrated Nate/Sophie shippers. The secret is to choose a 'ship that you know will never, ever, ever be addressed in canon. Then you never have to be disappointed!)

Eliot works for Miranda Zero.

Gnnrrgl... Sorry, just drooled on myself a bit with Story Lust.

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