Saturday, December 15, 2012

LEVERAGE Summer Finale #510 "The Frame-Up Job"

Jesus people, 272 comments? Even I don't like the show that much.  I'll tackle the easier one first.

We enjoyed making "The Boys Night Out Job" and "The Girls Night Out Job" last year.  I don't know if you liked watching them, but we liked making 'em.  Splitting the team meant more page space for each of the characters, exploring some fun intra-team dynamics we don't usually get to play with, and having the room to do more interesting villain characters.  Splitting the cast at one point during the season also solves some heinous damn scheduling problems we run into thanks to our 7 day prep/7 day shoot, no hiatus work year.

It's interesting that "Boys Night Out" was a bit more my jam, where the show became much more about Nate and the Boston Crime background I love about that character, and "Girls Night Out" allowed Downey to explore his love of 80's TV crime shows. In the end, I wrote a Spencer and he wrote a Charlie's Angels.  If you were to ask me to list my favorite Leverage episodes, many of them are the smaller night-time crime stories (I'll call it "The Whisky Cycle" and leave it to you people to put together the playlist).

We're not quite in the "Theory of 3 Glee's" I read somewhere, but you can definitely, after 73 episodes, detect the styles of the recurring writers.  Although every writer at multiple times has written a scene or act on somebody else's episode, there are individual -- well, not themes, but quirks.  Glenn and Rieder wrote Parker like nobody's business, and had a nice handle on rural cases. Jenn Kao likes your research-heavy McGuffin-y heists where Complications Ensue.  Kirsch digs the female villains and tends to focus on showcase pairs, consciously or not.  Veach loves his tech, loves Hardison and Parker, and digs in on the big speech almost as hard as I do. Guyot seems to have a real flare for taking old-school con ideas and updating them.  Etc, etc, for the rest of the lovely and talented staff and ex-staff.

For Downey and I, I tend to write The Saint or Spencer -- I write to a tone -- and he loves to take the characters and transplant them -- he writes to a setting.

All that to circle in on "Frame-Up" and "Rundown", which exhibited the same dynamic.  Both were broken in the room with all the writers working together, but both came about because Dean asked us "Give me summer blowouts where we really stretch.  Where we feel like different shows."

Were they backdoor pilots?  Hmm.  Not really.  Pilots are hinky, complicated things.  Were they ... experiments in chemistry and style?  Sure, I'll cop to that.

Looking at how to split the team, we wanted to give Nate and Sophie a showcase for how their relationship's changed.  That split off "the kids" as we call them in the Room, and that split allowed both of us to pursue our individual styles.  Downey had been pitching Leverage meets 24 for three years, with the idea that the team helps out an (unwitting) Federal Agent.  Every time I watch The Thin Man I dream about Myrna Loy for a week.  I eventually wound up helping out on "Rundown" just because I was up in Portland for "Frame-Up" and could double-duty some location-based rewrites.  But save for two specific scenes in "Rundown", that episode was the one Downey had in mind for quite a while.

There was one additional factor -- the idea of Eliot stopping a hit actually came from the season 4 finale shoot, when Clane Crawford as Mr. Quinn guest-starred with Kane.  The two are best friends and we were trying to figure a way to bring Clane back.  Having Eliot turn down a hit, only to find out he was going up against Clane to stop it, was a pitch that came about on the set.  We had that index card up on the wall, and grabbed it as soon as the episode began to take shape.

Once the division of styles was set, we each grabbed whoever was about to help us finish the scripts on their unholy schedule.  Then ironically, they didn't shoot at the same time.  The mansion we wanted for "Frame-Up" moved off the schedule for when we could get the Portland MAX line for "Rundown".  The shooting schedule actually ran "White Rabbit"/"Frame-Up"/"Broken Wing"/ "Rundown".  If you go back and watch those, you can probably sense the shifting page weight of the actors as they rose in and out of priority in each shooting schedule.

Although Downey can speak more to "Rundown", I have to say making "Frame-Up" was a delight.  I constantly tease Hutton that by screwing up and winning an Oscar in an iconically dramatic role, he missed a perfectly good career as a comedic actor.  Gina, of course, can play this sort of thing in her sleep, and getting Mark Sheppard in to play a lighter version of Sterling than usual was a hoot.  It was nice to finally pay off the first season groundwork; Nate and Sophie were way too broken to have this relationship at that time, but now, after five years, both they and the viewers are getting the rewards of emotional commitment.

Constructing  a classic Nick and Nora murder mystery was a ton of fun.  It led to several bizarre moments in the room as we first pitched "the genre convention" and them moved to "the variation."  For example, the death of the art appraiser, in the "genre convention" would have been a gargoyle or such falling from a high, crumbling tower of the mansion.  What, I posed to the room, is "the variation"?

"A bow hunting accident," Jeremy Bernstein insisted. "And then Nate and Sophie are hunted, like in The Most Dangerous Game."

"Okay, no, a little closer to --"

"That's ridiculous," Josh Schaer insisted.  I was glad to have an ally.  "She dies in a bear fall."

I stared.  "Wait, so the villain drives some nails in a two-by-four and hits her, faking a bear attack?"

"No," one of my producers said with dead earnestness. "That's crazy.  No, there have been bear sightings in the forest in the back of the estate, so there are bear falls.  And she falls into one."

And at that moment, I began drinking heavily.  Again. "... let us return to the gargoyle."

Right, to your enormous list of questions:

@Dan: Wait, so is Indira McAllister her real name? I must say, after all of that time, if that's really it, that's a nice and understated way of doing it.

Nope, it's yet another alias.  it's just that after all this time, Nate thought he'd learned them all.  Sophie, however, is full of hidden depths.

@ChelseaNH: 1.) Sterling seemed a step behind, a little slow. But then he does tend to let Nate do all the heavy lifting when he's around. 

2.) The show we didn't see is the backdoor pilot for Sterling and his bevy of female agents. Sort of the new Charlie's Angels. (Or the new new Charlie's Angels. Or the new new new Charlie's Angels, if we count the movies.)

1.) Exactly.  Which is why Nate called him on it -- Sterling Never Loses, and he saw a way to let his deniable friends solve problems for him.  Not to mention he enjoys watching Nate work.  They were best friends at one point, you know.

2.)  In a parallel universe, there is a Sterling show, where he's the lead investigator in a SHIELD-like Interpol.

@Caralyn: is Sterling going soft on Nate and the team?? That's 2 or 3 times they've made him look good.

@Ruben: Sterling never loses, but in this situation it looked like he actually /did/ lose! Is that significant or am I just missing something?

Nope.  As the team groused in "The King George Job", Sterling's super-power is that he always manages to come out looking great.  He uses them.  Even if he's gotten used to them, he's using them.  As noted, he comes out with solved murders and a way into cracking an international art theft ring.  That number on the size of art theft annually is correct, BTW.

@MaggieCat: Called Sophie being the subject of the painting when she kept refusing to say why she was so interested in it and why she knew the fake wasn't it (the name and date helped) but it took an embarrassingly long time to realize that's why the son thought she looked familiar! Awesome. I love a mystery that manages to put the solution right out in the open but in such a way that it only becomes obvious the second time through.

Thanks.  Constructing that timeline was a bear, particularly because during shooting Dean fell in love with the idea that they'd walk away with the painting.  That was indeed an amazing last shot, but of course contradicted other things we'd established about the alarm system.  We wound up doing rewrites on the fly on set, and luckily we shot out of order so we could retcon some rules, but I'm not sure if we managed to sand all the sharp edges off that one.

@ANonymous: If you don't get renewed can you write the Nate and Sophie drink, kiss, and solve crime show instead? Because honestly that was all I've ever wanted.

We'll do a movie or two.

@Zob: 1.) Whose idea it was to let Sterling wear a white tie? Was it symbolic? As in pointing out he is still on the whites side of the board or just a coincidence?

2.) Nate knows that he ties with Sterling as they can't outsmart each other. He managed to send him over a goose chase because Sterling knows the same. So was that line was about bragging or in Leverageverse is there a better detective out there that can outsmart both Sterling and Nate?

1.) That was Nadine Haders our amazing costume designer, and I believe she was indeed drawing that conclusion.

2.) As tempted as I am to imply a Mycroft out there you haven't met, no. That's an old joke between the two of them, that the other one is the 2nd best detective.  And both, in their heart of hearts, believes it.

@CL: 1. Is the name twice mentioned is Sophie's real name? You did say it'll be said out loud.

2. Why does Sterling always show up either on season finale or summer finale? Lol.

1.) Nope.  You'll hear it only in the season finale.
2.) Because that's when I can pry him away from his nine other shows.

@Anonymous: 1) What's the story with Sterling and his harem of interpol agents? I always pictured him as too much of an workaholic to be ladies man (and also I secretly ship Maggie/Sterling.) 
2) Is Sterling mellowing? Or has he at least given up on throwing Nate and his team in jail? He won in the sense that he got everything he wanted, but secret prison threats aside, he didn't seem to be angry with Nate anymore about Nate's poor life choices (or what he views as poor life choices, becoming a thief.)
3) Why IS Sophie so mysterious? I understand from a writing standpoint, no poncy Wolverine in a nightshirt scene, etc, etc, but I'm talking about Sophie's in-verse reasoning. Everybody knows Nate's past, Hardison is too young to have a past, Parker's has kinda been revealed, and even though Eliot's is vague, we know why he doesn't like to talk about it - it was either highly classified, or something he was ashamed of (or both). So why does Sophie insist on keeping all her cards so close to her chest? Not a complaint, mind, just curious :)
Bonus extra question:
Congrats on syndication. Does that help your chances of renewal, or is the world of TV renewals so mercurial that it doesn't mean much?

1.) Sterling is indeed a workaholic.  Those women are agents, buddy.
2.) Sterling is beginning to realize that Nate's not coming back, so he should get used to it, and learn to use him in a constructive manner.  The only person Sterling doesn't manipulate, consciously or unconsciously, is his daughter.  That said, he is very,very angry soon.
3.) A big part of it is habit, and a big part of it is that the mystery is one of those little things that keeps Nate's giant Mastermind brain focused on her, like a shiny uncrackable puzzle with great legs.  She's a drama queen at heart.  Add to this the idea that in her new moral universe, there are a few things she did she's not very proud of, and rather than Eliot's atonement arc -- which is very Eliot -- she's just shutting that part of her life out.
BONUS: Syndication pays to the studio, not the network, so it doesn't affect the network decision in any way.

@Anonymous: 1. Why are all of Sterling's fellow agents sexy young ladies?
2. How happy were you guys with Tim's jump into that pool?

1.) He's very concerned about the glass ceiling in international law enforcement.
Joking aside, it was primarily to set up a recurring bit, that only Sophie noticed the interchangeable agents.  We wound up cutting the bit and keeping the agents.
2.) We loved it.  Wardrobe and make-up were less enthused.

@Anonymous: "couldn't let a perfectly good fake go to waste" seems like a lame excuse for him to set up the fake theft. Had he not framed Paolo, the son would have gotten away with the whole thing. Why make it a crime scene unnecessarily? Sophie would have known it was a fake but he couldn't have anticipated that. Seriously, why did he frame the guy? That's really bugging me and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

He would not have gotten away with it.  A missing painting and no thief means Interpol is up all their asses for months.  How long before they start cracking people's finances open, and the insurance company starts nosing around?  Nope, give the authorities a bad guy and evidence, and nine out of ten times they'll close the case and walk away.  Hell, those guys aren't getting sprung from prison on new DNA tests because the cops are UNIVERSALLY careful.

@MagzMc: The Frame Up Job, I loved all the competence porn from Nate's mental processes and deductions to Sophie impressing Sterling. And I love that the show didn't cheat as everything Nate deduced was available to the viewer with nothing plucked out of the air. 
Q1) Was this episode approached in the same way as The 10 Lil'll Grifters, did you plan out the clues to ensure no cheating?
Q2) Sterling has leggy blonds in matching suits as his team, whats with that? Also please let it be that Sterling hires Maggie as the art expert for his crack Interpol art theft team.
Q3) When Nate is focused on a puzzle he makes extremely reckless decisions. First he just takes off on Sophie after she made it clear she planned to stay the night! I would think most guys in that situation would stay with the beautiful woman, then he goes to the scene of a murder knowing who the murderer is and that he is on the premises and proven to be dangerous, with no means of protection. Is this Nate's most fatal flaw, not been able to see the wood for the trees when he's obsessed? What was he going to do had Sophie not arrived?
Q4) Art has obliviously been a huge part of Sophie's life but how did she learn about it? Life experience, work research for grifting? Which came first the love of Art of the need to understand it to steal it? And what is more important to her acting or art? Also Nate mentioned that he used to drink strong drinks like the paint check mix in college, care to elaborate, where did he go? What did he study? Was it after seminary or do seminarians get shit faced too?

For what it's worth the "Ellery Queen page 100 challenge" was a big influence on me as a kid.  The idea was, around page 100 Ellery Queen (the authorial voice, anyway) would stop the book and say "You now know everything I know.  Can you figure it out?"  They continued this tradition in the TV show starring, of course, Tim's father.  I must've reread the first chunk of The Greek Coffin Mystery five times ...  I think I still got that one wrong.

Q1.) Yes, broke it like an old school mystery, which is a very different process than breaking a modern procedural.  Maybe I'll do a post on that.
Q2.) See above, re: glass cieling.  And yes, Maggie does do work for Sterling. In Season 7, Sterling and Maggie start dating and ... ah, never mind.
Q3.) Yes, he's absolutely obsessed.  And he was quite sure Sophie would follow him.
Q4.) Tsk, all that backstory ... all I'll say is Sophie comes by her love of art legitimately, as part of her non-grifter life.  Nate went to whatever college you find most satisfying.

Ooona: Q1) Was this a one off for Nate/Sophie? Meaning, the banter was sort of a new look for them. Is that a new direction or just a little fun for the team split?

Q2) I'm assuming the split cast eps are cheaper to produce. Is that true? Does that play into the decision to do those?
Q3) If there is a Season 6, will you do the split eps again?

Q4)  I loved the technique of having Nate in the background in color while the rest of the scene was washed out. The "walking on water" thing really came out great. I also thought putting the characters' IDs on screen was a fun touch.  Who came up with the idea for those little bits?
Q5) In the washed out scenes, where Nate was in color, Sterling and Sophie were coming up with the theories and Nate wasn't in the scene. Was Nate in color supposed to represent that Nate had already thought of those same theories or was he listening in somehow or what?
1.) The banter was both a stylistic choice to mimic the genre and made possible by the reduced page weight for other characters. You may see more of it if an individual episode's format allows.
2.) One tends to be cheaper than the other, allowing us to shift funds.  That allows us to put the money in other eps, and also rest the cast a bit.
3.) If we can find a good theme for the split, sure.
4.) It was a mix of things. We knew we wanted a "Nate-vision" where Nate was observing certain incidents so we didn't have just a festival of talking heads.  Marc Roskin played around with things once we got to the location-- the "standing on the pool" moment was an inspired bit of winging it on the part of our grips.  Then in post, we tried a couple different effects.  The character ID bit was in the script, but it was Dean Devlin who suggested doing them like the labels in Sherlock.
5.) You see Nate listening in at the beginning of the sequence, on his phone.

@Laura: Q: Was posing as a model for the painter how Sophie got introduced to art and then eventually art theft or was it part of one of her cons?

It was indeed during her transition period.

@Rocxb: 1.) Did you paint a naked picture of a young Gina?

1.)  Well, not me.  It was a friend of Randall Groves the Production Designer. It's based on a rather famous ad in which Gina starred made in England.

@Aonymous:To the anonymous that was confused about why he would frame the servant: He couldn't get the fake into place so it looked stolen regardless of who he framed. In fact, the issue wasn't WHO he framed (he actually chose pretty well considering the servant was the only one without an alibi) but rather, it was Sophie presence and knowledge of the painting (which, as you pointed out, he couldn't have anticipated). 1.) Though I'm not sure why the curator wouldn't have the code. I don't see why he would give the lawyer the code and not his personal art curator. 2.)Also, I don't understand why the son didn't want the inheritance. To throw suspicion away from himself? It seemed to make people more suspicious of him than anything. And the kind of guy who would kill his father for money didn't seem the type to turn down the reward. 3.) Also, I wish it had been established earlier that the son had been an artist. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I think there's a term for a convenient plot-point in a mystery. What is it called again?

1.) The collector wanted to keep Ma Mystere to himself, and maintain the legend that only a few people had ever seen it.  The lawyer didn't get the alarm code from the collector, he got it form the alarm company.

2.) I'm not following your reasoning there.  He was tryingto set himself up as a guy who was grateful to his dad, and didn't want the money.
3.) It was established that the son was an artist.  It was rather nicely thrown away during the pool meeting between Nate and the son.

@ZMiles: 1.) (Excellent recap of the episode's crime plot) Do I have this right?

2.) How could the son ensure that the father wouldn't go into the vault at any point beforehand and see the incomplete wall? The daughter said that he checked on it every day. He was using a walker, but he seemed to be able to get out of bed, and he had a manservant to help him move around. 
3.) Once the father realized what was going on, why didn't either he or the alarm company person check inside the vault to make sure the painting hadn't been stolen yet? The painting was already behind the fake wall at that point; they would have noticed that the painting wasn't there if they'd checked.
4.) Why didn't the son accept being put back into the will? Was it just so that he wouldn't seem to have a motive to kill his dad?
5.) What was the son's plan for afterwards? The whole world would think that the real Mettier was the forgery, and the real one that he had looked nothing like it. Because of all the other forgeries, he couldn't use any of the other paintings in the house to validate his own. How could he convince any buyer that he had a genuine Mettier?

1.) Precisely.  Nicely done.

2.) He intervened fast enough to make sure his Dad couldn't get down there.
3.) The Dad was hesitant to believe his son had really done something that bad, so he was incomplete in his conversation with the alarm company.  The conversation about the possible theft is when the son poisoned the father.
4.) Yes.
5.) He would funnel it into the same art theft ring he'd been working with before.

@Anonymous: 1.) How did Sophie know the artist? Why did he paint her portrait? 

2.) Is it your intention to ever find out more about her past? Is that in the cards for this season?
3.) If the show is renewed, will you return next season as showrunner? I'm sure you can't discuss the actors contracts but (without getting specific) are you confident they'd all be on board to return as well?
4.) My brother works for TNT. He said you were supposed to find out about renewal around the time the cooking episode aired. What's taking so long, damnit? He said that's all he knows on the subject. I am not satisfied with that in the least.

1.) Well, that answer would be no fun.

2.) You find out her real name very soon.
3.) Everyone is on board for next season contractually.
4.) Scheduling and network stuff.  Just the usual.

@aurora: 1.) If this does end up being the last season, (or even if it doesn't), can we have a spinoff of Sterling being an Interpol Sherlock Holmes?

2.) Sterling and Nate see each other as Holmes to Moriarty?
3.) Does Sterling already know Sophie's real name? 
4.) Why did he assume Nate had headquartered in Portland rather than just running a con there?

1.) I will do my utmost.

2.) No. That wouldn't do justice to their old friendship.
3.) He's got a good guess.
4.) He already knew.  That was just his way of letting Nate know that he knew.

@Anonymous: Not only did I predict the Sophie painting thing (which was actually ok because it made me understand what Sophie was feeling as she was feeling it, which I liked), but it's OBVIOUS that this is the last season of Leverage as we know it. Either this show ain't getting renewed, or it's going to look different coming back next year. Am I right?

Assuming we are coming back, the first few episodes will indeed have to establish a very new team dynamic. Ahem.

@Brad: Glad you liked it.  And you really should hunt down Mystery Street.

@Sharon: - could you include extended versions of episodes say 50 minutes on iTunes? 42 min television is just so short nowadays.

I believe it's actually the long version of "Rundown" on iTunes.

@Nav: 1.) Sophie’s gulp ‘n dribble when Nate appeared was perfect – scripted or improv from Gina? I liked the parallel with Maltese Falcon ;)

2.) LOVED Sterling coming back, but his entrance felt a bit contrived, honestly. No one had any time to raise the alarm before Nate & Sophie bolted, so what was Sterling doing there right then? Even if he was hoping to catch Sophie and/or Nate again, there must have been tons of art exhibitions/auctions over the past years that Sophie never went to – has he been visiting every one of them? Besides, he did give away that he knows their base, and I honestly expected him to keep tabs on Nate, so if he wanted to get them he could just have waltzed in the front door. Unless he somehow knew of the painting’s connection to Sophie? Then again, I think only Sophie would know the painting’s origin.
3.) On that point , story-wise, what was Sophie’s relationship with Mettier? Was it done before or during her career as a grifter? And where did you guys find a painting that looked like Sophie/Gina? Same guy who painted Harlan Leverage III?
4.) “Still the second best detective I know” – Love the blatant animosity yet grudging respect Nate and Sterling still have going on between them. Any chance we’ll be seeing Sterling ever coming over to the dark side or even helping them out? By the way, nice callback with “I’ve got a Sophie” ;D
5.) Back before she left Nate in ‘Two Live Crew’ Sophie stated her identities “weren’t just names” to her and that she knew everything about them, when their parents died, first kiss, etc. Now we see her trivialising them and saying “oh honey, even I don’t know them all” extremely lightly – does this mean she’s finally putting her past to rest, or is she still struggling to sort through all of them? Or was she just getting extra lovey-dovey to get under Sterling’s skin?
6.) We’ve come pretty close to understanding almost everyone in the team – maybe not knowing the exact specifics, but at least understanding most,of their motivations in their past actions/careers, as well as reasons in leaving the past behind and moving forward – except Sophie. Her past is still floating up in the air and I have no doubt she loves the team, but she’s still an enigma when it comes to how much we, or they, really know about her. Are there any plans to bring us deeper into Sophie’s backstory?
7.) I think this pretty much displays my obsession with Sophie.
8.) You mentioned during the 'Three Card Monte' post-game that "When you need to know about Nate's mom, we'll go there. You still have to meet his sister ...". Any idea when this is happening?

1.) Gina, as a comedic genius, is the master of the spit-take.

2.) Nope, it was indeed a coincidence.  Part of the new program he's starting, as he explains in the walk-in for the den.
3.) The relationship was... interesting.  The painting was done at the birth of her career as a grifter.
4.) Plead the fifth.
5.) Getting under Sterling's skin, and trying to make Nate feel better.
6.) Nope.  Sophie's an enigma because to a great degree her past was an enigma even to herself.
7.) You are not alone..
8.) We'll meet his sister soon, if we come back.

@ellabell: 1.) I'm always curious about the production side of things, so how was the filming of these two episodes structured? Was it done in the same way as the the BNO/GNO Jobs, where you had double the crew?

2.) You burned through about a dozen plots in The Frame Up Job. (I got most of them pretty quickly, but I'm extremely genre savvy and it only adds to my enjoyment. So, yay you.) As you're writing the show, do you ever think, no, let's not use that now because we can use it later in a different / better way?
3.) In the last write-up you did, can you expand on the comment that all showrunners / writers hate the 6 act show? How does it differ from a writing / production standpoint? Why did it change?
1.) Actually, they were split across two other episodes. This time we used the savings from "Frame-Up" to go the extra half-day on "Rundown."
2.) Downey has verbalized this rule: "Episodes we're actually making take precedence over imaginary episodes of the future."
3.) Most shows went to the six-act structure because the networks want another advertising break.  It's very hard to write because it's hard to create that many act breaks that are a plot twist worthy of the act turn.  As a result, At least one winds up being just "new information", which is rarely that compelling.

@Michelle: 1) - If you are going to keep developing Sterling as a fun person to love to hate (well, less hate now), can we assume he'll be back more in the future (assuming there is a future to the show). 

2) - While I loved each hour individually, I know you rwrite the finale in case it's the end. Why oh why not end with at least a moment of the team together as a whole or talking about making the split more permanent? I loved these episodes but I'd be bummed if it ended without a final who TEAM moment!! 

1.) Oh, he'll be back.  Angry, angry Sterling will be back.

2.) These of course were just the summer finales.  Winter finale is the real season finale.

@Unknown: 1.) How many takes did Tim and Gina need for their banter dialogue? Was any of it improv or all scripted?

2.)  I also have to say that I love how you've got no problem with keeping Nate and Sophie together and writing their couple-y interactions so well. Between Leverage and Chuck, I'm glad to see TV writers say, "What Moonlighting curse?" and write interesting couples for us to watch and root for.
3.)  Why paint something completely different as the fake of Ma Mystere? I understand that was needed from a story perspective, and you could also say, "Well, no one knows what it looks like (and is still alive), so he could paint anything he wanted. If someone was coming in to check everyday (ie his dad), while he might not have noticed the intricacies of the other fakes, he would surely be able to notice something that is completely different. Or if not him, who was the other person unlocking the door and checking regularly, as shown on the alarm logs?
4.) So what did the son and curator get out of selling all the other Metier fakes? They were in possession of the real ones, but couldn't ever sell them, as it would put them under suspicion. They did not profit from the sales of the fakes, as he refused any money from the estate, and I don't think she would get that substantial of a cut.

1.) Not many.  Once you're in that rhythm, it tends to be self-sustaining.
2.) It's kind of nice to be able to just do the couple stuff now. I think the characters earned it.
3.) He painted the fake first, then got the combination.  He wanted to be able to switch it out quickly.
4.) There's a thriving black market of art people know is stolen.

@Anonymous: Here's a multi-episode question. What are some of Nate's plans we DON'T see?

The very cool ones.

@Faybe Bay: I love Leverage and have been writing about you guys on line since 2010. I know you always write and film each season as if it's the last. I know that's what keeps the drama fresh. With each episode the viewer also feels this might be the "last time" we see new episodes of Leverage. Now, with Internet viewing, do you feel On line series will start to be a norm and would you ever consider doing that with Leverage after your run with TNT is over. You have the technology and the following and you have Hardison! Lol.

I think we're about five more years from on-line only series being viable.  That said, we certainly have on-line plans in negotiation if we're not picked up.  Lord knows if they come together, but Dean Devlin does so love an impossible challenge.

@B: This is about Nate, really. I was rewatching S1 & S2, and there's a lot of focus there on the pain Nate feels for losing his son. Revisited at the end of the Queen's Gambit Job, but taken more of a backseat lately. Is Nate still hurting, has he healed, or has he just shut himself off another way? Found another vice besides alcohol?

Still healing.  And I'd say his constructively focused bastardry is a replacement vice for his alcoholism.

@Ren:  I bartended for years, so I know where you're coming from.  Just keep writing every day. Luck favors the well-prepared.

@Anonymous:1.)  Nate said "when you left that day" in regards to her shoes, shouldn't he have said "when you left this morning"? I mean, it was just later on in the same evening, wasn't it? If it wasn't, then why was she wearing her shoes for the event the day BEFORE the event? Right?

2.) Also, this is probably a more appropriate question to ask the showrunner: why didn't Sophie want Nate's company to see the painting? Why couldn't she tell him once it was stolen? "It's personal" seems a little vague to me. I'm not saying I disagree creatively with her saying that but I'm wondering if there's more to it. Is it just one of those things I'll never understand because I don't have any secrets? That's probably it. 
1.) Yep, he misspoke and you caught it.  We should've seen that in post.  Nice.
2.) It's from a pre-Grifter time, and a particularly vulnerable time in her life.  I'd say that she's emotionally regressing a bit under the reminder of her previous state.  You know, like we all do when we go visit our parents.

@Kate: 1) Is that Sterling grudgingly starting to like what Nate does there at the end? Or at least being willing to like Nate again?

2) A murder mystery at an Art Auction? Did Nate and Sophie just have their Perfect Date?
1.) He finds Nate ... useful.  And owes him for what the did to get his daughter back.  I'd say there's a new detente. You really have to pay attention to when Nate calls him out on the transparently bad attempt to keep them locked in a room.
2.) Yes, nicely said.  That was their Perfect Date.

@Anonymous: Gina saying "naughty" at the end of that episode was the single hottest thing I have ever heard in my entire life. The way she said it. Damn.  Also. I realize Gina lives in London and Tim lives in New York (I... think?) but if you don't get them together for the episode commentary on the dvd... I will die, Jon. You will have killed me. It will be murder. YOUR HANDS WILL HAVE BLOOD ON THEM CAN YOU LIVE WITH THAT

Gina's ability to turn on Devastatingly Sexy at will is always amazing.  As to DVD Commentaries -- we will do our best.  And as a showrunner, I'm used to blood on my hands.

@Anonymous: Cancer tends to have a genetic predisposition.

@Anonymous: OK, I have a couple of non-ep Q's but sorta show related:

1.)  as a business, how is the establishment going? I keep envisioning an ep revolving around Jon Taffer and "Bar Rescue" showing up. I think I would pay to see the team's reactions, especially Alec & Elliot.
2.) another HUGE scammy mess involves brokers putting the elderly into variable annuities. Has this come up in writer's meetings?
3) since you've mentioned it in a few of your ep recap posts .... any thoughts on the announced Vince Vaughn "Rockford Files" movie?

1.) It's doing remarkably well, actually.  Hardison manages systems, and a restaurant is a system.  Eliot being his de facto partner doesn't hurt.

2.) Every time we take a run at that, it turns into some variation of a financial episode we've already done.  I guess those types of crimes are just evergreens now. Sadly.
3.) We'll see.  I didn't dig the pilot from last year, so we'll see what the script winds up being like.

@Anonymous: Now a real question. I was looking for Leverage DVD with Portuguese subtitles and just found Season 1. Do you know if there are DVD with Portuguese subtitles for Seasons 2 to 4? In Brazil Leverage Season 4 is on Space, but either in English with no subtitles or dubbed (awful). Sure I watch it in English, but since I love this show so much that I watch any episode more than once I'd like to purchase DVD with subtitles (at a fair price I hope!). Congrats and hoping for at least S6 and S7!

I'm afraid we don't have more than the basic subtitles after S1.  You understand that's a decision the DVD company makes based on market research, so we have no control over that.  ow, if somebody out there did a fan sub ...

@Anonymous: Dumb question but, when Nate ells Sophie to run when the gunman is approaching. Is he doing that to protect her or to use her as bait? Maybe a little bit of both? Re-watching it, she definitely distract the guy and makes it easier for Nate to take him out but that is seriously dangerous. He could have fired on her from that distance pretty easily before Nate got to him. Instead of firing, though, he chose to take a couple steps closer. So did Nate know it would play out that way or was he just trying to save her? 

It may have been unclear in the edit.  Those boxes to their right were much higher, and gave her plenty of cover.  Nate was both saving her, and aware that the motion would draw the son's eye.

@Hollie: Loved having more of Sterling in "The Frame Up Job"! Did Mark Sheppard have a hard time keeping a straight face when he and Gina were playing a couple? Will we see more of Sterling in the winter?

It was actually tricky.  This was a new timing for the dynamic, and the three-way rhythm is much more difficult than the two-handed banter.  So it was more about finding that tempo than enjoying it.  

@talea: What is the order the writers intended for these first 10 episodes?I know you often say it makes no difference, but as a journalist, I love the story telling and I usually can tell. For instance, Frame Up should have come before Rundown, simply because frameup had a line that accounted for the kids' absence and rundown had nothing about Nate and Sophie (yeah, it probably should have had something, too).

That's the intended order for the first 10 except, indeed the summer finales being flipped.  We did that on the assumption that more people would hang about after the big blowout for the second episode being broadcast NOT in our usual time-slot.  I had no strong feelings one way or another.

@Anonymous: This question has been killin me for two years. So you know in the reunion job at the end everybody's dancing. Sophie and Nate and crowned and dance, Parker and Hardison do their own thing up top and Eliot punches a dude (very fitting, btw). Well my question is WHAT THE HELL WAS PARKER DOING UP THERE ON THE RIG? The job was over! It's not like she needed get out that way. No one suspected her, they could all stroll out the door. Why did she take the time to set that up, strap in, and then start chillin in mid air. Upside down. If no one was suspicious of her before, they certainly would be if they looked up and saw her spider-monkeying around. Loved the finales, good job.

We originally had her drop out of the ceiling and grab the assassin.  So we shot the final beat as if she were still hanging out in the ceiling. Problem was, when we got to the set for the grab, the logistics didn't work. So, on the fly rewrite and hanging chad.  I hope this helps you finally sleep.

@Devinoch: 1) It seems like we're getting lots of interesting permutations of the gang these days. What are the odds that we'll get a purely Nate and Parker episode at some point in the future?
2) Can we please, please, PLEASE get an episode at some point dedicated, at least in part, to what Nate and Sterling were like when they were working together, pre-Leverage crew? Mark is such a great actor, and Frame-Up made me yearn to see that backstory even more fleshed out, while still leaving a billion questions unanswered. Something to put a bug in the ear, perhaps.
3) Was Sophie's real name one of the ones that Sterling rattled off?
4) ... Nate's not gonna hang that picture of Sophie in his office with Old Man Nate is he?
1.) If we get a S6 I'd definitely consider a Nate/Parker team-up.  They have a very big scene in the season finale together.
2.) You got a good taste of it in "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job." We'll do more if we get the chance.
3.) No.
4.) Nope, that goes in Sophie's apartment.

@Anonymous: Just so you know, I'm totally choosing to view Blackeyes as the background for Sophie's character. She made a career out of stealing from the rich men who had previously treated her like an object. (Aside from the whole meta novel aspect of the series obviously). Cool?
Sophie is the only character for whom we have no explanation as to why she does what she does ... Sophie. Nadda. Zip. Zero.  I'm going with Blackeyes. Since you seem determined to act as if somehow the characters backstory's have all been treated equally. Not trying to be a hater, but Sophie is ridiculously negleced in that sense. 
You may feel as if her past doesn't matter but I watch everything on TV. EVERYTHING (non-reality, that is) because I'm a huge TV buff. And I have NEVER wanted to know more about a character than I do with Sophie. Period.
... then it's working.  Seriously, I know we've held back more on her backstory.  That's not a punishment, or lack of interest in the character.  Just... this seems to be the best way to hook people into that character.
@Mark Lungo:"The Frame-Up Job" is played as a light, Agatha Christie-style mystery, which obscures that the villain is one of the most cold-hearted antagonists in the entire series. He's a rich ne'er-do-well who starts out by slowly poisoning his own father. Later, when Nate, Sophie and Sterling expose his partner and she runs to him in panic, he instantly kills her as casually as if he were swatting a fly.
Oh yeah, he's horrible. Utterly fucking monstrous.  No disagreement.  Consistent with the noir tone in the back of my head, though.
@Anonymous: 1.) Who would win in a con/reverse con between our Leverage team and the A-Team?"  2.) Could the Leverage team con the NCIS team and get away with it? How would it go down?"

1.) Leverage team wins, as they are doing a getaway while the A-Team builds their Tank of the Week. (Ther's a lot of nice moments in the new movie, BTW).
2.) Tie game.  Meet, fight, team-up.

@Brye:  If My Mystere was his first painting... and Mettier died in 1989, how the hell old was Sophie in that painting??

As noted he had a very short career.  There was a "-teen" in her age.

@Zmiles: 1. Any chance of a musical ep? :-)
2. Are there any plans to have part of the team go up against the other part? Sort of like how members of the same sports team will sometimes play against each other to test each other, perhaps Nate would have one of the members having to complete objective X while the rest of the team has to stop them.

1.) Never.
2.) We actually pitched that as a possible season finale for Season 4.  We may still do it.

@Anonymous: [Long question as to why don't the victimized corporations bite back?]

Part of it's the Blow -- we make sure we disenfranchise the opposition so they are rendered powerless, usually by leveraging a larger threat against them. OFTEN the threat is another corporation or another PART of their OWN corporation which just wants this all blown over, and will make our Mark the fall guy.  An interesting (and little remarked) part of the show is how often we try to orchestrate one part of a large, dumb system against another part.

As to somebody hunting them down, well, that was S4.  Other people may have tried, but they tend to run into... trouble.  But Nate's biggest superpower, actually, is disempowering the bad guy by the mechanisms of the bad guy's own influence.

@ Anonymous: [Long question involving a crossover with Hustle] 

Afraid no cross-over with Hustle is possible for a variety of reasons.  That said, the very fantastic and handsome Adrian Lester happened to be in LA when we were first casting Leverage, and he called to say he was interested in playing Nate.  He dug the script and it was an interesting conversation, but ultimately unproductive.

@Emily2214: My only actual question is Who is your Doctor? 
Tom Baker and Tennant.  I like Matt Smith a lot, but those two are tied.
All right, I'll see if I can flip the #510 blog post by tomorrow night.  As always, thanks for watching, and your questions amuse, terrify and delight me.


Anglocat said...

Thanks for the answers, Rogers, and especially thanks for this ep, which has to be one of my favorites of the run to date. Gina, Tim, and Mark all were visibly having a blast, and their characters fit so well.

ChelseaNH said...

In a parallel universe, there is a Sterling show, where he's the lead investigator in a SHIELD-like Interpol.

Well, carp, now I'm fixated on seeing Coulson and Sterling doing the old meet/fight/cooperate.

ellabell said...

Yes, broke it like an old school mystery, which is a very different process than breaking a modern procedural. Maybe I'll do a post on that.

Yes, please! I would LOVE to know the difference.

Haha, I think that because I listen to the postcast, this is the third time I've heard the bear fall story and it's STILL funny.

And thanks as always for taking the time to answer our questions! I know we all really appreciate it.

ellabell said...

WAIT. I see you're answering questions on who would win in fights from other TV shows.

Well, this is like a dream come true... I have infinite match-ups in my mind, but the one I'd like to know the most is Eliot vs. Michael Westen.

And, do you think Matt Nix would say the same thing?

(I may have asked this before, but it's become a running joke between me and my best friend. I'd LOVE to trump her.)

Thanks again for doing these. I love reading them!

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You think anyone else will notice you skipped doing the #509 post-game show?

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