I will never tire of remembering things I love about Leverage but my fave are these:
- Parker and Sophie’s dynamic : It honestly floored me how there was never a stereotypical or negative dynamic between these two. They were always supportive of each other, tried to understand each other, and honestly were a healthy friendship. Finding that without it being made into something outlier or strange is rare sometimes in shows, at least with this consistency.
- Alec Hardison and his importance to the team : Even though it was Nate who formed the team, it was Hardison who brought them together with a proper place to be, not just once. He is cool but also emotional when needs come, allowed to be nervous, allowed to have hobbies and be so much more than a ‘typical’ geek, especially a black man playing a tech whiz, could be stereotyped as. Alec is the one who buys a pub and brews his own beer, gets excited over lasers in cooking, complains about things people would do in certain situations like insane stakeouts. He isn’t a crusader, isn’t representative of any mission, and isn’t an ideal. A human character and a great one at it.
- Sophie Devereaux and identity issues: Right from the start we are told that Sophie has identity twists. She is not who she shows in terms of her official name or identity. But this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t show her character to her group. She is open about her fears and love but is allowed her secrets. When Nate asks for her name she says he has to earn it, which is such a wonderful moment because it shows the balance in their dynamics. Her name matters to her and her group respects it. Even when he proposes, Nate doesn’t use her real name because that is a secret but he is proposing to her and that is all that matters to both of them. It showed people and secrets and the importance of respecting those.
- Parker and romance + intimacy : Again, this is shown right from the first episode. While Eliot and Nate are baffled by her in the beginning, and even Sophie is, the show never once makes us think that Parker is 'abnormal’ for having intimacy or emotional issues. Instead it shows the others learning to communicate with her and building their own ways to connect with her while her growing to understand their communicative styles too. Especially when Hardison and Parker show prospects of dating, Hardison is shown to learn her thought process and he is happy to learn but it’s not seen as something absurd. Parker learns about Hardison’s likes too and they share their likes by being interested and genuinely liking in each other’s company. Parker is an orphan who has been through abusive foster homes and never once does the group call her out badly on it or make her feel uncomfortable for it.
- Nate’s alcoholism : The very first shot of the show is Nate getting a drink while a guy comes to offer him a job and manipulates him emotionally using his son’s death. Talk about a brilliant opening setting, because this is his entire history set within the first 5 minutes. Nate is an alcoholic and has deep trauma from his son’s death along with a lot of impulsive guilt inspired reactions. He is the leader of this group of cons. He is called out every single time he screws up but not mockingly about his past but more in frustration about his lack of taking help. There is an entire episode where a con is planned in a rehab centre and it backfires because Nate is shown to have a breakdown when he is withheld from alcohol. His issues are highlighted and he doesn’t get into a serious romantic relationship without understanding that he should work on them. Alcohol is not glorified here and being an alcoholic is not shown as mysterious or hot. He goes to frickin jail because he fails to get things under control and the show doesn’t shy out from that.
- Eliot and Cooking: How many times do you find this trope where a Manly Man™ guy loves cooking but still doesn’t get shown to be compromised from his role as a Hitter? Eliot is a guy who hits but he does not have anger issues. He does not seek violence. He does not like guns. He loves cooking and is serious about it. He is the guy who had issues with being a team in the first episode and he is also the guy who would do anything to protect his team. He’s the nurturer of this team who feeds them and is loyal to the core. His cooking has a past too and that rocks because he learnt it from someone he was supposed to target. It is his calming mechanism. This is a Hitter who would make a beautiful dish because he likes it and still beat someone if they hurt others. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.
- Maggie, Tara, and every woman who played a supporting cast: Maggie is the ex-wife of Nate who is NEVER shown to be jealous or weird around Sophie. She doesn’t get back together with Nate or regret things but she also deeply cares for him. She is successful, has her own principles, and also helps this group con for revenge when she wanted to. Tara is a Grifter who is brought in when Sophie takes a break. She is thought to be a replacement and everybody hates her at first because they miss Sophie but they grow to respect and like her for WHO SHE IS and not for how she fills Sophie’s role. It’s not a replacement, as they realize. It’s a change and she brings her own dynamic with it. There are so many more like Ana who helped Parker when she had a broken leg, every single female client they had, Peggy who became Parker’s first friend outside the group and was starkly different. This show never made every woman the same because *gasp* they are not.
- From hurt the bad to help the good: Usually this concept remains of hurting bad people and Leverage does do that. But the team grows and their motto shifts too. They grow from hurting bad people to helping the good and both go hand in hand for them. It’s not just about removing the problem but also about finding the solution for them.
- It’s Personal: The group has one of the best team dynamics I have ever seen and it’s not just because they work well together. It’s also because they work with and for each other too. Each person has had personal cases on the show and even when the team thinks twice on certain things, they respect that personal aspect. The show portrayed the idea of 'I might not think the same way you do or make the same choices but I understand why you make them and I respect you’ with beautiful ideas. Be it Parker with Luka and the orphans in Russia or Eliot and the horse job; the team gives each other the benefit of doubt and trust when needed.
- Platonic relationships: I cannot tell you how much I love the platonic relationships of this show. Be it the parents-wards bond of Nate+Sophie and the others or the Eliot-Hardison-Parker dynamic which I know many people see as Ot3 (highly possible); every platonic bond is valuable and no single character is graced higher.
- Plot: Last but not the least, the plot. It came a full circle. The show finished its plots and had continuity of arcs. They started because Nate pushed them to find compensation for the past and the show ended with Nate pushing them to find their resource for the future. Every single character came a full circle by the end and we see growth in them.
I honestly wish we had more episodes of this show but I am really happy that we got what we did. To Leverage - the show that told that good is not who you are but what you do and choose.