Leverage – Dysfunctional Family of ThievesSeptember 26, 2009
The Leverage team is made up of 5 people. You have the Mastermind Nathan Ford, his right hand woman, professional grifter Sophie Devereaux, Eliot Spencer the muscle, Alec Hardison, bonafide geek and hacker and Parker, a thief with a knack of getting out of tight spots.
All 5 (Nathan included) have a reputation for working alone and are the best in their respective fields, but after their first hit as a team, realize they actually like working together (they can pull off more elaborate scams, more money, more fun…) and despite a rocky start, that they like each other too!
They start to bond together, almost like a dysfunctional family unit. You have Nathan as the Dad figure – he’s the master planner and he keeps them altogether because while they might not trust each other, they all trust him. He’s the lynchpin of the operation and keeps them from each other or flying off the chain.
Sophie naturally is the mother figure. Her relationship with Nathan aside, she’s also the one who watches out for the others and talks sense into them when Nathan is hard on them. Eliot is like the big brother, gruffly taking care of the others even as they annoy him, Parker is the misunderstood middle child, crazy and offbeat and unpredictable while Hardison is the pampered youngest, attention seeking and loves annoying his siblings.
Here’s my take on their relationships with each other, spoilers abound for Season 1 and the first half of Season 2!
On a working level, Sophie is the unofficial second and advisor to Nathan. The team looks to her to lead when Nathan’s alcoholism goes overboard (12-Step Job, 1×10) and she takes a bigger leadership role in the last 3 episodes. Nate and Sophie met 10 years ago when they were both on opposite sides; Nathan was chasing Sophie down and they actually shot each other (1×05), and officially introduced themselves 2 years later when Nathan caught up with Sophie (Mile High Job, 1×08). There’s a lot of history between them, with references to mysterious incidents in Paris and Tuscany (1×08) and Kazakstan (1×03). When Sophie betrays the group in The David Jobs (1×12, 1×13), Nate is the only one who notices something is wrong at first when he catches her using her ‘mark’ voice. But he’s also the first one to forgive her.
On a personal level, unresolved romantic tension! Though they’ve never actually been together (Sophie says Nathan’s never cheated on his wife, Miracle Job 1×04), it’s clear right from the beginning that they are very much attracted to each other, even though neither party has acted upon it. The Bank Shot Job (1×05) makes it especially clear how much they care for each other, when Nathan doesn’t leave when Sophie is trapped during a hold up, and when Sophie breaks cover when Nathan gets shot.
There’s a lot of flirting and tension, and especially jealousy from Sophie’s side when Nate encounters his ex-wife Maggie again (1×12, 1×13), the only other time Sophie breaks cover when she hears their conversation. Ultimately though, when they split apart after Season 1 and regroup again in Season 2, Sophie has found herself a new boyfriend (2×01, whom we haven’t seen yet). This seems to hit Nathan particularly hard, as he almost resorts to drinking after recently kicking the habit. He does only have himself to blame really, a girl can only wait so long!
Still, it’s not long before Sophie’s boyfriend dumps her (2×04), but Nate continues to stand by Sophie as a friend (2×05). Sophie even tries to get Nate to date other people (2×06) in hopes of deflecting him off the path of obsessive control. They have lots of ‘moments’, but Nate continues to stubbornly not tell Sophie that he wants her, and she finally decides to leave the group (2×08). Nate goes all the way to London to tell her the team needs her (2×09), but it’s not enough for her and she sends Tara to replace her instead.
Where will this couple go? They’re definitely not headed for happily ever after; both are far too damaged to ever be happy together, but at least a happy compromise? The team definitely feels Sophie’s absence, though it’s interesting to note that Nate himself doesn’t even know Sophie’s real name (2×07).
Talk about an odd couple – he’s the cool geek, talks a lot, very friendly and laidback. She’s kinda crazy, socially weird and awkward though she’s definitely quite pretty. Hardison’s had his eye on her since the start (Nigerian Job, 1×01 when he flirts with her at their first meeting) but they’ve always been friendly rather than romantic.
Work-wise, Hardison often gets partnered with Parker since their specialities lie in security and breaching – he hacks the networks, while Parker does actual infiltration and often helps Hardison set up his hacking equipment. Incidentally, they’ve played FBI/cop partners a few times (1×05, 1×07, 2×03). Both are not really great at grifting; Parker’s just socially inept (though she’s getting much better) while Hardison tends to overdo and oversell his role (2×08).
Hardison understands Parker in a way the others don’t; they are both orphans who went through foster care – while Hardison lucked out, Parker did not. Hardison is able to explain to the others why Parker acts so strange and will stand up for her, like in the Juror #6 Job (1×11) where he explains to Nate how Parker’s more afraid of social situations than jumping off buildings. She’s also opened up to him, about her fears for the orphans in the Stork Job (1×06), something rare since we don’t often see this softer side of her.
It seems like a rather one sided thing, with Hardison showing some interest and Parker never noticing. One has to wonder if Parker is just teasing him, like in the Wedding Job (1×07) where she tells him about fake-making out with him, and in the First David Job (1×12) where she actually does make out with him. After it happens and Hardison tries to bring it up though, she acts as if nothing happens, much to his confusion. It could just be her asperger’s thing though, her abnormal reaction to things.
At the end of the season when they’re headed their separate ways (1×13), Parker does drop a big hint to Hardison, when he asks where she’s going, and she wonders how hard he’s going to look for her. Come on Hardison! It’ll be really cute if the show does put them together – Parker would not be one person you want to piss of in a relationship, she might just leave a bomb on your pillow~
Unfortunately it turns out Hardison didn’t manage to find Parker in their 6 months apart! (2×01) Still, tensions abound as Parker drops cryptic hints about people being like locks and having to be patient, and they still remain friends, often partnered in cons and in Season 2, more scenes of them acting as a yuppue couple (2×04, 2×06). Hm…
They are 2 ends of the scale – Hardison is an intelligent young geek punk, who’s got a smart mouth and loves his computers. Eliot is the totally opposite, a brawny southern charmer who uses his fists and is not much of a tech head. They don’t have much in common, other than the fact that they’re both criminals, and like typical boy stuff like watching football (1×11) and strip joints (1×10), which is probably why Eliot is kinda wary and annoyed by Hardison in the beginning (1×01), but they do built up a rapport in later episodes.
They snipe at each other a lot, it’s a big brother-little brother relationship, where Eliot is the impatient pissy older one who’ll threaten to beat Hardison up and Hardison the annoying younger one who knows exactly how to piss off Eliot, like spilling slushy in his car (1×10) and not being very cooperative by telling him to punch something (1×07). But Hardison knows that while Eliot makes all these threats, he’d never actually carry them out (2×08), so he just enjoys pushing Eliot’s buttons.
They’re the only 2 girls on the team, and Sophie is Parker’s opposite in that while Parker is socially awkward, Sophie is the master of reading people and getting to trust her as a grifter. Sophie’s the one who takes Parker under her wing and helps her with her people skills, especially in the Juror #6 job (1×11) where she actually conducts lessons to help Parker, stands up for her to Nate and encourages her like a mentor of sorts along the way. They are polar opposites, but it’s by thinking like Parker that Sophie saves them both from Sterling in the First David Job (1×12), where she sets up a rig and Parker runs into her and they both plunge crazily off the roof.
Parker seems the closest of the team (save Nate) to Sophie. She’s the first to know that Sophie has a new boyfriend (2×01), despite them not having met in 6 months, which indicates that Sophie and Parker must have kept in contact at some point. Sophie’s also the one Parker calls in a panic when she’s forced into the role of a grifter. Parker does seem genuinely lost when Nate announces that Sophie wasn’t going to come back (2×08).
I think of them as more like buddies then brothers like Eliot and Hardison. Eliot obviously has full faith and respect for Nathan’s capabilities and trusts him as the leader and that he’ll always come up with something to save their asses. This is especially apparent in the Two Horse job (1×03) where Eliot all but points at Nathan when Aimee asks if he’s got a plan. Like a good buddy, Eliot doesn’t try to control Nathan’s actions like Sophie sometimes does, but when his drinking becomes a problem, Eliot is the one who gets in his face about it (1×10) and nearly punches him out.
Nathan trusts Eliot, but in the beginning you can see that when Eliot tries to offer his sympathies, Nathan tries to remain closed off to him by not wanting to accept his condolences and telling him that they are not friends (1×01). Eliot often seems to surprise Nate with his depth, who seems to think that Eliot is just a knucklehead, like when Eliot says he plays chess (1×11), and that he can cook (1×07). Still, when it comes to stuff like takedowns (1×08) and bombs (2×07), Nate turns straight to Eliot for advice.
Incidentally on KFM, it’s mentioned that Nate has often worked in parallel to Eliot (I assume both of them are trying to retrieve the same item), though Nate has never caught Eliot.
And no, I really don’t get where all the Nate-Eliot fanfiction gets its vibe from? To each his own I suppose…
They start off a little antagonistic, but develop a closer relationship in Season 2 than in Season 1. Often ribbing each other like siblings, like Parker poking Eliot’s arm continuously when it’s injured just to piss him off (2×06), or Eliot winding Parker up with conspiracy theories (2×05).
Eliot doesn’t really understand the way Parker thinks or acts (especially how she can pop out of nowhere (1×08)). They operate on pretty different frequencies but are usually on fairly good terms, except that one time where Parker was going rogue and Eliot got pretty pissed off (1×11). Still he does look out for her in a big brother way, even teaching her MMA fighting techniques to protect herself (2×02). Evident from the puzzled looks and exasperations he often throws her way, Eliot still does think she’s crazy and unpredictable (20 pounds of crazy in a 5 pound bag, 1×01) , and might put a razor blade in his apple just to screw with him (1×11).
Parker seems to trust Eliot and likes him as a friend. He manages to convince her to break into the stud farm even though she was afraid of horses (1×03) and she leaps straight into him while exiting the second floor in the Snow Job (1×09), just trusting he would be there even though she tells him she didn’t know if he would be there. He’s also the first person she jump-hugs when she gets out of the rehab centre (1×10).
Hardison is the youngest in the team in his late 20s. He’s the smart charming one who thinks he can talk his way out of anything, and Nate’s the one who has to keep him in check at times by taking him down a peg or 2, like when Hardison oversleeps a job because he’s been up playing Warcraft (1×08). However, Nathan also plays mentor as he pushes and encourages Hardison to exceed himself, like when he calmed him into saving the plane in the Mile High Job (1×08) and that he could be a convincing lawyer (1×11).
Nate knows that while Hardison can goof off some times, he’s the one he can count on. Hardison is the one Nate calls in to set up the Leverage office and to contact everyone (1×02). Incidentally, Hardison is the one who painted the creepy picture of ’Nate’s ancestor’ that hangs in the entrance of the Leverage office. Nate in his previous job as Insurance investigator has caught Hardison before.
Sophie and Eliot have both been around the block with their own long dubious histories (they know the same Victor in Vietnam, 1×01), and they respect that about each other. They treat each other like equals, and often back each other up, like Sophie backed Eliot in the Two Horse Job (1×03) and Eliot did likewise in the First David Job (1×12). It is probably because of this trust that they established, that Eliot was extra angry when Sophie betrayed them (1×12), and even after the team reconciled in the finale (1×13), he keeps bringing it up and is still angry with her, especially when he finds out he’s the last person she ‘apologized’ to.
Still they seemed to have made up in Season 2, though Eliot can’t help but bring up the situation from time to time (2×01), much to Sophie’s annoyance. Eliot is still the one Sophie goes to when she’s worried about Nate (2×06). Maybe because she’s a fine lady and Eliot’s a man’s-man, Eliot is always very gentlemanly to Sophie, whether it’s getting her a cup of tea or sheltering her from an explosion (1×10).
Eliot does say in his ‘eulogy’ to Sophie in The Two Live Crew Job (2×07) that Sophie is like a friend and sister to him.
Nathan’s first comment about Parker is that while there’s no one better, she’s insane! (1×01). Accordig to KFM, he’s chased her several times but never managed to catch her. Not being the most understanding or patient guy, Nate’s first instinct is usually to brush Parker off (1×11), so thankfully Sophie’s usually around to smooth the ruffles.
Parker is the one to notice and comment that Nate doesn’t usually touch them physically because of the ‘hole in his heart’ (1×10). While everyone else is saying that Nate is ‘an honest man’, Parker is the one who notices these other things, like Nate getting creepier (1×09) and more sadistic (2×03), especially when he’s sober.
They get on a little bit better in Season 2, Nate even bringing Parker to meet the clients (2×04, though its at Sophie’s behest).
They don’t really feature much together; Sophie’s usually out grifting while Hardison’s stuck in the van, which is played to much amusement when Sophie finds herself stuck in the van with Hardison during a job (2×07). It is then too that Hardison tells Sophie that he sees her as the soul of the team, looking out for everyone and making sure they’re alright.
They don’t seem particularly close, but Hardison is aware of where Sophie’s new address is (2×08) though perhaps that could just be his hacker habit.