LEVERAGE #305 "The Double-Blind Job" Post-Game

    During one week in June Pfizer 1) agreed to pull its 10-year-old leukemia drug Mylotarg from the market because it caused more, not less patient deaths 2) Suspended pediatric trials of Geodon two months after the FDA said children were being overdosed 3) Suspended trials of tanezumab, an osteoarthritis pain drug, because patients got worse not better, some needing joint replacements (pattern, anyone?) 4) Was investigated by the House for off-label marketing of kidney transplant drug Rapamune and targeting African-Americans 5) Saw a researcher who helped established its Bextra, Celebrex and Lyrica as effective pain meds, Scott S Reuben, MD, trotted off to prison for research fraud 6) was sued by Blue Cross Blue Shield to recoup money it overpaid for Bextra and other drugs 7) received a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) requesting its whistleblower policy and 8) had its appeal to end lawsuits by Nigerian families who accuse it of illegal trials of the antibiotic Trovan in which 11 children died, rejected by the Supreme Court. And how was your week
    (h/t Balloon Juice)

    The numbers thrown about in the Evil Speech of Evil payoff are exactly those from another famous pharma case. You'll find it in two minutes flat with Google.

    Although most major pharmaceutical companies act in good faith, it seems that those that go south, go south hard. I'm a little surprised we didn't do one earlier, but it's a weirdly institutionalized bit of nastiness. Hard to find the Original Sinner in a system so geared for, if not corruption, neglect.

    The Wonder Twins cracked it by finding just the right kind of CEO -- again, names withheld to protect the Bastardly -- a guy who loved to hop from company to company, with the sole intention of grabbing a massive CEO gig at the end of a twenty year span. I think corporations can do a lot of good and are a crucial part of the modern economy, but even at their best they suffer from a distillation of accountability. When you put a guy in charge who doesn't even have any loyalty to the loyalty-free construct he helms, well, bad shit happens.

    The whole "holy shit, we've been doped with our own poison" ending came from an original version of the season opener, where our accountant vic had stumbled across data he really didn't understand, but other people were worried he did. Glenn and Rieder grabbed that loose bit of plotting and built a very sweet little episode around it. Nicely done.

    Some viewers noticed a resemblance to The Fugitive in the liver-damage plot, but that, oddly enough, was created because we worked backwards from the episode ending. We needed a poison or effect that was both irrevocably fatal and took a while. I vaguely remembered the death cap mushroom from some British mystery, and we just grabbed its liver-damaging toxin as the model for our flawed medicine.

    In further illustration of how these episodes never quite go in a straight line, this episode was originally about Nate's sister. At the risk of future spoilers, she was a drug rep who was researching the drug she was selling and got in over her head. Dean vetoed the idea, not because he didn't like it but because it was, weirdly , what we would ordinarily do for the second appearance of Nate's sister, if we were going to use the character the way we wanted in the Nate arc. So Nate's sister went away, Parker took over a small part of her role in the drug rep con, and yet another white card went up on the board marked "TBD".

    This episode also had us advancing the Parker/Hardison arc (which is neither Pardison or Harker, but ParHardikerson). No one quite writes Parker like the Twins ... anyway, at the risk of opening the race-issue can of worms from back in #304, we actually spent a lot of time deciding if the vic was black or white. (like I said back then, we do spend rather a lot of time trying to be responsible about this stuff). Were kind of jammed. On one hand, we didn't want to imply that Hardison doesn't find women of color attractive. On the other hand, we wanted Parker to have a very unexpected, hostile reaction because of her displacement, but we were uncomfortable having her, well, for lack of better words, having her hate a black woman. After a fair bit of discussion, we found some middle ground. Hardison was enjoying having a girl crush on him; the girl could see at the end it wasn't going anywhere.

    My favorite epsode opening in the whole three years, by the way.

    Okay, let's see what you guys have for me this week:

    @Christine Lollobrigida: If Eliot only sleeps 90 minutes a day... what the heck does he do all day? It's probably too much to ask for, but I'd love a basic rundown of his personal schedule for a non-on-the-job day.

    He may have been exaggerating for effect. Assume his spare time is spent working for Miranda Zero.

    @tgvcomic: Script for 316? Season 3 is more than 15 episodes?!?

    16 in Season Three. The run now goes 310 "The Underground Job" written by Glenn & Rieder, #311 "The Rashomon Job" (originally slated for later, but moved up) written by yours truly, "The King George Job" written by Christine Boylan, "The Morning After Job" written by Chris Downey, then the summer break, coming back in the winter with just "The Ho Ho Ho Job" by Colton & Aboud and the big year-end two-parter 315 "The Big Bang Job" by Chris Downey and Geoffrey Thorne and 316 "The San Lorenzo Job" written by myself and Scott Veach. 315 and 316 will probably air back to back, like a Leverage movie. makes sense, as it's that frikkin big.

    @Miranda: I'm sure you will find some "non-suits" crimes to inspire you for next season. How about evil mechanics? Who hasn't had the unfortunate luck of taking their car to a bad mechanic? Just please don't do an evil veterinarian or evil animal shelter story. Even if they get taken down, I just couldn't watch an episode about pets getting hurt. @Sarah W: I agree with Miranda. Why is it that abuse at an animal shelter feels worse than, say abuse at a Serbian orphanage (which was breathtakingly awful)?

    One of those quirks of human nature. Jesus, we barely made it through the adoption scam research. The whole room was in a black funk for a week. I can't even imagine how brutal a pet story would be.

    @Murasaki_1966: As someone working a hospital (abet as a librarian), I have known about Big Pharma and their nasty secrets for some time. I am so glad you are doing a story on them. I always hoped you would.

    You know, we have very good whistleblower laws in this country ...

    @Christina: 1.) When you write the episodes, do you imagine the actors saying the lines and doing the stunts, or the characters as you imagined them when creating the show? 2.) You now have writer, actor, producer and director under your belt. Is there another job on Leverage you would like to try? Such as in the lighting or sound departments; maybe assistant to Tim Hutton?

    1.) It's a mix. At this point, we're writing the actor's version of the characters, although they work very hard to protect the characters arcs and personas as they were originally pitched. This evolution is the fun of television, at least for me. 2.) I could never be Tim Hutton's assistant. I have enough of my own bodies to bury ...

    @Jen_Ann_W: The lifts & handoffs are so smooth, how often does the team have to practice to get the moves just right? (In other words, how many times did Christian hit the gal in the boob before he got her badge?) :-)

    They're pretty smooth now. It's interesting to see how stuff they used to need coaching to do we can now toss into a script at the last minute, sure that they can pull it off. Beth still has the best hands of the batch, though.

    @jarodrussell: As much as I like seeing my phone, the HTC Excalibur, in the lovely hands of Beth Reisgraf, don't you think it's time she got an upgrade to something with a real front-facing camera?

    It's just an HTC shell, custom hacked by Hardison.

    @Anonymous: Did anyone else hear "loves you" when Sophie stated that she was the only one who "likes" Nate? I love how explicitly she is calling him out and how the rest of the team is at least commenting on his actions (Hardison - "Prison has...changed him."). Whole ep was made of win - thanks!

    As stated, they are much more peers now. Which is good, because Nate is much more of a bastard now. Although, let us note, he's making a point in this episode that he would never ask any of them to do anything he wouldn't do himself. Whether that's sincere or egomania, well, that's up to you.

    @Sean Fagan: It wasn't terribly clear to me, at the beginning, whether they ran into Ashley by accident or not.


    @Jennifer: This has been bugging me this season - Where is the great team aspect that we had in Season 1 and 2 and it seems to be gone this one. Now it is all about the couples (Hardison and Parker and Nate and Sophie) and Eliot all alone.

    I'm not really seeing it ... we tend to shoot them in twos now because it's just easier to schedule, but not so much twos based around the couples. Unless you think we're doing Hardison/Eliot as canon now.

    @deanangst: This was the first time the team ever had to deal with a dead body. Is this something that will be happening more often? Also Eliot knowing that they had faked a heartattack, and knowing where to check for injection sites, is this another hint of his past. That thought is kinda scarey.

    We don't usually have them doing dead body detective work, and you won't see much of it in the future. And yes, Eliot's past is unpleasant. And beginning to catch up with him...

    @zenkitty-714: Okay, question - there's no way the settlement was reached in a day, so did the crew give her an "advance" on the money they expected to be awarded to her?

    Exactly. Part of Hardison's job is managing millions of dollars of semi-illicit money spread over dozens of cons. Cash flow to vics is his responsibility.

    @DaveMB: Re the money they gave Ashley at the end -- I agree any FDA whistleblower reward could not possibly have gotten to LC&A's bank account so quickly. But mightn't Hardison have shorted the company's stock before the takedown, as in the pilot episode? Or are they now too nice to take advantage of the general investor community in that way?

    You raise an interesting point -- that the team was taking advantage of the general investor community in that way in say, the pilot. For those of you who need refreshing, the team got revenge on their first bad guy, Saul Rubinek, by shorting his company's stock, creating a public scandal involving his company, and then cashing out.

    Now, some people went "boo hoo, what about the people who worked at that company?" But what they seem to be missing is that the company was overvalued based on Saul's original lie -- he'd stolen another company's plans and had seized market dominance based on that lie. At that point, everyone else in the market was being cheated by this lie. His competitor's stocks were undervalued, the investors who held those stocks being cheated ... etc etc. All they did, really was create a perfectly legitimate market correction.

    @Video Beagle: Oh, and on the Nate getting worse before he gets better...I know the season's written..but what say we forgo that plot for a season..you know..for a change of pace.

    Nate's fallen about as he can fall. For this year.

    @briddie: Thanks for the shoutout to libraries! And the evil speech of evil was beautiful; Michael O'Keefe was a brilliant choice. How did you decide to cast him?

    We love librarians. As to the other point, we'd been wanting to cast Michael O'Keefe for a while, and it was a sweet role.

    @MacSTL: So - the team has an office in the poker room now? Is that because Cora KNOWS what the team does? Are we going to see Cora again? Will we see the poker room in use more that Nate's apt? Glad that the wonder twins got their wish (yup- listen to the commentaries) and we get Eliot in a suit again!

    We kind of fell in love with the poker room as a set. Planning in there is a bit of a throwback to Nate's father's ways, as we've now seen.

    We wanted to keep the vic around, and as Hardison has reminded us: "You do not let Vicky Vale in the Batcave." This seemed like a good compromise.

    Cora absolutely knows what the team does. We won't see her any time soon, but assume she's very much staying out of the way of the legendary Nate Ford.

    @Brittney: My favorite scene this episode was Sophie talking to Parker and telling her "you are jealous" ... For me it was a very big sis/little sis moment. Those scenes really for me ground Parker, takes the crazy away and you just see Parker for that moment. So my question is: are we going to be getting more scenes like that between Parker and Sophie?

    There's definitely some Sophie/Parker bonding (for the slashers, that couple should be SoParphiker) in "The Three Card Monte Job" and "The Underground Job". As you're now on episode 310, you can see that the group rotates through pretty much all the combos over the course of the year.

    Now, how did writers for this ep come up with the town name Arcadia? And why did they have Parker's alias, Laurie Sprang, come from Iowa? I found that very funny, seeing that there is an Arcadia, IA, with a population (estimate) 200 or less. Just happens that I live not even 15 minutes from there. Just thought that was funny....

    Basically because there's no Arcadia, MA, to dodge clearance issues. I think the Iowa thing is just a coincidence.

    @USRaider: 1) How close is Nate to working off his probation with Sophie? She didn't seem impressed that he put himself on the line for the team. 2) Was it intentional to write the Eliot/Drug Rep relationship as it was? She's looking for a "dangerous" man and he's stuck in a con. Seems like we might see her later on... 3) We've been very Parker-centric lately. Is the season going to be more directed (early on) with Parker/Hardison/Eliot (yeah, think that the dude is going to get in somewhere) and more on the end with a Nate/Sophie track (after he's proven himself again)?

    1.) He put himself on the line in a dumb, arrogant way. He's making slow but steady progress. 2.) We won't see her again. The Wonder Twins wrote a great classic comedy throughline, so we may enjoy it for what it is. 3.) It's a pretty even split, although P/H/E get a little extra love because we had to spend extra time to cover Gina's pregnancy last year.

    @Calla: The only bit I didn't like - which is the only bit I was confused about - was the switching of the cases. Which case was which and where each one was.... made my head spin. Then you thought in the flashback show that YOU had conned US and then I had no freaking clue what was the read case and what was the fake case. I think maybe you were being a little more clever than you needed to be??? I'm not sure - I'll definitely have to watch that bit over again. It was funny, though, that Alec has to MAKE Parker trip the alarm - she so hated doing that - and that's adorable, too!

    Parker went in with a switchable case. Let it get recovered in the "empty" setting. After it was opened to fool the bad guy, it rotated around to reveal the "full" setting. Not a hard gimmick to fix.

    @Calla: What decisions led to your choosing to film in Portland (vs. LA, Vancouver, or elsewhere)? Was it just down to basic production costs/incentives or did you consider living conditions for the people who would have to move there for filming, etc.? Thanks!

    The state of Oregon offered a competitive tax incentive; the city has an amazing talent base both in front of the camera and on crew; it has unique shooting geography both in the city and just a few minutes from downtown; it's in the same time zone and a short flight; and it's a great frikkin' place to live. Honestly, if the state would bump up its incentive cap or switch to a straight tax rebate, it could replace Vancouver and become Hollywood North in a heartbeat.

    @Dawn/StL-MO: John or anyone who can enlighten me – Am I totally missing it or what is the connection with Manticor, Duberman, Dubertech, Wakefield, Moto, JRP Pharmaceudicals, Pallagen Laboratories, & Darren Hoffman to Damien Moreau? Nate said in “The Jailbreak Job” that the team would still help the underdogs, but ones with connections to Moreau. I know Moto had a file on ‘The Italian’, but that did not necessarily connect Moto with Moreau.

    Not all the cases are linked. As a matter of fact, because of the way actors and scripts ran, the Moreau arc pretty much plays out in the last four or five.

    Note how I said not all the cases are linked. Not "none."

    @TayaR: Loved the Eliot and Hardison coffee run scene. Do they make it a habit of heading out on the town?

    They would not admit it, but yes.

    @Michael: a more general writing-related question: does the existence of tvtropes make your life as a writer easier or harder?

    As I've said before -- you say "trope", I say "well-honed narrative tool."

    @lavendergaia: General question, would anyone on the team ever want to get married, or, in Nate's case, remarried? Did Maggie ruin him for other wives? Sophia seems to have some maternal instincts, but are any of them truly the parental type?

    Hmm. Nate's the marrying type, but I think he's done. And you're assuming none of the rest of the team have been married before. That would be ... a mistake.

    @JoJoDancer: Last question. Are these guys working off a group account? Elliot should have been able to expense that tour with the pharmy chick.

    Hardison makes Eliot file his expenses in triplicate. Just to annoy him.

    @Lisa: 1.) Why was Hardison unable to find any information about the victims in Arcadia? Shouldn't he have found a death certificate, or some kind of record? Or did the company completely erase all trace of them? 2.) What exactly is the Cairo Flyer con and the Swedish rail? 3.) How does Eliot know about the 9 spots professionals go for? 4.) And when Nate was in the office with Hoffman, was the two security guards Eliot took out the same two who spilled his coffee in the beginning? 5.) I'm assuming the poker room is the poker room where they took down Doyle in The Bottle Job? 6.) Loved the bits with Eliot and Dr. Pearson. The real Eliot seems to be his type, but was she his? I couldn't really figure out at the end if he really liked her. In the beginning, he didn't seem thrilled about being stuck with her, but at the end, he seemed shocked that he got dumped.

    1.) The Internet is data, not connections. Arcadia was a small town, and although their hard copies existed, the pharma humans did a nice job of wiping any Internet traces away with one of those fine worms available form hackers in your favorite Eastern European hackerspace. Not everything's on the 'net. 2.) The Cairo Flyer is a complicated little smuggling con, based on a real one with a boring name. We made up the Swedish Rail, I think. 3.) Oh, I think you know why. 4.) Yes. 5.) Double yes. 6.) I think he'd gotten fond of her, but it was much more about being dumped for being boring. Even Eliot can be surprised.

    @tori-angeli: 1.) Will we ever get enough background on Eliot to have a context in which to put the events of the series? It's still hard to see, sometimes, why he's with the group (beyond "he likes these guys") or what purpose they serve in the story of his life ... It's hard for me to tell how to take his developments if we don't know what he was like before. 2.) Is Hardison really willing to wait for Parker to get her heart sorted out? Don't get me wrong--I think it's the sweetest thing ever and I actually squealed when he said he'd be there for her when she wanted him, but I found myself sort of wishing he would hook up with the client, just because I wanted him to be happy. Not that romance is the key to happiness or anything. 3.) On the flip side, does Parker really expect to hold him to his promise? It seems a bit unfair of her to expect something like that of him, even if he did offer. 4.) Will we ever see some remorse from the crew regarding past immoral actions? They've all slowly been doing good things less because it feels good and more because it's the right thing, but will any of them see things they've done before as wrong? 5.) And because I have to ask: If Eliot is Batman, does that mean he can breathe in space?

    1.) Oh. Oh yes. 2.) Hardison won't wait forever. But everyone defines forever differently. 3.) Parker's still working out the whole emotions thing. Timetables are tricky. 4.) Oh. Oh yes. 5.) No. He requires the use of his power ring. Whoops, wrong superhero.

    @d: Now for my question. Am correct in guessing that Parker’s rather unique mindset means that she didn’t get the metaphor of Hardison telling her that the “pretzels” are there waiting for her whenever she wants them? That’s the kind of comment that my Parker-meter says she’d tend to interpret literally

    You'll get that answer soon enough.

    @Oona: 1.) Hardison has been pining for Parker since the pilot, and for two seasons, she has been totally oblivious. Now, all of a sudden, she gets it - and I haven't seen anything to justify why within the span of 5 episodes, she's slow dancing with him and getting jealous. It feels a little rushed and I would have preferred to see Parker growing into this over the course of the whole 3rd season hoenstly. 2.) Why would Nate manipulate Hardison and take chances with Parker's safety? He's never done that kind of thing before - well, maybe with Tara from S2, but she wasn't really "team" to him and he was in the process of coming unhinged. Are we supposed to believe that he didn't learn anything from the last half of last season? Are we supposed to believe that its like Hardison said and "prison has changed him" (cuz from what we saw, he was not having exactly an "Oz" experience in there)? Is he prepping them for the biggest job EVAH that's coming up with Moreau?

    1.) Not sure I'd say Parker's "bombs away" on the romance. One slow dance and a sudden burst of jealousy aren't THAT far along in the romance chain. But let's assume some other stuff happened during that last six months we didn't see. Also, as some of the other Commenters noted, Beth has a way of playing Parker as "oblivious" to cover "freaked out." She knew what was up, and she couldn't quite deal with it. 2.) I don't think Nate thinks he's taking risks with them. He's just more comfortable with the idea of what constitutes "acceptable risk."

    @Rob: one thing that has repeatedly hit a slightly sour note with me is how matter-of-factly the evil suits talk about the most unseemly details of their schemes. "Hi, I'm going to start a worldwide famine to make a buck." "People are going to start dropping dead in a few years but I'll be working someplace else." There's just no sugar-coating it at all. No meaningful looks and "do whatever it takes"-type statements. It's just loud, proud evil.

    I can't decide if that's a bit of moustache-twirling on the part of your villains or if I'm just too darned Neutral Good to recognize evil verisimilitude when I see it. ("I knew evil was bad, but that's just wrong!") I suspect I know the answer, but are you sitting on top of a pile of research that would jeopardize the fragile little remnant of my faith in humanity?

    Consider the fragile little remnant of your faith in humanity shattered. Need I remind you of "A senate seat is a valuable fucking thing"? A shocking amount of our villain speeches are action-ably similar to wiretap recordings and actual testimony. The mayor's speech from "The Three Strikes Job" was word for word from a similar case.

    @Stacy: 1.) Nate has always been an asshole, but it seems that this season he is an asshole with no redeeming qualities. Are you intentionally trying to make the viewers not like him? If so, I hope its just a big set-up for some huge heroic feat that will make everyone love him again. 2.) I absolutely loved the irony of the first commercial break being "brought to you by Lyrica". I'm guessing the advertisers did not get an advanced showing. 3.) I really loved the character beat of Eliot being dumped for not being dangerous enough. Well done. 4.) As others have pointed out, I miss the team meetings. There's just something special about them all being together in planning a con. I understand the first episodes have been rather "real time" and these particular jobs had to be rushed, but I really hope you haven't done away with the planning meetings.

    1.) Um, you don't like him as an asshole? I like him. The writers say he's based on me ... anyway, this is Nate the Thief. 2.) Did that happen? 3.) The Wonder Twins thank you back. 4.) I think there are more team meetings coming up. But you'll note that there tend to be mid-episode team meetings now, once the momentum's already up.

    @lily: What a great episode! Two quick questions ... First, did Hardison figure out at some point why Parker was treating the victim so oddly throughout the job? Second, why was Eliot wearing gloves when he went to the old guy's house? He sometimes wears the fingerless gloves, but we don't often see him in full-on black leather gloves.

    1.) Yes, he did. In between acts three and four. 2.) Eliot had a pretty good suspicion of what he was going to find.

    @Mandi: Is TNT airing the episodes out of order again? And if so, when can you tell us the actual production order? When I watched Season 1 in production order, it made so much more sense. I know why the network does this, but it's kind of annoying for regular viewers.

    The episodes are slightly out of order, but nothing arc-breaking. Based mainly on them liking certain episodes and pulling them up in the order.

    @Maya: What I don't understand is why you make Nate such a jackass all the time and Nate/Sophie fight as a result. I've had enough of angst between them in the first two seasons, I really don't need anymore. I hope this doesn't further escalate this season. Give the characters a break, they deserve to be happy after all they've been through.

    Happy characters are boring.

    @briddie: Is the actress who played Ashley another of your brilliant Portland finds? She was great!

    The amazing Katie Lowes -- whom most of the crew developed crushes on -- is from LA. And if there is any justice, she will be superfamous soon.

    @Kristin: When can we get an ep where Nate's bad choices don't work out and the team has to fix one of his plans? And no, Maltese Falcon job doesn't count because his plan ended up working as he planned on going to jail to get his team off. Even if they didn't agree with it.

    Well, he is the Mastermind. I'll leave this one up to the Comments to see if anybody thinks any previous episodes count.

    @Rebecca: Boy, I was pissed at Nate when he kept Parker too long in a tight spot. Turned out he was right, and she handled it. Were we supposed to forgive him because he was right? Was that supposed to show that the Brains knows the abilities and limitations of his team better than they, or the others, know? Either way, I was still pissed at him.

    I'm really kind of okay with you guy being pissed at him. If you care either way, means we're doing our job.

    @JoJo Dancer: If I had any complaint about this show and it's not really a complaint but a preference; but, I prefer the LA office of S1 over the Boston office. LA just feels like a city where top con men would operate out of. It just has a glamour about it.

    The Boston Professional Criminals' Association is hurt. And that is a mistake.

    @briddie: Question 1 - Sophie and Hardison didn't like Parker being pushed to the time limit, but did Parker mind, really, or did she accept it as a nod to her abilities? Q2: Is the replacement of the living room meant to show that Nate broke the family dynamic?

    1.) She didn't mind. But she's odd that way. And as we've seen, sometimes has to be protected form that part of herself. 2.) Nope, we just never liked that couch.

    @SueN: In both this ep and "The Inside Job," she seemed much more personally horrified by the sheer mendacity of the marks. At both Dr. Hannity (still love that, btw) and Hoffman's evil speeches of evil, she seemed much more appalled than in previous seasons. Before, she's known what the marks were doing was bad, but now it's like she actually understands how truly depraved it is. So, is that something y'all planned, as a sign of Sophie's growth/evolution, or is just Gina being spectacular? I mentioned in the "Scheherazade Job" post that it seems Eliot is growing a conscience, but now it looks like our lovely Queen of the Grifters is, as well.

    A mix of us arcing Sophie and Gina making some choices. You see it even more in "The Three Card Monte Job" and then in "The King George Job."

    @jamesmith3: I know you folks have your system down, but I do have to say that this was the one ep where I didn't need any of the flashback/reveals. Somehow I knew she'd made the switch, then set of the sensors, etc. Have you guys ever played around with doing a script without the reveals?

    I think "The Three Card Monte Job" is flashback free.

    @Paige Roberts: Why does Eliot stay? I'm enjoying the discussion and speculation, but look forward to hearing from the guy who invented the character.

    Well that wouldn't be any fun. You'll get a better sense of it by the S3 end.

    @adc1966: 1) As a grifter, Sophie often has to feign romantic interest in various skeevy and often hateful people. How far is she willing to take this in pursuit of a job? I know Nate and the others would never construct a con that called for her to actually sleep with someone, but I wonder what she's done in the past when faced with the choice of either following through all the way, or losing the con. 2) Hopefully, Hardison knows Parker well enough to know that a relationship with her would carry a lot of challenges, and that he's willing to deal with that. Has Parker ever had a real romantic relationship before? Is that something that will be dealt with in the story? 3) Should we assume that Sophie really did tell the others her real name, and it's not just an elaborate prank by all of them to mess with Nate's head? And if so, did she tell them her *real* real name?

    1.) Whatever you think most interesting. 2.) Parker's never had what you'd call a real romantic relationship before, and we leave her sexual history intentionally vague. That relationship isn't going to move too fast, so assume we'll deal with it when appropriate. 3.) They know her real real name.

    @Emily2214: 1) In the "Reincarnation of Angie" episode of The Rockford Files, Jim tells the client that he knew the FBI badge of the man following her was fake because the background was the wrong color; the guy probably just pasted his driver's license photo on a badge. When asked how he knew, Rockford replied "Because that's what I did" and showed her his own fake badge. Did Hardison's experience at creating badges for the team allow him to spot an inferior fake so quickly? 2) Where does the Evil Speech of Evil at the end of the "Pandorica Opens" episode of Doctor Who rank - better than or about the same as the Leverage ones? 3) Any closer to getting Ed Quinn on the show? I was hoping they'd find a way to bring him back on Eureka this season, but no such luck. You're my last hope.

    1.) Dead on. 2.) Pretty high, but not of the same structure, so hard for a straight on comparison. Now, Amy Pond's wedding speech -- that made me straight up cry. 3.) Ed Quinn -- who is filthily funny, btw -- is on the list.

    @Nonniemouse: Two questions: Are you deliberately trying to cast Eliot as Captain Jack Harkness!Lite, given the whole Eliot and girls and Tenth-scolding-Jack vibe you've got going every time Nate chides Eliot about the girls? Second, any chances you could land John Barrowman as a guest star in your newly minted fourth season?

    1.) Eliot is Eliot, Captain Jack is a magnificent bastard who is not Eliot. 2.) I'm not sure who would fangirl worse, me or Boylan. Let us also remember Eve Myles will be in America soon ...

    @Kate: Parker throughout this entire episode had me and my gang of Grifters guffawing like crazy, and we have to know who gets to take credit for the positively genius bit at the end where she's crushing the beer bottle? And Beth didn't hurt her hands, did she? We were a bit worried about her when we got done laughing. (a smidge contradictory there, we know)

    And may I say Thank You, capital letters, for all the education you offer on Leverage about the kinds of scams and practices, illegal, and, horrifyingly, legal, that are common practice in so many corporations. I'm 19 and have always stayed more informed about things than most my age (I had a debate about the sub-prime mortgage crisis with my History teacher pre-October-meltdown, sadly to the blank stares of my classmates) and I know Leverage has helped me teach and talk to some of my friends about topics that just wouldn't enter their peripheral any other way.

    All the credit goes to the Wonder Twins. They really write Parker the best of all of us. And I'm glad you're being informed by our little pulp show. Make sure you also picked up Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and his upcoming For the Win, for more subversive fun.

    @JGossard05: It seems like (Hardison)'s the most underrated & underappreciated member of the crew. Like he says in his own words "Does anybody respect the van?"... Do the team actually realise his importance & appreciate his role on the crew? Or are they just messing with him since hes not that involved as much physically on the jobs as the other team is?

    The team by now knows both how valuable he is, and how insecure he is. And, as noted, they're not all nice people. Kind of hard to resist yanking his chain every now and then. Not to mention, taking him down a peg occasionally is a healthy thing. He can get a bit carried away with himself.

    I think I got everybody. Look for #306 midweek, and next week, well, that may well be my magnum opus. "The Rashomon Job" is the one I've been waiting to write for three years. I look forward to seeing what you think.

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LEVERAGE #305 "The Double-Blind Job" Post-Game

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