'Leverage' series finale: Dean Devlin talks about the ultimate con
Dec 29, 2012 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The good news is that the series finale of "Leverage" that aired on Christmas night earned respectable ratings. As TV Line reports, the episode "drew 3.04 million viewers -- its largest total audience, by a wide margin, since Season 5's premiere (5.4 mil)."
But then, there's the bad news: namely, that this was the series finale. Luckily for fans, though TNT dragged its feet interminably before making it official that the filmed-in-Portland show wouldn't return for a sixth season, executive producer Dean Devlin and co-creator John Rogers figured that if this was to be the last "Leverage" episode, they wanted to go out the way they'd always planned.
Spoilers ahead: The final episode, fittingly titled "The Long Goodbye Job," pulled a trick on the audience. As we watched, we saw what appeared to be a disastrous plan hatched by team leader Nate (Timothy Hutton) to save the life of a gravely ill child. Team members Hardison (Aldis Hodge) and Eliot (Christian Kane) were killed as they tried to evade guards in an ultra-high security building. Things went so terribly wrong that the best option, Nate decided, was to drive everyone in a van off the opened span of Portland's Broadway Bridge, for a "Thelma and Louise"-style fate.
Well, that's what it looked like, anyway. Turns out that this was just the story Nate had spun to fool an Interpol agent, and that tall tale was key to what turned out to be the team's true goal: to capture a cache of top-secret information about the corporate crooks who conspired in creating the global economic crash.
In other words: there was no sick kid. The episode ended with another surprise: Nate proposing to Sophie (Gina Bellman), and the two of them bowing out of the team of reformed crooks that Nate had formed and led through five seasons of restoring justice to little folks bulled and exploited by rich, powerful bad guys. As Nate and Sophie -- who Nate called "Laura," indicating that was the grifter's long-hidden, real name -- departed in happy union, Parker, Hardison and Eliot were left to take over the "Leverage" mission.
Talking about "The Long Goodbye Job" on Friday, Devlin said, "I'm so grateful, and so glad that we got to end it properly. Can you imagine if we'd ended the show with a cliffhanger, and the series just ended This is show that should not have faded away. I'm so glad we got to do the finale we always wanted to do."
Of the deceptive structure of "The Long Goodbye Job," Devlin said, "It was a big risk. It was the first time the con was played on the audience. We didn't know how the audience would feel being the victim. We were really pleased with the response."
"Leverage" fans are a very passionate group, and Devlin had addressed them directly in a pair of statements posted on the Leveragefans.com Website as the series' future was uncertain and again once TNT announced its cancellation. So loyal are the fans that there's already a campaign afoot to try and convince another network to pick up the show.
"I think it's a long shot," said Devlin, whose company, Electric Entertainment, produces she series. "It so rarely happens. But hey, the beautiful thing about this is there's no studio involved. We own the show. We finance the show. If an opportunity should present itself...there's no door closed."
Of having the show's lead and highest-profile star, Hutton, seemingly leaving in the finale, Devlin said that didn't necessarily mean Nate and Sophie would be out if "Leverage" had gotten picked up. Earlier in Season 5, Devlin said, an episode had focused just on Hutton and Bellman's characters, and gave an idea of what their life might look like in the future. If the show had gone on, Devlin said, "If we wanted, we could just do the Tim and Gina show, or we could alternate, one week it's Tim and Gina, one week it's the kids (Kane, Hodge and Riesgraf). There were all kinds of possibilities."
But the main idea in crafting "The Long Goodbye Job," Devlin said, was, "we're just going to deal with what we've got. Let's wrap it up. That was our total focus."
Though TNT canceled "Leverage," Devlin has nothing but praise for the cable network. "They've been the best partners. I have zero complaints. They did everything they could throughout the run of the show to let us make the show we wanted to make."
Devlin has been working with TNT since 2004, with the TV-movie, "The Librarian." He would love to keep working with TNT, he said. "I know John Rogers is doing another pilot with them. We would all be happy to continue that partnership."
The world of TNT has changed since Devlin first collaborated with the network, he said. The network has added several more original series, and "they've got amazing people they're working with, from Michael Bay to Frank Darabont. It's much more competitive over there. I'm happy to be in the hunt."
While "The Long Goodbye Job" seemed to tie up the loose threads of the Nate-Sophie romance, there remains one ambiguous area -- Sophie's name. The show has repeatedly said that Sophie Devereaux is not her real name. But when Nate proposes, he calls her "Laura," which makes it seem like that's the name we've been waiting to hear. But then Sophie tosses off a remark to Nate that, well, he knows that Laura isn't her real name.
So what is her name "Maybe you heard it," Devlin said, slippery as a born con artist. "And maybe you didn't."
But she said Laura wasn't her real name
"That's what she said," Devlin continued. "If you could trust her."
Hmm. "You do hear her name," Devlin added, "for about 40 seconds."
So Laura really is her name, then
"Maybe. It might be. It sure might be."
-- Kristi Turnquist on Twitter
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