‘Leverage’ Focuses on Moving on & ‘Redemption’ in Revival Without Nate Ford
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the first eight episodes of Leverage: Redemption.]
The Leverage crew is back in the IMDb TV revival, but they’re without the Mastermind who brought them all together, Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton). And it doesn’t take long for us to find out why he’s MIA: He’s been dead a year. Because that much time has passed, the others, especially his wife Sophie Deveraux (Gina Bellman), are still grieving, but the wounds aren’t as fresh.
“I think you never really ever get over the loss of someone you cared about. It creates a hole in you that can’t be filled, but I think the mistake is trying to fill that hole,” Redemption executive producer Dean Devlin (who worked on the original series) tells TV Insider. “The thing is enjoying the rest of life and accepting that hole and then treasuring all the memories you have. That’s really what we tried to get to with Sophie and the entire team because the Nate character had been the father figure of everyone on this show.”
While the original series saw Nate out for revenge after his employer refused to pay for a treatment that would save his son, no one’s out to — or needs to — avenge the fallen Mastermind. Grifter Sophie, Thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), Hacker Hardison (Aldis Hodge), and Hitter Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane) reunite at Nate’s grave in the series premiere and share a toast to their fallen friend. “He was self-righteous, he was arrogant, I swear to God he made it up half the time, but I miss the hell out of him,” Eliot says.
Later, after corporate lawyer Harry Wilson (Noah Wyle) has joined them, Sophie tells him Nate “was a very brilliant, very angry man.” What happened, Harry asks. “For a while, his family contained his anger, then his son died and he turned the anger on himself,” she explains. “When we worked together, it drove him. He was relentless. Then he stopped being angry. The damage was done. His heart burned too hot for too long. … Don’t be [sorry]. At least he burned.”
“The original series was about revenge and the whole show was really a crusade about this very angry man. And I think we did a really good job over the course of those 77 episodes resolving that. So to try to reignite that was very difficult,” Devlin says.
“I think what got IMDb TV excited was instead of the kind of negativity of revenge driving a new version of the show, we made the show really about redemption,” he continues. “That gave us a really kind of exciting, fresh way to start this engine again and to focus on a kind of a positive way of approaching what these guys do for a living because while it’s mostly personified through Noah Wyle’s character, really all the characters have been in this process of redemption. And to see how doing good for others can really affect how you feel about yourself, I think that’s a really positive thing and something needed today.”
Sophie may have been out of the con all this time, but the others have been running Leverage International, made up of 12 active teams, since we last saw them in the 2008-2012 TNT series. And so it’s very easy for Parker to tempt Sophie with, “let’s go steal something.” As they see it, it’s what she needs.
“She’s really experienced a great love and she’s experienced a stability for the first time in her life and she’s experienced a meaningful relationship and she stood still in these hiatus years,” Bellman says of her character in the revival. “So she’s changed. She’s much more settled. She’s much more grounded. She’s not running from the cops or running from a country or running from an identity anymore. So as much as she’s kind of maybe a little bit emotionally fragile, she’s much more mature. And I think she’s really ready for the challenge of where this new iteration takes her.”
Redemption even offers Sophie the chance to get a bit of closure, the Grifter admits, after a former accountant at Nate’s old insurance firm, Milton Friedlander (Joey Slotnick), takes the stories the Mastermind told him and writes a book, casting himself as the crew’s leader. “Because of you, I got to pull one last job with Nate Ford,” she tells him in the eighth episode.
“Sophie is maturing at such a pace during the Leverage: Redemption season. And there are lots of moments with little checkpoints where she’s kind of resolving issues, having closure, checking in with the others,” Bellman notes. “But I really enjoyed working on that episode. Joey Slotnick was so much fun to work with, and he and I played off each other really, really well. And we riffed together really well. It was a lot of fun.”
Leverage: Redemption, Episodes 1-8, Streaming Now, IMDb TV