‘Leverage: Redemption’: Inside the ‘Angel’ Reunion and Those ‘ER’ & ‘TNG’ References
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Leverage: Redemption Season 1 Part 2.]
The second half of the latest episode of Leverage: Redemption had more than just some really fun cons. If you’re a fan of past projects for the cast (and a guest star), you likely picked up on a few things.
There was an onscreen reunion for Christian Kane (who plays hitter Eliot Spencer) with Angel‘s James Marsters in “The Golf Job.” Plus, there was, of course, a Next Generation reference when Star Trek fave LeVar Burton appeared in “The Bucket Job.” And for Noah Wyle (fixer Harry Wilson), he really got a blast from his ER past in a couple episodes.
Read on to find out how that all came together.
Paging Dr. Carter!
First, in “The Golf Job,” directed by Wyle, Sophie uses the name Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies’ role on ER) to call a man they need off the board to get close to their mark about recent “oh my” test results.
“I don’t think anybody other than [Chris Downey], the writer of ‘The Golf Job,’ and I caught that Carol Hathaway reference the entire time we shot it,” Wyle, who played Dr. John Carter on ER for most of its 15-season run, admitted to TV Insider. “He put it in there, I think, assuming I’d call him and say, ‘Hey, let’s take that out.’ And then I never did. So you’re the first to catch it.”
Then one episode later in “The Hurricane Job,” to get close to a victim being guarded by a corrupt cop, Harry poses as a doctor. Later, Sophie (Gina Bellman) asks how he knew the medical jargon. His answer: “TV.”
“When they came to me and said, ‘we want Harry to do a doctor bit, it’ll be sort of an ER homage, I’m enough of a ham, I thought, ‘OK, fine. Great,” Wyle said. “This is a show that you can get away with planting those kinds of easter eggs that aren’t even hidden there or you can kind of throw an easter egg in somebody’s face.”
Putting Wyle back in a doctor’s coat wasn’t something that was thought of too early on, co-showrunner Kate Rorick said, “but the opportunity presented itself and we realized, ‘Alright, guys, we can only do this once, so let’s just do it. Let’s just give him a doctor’s coat and go for it.'”
Leverage‘s Long History with Star Trek Continues
Burton was far from the first Star Trek connection on Leverage. “As you know, there’s a long history of Next Generation actors being involved with our show — Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes,” co-showrunner Dean Devlin pointed out. “So it was just so perfect to have him kick off the back eight.” In the original series, Spiner guest starred in “The Juror #6 Job,” while Frakes had a couple uncredited cameos and directed 13 episodes. Frakes also directed Redemption‘s Episode 7 “The Double-Edged Sword Job.”
Burton guest starred in “The Bucket Job,” as Mr. Blanche, whom the crew thought was just a small-town librarian they’d help have an adventure. (There turned out to be a lot more to his story than they knew.) At one point, Eliot, undercover with Blanche, took him to Parker (Beth Riesgraf, who made her directorial debut with this episode) posing as a hacker. “Next time, why don’t you guys hang out a little longer with me, you know, watch some TNG?” she suggested. “What’s TNG?” Blanche asked.
Riesgraf recalled having to pivot to film that scene after losing locations. “You have to be fluid and you can’t be rigid in moments like that, and the cast is the same way. So knowing I had Christian and LeVar — their chemistry was heaven — to play off of, and that they could go with the flow and improvise and give me things [helped],” she said. “And there’s a moment in that same hacker’s dome, where they’re like, ‘You got to put it in a TNG, you got to put this in.’ LeVar’s like, ‘Throw me a little TNG.’ That was a dream.”
“Chris [Downey, who wrote the episode with Jill Weinberger] is just an absolute delightful nerd and he could throw in any reference anywhere,” Rorick said.
Kane vs. Marsters … Again
Angel fans recall Kane and Marsters as Lindsey and Spike going up against each other, and with “The Golf Job,” they do so again, this time as Eliot and the crew’s mark, Carl. “It’s Spike and Lindsey all over again, we’re just wearing different hats,” Kane said.
It was similar off-screen for the former costars and longtime friends as well. “When we used to film Angel, James would knock on my door in the trailer when we were waiting to go in and he’d bring his guitar and then we would play music, and we talked a lot about music and we’ve played together on stage before and stuff like that,” Kane shared. “So it was just fun getting to chat with him. That was a part of my life that seems so long ago, working on Angel, working for Joss Whedon and working with James, that just being able to hang out — we were on a golf course, as you know, and we just sat in lawn chairs for hours and just talk about our lives and catch up — was so much fun.”
Kane had originally wanted Marsters to come in as a guest star for the revival’s premiere, but due to COVID, it didn’t work out. However, his former costar hopped on a plane when the call came for this episode. “It was just so much fun that when you call a friend like that, it wasn’t about the role,” Kane added. “I called him and asked him and he came in, and to have a friend that would do something like that, it just solidifies the fact that he is a true friend.”
The actors weren’t the only ones who loved it. “We were so excited when we cast James Marsters for the role, and it was a lot of fun to watch them go up against each other in sort of macho off, I guess I would call it,” Rorick agreed. “They’re trying to one-up each other the entire time. That was really the most fun, just watching them play antagonists to each other, which they sort of did originally on Angel, so they know those roles really well.”
Leverage: Redemption, Season 1, Streaming Now, IMDb TV