‘Leverage: Redemption’ Stars on Personal Cons, Big Decisions & Season 2 Hopes
Leverage: Redemption continued to have more of what we’ve loved about the series since the original premiered in 2008 with the second half of the revival’s first season: Entertaining heists, tidbits about the characters’ backstories, and relationships we adore.
And by the end, evil lawyer Harry Wilson (Noah Wyle) felt ready to move on, grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) decided there’s no better stage for her than the con and is staying rather than going to run a theater company, and thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf) is letting her control this crew (while she manages a dozen other international ones).
The series has yet to be renewed for a second season, but TV Insider spoke with Wyle, Bellman, Riesgraf, Christian Kane (hitter Eliot Spencer), and Aleyse Shannon (maker Breanna Casey) about key moments from these latest eight episodes and what they’d like to see next.
When Leverage Gets Personal
As tends to be the case, cons can get personal for the crew. The second half of the season kicked off with “The Bucket Job,” during which Eliot once again failed to see his father (as happened in the original series’ “The Low Low Price Job”).
After losing his father due to COVID, Kane dedicates the episode to him. The episode ended with “a very emotional scene about Eliot’s dad, and I just lost my father,” Kane recalled. “I’m glad that Beth directed it. Eliot’s father is something that me and [original series creator and consulting producer on the revival] John Rogers have always played with.”
Under the influence of red haze, given to him by shady security firm RIZ, Eliot flashed back to his time before working with the crew. In addition to being a soldier, “he also worked for Blackwater. He also did personal contracts. He’s killed a lot of people and he’s never going to be free of that. And that’s why he does this job,” Kane said. We see that in this episode.
“There’s a moment of real fear that something horrible is going to happen to Eliot, and I wanted people to really feel that for a moment,” Riesgraf said of directing that moment. “I wanted them to feel as disoriented as he was for when he broke through and had that amazing flip and moment of taking back the power in that scene.”
Later in the second half, the con got personal for Breanna, with “The Great Train Job” bringing out her nervous side by introducing a love interest, Emily (Aury Krebs), in the middle of a heist! “This was one of the first times where I really got to show that sensitive part of myself filtered through that character,” Shannon said. “I’m glad that that’s a part of Breanna because that makes me fall in love with my character all over again, and I’m excited to share that with people and for anybody who’s in the LGBTQIA+ fam to see that moment and maybe see themselves in it.”
Harry’s last con with the team ended up involving taking down his ex-wife’s new husband — and to do so, hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) was the only one who knew the ex-lawyer was undercover with RIZ. While Wyle thinks that his character did like getting that one-up on the rest of the crew considering they’d been doing this much longer, “I think he was taking his cues off of Hardison all along,” he said. He had to lie because Hardison “didn’t trust Harry as a good enough actor. And Harry is not a good actor.”
Teams Within the Team
When the original series ended in 2012, Parker, Hardison, and Eliot continued working together, going on to form Leverage: International. While the hacker was, for most of the season, doing his own thing (to explain Hodge’s limited availability), he was back in the finale and the three of them picked up right where they left off.
Hodge’s absence was felt both off and on-screen — and not just by Riesgraf choosing to eat pretzels “when I felt Parker would really be missing him,” a reference to the original series. “Beth and I want Aldis there, and Eliot doesn’t have anybody to fire back and forth anymore and get mad at [while] Parker doesn’t have the love of her life,” Kane pointed out. “So when we get him back, we both want to grab onto him and hold on to him for as long as we can. I think that that bond is stronger because in real life we were missing Aldis and when he shows up every once in a while, it’s just fantastic.”
As the newbies, Harry and Breanna did flock together at times, with the latter also using the former’s former mistakes against him, especially to take the heat off herself. “She’s always going to be like, ‘Remember when you were like the worst guy ever?” Shannon laughed.
For Harry, Breanna was “a surrogate in some ways for the relationship he doesn’t have for his daughter,” Wyle said. But as members of the crew, “they’re competitive with each other, [but] they do come to an understanding and a respect for each other, for who we are and our differences.”
Decisions About the Future
Facing off with RIZ head Bligh (Lucy Taylor) helped Sophie decide to stay. She “relished that role,” Bellman said. “She realizes that’s more of an adrenaline rush than performing: ‘This is what I’m good at, and this is what I’m going to do.’ It felt powerful.”
While she’s staying, Harry is not, something Sophie had anticipated happening. “She recognized that they were on a similar path. They were both looking for some kind of meaning,” Bellman explained. “She’s left in the past and come back, so she knows that he’s reached his redemptive moment.”
Wyle agreed. That final con “involved something extremely personal to him that goes right to the heart of why he wanted to redeem himself in the first place, which was to be seen as a better man by his daughter,” the actor said, recalling the conversation Harry and Eliot had in “The Tower Job.” “Eliot told him how you can get pieces of your soul back through acts of contrition and acts of service. At the end of the season, Harry feels like he has his soul back. It’s maybe not polished and shiny, but it’s intact. His moral compass is back in check, [as are] his sense of right and wrong, his sense of what he cares about and his priorities, family versus work.”
Season 2 Hopes
Wyle is hoping Harry works with the crew in the future and not just when they have legal questions. “When Dean Devlin calls me, I go, ‘yes?'” the actor said of the executive producer he’s also worked with on The Librarian movies and subsequent TV series. “Sometimes you just answer the call from the person who opens up a chapter that you know is going to be really fun for you. I think that’s what the Leverage team will be for Harry. He’s going to have a life and he’s going to move on, but every once in a while the phone will ring and he’ll be, ‘yes?'”
As for the other newbie, Breanna’s not going anywhere — and she’s picked up a few skills over the season, including climbing through vents and jumping out of buildings with Parker. “I’m sure she’ll be experimenting with the limits of what she can do and being pushed beyond herself again,” Shannon said. “I can’t wait for the day when Brianna really thinks that she can ‘Eliot Spencer’ somebody and she can’t.”
Kane pointed out that the first season of the revival had to introduce two new characters, but “going forward, I think you’ll see a lot more dynamic between Parker and Eliot [like in “The Hurricane Job”] because they work so well together. If you had to pick the superheroes out of the group, those are the two superheroes. In the days of Marvel and the Avengers and all that stuff, we’re the only ones that don’t have special powers that are still viewed as superheroes.”
The revival brought back Drew Powell as Hurley as well as mentioned other characters from the original series like Parker’s friend Peggy and the FBI’s McSweeten and Taggert. “Once you come on as a guest, you’re kind of burned in a way,” Riesgraf pointed out, since the crew does take the bad guys down. Still, Kane hopes to somehow see Richard Kind return as Mayor Culpepper (from Season 2’s “The Three Strikes Job” and “The Maltese Falcon Job”). “He lights up the screen. He brings so much energy,” he said.
Also on the cast’s list for returns they’d like to see: Jeri Ryan (as grifter Tara Cole), Wil Wheaton (as hacker Chaos), and Mark Sheppard (as Interpol’s Sterling). “There’s something anarchic about [Chaos], and I always liked jeopardy — the more jeopardy, the better,” Bellman said. “And I’d be interested to know what [Sterling] makes of Sophie running the team.”
Leverage: Redemption, Season 1, Streaming Now, IMDb TV