Leverage Yourself A Little Christmas Cheer!

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Leverage returns this evening [TNT, 9/8C] with a… unique Christmas episode that finds the team enlisted to restore a fired Santa’s reputation – he was fired for allegedly being drunk on the job.

Nate’s [Timothy Hutton] efforts to avoid Christmas – complete with a snarky ‘humbug’ – come to naught when Parker [Beth Riesgraf] persuades him to take on the job of restoring the reputation of a mall Santa and things turn out to be a bit more complicated when the team tries to persuade mall manager Evan Dooley [Dave Foley] to take him back.

It turns out that Dooley has fired all the mall Santas and replaced them with criminals. That, unfortunately, is not all. Colin ‘Chaos’ Mason [Wil Wheaton] is back and he is planning to steal Christmas by outwitting Nate and team. Which is to say that nothing is as it seems on the surface – or even below the surface. This episode takes reality to almost as many levels as Inception took dreams!

The Ho Ho Ho Job is one of the most intricate eps ever on Leverage. Writers Michael Colton & John Aboud have definitely taken both Leverage and Christmas episodes to a new and weirder level. The chess game between Chaos and Nate is all kinds of fun – you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Eliot [Christian Kane] as a grumpy mall Santa!

With Chaos’ return, Aldis Hodge’s Hardison gets to play a bigger role than usual and both Gina Bellman’s Sophie and Riesgraf’s Parker get into the spirit of things – especially Riesgraf, whose Parker is really, really into Christmas [she makes an adorable elf].

Director Mark Roskin is up to the intricacies of the script. His use of interesting angles and slightly off-kilter coverage definitely puts the emphasis squarely on the ep’s fun premise – and really captures the improvisational feel of Nate’s on-the-fly plans. He also gets what is probably Riesgraf’s best performance as Parker.

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Photo by Karen Neal/Courtesy TNT

Note: Next week is Leverage’s two-hour season finale – featuring the the team’s efforts to take down Damien Moreau.