"People like that... corporations like that, they have all the money, they have all the power, and they use it to make people like you go away. Right now, you're suffering under an enormous weight. We provide...Leverage."In a Chicago pub, former insurance fraud investigator Nathan Ford is downing the latest in a string of drinks when he is approached by aerospace executive Victor Dubenich with a job offer. Victor wants something that was stolen from him taken back, and it's being insured by IYS, Nate's former employer, who he parted ways with after they refused to pay for his son Sam's treatment, leading to Sam's death. The stolen property is actually a series of computer files. Victor has also put together a team of individuals with the skills he needs: Playful Hacker Alec Hardison, Lightning Bruiser Eliot Spencer, and Classy Cat-Burglar Parker. Nate wonders why he is being included in all this and Victor tells him he needs one honest man to manage them: each person he's recruited is used to working alone, so while they're all the best in their field, without someone to co-ordinate them, things could become very messy.Nate eventually agrees and the four of them head to the headquarters of Pierson Aviation, the target of their heist. After a few close calls, they manage to find the files and download them, bluffing their way past the security at the front to escape. Once they're away, they send off the files. Nate promises the team that their money will be transferred before morning, and so they go their separate ways.In the morning he gets a call from an angry Victor who tells him the files never arrived. Nate knows they were sent and Victor asks to meet him at an old facility. When Nate arrives he finds the others already there, at each others' throats. Nate laughs and suddenly realizes they've been set up; making everyone to get out of the building, which explodes moments after they escape. When they wake up, they find themselves in the hospital, all under arrest- but with Nate's help, they escape.They go to Hardison's apartment to examine the files they stole. They find that there is no indication that Victor's company, Bering Aircraft, worked on them at any point. They were legitimately developed by Pierson. Suffice to say, the team are pissed: Not only have they been lied to, tricked into stealing, nearly killed and now used as the scapegoats, but they didn't get paid. Hardison was about to give them each fake IDs so they can get out of town, but Nate decides to work with the team again, to get back at Victor for setting them up. Before they go into action, he takes them to a small theater, where a woman onstage is absolutely butchering her role. Afterwards, they find her outside, where Nate introduces her as Con Artist Sophie Devereaux. After introducing her to the rest and explaining their situation, he convinces her to help them out.At Victor's company, Sophie finds him and introduces herself as a developer from South Africa, and expresses interest in Bering's new plane. She gives a wonderful performance, surprising Hardison; Nate tells him that Sophie is the greatest actress, but only when she's breaking the law. Meanwhile, Hardison crashes Victor's secretary's computer, which allows Eliot to get in disguised as an IT guy. He starts flirting with her, which allows Parker to get into Victor's office and plant a transmitter. Sophie, manages to convince Victor to discuss terms and arranges to meet again the next day.The next day, Sophie meets him at an office building and leads him to a suite where several African men are seated around a table. As the meeting progresses, one of them writes something and hands it to Sophie, who gives it to Victor. He looks at it, and sees a quoted sum of $100,000. He accepts. After he leaves, Nate regroups and says they have a very long day tomorrow. That night, Victor finds and removes the transmitter. Sophie's deal was too good to be true and he knows something is up. He realizes his "employees" survived their "payment" and he calls the FBI to deal with them, after he catches them bribing him.At a shareholder's meeting the next day, Sophie brings the Nigerians to Victor's office. When he gets there he calls the FBI in, who arrest him instead for bribery towards the Nigerians. He protests that they are fake, but the Nigerians produce their passports revealing to be real Nigerians while Sophie manages to escape. They came to what they thought was a Bering office and Sophie was working with Victor, as indicated by a sign that Eliot switched for another before Victor arrived. The Nigerians even mention that Victor was given a bribe worth $200,000, as Victor realize that during the meeting Sophie switched envelope containing the check with the quote. In the end the FBI manages to enter the building while Nate and his crew, disguised as FBI agents, manage to take some papers out of his office.Nate then returns back the plans to the Pierson, the head of Pierson Aviation and he drops all charges against Nate's team while starting a lawsuit against Victor. As Nate leaves, Pierson assumes he wants money, but Nate tells him that they have an... alternative revenue source. Later as the FBI begins going through Victor's office (and found the 'supposed' bribe money in is desk), Nate calls him, telling him he should have just paid them, and warns that if he rats them out to the FBI, they won't be as nice next time.After regrouping with the team, everyone finds out they got checks that are way higher than they expected. Now with checks in hand, the team splits up, but before Nate gets too far, they all come back saying they have a great time as a team and wants to do it again. Sophie suggest "So why don't we look for some bad guys then?" since they've already taken down Victor. Soon they meet with their first client, he explains their purpose. "We provide… leverage."
Tropes stolen in this job:
- 419 Scam: Invoked by Nate when planning the con. Dubenich pegs the Nigerians' offer as an obvious scam in part because they're Nigerian, explaining to his assistant/accomplice that "it's like those email scams with Nigerian bank fraud letters!" Which was just what Nate intended him to think, in order to keep him from realizing that the men he met were genuine Nigerian officials.
- Abusive Parents: Parker's.
- All Women Love Shoes: According to Nate, Sophie kept a little of the Nigerians' bribe money to buy "a truly impressive number of shoes." Defied by Parker:Parker: What is it with women and shoes?
Sophie: There's something wrong with you.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Sophie's introduction sees her thoroughly butchering the role of Lady Macbeth on stage while Eliot, Hardison, and Parker look on in horror.
- The Caper: Ala payback for Dubenich for screwing them over.
- Curse Cut Short: In response to the guards making their rounds an hour early (because of the playoffs). Parker gets cut off before dropping an f-bomb.
- Defensive Feint Trap: Against Dubenich. Nate knows he is smart and so plants the obvious bug and uses Nigerians as part of the con, expecting Dubenich to figure some of it out and realize they are playing him, so then he is caught off-guard when the real trap springs and he finds he is framed for having taken money from Nigerian officials.
- Domestic Abuse: We also hear Parker's dad hit her mom.
- Evil Is Petty: Hardison's plan for vengeance is to send Dubenich a thousand porn magazines.
- Fight Unscene: Whatever happened, Eliot was able to take out a room full of thugs holding guns without disturbing his coffee.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Played with.
- With what the team initially did, Dubenich cannot be traced to the attack on Pierson. So, as part of the scam, they make it look like he took a bribe from some Nigerian nationals. The team cashes it and hides most of the money in his office.
- At the end, however, when Ford gives Pierson his data back, there is evidence on them that Dubenich had them on his systems. So, he can be tried for that with a few lawsuits.
- Genre Savvy: Nate realizes the fact that Victor called all of them to an abandoned warehouse means he's going to kill them, and also knows Hardison to know he kept a copy of the plans.
- Good Feels Good: Which leads the establishment of Leverage firm.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Parker's introduction (which shows her Abusive Parents), also shows her blowing up the house in order to get her stuffed bunny back.
- Hit You So Hard, Your X Will Feel It!: After the double-cross, Eliot growls that he's going to beat Dubenich so badly "people who look like him are gonna bleed."
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: Played with. Parker plants a bug with a red blinking light in Dubenich's office, which Dubenich finds. It turns out that him finding it was part of the plan.
- It's Personal: Of the five lead characters, only Sophie has no personal vendetta against Dubenich. Eliot and Hardison want payback for the attempt to kill them, Parker is angry that she didn't get paid, and for Nate it's personal because Dubenich manipulated him by bringing up his son.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Attempted by Hardison in his introductory flashback: "This is not the room you're looking for." It fails.
- Lured into a Trap: Dubenich lures Nate, Eliot, Hardison, and Parker to the same place after the initial heist by informing them that he's not going to pay them. Nate figures out just in time that he would only have done this in order to clean up loose ends.
- Meet Cute: The show plays it this way, though Nate and Sophie shot each other.
- Meganekko: Funnily, Eliot, despite his being the hitter.
- Nerds Speak Klingon: Elliot is posing as a geeky IT technician. When the secretary he is distracting comments on how strong he is, he says he works out because he likes to go to conventions as a Klingon. He then says something to her in Klingon, which she replies to.
- Oh Crap!: Dubenich when he realizes just how much trouble he is in when the FBI come for him, and then remembers the stockholders are outside.
- Outrun the Fireball: At the warehouse. All four of them are knocked out by the shockwave, however.
- Recruiting the Criminal: Victor's plan to steal the designs.
- The Runaway: Parker… after blowing up her house.
- Slipped the Ropes: Parker is out of handcuffs before Nate wakes up. When she's handcuffed to her hospital bed again after faking sick in order to steal a phone, she's freed herself almost as soon as the cop is out of the room.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Nate realizes Dubenich's trap just in time for himself, Eliot, Hardison, and Parker to escape before the warehouse they're in explodes.
- Title Drop: At the end as Nate explains the team's purpose.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Word-for-word from Parker.
- Token Good Teammate: Why Nate was hired in the first place.
- Undisclosed Funds: The amount of money the team make on the scam. After looking at the cheques Hardison distributes, they start talking about retiring and buying private islands, but the actual amount is only visible if you pause very quickly when Parker opens her envelope. It's $32,761,349.05. Each.
- Villainous Breakdown: Victor is the first in the series to endure this and it's fantastic as his smug demeanor slowly gives way to dawning horror as he realizes how he's been set up and trying in vain to stop the FBI from raiding his company during an investor's lunch.