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As season five of TNT’s caper drama Leverage winds down, culminating in a Christmas closer executive producers Dean Devlin and John Rogers “had planned to make to end the series,” the future of the show remains up in the air.
So much so that Devlin took it upon himself to address the fans of the show directly in a widely-read letter, in which he called the final episodes of the season — especially the finale — “powerful.” What drove him and Rogers to put all their marbles in one basket by moving forward with their series finale plan was partially due to the show’s loyal fanbase.
“It’s been truly a remarkable fandom that has supported this show. Normally the type of enthusiasm you get from fans who act like this is usually for a science-fiction or fantasy show,” Devlin told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t expecting when we started the show to have that kind of support. So that fandom is always in our minds when we’re making this show and we just had this horrible feeling. What if this ended up being the last year and we didn’t put the baby to bed?”
He added: “If we do get a season six, great, we’ll figure out what to do then. In the event that we don’t, it felt like the right thing to do.”
Though TNT has not made an official decision on whether it will be renewing Leverage for another season, Devlin was realistic about its chances.
“We know it’s very hard to get a season six. There are a lot of factors that go into that,” he explained. “Five seasons for a TV show is a pretty miraculous accomplishment and the fact that we got that, we’re very grateful. We didn’t have any assurances. We knew it was going to be tough and it’s still going to be tough to get a sixth season.”
The decision to bring out the series finale plan sooner rather than later, which Devlin revealed in the letter had been in their back pocket “when we shot the pilot,” came around the time the writers were working on the 10th episode of the season.
“We knew there were only five more [episodes] to go and we had to make a decision,” he recalled. “We decided to make the decision. We knew it was risky so we thought let’s go for it.”
Once Rogers introduced the idea for a potential series ender during the pilot, as Devlin tells it, having an endgame was a blessing in disguise. “Each season we were able to incrementally move toward that ultimate conclusion,” he said, adding that there was no joy felt in the idea “to just whimper away.” “So we’re going out with a big bang, if in fact this is the finish.”
As for whether Devlin and the writers have any initial ideas for story arcs or plot points they could use should a season six be ordered, there is no set game plan at the moment. (When asked if he would entertain a shortened sixth season, movies or a modified look for the show, Devlin offered that they’re open to all options: “We’ve literally closed no doors.”)
“I would be excited for that challenge creatively of how to come back from from the finale,” he said. “I don’t think it would be that hard to keep the show going although when you see the season finale, you may go, ‘Wow, you’ve set a high task for yourself.’ “
With Leverage‘s final season five episode always intended to serve as a series closer, Devlin was well aware that mere fact may jeopardize the show’s chances of a return. “I hope not,” he replied.
Without revealing too many specifics, Devlin was optimistic that the season finale would be well-received by viewers: “I hope that [fans] feel this is the right way to end it.”
Leverage stars Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Aldis Hodge, Beth Riesgraf and Christian Kane as a five-person team who use their skills to fight corporate and governmental injustices. The series launched in 2008 to 5 million viewers and has moved several times on the schedule during its five-season run.
Leverage finishes out season five 10 p.m. Dec. 25 on TNT.
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