Air date: Jul 15, 2012
  • Network: TNT





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The (Very) Big Bird Job

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The (Very) Big Bird Job

Season five premiere. After setting up shop in Portland, Oregon, the team must trick a corrupt airline CEO into stealing the Spruce Goose.

The Client

Anne Sanders, the widow of an airline pilot who died because of shoddy maintenance on the plane he was flying. Unusually for a Leverage client, what Mrs Sanders wanted was money.

The Mark

Scott Roemer, CEO of a global air shipping company. Roemer authorized cutting of corners in airplane maintenance, resulting in a fatal crash.


Location photography took place at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon on March 8 and 9, 2012. The Museum is home to the Spruce Goose, which figures prominently in the episode.

The Spruce Goose

The Hughes H-4 Hercules, tail number NX37602, is the prototype for a flying boat designed as a transport plane that could carry passengers and large cargo payloads across the Atlantic during World War II. Built of composite molded birch because of a war time shortage of aluminum, it is euphemistically known as "The Spruce Goose" despite the absence of any spruce in its structure. It is the largest flying boat and has the largest wingspan of any plane ever built.

Commissioned in response to heavy cargo losses to Nazi submarine wolf-packs in North Atlantic at the height of the war, the Spruce Goose was built by Hughes Aviation in Playa Vista, California. The plane was developed by aircraft designer Howard Hughes and ship builder Henry J. Kaiser in 1942. It was intended to be the first of three Hercules built, but work proceeded slowly, leading Kaiser to withdraw from the project, and only one plane was completed by the war's end. Hughes and his designer Glenn Odenkirk continued work on the project. The finished plane, still in pieces, was transported to Long Beach Harbor, California, where it was assembled, and a hanger with a launch ramp was built around it. After a series of tests in the harbor, the plane flew once, on November 2, 1947. From then until Hughes' death in 1976, ground crew secretly maintained the plane in its hanger.

The Spruce Goose was acquired by the California Aero Club, which displayed it alongside the Queen Mary in Long Beach until 1988, when new owners of the property requested it be moved. After a long search, a new home at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum was secured. The plane was shipped in pieces and reassembled at the museum after a four-month journey by barge along the Pacific coast. Coincidentally, the hanger at Playa Vista where Hughes built the airplane is now a soundstage in what was to be a Dreamworks studio complex.

Guest Cast

  • Cary Elwes (Scott Roemer): Owner of Global Air Transport
  • (Busey): Roemer's henchman
  • Adam Baldwin (Michael Vance) Eliot's old friend
  • Episode Notes

  • This episode is the first shot and set in Oregon since the series relocated the team there, but not the first to be set there. Previous to this season, two episodes from season four, The Van Gogh Job and The Gold Job were set in Oregon.
  • Scott Roemer's desire to purchase the Spruce Goose grows out of his fascination with aviation mogul Howard Hughes. In the episode, Roemer wears a brown fedora, as was Hughes' habit in middle age, at the time he was building the Spuce Goose. During the episode, Roemer also sits in Hughes' seat and in such a manner as to reproduce a famous view of Hughes sitting inside the plane.
  • Due to the period, the dress, and the Leverage team's insistence that they give Roemer a "mystery," it's possible his name is a reference to Sax Rohmer, a novelist best known for his stories featuring the villainous Fu Manchu.
  • As noted by writer/director John Rogers in the episode's production blog, Leverage was the first production allowed to film inside the Spruce Goose. The Aviator, a 2004 film version of the life of Howard Hughes starring Leonardo diCaprio used a set to reproduce the cockpit and interior of the plane.
  • Major Events

  • As a result of their original location in Boston being compromised, the team are forced to set up their HQ in a brewery in Portland.
  • Hardison informs the team that, as a result of the last mission the team carried out, all their original aliases and identities are compromised.
  • Parker and Hardison tell the others they are dating.
  • At the end of the episode, Nate and Hardison are seen working on a task involving that the rest of the team doesn't know about.
  • Trivia

  • The episode describes the date the Spruce Goose's engines were fired up as the 65th anniversary of its only flight. This would place the episode in November, 2012, indicating the crew had been off the radar for nearly a year.
  • Goof: in the episode, Roemer taxis the plane out of its hanger and takes off. Two problems: a) its location does not have a runway long enough for the plane to taxi and take off successfully and b) the plane has no suitable landing gear, as it is a boat plane, which took off and landed on water; its only flight was from its hanger on Long Beach Harbor, which meant it only had to move a short distance down a ramp into the water.
  • Multiple people in the episode refer to the Spruce Goose as the world's largest airplane, which is correct in terms of height and wingspan, but the world's largest plane in terms of length is the Antonov An-225 Mriya.
  • Episode Media

    Production Gallery

    Photographs tweeted by cast and crew during production

    Production Blog

    Leverage - Production Blog - The (Very) Big Bird Job Production Blog

    Read more on Leverage >


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