Beth Riesgraf Teases Leverage's Girls' Night Out: Parker Has a 'Sweet' Realization About Hardison

This Sunday at 9/8c, TNT’s Leverage presents “The Girls’ Night Out Job” aka one half of a split-narrative story that concludes next week with – you guessed it — “The Boys’ Night Out Job.” In the distaff side of the story, Parker and Sophie hit the bars with gal pals to get away from the “office,” only to get caught up in a caper. Along the way, Parker phones-a-hacker-friend, Hardison, paving the way for some fun, flirty and jealous moments.

TVLine invited Beth Riesgraf to preview the girls’ big night, share her wish for a bit more ‘Harker’ romance, and look ahead to the guest star-studded, “dam” fun season finale.

TVLINE | What was reaction when you first heard of the plan for this “Girls’ Night Out”/”Boys’ Night Out” two-parter?
I was excited, like, ‘Woo-hoo! We’ve never done this before!” I also wondered, what sort of girly circumstances is Parker going to find herself in? I always love those awkward social moments when she’s trying to be sexy or flirty and it goes terribly wrong. Also, Jeri Ryan coming back (as grifter Tara) was amazing.

TVLINE | What circumstances split the girls away from the boys?
We decide that everybody needs night of fun – it’s been work, work, work – and Sophie (played by Gina Bellman) wants to meet up with Tara, go out, meet some men and have a good time. Parker makes plans with her friend Peggy (The Groundlings’ Lisa Schurga) to have a drink, but Parker, never fully able to get out of work mode, smells something fish about Peggy’s date. The cool part is that she starts calling Hardison (Aldis Hodge) because she needs him to look stuff up for her, and he’s out with the guys who give him s–t for answering the phone and stuff. It’s a dynamic you’ve never seen before between the two of us, and it’s kind of cute.

TVLINE | Do we see any of Hardison’s side of the story this week, or just Parker’s?
You’ll see snippets of him, but the bits and pieces will make total sense next week when you see the guys’ episode unfold. It’s hysterical. Aldis and all those guys (Timothy Hutton, Christian Kane) have really funny bits, and the guest stars on “The Boys’ Night Out” were fantastic as well. The fans will get a kick out of putting the clues together.

TVLINE | Aldis told me that he, Tim and Christian regressed about 10 years during their shoot.
Oh my god, it was ridiculous. The girls were like, “It’s so nice to have a break from the boys,” and the boys were like, “All right! It’s guy time!” So classic. And they were night shoots, so everybody was extra-loopy.

TVLINE | Now remind us, who’s Peggy?
Parker actually met Peggy during Season 1, on “The Juror #6 Job.” I love that they brought her back because it’s nice to see that they’ve continued this friendship — though Peggy still doesn’t know what Parker does for a living. At one point she’s like, “Alice, I know your secret – you’re a spy!” [Laughs] Parker realizes that friendship means a lot to her, and in the end, in a weird way, she realizes more about how she feels about Hardison. It’s very sweet.

TVLINE | Do either you or Aldis wish your characters could have, like, 5 percent more on the romance front at this point?
The fans are definitely ready. People have said to me, “If you two don’t get together pretty soon, we’re gonna get mad!” [Laughs] I do think it’s time that we start giving them a little more, and I am excited because I have some ideas I want to talk to the writers about. Because I think there’s a way to have a lot of fun with their relationship, because they’re totally not like any other couple and they’re never going to be. The way they fight and the things they disagree on are so different. I don’t ever want to see them holding hands and stuff, but I’d love to see that relationship fleshed out.

TVLINE | I asked Aldis what people would be interested to know about you, and he talked about your photography and writing. In the spirit of “Girls’ Night Out,” what do you think people may be interested to know about Gina Bellman?
Gina is incredibly wonderful, in many ways. She’s sexy, smart, she has a kick-ass sense of humor… She’s got this incredible ability to help other people. She has this massive heart, and she really cares about what people are going through all over the world. Gina’s also an incredible writer. I want her to do more of that, because she’s so good at it.

TVLINE | Before we go, is there anything you’d like to preview about the season finale, “The Last Dam Job” (airing Jan. 15)?
The season finale is fantastic, as always, thanks to [executive producer] Dean Devlin with his Independence Day touch and flair, and amazing explosions. We have a huge group of guest stars that come in and just bring it. The team actually has to call on some people we haven’t ever wanted to contact before, because we need to join forces, so I loved that episode. It also had one of my favorite locations that we’ve ever shot in. It’s basically a cave actually located under a dam, so that was amazing.