By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated November 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST
Leverage Chris Kane
Credit: Mercedes Heinila/TNT
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There are a few words I don’t like to throw around — and badass is one of them.

Television is full of men and women with varied skills, some of which warrant the distinction of being “badass,” but I feel as though TV characters who encompass all the qualities worthy of the term are few and far between. Without a doubt, Leverage’s Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane) is one of them. You need only watch last night’s episode as proof.

The episode, which marked the show’s return from hiatus, centered around the team infiltrating a world of secret societies to crack a case about missing homeless veterans. As part of their mission, Eliot found himself enlisted in an experiment that was advertised as a study in how to cure PTSD. But after getting inside, he came to realize that they weren’t trying to cure PTSD, they were trying to cause it.

At night, while in captivity, Eliot and the rest of the participants were subjected to incessant loud rock music. Sometimes they were put in below-freezing temperatures. But the real mind-breaker was the interrogation sessions. Each man was given a word at the beginning of the experiment and the goal was to go as long as they could without telling their captors the word. For each day they were successful, they earned $100.

Eliot proved a worthy foe for his interrogator, who at the beginning of the experiment explained that he would never physically harm him, but instead, would employ more creative means. “Haven’t you heard? Torture doesn’t work,” he told him. Eliot looked him square in the face, unflinching, “Depends on the torture; depends on the man.”

The other sessions were equally intense, particularly the one where his interrogator attempted to break his psyche by bringing up death — and the people he’d killed over the years. We all know Eliot has a shady past, so it was clear that while the interrogator assumed he was talking to a soldier who’d killed people, Eliot could more than relate. “Are you trying to punish yourself for the things you’ve done?” the man asked. But he stayed stone-faced, in one of my favorite Eliot scenes ever.

“What do you want to know,” Eliot asked. “Names? Dates? Locations? What food was on their breath? What color their eyes were? Want to know the last words they spoke? Want to know which ones deserved it? Or better yet, the ones that didn’t? Want to know which ones begged? [Beat] Want to know why I know these things?…Because I can’t forget. So there’s nothing you can do, no punishment you can hand out that I live with every day. So to answer your question, no, I don’t have a count. I don’t need to.”

“We’re done for the day,” the man replied, wide-eyed.

That, my friends, is a badass.

The case of course was solved/bad guys caught. But what remains is my complete and utter respect for the badassery of Eliot Spencer.

Now, while I’ll admit that it’s a tough race to pit him against all the other characters on TV. But I can say, pretty confidently, that he’s at the very least TNT’s ultimate badass. Agree?

Also, what did you think of the episode? Did Chris Kane steal the episode? And are you glad Leverage is back?

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