In the sixth episode of the first season of Leverage, more of Nate’s past is revealed when he takes a job to help his best friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging
It’s so fascinating to me that an episode like this – one that openly questions the morality of the Leverage team – takes place so early in the show’s run. It’s a complicated one, possibly the most so out of these first six episodes, and that’s part of why it’s so satisfying to watch. We learn that Nate was, in practically every sense of the word, a good guy. He was studying to be a priest before he began to work for an insurance company, and now? Well, the irony is not lost on this show. He’s leading a band of thieves to do good in the world.
But is he doing good? That very question is often played for humor, particularly when it comes to Hardison. (I did notice that not even once did Parker ever question her own moral stakes in this episode. My god, she’s written so CONSISTENTLY. I’d like a Parker flashback episode, THANK YOU.) It’s such a delight to see how willing the Leverage writers are to go for comedy. Like Eliot’s little flashbacks? Other shows might make those moments deadly serious, but this show makes them into these brilliant little gags. However, that doesn’t mean that there can’t be introspective aspects to these stories. The humor and the drama are not mutually exclusive.
So what we’ve got here is a con, a heist, and then a con and a heist to undo the very con and heist that the team put into place. THAT IS SUCH A JOY TO WRITE. But the complications here force the audience to examine whether Nate is more obsessed with his own savior complex or if he’s doing what’s best for Father Paul and his church. Initially, it comes across a lot more clear cut than it ends up being. Andrew Grant is disgusting, predatory, and irritating. Which is something I appreciate! Even amidst a rather complex morality tale, the villains are defined without any doubt. We know what Andrew is doing is wrong. We know it is an injustice that he’s losing his church, and that this neighborhood of Los Angeles is losing an important part of their community. (I feel like when this show is done, I’ll be able to write a novel solely on this show’s politics of revenge. I don’t know that other people would understand why gentrification and development of neighborhoods is a bad thing, but it seemed painfully obvious to me. That’s so intriguing to me because the writers didn’t spend much time at all in “The Miracle Job” explaining this dynamic; they just expect us to sympathize with Father Paul, as we should!)
Because of this, it’s easy to find comfort in Sophie’s brilliant con of Andrew. She exploits his insecurities and plays off of his greed. (Well, he also has an anxiety attack induced by speed due to Parker. That’s something we should acknowledge, too.) The episode is written in a way to make it seem like it’s fairly straightforward, too. But it does that thing that makes it feel like it’s over, and then there are still fifteen minutes left, and SOMETHING IS GOING TO GO SO HORRIBLY WRONG, ISN’T IT? I had no idea how wrong this would go, but I appreciated that the writers realized that faking a miracle would have disastrous consequences. And that’s the point of “The Miracle Job”: our intentions don’t always give us the result that we want. Nate believes that a fake miracle will deter Andrew Grant and give Father Paul’s parishioners a reason to rally around the church. Everyone wins, right?
Except that the team misjudged just how greedy Andrew Grant was. They misjudged the public reaction to a miracle. They misjudged just what a huge deal this was going to become. And I love that this then becomes the first time they have to UNDO a con. But they HAVE to because it’s going to make matters worse than they were before. It’s important that this show acknowledges this, not just for the story as a whole, but so that we can understand Nate better. He’s at a point in his life where his morality is still a huge part of who he is; he’s still the Good Guy to everyone around him. But his whole “means to an end” philosophy seems born out of circumstance. I feel like he wouldn’t have become who he is now if his son hadn’t died, you know? The show invokes his son’s death and the dissolution of his marriage multiple times, and it’s a reminder of the trauma that this man has been through. It makes sense, then, that he’d get lost in doing good. It’s part of his identity, at least in how others perceive him. But wanting to do good is not enough to actually do good, you know?
I’m just so satisfied by these episodes, y’all. I admit that I was eager to start watching Leverage again after a week off from writing so I could attend Arisia, probably more so than anything else that I’m reading and watching. Look, I’m endlessly thankful that I get the opportunity to write about such serious things all the time. I definitely appreciate it, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I like being personal and honest with y’all. But there’s a joy to this show – a sunny disposition – that I particularly enjoy, mostly because there’s nothing else I’m reading or watching that comes close to this sort of tone or outlook. Yes, this episode is morally complex, but it’s still about people – mostly thieves! – trying to right the injustices in the world that are so often overlooked by our society. Gentrification, corporate theft, and greed are always the villains. And it’s nice. Goddamn, it’s just so pleasing to watch this and imagine that this is the world we could live in.
The video for “The Miracle Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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