In the seventh episode of the first season of Leverage, Eliot clashes with an ex while the team tries to con a hedge fund manager and the man who took over Nate’s job. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
SWEET JESUS, HOW IS THIS SHOW SO GOOD SO QUICKLY?
Eliot / Aimee
The way this show reveals backstory is just so satisfying. There’s a perfect mix here in “The Two-Horse Job” of a plot that grounds us in the present but reminds us that each of these characters has a past that MATTERS. That’s certainly the case for Nate, who I’ll get to. But I wanted to focus on the relationship between Eliot and Aimee Martin first. (Oh god, Julie Ray Newman was on Supernatural, but I recognized her more because she was Mindy O’Dell on Veronica Mars! Oh, great, now I’m missing that show a lot.) Thankfully, this show doesn’t undermine the reason for Aimee’s anger by the end of the episode. She’s brutal towards Eliot throughout this story, and even if she does grow comfortable around him, she doesn’t fawn over him. His good works don’t solve the outstanding problem she had with him when they were seeing each other.
And I think that’s something each of these characters has had to deal with over the years. None of them are in relationships or seem to be able to maintain them. In Eliot’s case, his life of… shit, excessive violence? I don’t quite know how to quantify Eliot’s past. Regardless, it’s obvious that he hasn’t been able to stay in one place for very long, and Aimee grew tired of him leaving all the time. Which is understandable! That doesn’t mean they aren’t attracted to one another anymore, but it also doesn’t mean that Eliot could just sweep Aimee up into his arms again. She clearly appreciated his work here to help her father, but she also recognized that Eliot could never be the kind of partner she wants.
THEN SHE TELLS HIM HE HAS A FAMILY AND HE SCOFFS AT HER BUT YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE Y’ALL. Whew, I’ve melted from cute.
What show isn’t Mark Sheppard on??? Goddamn, I love the introduction of Sterling here because he’s not entirely an antagonist so much as a… foil? Rival? There’s definitely an antagonistic aspect to his character and I don’t want to deny that. But he’s mostly a variable, a human rogue who appears and FUCKS EVERYTHING UP. I wasn’t worried that the team would be unable to complete the con because of Alan Foss; he seemed easy to manipulate right from the start. He was greedy, motivated, and horrifically arrogant. He couldn’t put his ego aside, and the team played him brilliantly. However, Sterling’s presence in “The Two-Horse Job” made me unbearably nervous. He was too good, and to borrow a line from Parker, HE’S BASICALLY EVIL NATE. He’s got the kind of mind that can unravel complexity quickly, and it’s very easy for him to be steps ahead of everyone else. However, I think it’s his moral stance that terrifies me the most. Unlike Nate, Sterling has no problem operating within the law and existing power structures. His goal? To make money and to get away with it. It’s a form of greed, sure, but then why oppose Nate? Why even bother to try to upset his plans? Why follow him around?
Within the Leverage universe, Sterling is the status quo. He’s the man who has no problem with massive international corporations treating people like collateral damage. He’s fine viewing everything in the world through abstract numbers and dollar signs. He sees statistics as nothing more than information. And when he gets to the end of his day, as long as he’s made money, he’s happy. My guess? Nate infuriates him. Nate has found a way to operate outside of the system, to find the same loopholes that Sterling exploits, except he’s not using them for the same means. There’s little greed here, and I imagine that pisses Sterling off.
I love the idea that this season has a quiet arc concerning Sterling. IT’S SO SATISFYING.
Okay, this character is so entertaining to me, y’all. I’m convinced that no member of the Leverage team makes better faces in the background than her. NO ONE. I’ve started paying attention to her whenever someone else is talking and it is a rewarding journey, I tell you. But I also want to know so much more about her (and Hardison, for that matter), given that we’ve seen so little of her past. Her phobia of horses ends up being an adorable bit of growth, since she ultimately decides that horses aren’t quite as scary as she thought they were. (I LOVED THAT SCENE.) But how did she get into all of this??? Her father clearly influenced her interest in stealing, but what happened between then and now? MORE PARKER.
Aside from the pleasure of getting to know more about Eliot, I also appreciated that his love of horses was used to its fullest extent. CHRISTIAN KANE ON A HORSE OH MY GOD. This also felt like one of the more complex cons, so much so that I almost didn’t realize how the team had pulled it off. Of course, I was super nervous to begin with, and I credit Sterling’s appearance with most of that. But I also think that the writers put the team closer to calling the whole thing off more than they ever had before, and that contributed to how uncomfortable this was. There was a very real chance that if the con failed, they’d all go to jail, including Willie Martin. That risk was always there, and it made this a whole lot more stressful than I was ready for.
But in the end, the team uses a couple of nice redirects and swaps to not only get Willie the revenge he wanted, but A TON OF MONEY, TOO. Holy shit, y’all, the Leverage team has acquired so much cash in these seven episodes GIVE SOME TO ME.
The video for “The Two-Horse Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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