Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S01E08 – The Bank Shot Job

In the eighth episode of the first season of Leverage, the team’s confidence is tested when their heist is interrupted by another heist. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.

Well, that was brilliant, and that’s as succinct of an opinion as I can come up with. I’m glad I’ve watched this in the production/DVD order because the placement of “The Bank Shot Job” – like “The Miracle Job” – matters to the story that this show is trying to tell. I needed to see these five characters struggle to work together in order to appreciate how close they’ve grown in just eight episodes. That’s accomplished through chaos, and this episode is just one disaster after another in terms of drama.

I picked up on the fact that it was very odd that the con that opened “The Bank Shot Job” seemed to be in its final stages. As I said in the opening, it’s important that we got to experience a number of cons already, because NOTHING ABOUT THIS ONE IS NORMAL. What’s so fun and thrilling about what happens here is that the team has to invent a con and a heist on the spot, which is further complicated by the fact that Judge Roy, their current mark, is LITERALLY feet away from them at any time. They’ve got to stay undercover while assessing the robbery AND communicating with each other. To say it’s a disaster is selling this shit short, because it’s a lot more like a nightmare. It doesn’t help that Judge Roy, played wonderfully by Michael O’Neill, is the kind of arrogant asshole who believes that his power makes him the perfect hero. (Of course, that’s why it’s so satisfying seeing him taken down!)

So why does “The Bank Shot Job” work so well? The plot is great, sure, but I’m always looking for some other reason to explain why I’m entertained by the things that I watch. A good story is certainly a fine bit of reasoning, but why? For me, Leverage often pulls me in because the writers care so much for their characters, and that includes those introduced for a single episode. The ongoing character development for the team was fantastic, but so was the emotional depth given to the Clark family. We had to believe that a father would collude with his son to rob a bank and that neither of them would be ANY good at it. (Seriously, they’re so bad at it.) Personally, there’s worldbuilding here that’s so distinctly Californian that I didn’t even remotely challenge the set-up here. I lived pretty damn close to the desert in Southern California, and the prevalence of drugs and violence surrounding drugs was just a part of my life. A lot of the desert towns have been consumed by meth, too, though I don’t recall it being as popular when I was in high school as other drugs. It’s something that’s part of the landscape of living anywhere near California’s deserts that I just believed the premise.

But truly, it’s watching this team interact with one another that makes “The Bank Shot Job” a success for me. By the time Judge Roy destroys the hidden earpieces, we’ve got two separate groups doing their best to control a deeply chaotic situation. Sophie and Nate were genius to split up the Clarks and try to get them to trust them, which is a hard thing to do given the circumstances. However, I found Eliot’s, Parker’s, and Hardison’s contributions to be the most entertaining. Now, it’s no secret that I started shipping Parker and Hardison rather quickly, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I adored their scenes working together. There is so much tension, y’all. I can’t be the only one who saw that! But even if we put that aside, I think it’s easy to see how these two are growing to trust and respect one another. For the entire episode, they’re stuck together and responsible for holding off the FBI, inventing the pizza demands, robbing a bank during a bank robbery (INCEPTION), and double-crossing Judge Roy. That’s not to say that Eliot’s rescue of Mrs. Clark is not as important because it’s a huge part of this. But with Nate shot and Sophie without a way to contact anyone, Parker and Hardison had to manage most of this situation, and they did it so well. Also, they’re cute together, but that’s another issue altogether. THE POINT IS, I wanted to see this team challenged in new ways, and “The Bank Shot Job” did exactly that.

It also gave me one of the best lines I’ve heard so far:

“Sometimes bad guys are the only good guys you get.”

Parker’s line is indicative of the fluid morality at work in Leverage, but I also believe it’s a way for the show to deliberately blur who we view as the good guy. It’s easy in our society to cast people into a dichotomy of good and bad, and often, we don’t even give certain people a chance. With Leverage, the writers can reimagine who is traditionally viewed as good. A socially awkward thief and a black hacker are allowed to be the good guys here. People who steal and cheat others can be the heroes because they’re doing it for the right reasons. And at the end of this episode, the same people who robbed this bank are reunited with someone they love, and they get off scot free. It’s Judge Roy who is the loser. Judicial corruption is a very real and terrifying part of our system here in America, and I adore this show for saying that these kind of people – those obsessed with obtaining money at the expense of others – are the true villains in our society.

The video for “The Bank Shot Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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