Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S02E15 – The Maltese Falcon Job

In the fifteenth and final episode of the second season of Leverage, everything hurts. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage. 

I guess this is what happens when Nate loses.

I’m still reeling from this episode. It’s a monster of a con. It’s also incredibly upsetting, but that’s because it’s done well. It’s done with an acknowledgment that Nate is flawed and that he can make (and has made) mistakes. In hindsight, I’d even say that this is the logical end to Nate’s story this season. That’s how well-written this arc is.

That doesn’t make this easier to handle.

There’s little closure here aside from Tara’s departure, and it’s a bold risk for the show to take. Sure, the con is “successful,” since the team locks Culpepper in with Kadjic, handing them over to Sterling and Interpol. But what did they win? Did Bonanno survive? Can the Leverage team manage without Nate? Is Nate the glue that holds them together, or can Sophie play that role?

Those are questions that will have to be answered in the next season. (Whew, I’ve got so much to predict! How exciting!) This episode is somehow even more thrilling than the last one, and the stakes are even higher than the season one finale. I think a lot of that rests on our fear for Nate and how his actions might affect the team. When he’s caught – relatively early into “The Maltese Falcon Job” – everything felt off. EVERYTHING. Of course I trusted the rest of the team to come through, but having Nate get “nicked” by Sterling set an uncomfortable pall over the rest of the episode. I don’t know if I ever believed that Nate would sell out the rest of the team. Honestly, I’m certain I didn’t entertain that notion. But what that scene did was twofold: It showed me that someone was going to lose, and it showed me that Nate had truly had gotten in over his head. I suppose I should have put two-and-two together then. Nate had to be the one to lose. (Lord, the show had foreshadowed this. I KNEW THIS oh my god.)

There are also a ton of other ways that this episode builds suspense and keeps it consistently part of the story. First of all, let’s talk about them hiding IN THE FBI’S HOTEL. Oh my god, it’s so perfect and brilliant. Why is this so satisfying to watch, y’all??? Like, when I sit here and think about the 28 episodes I’ve seen so far (how????), it’s very clear that this show is made up of these people doing the same things over and over again, and yet I’m never bored. The details might be different, but it’s the same scenarios, right? I suppose that’s a simplistic way of looking at the show, and yet I like examining why this specific type of story just fills me with joy. I’ve been hyping heist stories for YEARS on this goddamn site, and I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to ask myself why they’re so great to me.

At the same time, I know that the fun of trying to figure out these cons and heists is not my sole love for Leverage. I think that it is fun to try to stay ahead of the show’s logic. (I haven’t been able to do it once, goddamn it! One day, I’ll guess the con. ONE DAY.) But would Leverage be as rewarding as it is without Eliot counting down the guards on the Maltese Falcon? Or without Hardison’s absolutely terrible accents? Or Tara and Parker bonding? OR SOPHIE’S GLORIOUS, PERFECT RETURN TO THE TEAM? Look, gnarly plots full of twists and turns are fun. But I want to care about the people these stories are about. AND I CARE SO MUCH IT HURTS. Seriously, Sophie’s appearance alone was too much to handle. Parker hugged her. PARKER HUGGED HER. How does that not speak volumes about what Sophie means to these people? And that aspect of Leverage is what makes me want so much more from this show. I don’t say that because I feel like this show is disappointing or anything; no, it’s already given me SO MUCH. I just want to spend FOREVER within this world with these people, acting out their modern Robin Hood adventures.

So let’s talk about Nate. Nate, who begs Sophie to come back not because the con has been disrupted, but because he needs her. Nate, who faced down the feds and Sterling, a lifeline extended to him, and still chose to offer up himself in place of his friends. Nate, who tries to good here, but still pisses off the woman who flew back home for him because, in the end, Nate has a problem with his own ego. The ending to “The Maltese Falcon Job” is so wrought with tension and emotion because it’s not easy. We don’t feel a sense of victory. It’s a mixture of betrayal and relief, of terror and joy, and it’s all a goddamn mess. The team is surely mad at him for having a backup plan that he didn’t share with them. Sophie is furious that she returned home, only to find him handcuffing himself WILLINGLY. The con was a success, but at what cost? How does Nate escape both Interpol and the FBI when his decision puts him directly into their hands?

THIS IS SO FUCKED UP, Y’ALL. And on top of it all, he got shot and is bleeding out and this cliffhanger is so unfair. So unfair. SO UNFAIR.

The video for “The Maltese Falcon Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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