In the seventh episode of the third season of Leverage, this is alternately one of the funniest and the most terrifying episodes of the show. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
Trigger Warning: For talk of white supremacy/racism.
Goddamn, THIS EPISODE WAS GREAT, TOO. All of them have been great???? Have I ever disliked an episode? What magic have I stumbled onto??? It’s like all the good karma I collected over the years manifested Leverage because I don’t understand how I deserve to be entertained by a show like this. Where do I even start with “The Gone Fishin’ Job”?
There are so many layers to this con because the show splits the group, giving us two separate cons that are technically part of the same one, and THEN EVERYTHING BECOMES A HORRIFYING MESS. Not only is there the major con being pulled on Hugh Whitman, but Hardison and Eliot have to come up with numerous cons and traps for the militia that Whitman sics on them. On the surface, though, we’re led to believe that this is about Whitman using his previous experience with the IRS to exploit those who are financially vulnerable. Ultimately, that’s one of the many ways in which Whitman and his “revolutionaries” are fucking hypocrites. If they’re concerned about the future of “real Americans,” why the hell are they screwing over people who fit their idea of ideal citizens? Of course, their end is more important than their means, and it’s the same sort of hypocrisy you always see in groups like this. They believe they’ve found a way to live exempt of “big” government, that they’ve managed to survive thus far without any outside help, and yet they use a legacy of government influence without ever acknowledging it.
Could this militia even hide out in the forest if the government hadn’t regulated that certain plots of land were protected? How could they have hid their money without credit unions? How did they drive out to their little camp/enclave? What about gas subsidies? Traffic lights? The transportation of the clothing they were wearing? That’s not to say that there should be no criticism of the government’s role in the lives of its citizens, but these kind of assholes believe such a warped and harmful thing, you know? Look, white nationalist militias are not fiction. While the show doesn’t explicitly make them mega racists, I’m with Hardison here: these men are practically KKK. As soon as I realized who they were and what they were planning, I WAS HORRIFIED. I was frightened for Hardison. He was not safe around men like this!
I’m thankful, then, that the show allowed Hardison to vocalize that this was not the same experience for him that it was for Eliot. That started with a humorous tone, of course, since Hardison has little interest in camping or survival skills or fishing or… well, white people shit. Which isn’t to say that people of color (or specifically black people) have no interest in these things ever, but there’s a reason a lot of these hobbies or pastimes are so overwhelmingly white. A lot of it has to do with the cost of participating in such activities. It’s a matter of access. And an even simpler reason? Hardison just plain doesn’t like being outdoors. We know from glimpses of his past that he was always far more interested in being in front of a computer. He’s a geek, y’all. I’m sure plenty of us can relate to that! So there’s a complex characterization at work here because Hardison is a black nerd, and these aspects of his identity matter to the story.
So when he’s faced with a large group of white men in fatigues carrying guns and talking about overthrowing the government? It’s real easy for him to go to one conclusion here. It’s easy for him to notice that they were going to kill him first, then Eliot. It’s easy for him to think that this is the least safe he’s ever been, and that’s something that Eliot simply does not understand. Eliot tries to claim that they’re after him just as much, but that’s not quite the case, is it? It’s a matter of perspective, of course, and militia groups like this one have a near absolute history of also being white nationalists, you know?
Of course, that’s part of the tension here. When the Leverage team accepted this case, they had no clue that they were conning someone who was also funding domestic terrorism. While the main con goes off flawlessly, the audience is busy having a goddamn heart attack because we’re aware of exactly how messed up everything is. This is not just about someone exploiting those in debt anymore. And that’s why Hardison’s transformation here is so goddamn satisfying. Yes, it was endlessly entertaining to watch Hardison and Eliot, handcuffed together, bicker through every second of every scene they were in. (Oh, the fanfiction. OH, THE FANFICTION. I am certain there is a ton of it. CERTAIN.) But seeing Hardison realize the impact this terror group might have on others was a beautiful thing. In that moment, he chose to do what was right over an easy, certain escape and his own comfort. He doesn’t suddenly enjoy being in the outdoors, but he commits to it. He doesn’t suddenly become fearless like Eliot seems; instead, he focuses his fear to stay alive.
I’d like to think that he earned Eliot’s respect here. Even though Eliot recognized the smell of fertilizer, it was Hardison who painted the complete picture here, and if they’d not gone back, this entire con could have fallen apart. It’s only a few scenes after these two head back to the camp that the team’s cover is blown, and if Eliot and Hardison had not been in place at the base… goddamn. I don’t want to think about that ending. Thankfully, though, it’s Eliot and Hardison’s teamwork that prevents something horrific from happening and allows Nate to come up with another con on the fly that puts Whitman and the militia in a bank full of FBI agents. It was a beautiful thing to watch, though not as great as video game fishing. THAT WAS SUCH A NICE TOUCH AT THE END. Goddamn, y’all, this episode was so fantastic. I just love Leverage so much. And holy shit, the chemistry between Hardison and Eliot…. WELL. WELL. THIS WAS VERY OVERWHELMING, I HOPE THERE IS A LOT OF FIC OF THEM HANDCUFFED TO ONE ANOTHER, AND I CARE NOT ONE BIT HOW DIRTY THAT SOUNDS.
The video for “The Gone Fishin’ Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!