In the eighth episode of the third season of Leverage, the team goes up against a car salesman who is using stolen cars as stock and EVERYTHING HURTS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny.
Lord, I love this show. I’m left with no more creative ways to say this anymore, so just accept it. Accept it! This episode is a fantastic example of the many things the writers do that impress me and keep me interested in a show like this. THERE’S NO SHOW LIKE THIS, WHO AM I KIDDING.
So, let’s begin with something I’ve spoken of in the past… sort of. Watching the opening scenes of “The Boost Job,” I realized that the cast managed to convey something that kind of snuck up on me: the sheer joy of working with one another. As they prepped Eliot’s car so that Nate could race it, I saw how thrilled they all were to contribute to the process. It’s not really been a secret that the show aimed to bring such a disparate group of people together, so it’s not like I’m questioning what’s on screen. I knew that was the point the whole time.
At the same time, this episode felt striking to me for what I suppose was an entirely unintended reason. These people care deeply about one another. That is unmistakable. It is undeniable. That’s not to say they didn’t in the last episode, nor that Albert Kim set out to write a script to help me realize this. Like I said, this realization was far more subtle than that, and I think it’s partially related to the fact that due to being on tour, I had not seen an episode of Leverage for nearly a month. I’m settling back into a normal schedule again (not quite there yet!), and these characters helped me do that. In the process, it hit me how perfect they are together.
There’s less joking about Hardison’s gadgetry. There’s an acceptance of Parker’s past and the signs that she’s changing for the better. There’s a camaraderie present that manifests in how concerned they are for the welfare of one another and in the ease they can joke with one another in a manner that’s not harmful.
THEY’VE COME SO FAR, Y’ALL.
The Mark / The Con
Like “The Gone Fishin’ Job,” there’s a clear point where it becomes obvious that this job is going to careen off the tracks, but the excitement comes from seeing just how far the show takes this concept. Duke Penzer shares a lot in common with past marks, like those in the pilot episode or the guy in “The Tap Out Job,” since his ego is so easy to use against him. The team traps him into their con by insulting him (the car race), putting him in debt to them (taking his prize car), and then igniting his desperation and jealousy (opening the more successful dealership down the street).
It’s utterly pleasing to watch bad people get tricked by people more clever than they are. Duke’s arrogance is despicable, and so the team uses it to his disadvantage. I swear, I’ll never tire of this dynamic, y’all. I know I’m a broken record now, but it’s just so pleasing to entertain this kind of fantasy, you know?
So how does the show change up a story that has so much in common with elements of past cons? OH LORD.
Josie is the variable, and goddamn, what a shocker. After Parker reveals more of her past, the show puts a version of her on the screen in Josie. What’s so fascinating to me about this is that much of Parker’s backstory is used for humor (like the flashback to her being the getaway driver), but the show doesn’t forget that this might not have been all that humorous or joyous to her. In Josie, Parker sees a young girl without any real family desperately trying to fit in.
And, unfortunately, she’s failing. One of the biggest roadblocks, of course, is misogyny. The thieves around her don’t believe that a woman should be stealing cars, and they bully her whenever she tries to learn, thereby making it hard for her to gain any new skills, thereby fulfilling their bigoted view in the first place. So it makes sense that Josie would immediately latch on to Parker after Parker proves to all these jackasses that she’s better than them. But is that a good thing? Should Parker be pushing Josie further into this kind of life?
Clearly, Parker is aware of that very question, but she goes with her gut here. She knows that she probably needed someone like herself when she was younger. She knows that Josie has no one that’s got her back, so she steps up to support her. She does so while putting the con at risk! And I don’t think she was unaware what a risky move this was, but as Sophie points out later, Parker did what she thought was right with Josie. AND THAT IS A HUGE THING FOR PARKER TO DO, Y’ALL.
I mean, I’ve also seen a few of the team’s cons spectacularly fall apart, but HOLY SHIT, this one fell apart horribly. From Eliot getting hit by a car (GET OVER IT!), to Josie telling Duke and Lefty what Parker told her, to Parker and Hardison getting cornered by Lefty’s men, to Duke pulling a gun on Sophie… good lord, y’all. This got TOO REAL for a moment. But I appreciate that! I appreciate that this show can challenge my expectations for how an episode will end, particularly when we can see how the actions of these characters affect the outcome.
Of course, it was also great that Nate recognized that while Parker put them all at risk, she was doing something wonderful. And they then returned the favor to Josie, putting her in touch with their client, all so that she can have a better environment to succeed in. WHICH IS WHAT PARKER GOT AND LOOK AT HER, EVERYTHING IS SO GREAT, I LOVE THIS SHOW.
The video for “The Boost Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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