Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S04E03 – The 15 Minutes Job

In the third episode of the fourth season of Leverage, THIS IS UNCOMFORTABLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.

Trigger Warning: For gaslighting.

Well, if I thought that the end of the last episode was awkward, this whole story certainly takes the cake. I got the sense that the end of “The Ten Li’l Grifters Job” was meant to lead into this specific exploration of Nate as a character, and I definitely think it works if you think of it that way. We’re meant to draw the uncomfortable parallels between Nate and Reed Rockwell, and in order to do so, you have to accept that Nate does skate a thin line between being the good guy and being the ambitious thief.

We see both aspects of that in this specific con, and Nate’s tendencies are exaggerated because Reed is so similar to Nate in many respects. This episode is about a battle of the minds and a battle of perception. Reed Rockwell is not an easy mark because he’s so painfully hard to manipulate. Why is that? Because he’s spent years manipulating other people and the media as his job. And it’s not just manipulating in order to get clients what they want; Reed uses a very specific kind of gaslighting by manipulating evidence to make sure that those he goes after are utterly destroyed by him.

So it’s unsurprising that he was so unwilling to help others in every day acts of heroism and decency. The man is a human scumbag all the time, so the team misjudged how willing he’d be to intervene in anything that didn’t immediately benefit him. He doesn’t care about muggers, or runaway strollers (SOPHIE STOPPING TO LOOK AT STILETTOS OH MY GOD), or choking victims, or even a robber with a gun. If it wasn’t for the team’s use of the very same techniques that Reed used, they wouldn’t have even have gotten him with the armed robbery con. HE TRIED TO CONVINCE THE ROBBER TO TAKE SOPHIE HOSTAGE INSTEAD OF HIM BECAUSE SHE WAS PRETTIER. Even after he “saved” the day, he still ran off like a goddamn coward.

I have no qualms about calling him a coward because that’s what he is, y’all. He can’t do anything legitimately, and he hides behind secrecy and illusions. He destroys people’s lives not because they deserve it but because of a misguided sense of extreme entitlement. Of course, once you start looking at these claims and you twist them a little bit, it’s not hard to see aspects of Nate’s personality, too. Doesn’t he try to keep himself as distant as possible from the cases he works? Doesn’t he use underhanded methods to achieve his goals? Don’t they bother foster an addiction to alcohol? Doesn’t Reed operate under a fairly strict code to justify his behavior? I mean, yes, Nate and Reed aren’t the same person, and Nate has undeniably done wonderful things for other people. I never thought that Leverage was trying to tell me otherwise.

But a huge reason we see Nate unravel over the course of “The 15 Minutes Job” is that in working to undo the damage that Reed has done, Nate can’t ignore these parallels. He can’t ignore the destructive path that Reed gets set on because it reminds him way too much of himself. Like Nate says, this con had to be designed to destroy him, since Nate and Reed were so similar. THAT IS JUST ENDLESSLY UNCOMFORTABLE, Y’ALL. The team knows it, and it becomes abundantly obvious to them over the course of the con. And then it just gets unbelievably fucking awful when Nate starts snapping at the people he works with. These people have entrusted their lives and reputations in Nate, and in order for them to work together well, they have to be honest. So when Nate takes that honesty off the table? That’s a big damn problem.

We see how that problem manifests when he tells Eliot to take a break from the rest of the con. And he does so immediately after Eliot rightly criticizes how far Nate takes this! Then he tries to do the same thing to Sophie when she expresses concern, and it’s a hot mess. I’ll just state what Nate admits at the end of the episode: his behavior here is reckless. I don’t think it’s just the alcohol anymore, though that contributes to it. He’s in denial about Sophie; he was arrogant throughout this con; and he’s more unwilling than ever to step back and take a hard look at himself.

It’s becoming an issue, y’all.

Nate’s plot isn’t the sole thing about this episode that deserves my attention, though. Shout out to Hardison’s perfect assertion that CGI Yoda is the worst! Because that’s absolutely true. (Says the guy who regularly bashes Star Wars for a number of reasons, and yet has an entire sleeve tattooed on his right arm of Star Wars ships.) Shout out to Eliot beating the shit out of someone WITH A SCREEN DOOR. (Which he promptly fixed because he’s a goddamn gentleman.) Shout out to Parker getting better and the introduction of No Stabbing Wednesdays. SHOUT OUT TO THIS TEAM DESTROYING REED BY USING HIS OWN TACTICS AGAINST HIM, I FOUND THAT VERY SATISFYING.

The video for “The 15 Minutes Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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