In the ninth episode of the fourth season of Leverage, the team picks up a case at an airport as they come home from another job. Intrigued? Then it’s time for mark to watch Leverage.
Trigger Warning: For talk of transphobia
Well, this was disturbing. PAINFULLY SO.
There’s a particular sort of evil to Chesney portrayed here that fits perfectly within the show’s motif. Chesney has enjoyed a life of privilege and power, much like many of the other antagonists in this show. His entitlement – a common phenomenon amongst the rich in this country – is on full display here. It’s bad enough that he stole a heart from a fifteen-year-old boy who still might have a long life ahead of him. But to Chesney, he’s owed that heart. Because he has money, which gives him the power to get what he wants, he feels entitled to guaranteeing that someone else die in his place. It’s horrifying to think about, and I also think we needed a villain like him in order for Nate’s story to work.
Y’all, I love when we get an episode where the team has to come up with a con on the fly, and this one is RIDICULOUS. That’s not the sole issue at hand, since the writers commit to the fact that the team was coming off of a flight. (And ostensibly connecting to another flight?) Their luggage? Checked and inaccessible. Security? A million times harder for them to deal with. Their tools? Well, some of it is at the bottom of the ocean. (I WANT TO SEE THE JOB WHERE HARDISON FAKED A VOLCANIC ERUPTION, OH MY GOD.) With limited resources at their disposal, this job ends up being one of the more creative ones. It has to be! From Parker using sunglasses to pick a lock (!!!!), to Sophie’s last-minute grift of multiple people, to the sheer amount of theft done in this episode, “The Cross My Heart Job” is full of some of the more wacky schemes perpetrated by the Leverage team. AND I LOVE IT.
I do like Hardison’s role in this episode, and it’s pretty fantastic that he uses a Microsoft Flight Simulator to land a plane. It’s so perfectly nerdy and so perfectly Hardison. But there’s a giant stain in the middle of this episode, and it’s impossible to ignore it. Look, y’all, I understand that this team often has to be creative in order for their grifts and cons to work. I also understand that the way that Hardison’s grift is framed is meant to exploit the other men’s discomfort with trans people so that he can get past them. But even if the intent here is positive, the execution of it is just a massive mess.
Why? Because in the end, trans people get to be the butt of a joke and a gag, and they aren’t represented in the narrative. It’s a little similar to what I’ve been complaining about over in my Supernatural reviews. That show feels comfortable making jokes about gay people, but then rarely has ACTUAL GAY CHARACTERS in their narrative. So how else am I supposed to read the scene with Hardison when it’s guilty of the same phenomenon? It certainly doesn’t count as representation. On top of that, this show is about the rich and the powerful being held accountable. In this context? We cis people are absolutely the powerful, so it feels gross and exploitative for the show to use trans people or trans narratives in this manner.
As hard as this was to watch, there’s a part of me that loves that the show had Nate openly admit that he was emotional about this case, and he didn’t care. That motivating factor was the major character focus of this episode, and it made for one hell of a story. Obviously, Nate was going to have a difficult time working a case where a young child (one who was just barely older than his son would have been) was at stake, and I understood why Sophie was so concerned. But she doesn’t stop him. She gets that this is an important case for him because it’s so cathartic.
That being said… holy shit, y’all. As I mentioned earlier, I think that Chesney had to be despicable in order for the tone of Nate’s anger to work as well as it did. This is a much darker side than we’ve seen from Nate, but it’s not without a historical context for him. We know exactly why Chesney infuriates him so much, so when Nate begins to take a personal interest in ruining Chesney’s life, it doesn’t feel like the writers are introducing an incoherent or nonsensical aspect of his life. No, it makes sense, and we comprehend why he was triggered in this way. Now, that doesn’t mean this isn’t disturbing because THAT FINAL SCENE IS UTTERLY TERRIFYING. I didn’t doubt Nate’s commitment to Chesney either. I fully believe that he’ll monitor that man’s life until he’s dead. It’s messed up, but I honestly don’t feel bad about it at all. Fuck Dean Chesney. He’s reaping what he sowed.
The video for “The Cross My Heart Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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