In the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of Leverage, the boys have a night out. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
This show is an endless gift.
The very idea of this episode is clever all by itself, but the way the writers tie them together makes this a rewarding experience. Both episodes follow a character from a past episode coming back to interact with the main cast, and in both cases, those characters grow. Peggy and Jack matter to these stories! We get to see how they’ve changed since their first time on the show! That’s not something episodic television does all that often, and I love that it happens here.
But the most compelling parallel between “The Boys’ Night Out Job” and the previous episode is how John Rogers and company find a way to have Parker and Hardison consider the difficulties of their relationship. In Hardison’s case, he’s left feeling insecure once he sees the attractive thief that Parker is hanging out with. (I mean, you don’t need to worry, Hardison. You’re a billion times more attractive than that dude.) It’s not easy dating someone who has such disparate interests when compared to your own, especially if they’re not passionate about what you’re passionate about. But I think that’s something we deal with in both a romantic and platonic sense, too. We navigate our relationships based on interests, sure, but I think the best friendships are between people who know how to support another’s love without necessarily having to share it.
Of course, that’s complicated for Hardison because he knows that his relationship with Parker is challenging aside from that. In one of the most adorable scenes EVER, Eliot does an absolutely terrible job trying to give advice to Hardison about what he needs to do with Parker. It’s so adorable because you can tell that he’s trying to do right by his friend, even if he does so awkwardly. The advice he gives is similar to what Parker eventually learns: that Hardison is exciting and interesting to her on his own. He’s different, and she knows that. And then Hardison takes Eliot’s guidance about his assertiveness and gives us A BEAUTIFUL PERFORMANCE in that pub. He made Eliot smile, y’all! Don’t think I didn’t notice that beautiful moment.
So, while Hardison and Eliot are off having their little moment of bonding, Nate is stuck with Jack Hurley, who also tries so very hard to do good. He’s tricked into smuggling drugs – twice, technically – and gains the ire of a faux nun, the Mexican cartel, and the Callahans. The con that comes from this is complex and a lot of fun, but I was definitely more interested in the way the show built off of Jack’s last appearance in “The 12-Step Job.” It’s fitting, then, that Jack and Nate end up in a substance abuse meeting in the basement of a church. It’s a neat reference to Jack’s last episode, but it also allows the writers to examine how much Nate has changed, too.
Jack is clearly trying to do his best, and like his role in his last episode, he kind of fumbles that along the way, naïvely believing that Sister Lupe is a nun. I think you could see that naïveté in “The 12-Step Job” as well, but Jack doesn’t feel the same here. He’s much more eager to assign blame to himself and take accountability for his actions once he knows he has fucked up, and to me, that’s a sign of progress. His affinity for Nate is fantastic, too, and I think you could read that as part of his growth, too. He was far more willing to view people as a means to and end the last time around.
But where does Nate stand after all this time? He’s started to drink again, and we’ve seen how that’s become a problem a few times over the years. However, I didn’t feel like Nate was as cynical as he used to be, you know? His disinterest in the meeting was played as humorous, but by the end of “The Boys’ Night Out Job,” he’s not shying away from Hardison or Jack. He accepts that the work he’s done truly helps people. It helped Jack become a better man, didn’t it? That means something!
I suppose that as a whole, Leverage really isn’t a cynical kind of show. There’s a joy to this pair of episodes, one that celebrates the chemistry of the cast and also aims to please its audience. There’s nothing wrong with writing that’s meant to entertain, and I certainly find the writers’ work on this show to be endlessly amusing. Leverage has always been able to have fun, and episodes like this two-parter are evidence of that. At the same time, we can get character development. We can get stories that resonate with our own experiences. The two aren’t mutually exclusive here, and I love that.
The video for “The Boys’ Night Out Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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