In the fifth episode of the fifth season of Leverage, the crew helps to stop a for-profit cheerleading company from ruining lives. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Leverage.
This is a strange little episode. While Iâ€™ve frequently spoke about how much I love that the show is willing to play with expectations and story formats, I think that there are aspects of that here that donâ€™t quite work as well as the show wanted them to. LETâ€™S DISCUSS.
I donâ€™t think that Wendy Barron strays all that far from the traditional Leverage antagonist. She made a fortune from exploiting the desires and passions of cheerleaders, and that exploitation indirectly led to Marcieâ€™s injury. Itâ€™s a matter of cost; like many of the CEOs and business owners spread throughout this show, Wendy realizes that itâ€™s cheaper for her to have terrible safety standards than to fix them. Marcie is nothing more than a potential cost, and a low one at that. Additionally, Wendy organizes her company so that she holds all the power in any situation. Her competitive cheer tournaments have clothing provided by another of her companies. The mandatory insurance that each competitor needs? Sold through another part of the same company. Itâ€™s how she covers her ass â€“ legally, of course â€“ while making a killing off the hard work of all these cheerleaders.
SHE MUST BE DESTROYED.
Except technically, she is one of FIVE marks in this episode. In order to get the law changed to make cheerleading a sport, the team is tasked with convincing four members of Congress to vote in favor of the bill. They canâ€™t steal a bill because this needs to be on the books officially and permanently. Thus, the rest of the team (minus Parker) must con four Congress members, too!
Well, I did want an episode that feature all five characters grifting at once, and HERE IT IS IN ALL ITâ€™S GLORY. While that was exciting, the story here was designed to be so much more frustrating than I was used to for Leverage. Simply put, Iâ€™d never seen the team fail so many times before. Understandably, this was a difficult job. Conning one person is hard enough, but five people? And four of them are on Capitol Hill? And one of them IS THE MOST HONEST MAN THE TEAM HAS EVER COME ACROSS?
So I get it. And for that other reason (Iâ€™ll get to it in a second), this needed to unfold the way it did. Itâ€™s still really weird in terms of pacing because it takes nearly a half hour for anyone to make any progress. The episode just cuts from one character to another being unable to advance the con or gain more information, then they regroup, then it repeats, and there are like three full cycles of this. I know itâ€™s always weird to talk about pacing because it can be such a subjective thing. For a great example of that, just read my review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I thought it was a brilliant slow-burn thriller, and most everyone else thought it was an actual slug.
Still, I think that most of this was intentional. Part of Parkerâ€™s grift involves her being a cheerleading coach, which is brilliant in and of itself because I canâ€™t think of anyone who knows how to bend and fall and stretch better than her. That doesnâ€™t mean that being a coach is easy, especially not for Parker. Like many situations that sheâ€™s thrust into, she canâ€™t quite recognize that her own lack of fear over this kind of stuff isnâ€™t how other people are. They have different fears and anxieties than she does. Itâ€™s neat, then, seeing her understand that over the course of this episode. Thatâ€™s the case with Madison, who Parker eventually bonds with over the fear of disappointment. The scene where she talks about wanting to support her friends is so fantastic, yâ€™all! Itâ€™s a great chance for us to reflect on the fact that Parker has made it to a point where she can actually believe stuff like this. Without the Leverage team as friends, would she have ever done so many new and intimidating things? Probably not.
I wish I didnâ€™t get it, because it makes me sad. While I had theorized that Nate wanted to leave the Leverage team due to the events at the end of the premiere, I didnâ€™t realize that heâ€™d been testing the entire team to work without him. Thatâ€™s exactly what heâ€™s doing, isnâ€™t it? He wouldnâ€™t provide the answer to Eliot on how to con Congressman LeGrange. He wouldnâ€™t tell Sophie how to run her acting studio. How else has he tested them? Was Parker part of a test? HOW MUCH HAVE I MISSED, Yâ€™ALL?
Oh god, I donâ€™t want this show to end. I REALLY DONâ€™T.
The video for â€œThe Gimme a K Street Jobâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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