In the seventh episode of the fifth season ofÂ Leverage, the team tries to con a conman into buying a real fake car. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Leverage.
This episode was so goddamn fun, and I know that’s largely because of Matthew Lillard and Ion Overman. This show has always made me laugh, but there’s a silliness to “The Real Fake Car Job” that made this such a lovely experience. LET US DISCUSS.
I really think that the role of Jim Cole/Gabe Erickson must have been written for Matthew Lillard because I cannot imagine anyone else playing him. HE’S SO PERFECT HERE. He can be appropriately slimy when he needs to be, which is necessary to show usÂ why he is the mark. He’s selfish and greedy, so much so that even while under witness protection, he still can’t resist stealing from people. At the same time, while he’s a successful conman, he’s a man consumed by his desires, which lead him to bouts of poor judgment. He’s more or less the worst conman and the best conman at the exact same time, depending on the circumstances.
This is played against Marshall Ellie Rose’s intensity and seriousness, and it’s brilliant. I know the “straight” character and the “wacky” one is a very common trope, butÂ LeverageÂ found a way to invoke it and then twist it even further in an unexpected direction. For most of this episode, we’re entertained by Ellie’s exasperated suspicion, particularly when she’s just trying to do her job. It’s clear that this reallyÂ was the biggest case of her life, and yet? Erickson made it brutally hard for her to do that job. Even before the big reveal at the end of the episode, I actually understood why she was so hostile all the time. Wouldn’tÂ you react the same way??? This privileged asshole was getting a chance at immunity, to get away with their crimes, and they wereÂ still ungrateful for the opportunity. He’s a despicable person! I’m surprised it took her until the final act to punch him in the face, y’all.
Can we just acknowledge how cool it is that the team created a classic car competition at the last minute for this con, and then just let it happen without monitoring it? That means that the city of Portland got a new annual car festival for free, and that whole community now has something to look forward to. THAT IS SO AWESOME, Y’ALL. It was certainly not the intention of the team, since they needed a cover to con Erickson into revealing his secret stash of money, but it’s still fantastic regardless.
Some of my favorite grifting in this season is here. I mean, Parker! In a big floppy hat! AND BEING REALLY FUCKING GOOD AT GRIFTING. I know that this was a subtle thing, but I picked up on how little coaching she needed here versus some of her grifts early on in the show. As Nate kept trying to push Parker further, Sophie actually told Nate to back off. I read that as Sophie realizing that ParkerÂ had gotten better, that she’d been able to develop her own instinct for the grift. This is so deeply, deeply important to me because it gives us character development in a way that’s not entirely obvious. There’s no giant spotlight shined on Parker, but the growth is there. Through practice and support, she’s gottenÂ better. Hell, even Hardison’s grift here â€“ as the pretentious artist â€“ is the perfect amount of absurdity and muted disinterest. He had to anger Erickson to a point where Erickson would bid higher than him, but then â€“ like Parker â€“ had to know when to pull away and let things play out.
And then we’ve got Sophie and Eliot as ASSASSIN HUSBAND AND WIFE. Holy shit, it’s just so incredible. ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS EVER. They’re both so perfect because they’reÂ barely grifting, first of all. And I love that I so completely believed them that I thought they’d actually oversold the con to the point that Ellie thought they were killing her. What’s neat about that is that it concealed Ellie’s true motivations from me. The truth is that she was prone to feeling guilty or suspected because SHE WAS SELLING OUT HER ORGANIZATION TO HELP ERICKSON LEAVE THE COUNTRY. For $5 million!!! I honestly didn’t see that one coming.
A Normal Life
But the best thing in “The Real Fake Car Job” was the subplot about living a normal life. I know that this is most likely a hint towards the end ofÂ Leverage, which makes me sad. (I’m not going to be okay during the series finale. No one is surprised about this.) Is this meant as foreshadowing? Are all five of these people going to part ways and never work a job again after all this is over? I think that Parker and Hardison reallyÂ couldn’t do that, and this episode confirms that. Both of them have so much fun doing what they do, and I’d even argue that this is part of their identity. ParkerÂ is a thief. HardisonÂ is a hacker. How could they give those things up? That doesn’t mean they can’t build a life together, and as far as I can tell, they still want to. It’ll just be a continuation of the Leverage team in some form. As for Eliot, I trulyÂ could see him living a “normal” life, probably more than anyone else here. Right??? He’d open a restaurant (and run Hardison’s, obviously), he’d get into gardening, he’d have a ton of hobbies… I can already see it, y’all. Eliot isÂ destined for domestic life.
With Nate and Sophie, that’s a bit more complicated. We already know that Nate wants out in some capacity, but we also know from this episode that he wants Sophie by his side. CanÂ Sophie give up this life? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I think she could with Nate, but like Parker and Hardison, her grifting is part of her identity. Maybe that’s why she tells Nate that he needs to leave the past behind; perhaps she was talking about herself, too.
The video for “The Real Fake Car Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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