Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S05E10 – The Frame-Up Job

In the tenth episode of the fifth season of Leverage, Sophie and Nate are blamed for the theft of a painting and must prove to Sterling that they weren’t responsible. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage. 

This is such a fantastic pairing with “The Rundown Job,” and I’m glad these weren’t spread over a weekend for me. They work so well because like much of this season, they rely on a bridge between the past and the future. If “The Rundown Job” looks at Eliot’s past and how he tries to do good in the world now, then this episode focuses on how Sophie and Nate can learn to trust one another. You can’t divorce Sophie’s past from this episode because it’s the soul of the con/heist. (I actually don’t know what to call this, since it’s not a traditional episode by any means. I enjoy that a great deal, and I’m very thankful that the writing staff has been so willing to play with what a Leverage episode can be.) If that’s the case, then how does Nate learn to accept that there are parts of Sophie’s past that he’ll never know?

That’s a difficult challenge because it’s in Nate’s nature to know everything. Actually, that’s probably the case for a lot of people, you know? I admit to having a curiosity towards romantic partners, and I like getting a full portrait of their life. That being said, there has to be an element of trust when it comes to relationships – romantic or not – because it’s unfair to expect that a person has to tell you everything. In this instance, Nate is unable to accept Sophie’s bid for trust. She wanted to go to this auction to experience something uniquely personal and intimate. But what does Nate do? He follows her, he obsesses over her interest in this auction, and then he routinely suggests that she was the one to steal the Metier painting. I get his suspicion, but only to a point. And Sophie is clearly irritated that no one will believe her when she says that she’s an ex-art thief. Hasn’t she proved this case by this point?

So through this murder mystery, which unfolds like a convoluted game of Clue (THAT’S A COMPLIMENT), Nate comes to accept the unknown. I think that the show purposefully wanted us to see this relationship in a new light and not just because of this kind of growth. Throughout “The Frame-Up Job,” Sophie and Nate are far more affectionate (and unfairly adorable) than they’ve ever been. I’ve mentioned this in a number of reviews for this season, but I think it’s a really satisfying way to show us character development instead of announcing it. It reminded me of the way that Hardison kept asking for a good luck kiss in the last episode. Here, Sophie and Nate are comfortable enough to openly flirt with another, regardless of whom is standing near them. (Spoiler alert: it’s almost always Sterling, and he is always aggravated by their cuteness.) Even their bickering feels different. It’s far more playful than before. I wouldn’t want to quantify the trust issue as mere “bickering,” though, because I think that’s a lot more serious of a subplot.

I admit that the murder mystery itself is a little confusing. So, if I understood this correctly, Woodman Gault and the curator, Katrina, were working this fraud together. Um… where does the butler fit in to this? Was he just an innocent party the whole time, framed for the murder and the theft by Woodman in order to divert suspicion? I think that’s what happened, but there’s no confirmation of it that I can recall within the show itself. But hey, I don’t think this ruined my perception of this mystery because I LOVE MURDER MYSTERIES. And the Clue vibe. And the setting. And the reveal that the original “Ma Mysteré” was hidden behind a fake wall the entire time. Actually, there are a ton of really subtle hints about the resolution, aren’t there? From the little details about Woodman’s construction work to the fact that HE RECOGNIZED SOPHIE FROM SOMEWHERE, this was a pretty clever mystery. (Of course he would think Sophie was familiar; he looked at “Ma Mysteré” more than almost any other person in the world aside from Gault.)

Let’s talk about that painting. If Sophie really was as young as was insinuated here, I imagine that this might have been before she got truly interested in art. Could this have inspired her interest in high end art? It’s possible, which would certainly explain why this painting had such a profound meaning to her. It’s also clear now why she was so reluctant to share this with Nate. She wasn’t ashamed of it, and it’s not like she ultimately thought he shouldn’t know about this part of her life. But there are things in most of our lives that mean something so specific to us that they’re intimate. Sharing them with someone else is an act of intimacy, you know? There has to be a level of trust that you know is unconditional before you can let someone see that part of you. For Sophie, Metier’s painting was a key point in her life, and there would always be an air of mysticism, eroticism, and wistful remembrance to it. At the same time, the writers bring “Ma Mysteré” to the present in a way that visually symbolizes that both she and Nate are ready to move into the future. Not only does she show the painting to Nate, but they take it with them. In that sense, Nate’s literally the only person aside from Sophie who gets to see it, but I think it works even better as a metaphorical statement. Sophie is finally allowing Nate into her whole life, and she’s perfectly fine with that.

Don’t mind me, just getting emotional over these two goobers.

The video for “The Frame-Up Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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