Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S05E14 – The Toy Job

In the fourteenth and penultimate episode of the fifth season of Leverage, the team cons a corrupt toy company CEO during the Christmas holiday. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.

I don’t necessarily think that these are the strongest episodes of Leverage’s run. I think that I’m fairly certain that season four will remain my favorite single season of the whole show. But these last batch of episodes are fun, and I’m enjoying the chance to see the team in action one last time. I suppose that’s also a weird affect that I wasn’t expecting. Everything here might be the “last time.” The last time Eliot insults Hardison. The last time Parker brings up a story from her past. The last time Nate says, “Let’s go steal [insert something absurd here].” The last time Hardison says, “Age of the geek, baby.” So I couldn’t help feeling sad or wistful at times. I don’t want this to end, y’all. And yes, I am becoming increasingly worried about how I’m going to deal with the series finale.


Even if it was a delight to get another Christmas episode of Leverage, there were times that “The Toy Job” felt a tad messy. It wasn’t enough to make me dislike the episode at all, because this is also one of those absurd and ridiculous cons that brings out the humor of the team. But… okay, let’s start with the first thing that stood out to me: THAT DOLL WAS UTTERLY HORRIFYING. I think there’s some satirical value in this reality, as it makes the episode seem like it’s poking fun at the absurdity of viral toys. Indeed, most of the con here involves preying on this system of media consumption in order to bankrupt Haslet. So who is the victim? Who’s the mark? And how much should Nate consider the impact of his con?

I mean, the toy that Parker chooses to use for the con is a demon-headed monster, as far as I’m concerned. As upsetting as it looks, there’s still something hilarious about how they’re able to use it to go after Haslet. This is one of those rare cons where the team has to continually change both the aim and the execution of their manipulation. We go from a grassroots campaign to build hype to an attempt to use a young celebrity as an endorsement; this then morphs into Sophie using her acting class to artificially inflate interest and demand.

That’s when Parker helps change the focus, namely because conning children is not exactly an easy thing to do. So when the team tries to go after the parents instead, Sophie comes up with Baby Feels—a-Lot, one of the weirdest things the show has ever done. But hey, what do we get from it? ELIOT THE SINGLE DADDY BLOGGER. Oh my god, y’all, IT’S SIMPLY TOO MUCH. There’s so much fun to be derived from these scenes, namely the wonderful way in which Eliot easily becomes the sensitive father. But I also loved that Hardison go to speak openly about the kind of father he wished he had, you know? That was a nice moment.

Can we also agree that Haslet is one of the most unashamedly awful villains on the whole show? He had a gloriously punchable face, sure, and he was a royal jerk throughout most of this episode. But then he pulls a double whammy in less than ten minutes that assured that I’d hate him forever. The decision to exploit Sophie’s help so he could create a terrible knock-off of Baby Feels-a-Lot was bad enough, but the whole bribe/bullet shit? Jesus fucking christ, what a truly despicable thing, y’all. That’s not to say that the other toy executive is a good person, but Haslet is so horrifically comfortable blackmailing someone else that it’s clear that this is what he’s done to countless others. WHAT A MISOGYNIST PIECE OF SHIT.

That means that I was a HUGE fan of how this con eventually involved the public humiliation of Haslet. The thing is, so much of Haslet’s work was done in private, specifically so that he could utilize people’s fear and shame to do exactly what he wanted. So, the Leverage team purposely spills Haslet’s failures into the public arena. Everyone knows that his toy is hazardous and dangerous. Well, everyone except him, thanks to the clever swap that Hardison made, and that means that Haslet had no time to prepare some ridiculous defense of his actions. I LOVE IT.

Throughout this episode, though, the team is constantly thinking about the impact of what they’re doing. That’s framed by their sense of holiday spirit, but I love how conscientious Parker and Hardison are. Are they conning Haslet or the unsuspecting public? I think there had to be some cruelty at work in order for Nate’s con to work, and therefor, it made sense to me that first Parker, then Hardison, would voice their discomfort with what was taking place. This was supposed to be a time of giving and charity, and the team was busy promising a terrible toy to a bunch of people who’d never actually get it.

In that sense, I think it was easy for me to view Nate’s actions at the end of “The Toy Job” as a kind of acknowledgement of this. Of course, I think his “gift” to the team – the story of a trumpet that passed from his father to himself and then to his son, right before he passed – is a way for him to demonstrate his trust and his sincerity. We know that it’s never been easy for this man to open up about his son, so it becomes meaningful when he tells a story like this. And first!

It’s a bittersweet end to this episode, particularly since this is the penultimate episode. I’m so sad this is ending, especially there’s so much promise still left in the Leverage team. I want them to keep going, you know? But I knew this was going to eventually come to an end, so I guess it’s time for me to accept that. OR JUST REMAIN IN DENIAL FOREVER, THAT’S COOL, TOO.

The video for “The Toy Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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