Mark Watches ‘Leverage’: S01E12 – The First David Job

In the twelfth and penultimate episode of the first season of Leverage, Sophie sets up a con that’ll give Nate the revenge he desires on his old employers, and then EVERYTHING BECOMES A DISASTER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Leverage.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of alcoholism

HOW IS THIS SHOW SO GOOD.

This is such a powerful follow-up to “The 12-Step Job” because it helps explain the underlying problem with Nate’s experience in rehab: he still hasn’t dealt with the original motivation for his drinking. Not everyone’s alcoholism is related to experiencing trauma, but that’s definitely the case for myself. So at the outset of “The First David Job,” we get a clear portrait of what is to come. Sophie brings Nate a con that is too good to resist. (Which was a clue to the big reveal at the end, HOLY SHIT.) She knows that Nate’s drinking started after the death of his child, so she offers him the chance to get revenge on the very person who denied his son’s claim, Ian Blackpoole. (Who is played by Kevin Tighe, eternally known to me as the scumbag that is Locke’s father on LOST. AND HE’S JUST AS HORRIBLE HERE.)

Because this show unfolds in such specific ways, I knew something was going to go deeply wrong with the con when it was going so well in the first ten minutes. NOPE. NOPE. And I love that Leverages writing staff knows we know this, so they build tension through that expectation. We await the complication because we know it’s implicit, AND THEN MAGGIE IS STANDING THERE AND ELIOT WAS HITTING ON HER AND WHAT THE FUCK, I WAS NOT READY FOR MAGGIE TO BE THE OTHER SHOE. And holy shit, does this episode get complicated. Obviously, the con is made hopelessly difficult by her appearance, especially since she was an art expert as well. However, there’s an emotional aspect that made Nate distracted. Sophie was jealous of the attention, but Nate was conflicted by the fact that he did enjoy working with her.

AND THEN THE SHOW HAS TO GO AND REVEAL THAT MAGGIE HAS NO IDEA WHAT IYS DID TO THEIR SON. Why? Why must you hurt me in this way, Leverage??? Did I do something to you??? CAN I REPAY YOU SOMEHOW??? I jest, but this really does feel too personal for these characters. Of course, that’s the point. That’s why Sophie pursues this specific con. She knows that Nate won’t be able to say no, but she’s also hiding her ulterior motive. This case means a lot to her, and I thought it was a clever (but heartbreaking) way for the writers to remind us that even if the team is full of good guys, four of them have pasts full of thievery and pain and violence. Sophie doesn’t suddenly become a new person because of her role on the Leverage team. Part of the fun for her is her ability to straddle the lines. There’s that moment back in “The Miracle Job” where she remarks that half the fun of her time with Nate was knowing he was the good guy and she was not. So, while the reveal here that she wanted to steal the Second David was terribly shocking, it’s not surprising in terms of her character. She still likes to steal. It’s almost a compulsion for her, and the idea of getting to complete a collection quite like hers was too irresistible for her.

But at what cost? It was distressing to see the dynamic of this con shift so dramatically in favor of Jim Sterling, whose appearance FUCKED ME UP. As I’ve said in past reviews, his very presence upsets any narrative flow. He’s a terrible variable, and when he and his men arrive in “The First David Job,” it was upsetting to watch. It really seemed like Sterling had finally bested the Leverage team, and he’d done so specifically to prevent Nate from ever getting revenge on IYS. He has a monetary interest in preventing Nate from sinking IYS; I won’t deny that. But it was also clear that he just wanted to stick it to Nate, that he wanted to disrupt him and ruin him and force him to disappear.

It’s… well, it’s cruel. Sterling wanted to break Nate.

He doesn’t quite get to. I loved that the team re-thought their options and did what they could to get Sterling to look the wrong way while they covered their tracks. I loved the callback to the pilot episode when Sophie is the one to utilize rappelling. I love that Hardison’s value is made explicit when technology saves everyone in the Leverage headquarters. BUT I DID NOT EXPECT THAT THE HQ WOULD BE DESTROYED THIS EARLY INTO THE SHOW. What other choice did they have? As I said, Sterling wanted to destroy these people, so much so that they’d never be able to run another con again. By destroying headquarters, nothing can be tied to them. At the same time, in yet another reference to the pilot, they realize that Sterling has negatively affected their livelihood. Their cover has been blown, so the con against Blackpoole is useless. What do they do now?

They go their separate ways.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS ISN’T A SEASON FINALE. It felt like one! And yet, there’s another episode left to go, and I’M FRIGHTENED. Y’all, this show is so good. Can I also just take a moment to acknowledge that Parker is the literal best? SHE IS SO INCREDIBLE. Look at what she does when she steals the First David! WITH ITEMS FROM A BUFFET AND A MAKE-UP BAG. Also… Hardison and Parker making out????? IT’S TOO MUCH.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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