September 7, 2012

Episode Review: LEVERAGE, "The Real Fake Car Job"

It's taken me a while to put together this write-up because honestly I don't have much to say about "The Real Fake Car Job." Much like "The Gimme a K Street Job," this episode had all of the elements for a fun outing of Leverage, but it wasn't able to put them together in a new or interesting way. What we were left with was an adequate yet underwhelming hour of television.

The episode kicked off with a man at a golf course who was confronted by a greenskeeper who accused him of being a crook. Almost immediately, a group of U.S. Marshals swept in and escorted the man away, and the greenskeeper went to Nate for help. As it turned out, he was a landscaper who was duped out of his money by Gabe Erickson (the man golfing) in a stock scam. The Crew took the job, and while digging into the mark's backstory, they found out that he was in witness protection because he had ties to the mob which he used to cut a deal with the feds. They also uncovered that he had a stash of about $50 million and a love for classic cars, and it dawned on Nate that was their hook.

The plan was to lure Erickson with a vintage car show and con him into thinking that he could buy a rare vehicle that belonged to Mussolini. Nate posed as an owner/shipper while Parker pretended that said car was in her possession. While Nate and Parker set the trap, Eliot and Hardison borrowed a matching car from a man in California. When Erickson overheard Parker talking about the Motor City Mussolini, his interest was immediately piqued and insisted on buying the car. In theory, Hardison would be able access his accounts when he dipped into them to get the money, but he apparently had loose cash sitting around. Hardison then stepped into as a rival bidder to raise the price so Erickson had to get his hands on more dough. It kind of worked because he had to make a withdrawal to cover the higher offer, but Hardison still couldn't get his virtual hands on the money because he didn't know where it was exactly.

Meanwhile, Eliot and Sophie were running interference on Marshal Ellie Rose who was assigned to keep an eye on Gabe. Their move was to act as suspicious as possible so the Marshal would think that they were hitmen sent by the mob to kill her witness as a way to keep him quiet. The catch was, Rose's relationship with Erickson was strained because he refused to comply to her instructions, and when she caught wind that he was compiling a large amount of money, she thought that he had hired Eliot and Sophie to kill her. She tried to outsmart the grifters by calling the cops on them and made a run for it.

Everything came to a head in a warehouse where Nate was supposed to close the deal with Erickson and the con started to come unglued. Rose showed up and pulled a gun on him and confronted Erickson about his plot to have her killed. Because of their bickering, it was revealed that the two of them were in cohoots the entire time. He was going to pay her off if she managed to help him get out of the country, but she was tried of waiting so she proposed that they kill Nate and fake Gabe's death. Their plan hit a snag when chaos broke out due to the police showing up (thanks to Eliot and Sophie) and the mob catching up with Erickson (thanks to an old buddy of his sold him out when he called about the car). When it was all said and done, the baddies were caught, the Crew got the money, the car was returned to Sacramento and Nate instilled fear into the New York Mafia.

As you can see, a lot happened during "The Real Fake Car Job," and it had its share of twists and turns, but none of it felt particularly fresh. We got another rich guy screwing over the little guy, and the Crew putting together a job that spiraled out of control but was salvaged at the last minute. Typical Leverage from start to finish, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it's far from original. Usually, I'm OK with these cookie-cutter episodes if they give me more of what I adore like good Eliot and Hardison scenes or Parker goofiness, but "Fake Car" was even light on those moments.

The one bright spot of this one was how the show's still planting seeds about life after Leverage. It's starting to become clear that Nate's getting ready to close up shop, and we're starting to see how the rest of the Crew would adjust to a post-Robin Hood kind of life. The big question is why, how and when things are going to wrap up. Honestly, the show could've ended last season since "The Last Dam Job" would have been a good last damn job, and maybe this year's a victory lap for the cast and crew. Now, if this really is it for Leverage, then I'm going to have extremely mixed emotions. On one hand, five seasons is a good run for a cable show and it's starting to lose some of its charm anyway. On the other, I can't imagine a world without Nate, Sophie, Eliot, Hardison and Parker. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how TNT feels about where things are headed.

Other Odds and Ends
  • I'm still loving the fact that Portland's being featured so heavily this season. Who doesn't love food carts?
  • Sophie and Eliot's a great pairing that we do not get nearly enough of.
  • So, Nate's so good that he scared off the Mafia while also giving it a conscience?
  • While Nate and Sophie are my least favorite couple on the show, they were endearing this time around.
  • "For shame!"
Ultimately, Leverage did what Leverage does best. "Fake Car" was your standard job-of-the-week episode with a few good things here and there, and I'm sure most fans enjoyed it. While I'm not saying that I disliked it, I do wish it wasn't so run-of-the-mill especially after last week's more ambitious "D.B. Cooper Job," but as we know they all cannot be home runs.


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