Leverage "The Real Fake Car Job" Review: My Mother the Mussolini Car

Leverage S05E07: "The Real Fake Car Job"

There are two types of Leverage episodes: The ones with super high stakes (and that generally involve Eliot hitting a bunch of people) and the fun, silly ones (where Eliot just looks like he wants to hit a bunch of people). Sunday night's episode was neither.

The villain this week, Gabe Erickson, had conned people out of their life savings then avoided prosecution by offering to testify against his mob contacts—mob contacts he had gotten for just that reason. He was hiding a huge amount of his money and the Leverage team intended to steal it before making Erickson stand trial for his crimes.

This made for a very low stakes episode: None of the main characters had anything personally invested. Erickson wasn't currently putting anyone in danger. Okay, he did give away the ending of a book to a little girl. And sure, he ruined people's lives and was a bad guy, but when Leverage is working a high stakes episode they give us more than that. Nothing particularly hilarious happened in Sunday's episode either, keeping it from being a fun, silly episode. None of the characters even got to do anything particularly cool.

When the crew looked into Erickson they discovered he loved expensive vintage cars. He once had a huge collection, but they were seized when he was arrested. If the crew could get him to buy one back then Hardison could find out where he was hiding his stash. Of course they couldn't go after him right away because Erickson was in witness protection with a Federal Marshall living in his house and watching his every move. Maybe this was meant to raise the stakes for the team, but the Marshall didn't really present a real enough threat to do it for me.

To distract the Marshall, Sophie and Eliot posed as suspicious neighbors, encouraging her to think they were mob-related hit men sent to whack Erickson. I'll admit, there were a couple of funny moments there: I liked Eliot asking the Marshall about their home security, and I did laugh when Eliot and Sophie loaded obvious murder supplies into the trunk of their car. But we've seen these two portray far more hilarious characters, so I wasn't completely sold.

With the Marshall otherwise occupied, Nate pretended to be a shipper specializing in vintage cars. He told Erickson about a car show (which the crew hastily put together themselves), where they arranged for Erickson to overhear Parker talking about a vintage car she was trying to sell.

Now, here was the real missed opportunity: The girl Parker was pretending to be was so boring and ordinary. “Boring” and “ordinary” are two words you never want to say in the same sentence as "Parker." It would have been so easy for Parker to play someone outrageous, and the fact that she didn't really makes me wonder if the writers had something out for her this week or something.

For that matter, why was Parker even in this position? Wouldn't it have been a better place for Sophie, the grifter? It makes sense for other crew members to take a grifter spot when Sophie's doing something more important or already blown her identity, but that wasn't the case here. Eliot could easily have distracted the Marshall on his own, or Parker could have gone with him. I know I'm getting a little fussy over small details here, but for me these relatively insignificant, but seemingly overlooked details really take away from the show.

By dropping hints, Parker led Erickson to believe her car was an infamous coupe once owned by Mussolini. Erickson, as planned, had to have it. However, instead of accessing his secret account, he used $150,000 in cash that he had made over ten months at the bookstore where he'd charge people five bucks a pop to use the Wi-Fi. I mean, I know people like Wi-Fi, but can you seriously make $15,000 a month at that? Are 300 people coming through that bookstore each month to buy Wi-Fi? That's one high-traffic bookstore. Another minor detail, but you see how they're adding up.

To make Erickson pay more, Hardison stepped in and pretended to be a rival bidder. He claimed to be an artist who wanted to take the car apart for a sculpture. Outraged, Erickson agreed to pay $750,000. But when he called his bank to make the transaction, he did it in a way so that the eavesdropping Hardison could only get the passwords and not the name of the bank, itself. All was not lost: Erickson did hire Nate's fake company to transport the car.

Everything was set for Nate to meet Erickson in a warehouse when everything started to fall apart. While watching Sophie and Eliot dig a grave, the Marshall got an alert that Erickson had just withdrawn the $750,000. She assumed this meant the grave was for her, not Erickson. So she called the Portland police and ran off.

She turned up at the warehouse, gun in hand, accusing Erickson of hiring assassins to kill her. She had agreed to get Erickson out of the country in a couple of years in exchange for five million dollars and was worried he was going back on the deal. Erickson assured her that wasn't the case, so they came up with a new plan. Kill Nate, fake Erickson's death, and get him out of the country right away. This all could have gone very badly for Nate, had the mob not showed up.

Back when he was researching Parker's story, Erickson called an old contact he knew before entering witness protection. When this contact took the call, he was in the middle of an interrogation by the same mobsters that Erickson was supposed to testify against. So they showed up at the warehouse and opened fire. Then Sophie and Eliot, pursued by police, got to the warehouse too.

So there they were: Mobsters in a gunfight with Eliot in tow. I was so excited! Clearly this was going to be awesome Eliot versus mobsters smack down! He punched someone in the face! Yes! But then he went away and let the police take over.

WHAT?!

Seriously, WHAT?! Was Christian Kane's back hurting that day? Was the fight choreographer on vacation? WHY would you not insert an awesome Eliot fight scene there? It just doesn't make any sense.

So Erickson and the Marshall were arrested and Nate talked to the mobster in charge, and somehow got him to agree not to have Erickson killed in prison so that he could stand trial. Nate said it was important because death would be easier for Erickson to handle than having to face his crimes. Um, I thought that was a little shaky—in what universe would a mob boss agree with that logic—but by this point I was too upset at the lack of Eliot-rage to really care.

One other thing really bothered me about this episode, actually: I felt the show skipped over what should have been a very important scene. At one point everyone was talking about what they would do after they all stopped working together and it seemed like there was a conversation here that we didn't get to see. I mean, I can guess that Nate talked to them about whatever this thing is that he wants to build, and maybe the writers are just trying to tease us with snippets of information about Nate's elusive plans, but that seems like a really cheap way to carry an arc through an episode. I really would have liked to see what happened there.


Questions:
...How many more episodes without a good Eliot smackdown do you think you can take?
...What is Nate going to build?
...Would you watch a spinoff where Eliot leaves to open his own restaurant, only to constantly fight off assassins? (Trick question. OBVIOUSLY.)

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I didn't think this episode was that horrible. I agree in that sense that oddly enough it didn't feel as though any of them had anything to really do...and it had a "filler "quality to it, but it didn't strike me as anything bad.
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You're being way too harsh about this episode and the show in general. This was a good episode. Top 10? Definitely not, but it was simply a solid episode that didn't expand upon the storyline, which EVERY DRAMA has. It was a good filler episode, and quite hilarious. Nate and Sophie as the neighbors was hilarious, and Nate acting as that vintage car shipper was quite funny to me too.



For the record, Mob bosses can develop cognitive thoughts, so I'm not sure where you were going with that judgement. Plus the mob showing up unexpectedly was DEFINITELY danger. So you were wrong there as well.



Driving and seeing those vintage cars was very cool. Another wrong on your part.



Parker has adapted to other things besides being "eccentric", thanks to Sophie teaching her a few more tricks, and she played "boring and ordinary" very well. Good for her.



You may have something with the guy making that 150,000 out of nowhere even with the Wi-fi store, which means he did other things to make that money.



You're need for Eliot to punch everyone out regardless of police presence is ridiculous! Look, he punched out a couple of guys, then let the cops handle the rest, which was the smart move. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. He doesn't need an awesome fight scene to be an interesting character. The episode a few weeks ago where he was helping that disgraced chef should more than prove that.



Have patience with Nate and the others about their dreams or what they want to build etc. You don't need the answers now, but you simply need them. You know these questions will be answered, so just exercise some patience for crying out loud!! I wanna know what the deal is too, but I can wait cause I know they'll tell us at some point.

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Your review is all accurate, and every moment felt like it needed more time, more life to do or say more to get the concept across. I think the only thing on the line in this episode was Nate's talk of the future at the beginning was changed by the end, or something, because I didn't follow it at all, it kind of dribbled out.



Eliot wasn't feeling this job any more than the audience, I suppose. There was no followthrough anywhere, Parker's part went nowhere, the car theft didn't have a button at the end, the car surviving the gun battle intact was a snore, there just was little pieces of story here and there.



I kept waiting for the villain to say "zoinks!" Matthew Lillard kind of pigeonholed his career taking on the Scooby Doo movies.
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Sophie's been pushing Parker little by little over the seasons to be a grifter... partially so she has another skill but ALSO because Sophie feels that it makes Parker more social and human. I'd say it's worked... compare Parker today with the Parker of Season 1 and there's a big difference. And they've had entire episodes devoted to Parker's growth, such as the Jury Duty episode and the one where her first real "friend" is getting conned.
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Actually, it would be 3,000 people per month paying for WiFi. 5 x 3,000 x 10 = 150,000

So if he only worked 5 days a week, that's between 130-150 people per day, which is a lot for such a small place.

So I imagine he would probably be stealing in other ways too. Like pocketing the cash for sales and just not ringing them up. Or things like that.
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I really liked this episode. Maybe it's just because I watched The D.B. Cooper Job and this episode back to back, and I quite disliked the DB Cooper episode... making this episode seem much better. But maybe not. Seeing Matthew Lillard at the start of the episode may have contributed to that, as well... I'm not exactly a fan of his and seeing him may have lowered my expectations right away... but he ended up being pretty entertaining.
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I personally enjoyed this episode far more than last week's. However, like someone else mentioned, I don't categorize Leverage episodes into two categories.



And honestly, I think you're missing the whole point of Sophie pushing Parker into the grifter role. Even though she's not aware of Nate's plans (as far as we know), she's the "mama" of the team for a reason. She's aware that something is happening, that they might be coming to an end, and she views Parker as someone that she needs to help before the end. She's grooming her to go out on her own. Every grifting job is a lesson in people interaction for Parker. It's important for her to have these experiences to know what to do in a real life situation. Sophie is aware of that, so I believe that she's stepping aside for Parker to get that experience. And isn't it better that she step aside during these low stakes jobs than the high stakes one?



As to the questions...



1. I would like to see a really good Eliot smackdown soon. Christian Kane is so good at kicking ass. But I'd also like to see Parker jumping off a building, squeezing through an airduct, etc soon too. Both of those seem to have been out of work lately.



2. I think someone else here might have gotten it right. A legacy really seems to sound right.



3. Haha, of course! But since Parker is my favorite, I'd be a bit sad without her around.
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"Eliots Kitchen"? Why not!
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I would so watch the spinoff. An entire show of Christian Kane! Wouldn't miss it!
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So... you put forth a false dichotomy and then complained that it didn't hold up? I dunno, I just never looked at Leverage episodes that way. I doubt this episode is an aberration; I'm sure there are many that fall into neither category. Let's call them the "normal" episodes, or standard filler episodes. I'd guess if I were to go through the episodes, I'd categorize at least as many like this as I categorized "high stakes" or "silly". But then, well, I'm probably setting up a false trichotomy. What I'm saying is, I was fine with the episode because I didn't try to impose a structure on the series that isn't there.
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Going all the way back to season 1, there are tons of examples of episodes like this over the last X seasons. Where some little guy(s) got screwed out of money and the "bad guy" isn't particularly menacing / dangerous / powerful while the episode remains serious.

So no, this episode was not an abberation. Granted episodes like this might only be a smaller fraction of the whole, but it's hardly rare.
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Good analysis and review. This will not be anyone's favorite episode of the season, and we'll probably forget it within the month. You're spot on about Sophie being the prime grifter and Parker not making sense for the role. Parker WOULD have made sense to sift through the garbage she handed off to Hardison. And even though this drama has a lot of comedy in it, Matthew Lillard is too light to be a serious bad guy - he just wasn't believable. I always see him wearing a girl's thong in Summer Catch or talking with Scooby.



I think Nate is going existential because he thinks he's dying (cirrhosis?) and what he's building is the legacy of the team. It's why he's living in the moment, not planning anything with Sophie, grooming Eliot for leadership, and why there was talk of retirement in this ep.
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