TV MEME: Day 07 – Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show

Sorry, they’ll if you’ve been waiting for me to continue this, but my work schedule is back to being hectic! I’m still planning to finish this but I feel some days will get a bit more spaced out again.

Now.

THIS SHIT IS HARD.

I was talking to one of my roommates as I pondered this and she said “it’s easier to remember your favourite episodes of things” and that’s so true. Also, with Leverage being my favourite show it’s harder to think about it’s flaws because I remember so much of it fondly. That’s not to say it didn’t have flaws. It could have done with more actors of colours in main roles or more — any? — LBGT+ representation. It also didn’t have the zip! and pop! that a lot of show are required to have, but I think it made up for that with really excellent storylines.

That’s why it’s so hard for me to think about my least favourite episodes because even episodes I didn’t 100% enjoy, there was something that happened within in for the development of the story or characters that stood out more.

I will say that when thinking about my least favourite episode and trying to narrow it down, I thought about episodes where a plotline frustrated me or the character development annoyed me. In the end, they focused on Nate. Nate, as I mentioned before, is my least favourite of the leads. Nate, however is a great character, so even in episodes where I got exasperated by his plotline I could still see and accept interesting character choices were happening. But my main problem with his episodes, was even in moments where he should have lost, he won. Okay, staying as spoiler free as I can get, Nate is a brilliant man, and he has lost, he’s lost big time, he’s also an addict. All three of these aspects make up the core of his character and I think that’s why the show has him so intent on winning. Even when he’s “losing” he’s still ultimately gonna win. Even when his addiction should make him struggle, he still manages to be smarter than everyone else in the room. It becomes a little annoying. I think the moment it bugged me the most is where he tell Hardison he’d never been a good Mastermind because he didn’t think about the people in the con enough. There’s a whole video game analogy here about the Rage Quit. In the end, you can view the whole exchange as a learning experience for Hardison, but yeah, it let a bad taste in my mouth.

Similarly, in another episode Nate hypnotises Hardison without his consent, which I do find that Nate is harder on Hardison than he is on the others. He loves Hardison like family, but yeah. When you consider Nate’s family history and father-son relationship with his own father, and his son, a lot of choices make sense, but they are sometimes still pretty terrible choices. Later when Nate’s dad comes in for a few episodes, again, I don’t mind my particularly interested in their drama, but the episodes themselves have some great moments I’ll think about and second guess myself.

Which is again, the frustration and beauty of me picking a least favourite episode.

So here’s a shortlist of episodes in which I find Nate’s win a little too convenient for him or he acts like he’s somehow better than someone else who has proven to be just as good as him:

  • The Gold Job. This is the episode I mentioned above where Hardison takes charge of the team for a job, and is ultimately shown/told that he’d never been a good enough Mastermind by Nate.
  • The Three Card Monte Job. First episode where Nate’s father comes in.
  • The Radio Job. Second episode where Nate’s father comes in. Like in the one above, while interesting I don’t find their relationship something I care to watch that much. In some ways Jimmy brings out the worst in Nate.
  • The Three Days of the Hunter Job. Background: Sophie takes lead on the job and from the beginning it’s grating the way he talks over and tries to take over Sophie’s position as Mastermind. Do you see a theme? The con also involves pushing their mark to have an emotional breakdown, which yeah, the mark was a shitty person, but that’s going a little too far, in my honest opinion. ETA: Someone also reminded me that something similar — the team playing around too freely with someone mental and emotional state — happens in The White Rabbit Job.

But the thing is with all these episodes? I still really like 80% of them.

Again, Leverage is genuinely a good show, with flaws, but no necessarily entirely flawed episodes. I probably should do a rewatch and then maybe I’d have a better answer.

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TV MEME: Day 07 – Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show

TV MEME: Day 06 – Favorite episode of your favorite t.v show

Finally, an easy one!

Granted, Leverage has so many episodes that I love, but my favourite one is “The Rashomon Job”. Not only does it use one of my favourite story telling devices, but it’s super fun, a flashback, and highlights a lot of what is great about the show.

The premise of the episode is pretty simple. It’s a flashback episode about the time Sophie, Eliot, Parker, and Hardison tried to steal a fancy historical dagger. The twist? They all do it the same night. The plot twist? They actually didn’t manage to steal the dagger and actually prevented each other from stealing it. The plot twist to the plot twist? Nate had been there that same night and the real thief was… Well, you’ll have to see the episode.

What makes the episode great and why the Rashomon filming style fits so perfectly to it, is that none of them knew each other that night five years ago. The differing perspectives show not only how they viewed themselves then but how they first encountered each other without noticing it later on when they started to work as team. Part of it is done in the first perspective: Sophie’s, by the use of having different actors play her teams part. It also allows some comedy on how they each viewed the situation at hand. Each of them making themselves the “heroes” of each perspective, and sometimes hilariously undercutting and remembering the others as they learn who they were that night. A great running gag is Sophie’s accent that everyone remembers different, in various states of ridiculousness. Gina Bellman is an underrated star for doing all the accents she does on the show, but more so for all the terrible accents she does in this episode.

Another clever thing in the filming style of the episode is how they deal with the narration as almost everything is a flashback. Each flashback starts in the present and as we move to the flashback, Nate joins them for some scenes in which the person in the flashback, Hardison for example, explains to Nate, our flashback ghost, what’s going on.

The episode also showcases how good these people were when they were working solo. Each had a solid and good plan for stealing that dagger. The only reason none of the plans work is because they all inadvertently sabotage each other.  It also highlights how much better they are as a team too, because each time we cut back to the future as each person is retelling their version of that night the camaraderie is always presented. They get frustrated with each other for messing up their plan, but underneath it all there’s a level of amusement and intrigue of the entire situation. It also shows how much they’ve grown from who they were, from solo con artists and thieves, to a family of well con artists and thieves.

Watching these character act against each other, but still weirdly like a team is amazing to watch. Truly a great 42 mins of tv in terms of storytelling and entertainment.

 

 

TV MEME: Day 06 – Favorite episode of your favorite t.v show

TV MEME: Day 04 – Your favorite show ever

There’s the shows I feel I could say, the shows I done the Most for in fandom, but really the first show that popped into my head was Leverage.

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This show is truly good and great. It sets up one of my favourite tropes in fiction: found family and builds and builds and builds upon it. All the characters are treated fairly and equally, all the relationship between the character develop incredibly honestly and organically. The continuity is amazing. Every character is clever, competent in their own skill set and learn from the others, yet that never undermines the others skill. The all build on each other.

The premise is also great. It’s originally based on the British show Hustle about a group of criminal who use their skill to help people who have been taken advantage off from assholes, to be frank. They’re a bit like Robin Hood, except cooler.

I had a friend on tumblr who ran an amazing Leverage blog, full of meta on character interaction, relationship development, #competency kink, and I can’t remember the name right now, but it was amazing and my go to place to follow the show was still on and later when I’d do my rewatches. But since I can’t remember right now, let me talk about the show in my own messy way.

The thing about Leverage is that it took it’s time. It didn’t rush character development or relationship development. It was about growing with the characters as they matured and became better version of who they already were. They changed, but not really, because they stayed who they were but their demons were lessened, their loneliness forgotten, the hearts open more, they just became more. They also at first fell into classical character archetype, helpfully pointed out by the show itself: mastermind, grifter, hacker, thief, hitter, and even at the beginning of the show they flipped aspects of those archetypes and kept on remoulding them. To explain the greatness of each character, their growth, their interrelationships with each other would take me forever, so I’m just gonna summarize best I can, NO SPOILERS~

The fact that all these characters come from criminal backgrounds, have tons of issues, substance abuse problems, and in some cases very dark pasts would make it seem that this show is super dark, but it’s not! It’s a show about healing, finding people who love and support you, and become family.

The one that brings them all together at first is… well an asshole who screws four of them over, so it falls to Nate to round up his fellow screwed partners, Hardison, Eliot, and Parker, and adds a Sophie. Nate himself is a broken man. He’s suffered a great loss, that could have been prevented by people he knew and trusted, and they didn’t help him. So he spiralled down and hard. Meeting this team is his first step into recovering a sense of self and stability. Is he a good man who plays a being a criminal or criminal who played a being good man? That’s the crux of his emotional arc for a lot of the show, and it makes him go through it. It doesn’t make it pretty, but it makes it honest.

There’s Hardison, our hacker, our tech guy, robbing banks via the web. In most other shows the hacker is an an awkward, shy, usually not super attractive. Hardison is none of those things, he hacks banks to pay his family’s bill, he’s 100% the most handsome man in the group, he’s confident, funny, an extrovert, kind, warm, ambitious and adorable.  The other being Sophie, and I’ll get to her in a second. Then we have Eliot, our hitter. The brawler, the soldier of fortune, the one with the darkest past, whose demons haunt him, but they don’t define him. Eliot uses his ability to kill, to protect and believe or not nurture. He cares deeply and he’s incredibly empathetic and emotionally intelligent. He’s not a wall of muscle, he’s sensitive and protective and works to keep others safe in any way he can. He’s one of the more emotionally stable in the group.

Then we have Parker, our thief, our dangerous little ball of social awkwardness, gymnastic skill, fearlessness, and casual callousness. Out of all that, it’s the callousness that changes the most, that’s hiding someone who doesn’t realise she wants or needs family. Parker become more of who is already is, showing a sharp mind, an ability to grow into someone who’s not afraid to trust. That’s the thing about the show it never asks the character to change, to become more palatable version of themselves, but to grow.

And finally, we have Sophie. Sophie, who is probably the most stable person on this crew, and our grifter. The femme fatale. Who is the kindest, warmest person on the crew. She is the matriarch, the one who “they trust to make sure they’re all okay” (thanks Hardison for the quote). She’s the best liar in the world and has the truest heart.

Apart they are already interesting people, but together? They become so much more. They’re a force to be reckoned with, a family that would do anything for each other, who love and respect each other, who are dangerous and deadly in their own right, and yet some of the most compassionate people in the world.

The recurring cast is great, too. Mark Shepard’s Sterling, the Sheriff of Nottingham to their Robin Hood crew, who you love to hate and hate to love. Jeri Ryan’s Tara, who shows up when Gina Bellman takes some time off due to her real life pregnancy, and makes Tara, a character who most would be annoyed with for “replacing” Sophie into a great character of her own. Maggie, Nate’s ex, who the whole crew ends up loving, and so do I. And many more actors from the scifi genre that make me so happy to see.

The show itself plays with the heist and noir genre on the surface, and then adds a bunch more in from mockumentary style episode like The Office, to episodes that highlight classic filming styles like the Rashomon effect (one of my favourites!), constant undercover work, fake outs in which learn the truth later, classic tv tropes episodes like On A Plane, Gender Separated Team Time, an actual Bottle Episode, and many others.

Basically, if you haven’t watch Leverage, find it, sit down, and enjoy yourself!

TV MEME: Day 04 – Your favorite show ever