Daddy Issues

So this week’s episode was Leverage‘s requisite Let’s Meet Dad! episode. Actually, I guess it’s sort of the second one this season, if we count that episode with Parker’s mentor/father-figure. Which I think we should because, well, we should.

But I digress.

My point is, there is always the dad episode. And the dad episode can go very well or very very poorly. Either way, dad episodes tend to follow the same sort of pattern. Character whose father shows up and said father have rocky relationship, character and father are forced into (or just interested in) working together, there are unspoken issues, the unspoken issues get spoken, things end either companionably or adversarially depending on the general nature of the relationship. Personally, I find the whole dad episode thing rather overrated (maybe because I would never want to live one?). But it is an unfortunate reality of shows where the audience is expected to get to know and care about the characters. So we end up with dad episodes.

Which brings us to “The Three-Card Monte Job.” This, thankfully, was a good episode – possibly in spite of being a dad episode. So far the third season of Leverage has struck me as being rather…I don’t know how to say it exactly…gimmicky? What I mean is, it seems like the writers looked back at everything people have liked about the past couple seasons – Eliot being grumpy, Hardison and Eliot having love/hate hijinks, Parker being flat crazy, Nate wearing bad costumes and acting like a dickface for the sake of a con, and so on – and just pumped up the volume on all of those to the proverbial 11 on the amp.

Frankly, I’ve found the whole thing rather tiresome. One of the best things about Leverage has always been its ability to balance outright silliness with a strong grasp on believable humanity. Not to mention twisty plots and tricky cons that even fool the audience. Those are the elements I’ve found lacking so far this season. Maybe one or the other has peeked through a bit during a couple episodes (to be fair, “The Gone Fishin’ Job” was really pretty good).

Anyway, “The Three-Card Monte Job.”The dad episode. As a dad episode, it was admittedly pretty good times. Tom Skerritt was a good choice to play Jimmy Ford. He complemented Timothy Hutton well (nevermind that convenient physical resemblance) and the scene where they played doting-son-to-ailing-father as a con was absolutely the highlight of the episode. Everything else was pretty much the usual filler: Sophie with a crazy accent, Parker on some ropes, Hardison and Eliot doing their things. Plus, Russians! I love Russians!

As a whole, this Job was solid. This was also the first episode of the season where I didn’t spend half the time rolling my eyes at the excessive Eliot hair flipping or Hardison street talking or what have you. Everything that happened seemed to actually have a purpose. So even though the whole Nate v. Dad thing was a little tedious, even though the three-card monte scenario was really predictable, and even though Nate’s solution for scaring his father out of town was definitely toeing the deus ex machina line, the episode was overall enjoyable and more ore less up to the standard of the first season of Leverage (which I maintain has been the best so far).

I’m hoping, given the trend of increased awesome that’s mostly held up over the last couple episodes (I’m calling the low point “The Scheherezade Job”), that things will continue to improve. Next week’s episode, “The Underground Job,” certainly sounds intriguing…although I am rather dubious of the subject matter. Hopefully it won’t be overdone as a We Are Reacting To Current Events With Our Art effort by the writers.

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