LEVERAGE, “The Three-Card Monte” Review

Leverage (TNT)-Three-Card Monte Job

Nate has to take down his father in the “Three-Card Monte Job” episode of LEVERAGE. Jimmy Ford is out of jail and wants “his piece,” so he teams up with the Russian mafia to steal $20 million worth of merchandise the police had seized, using bank alarms as a distraction. Nate infiltrates the crew and he and his father con each other up until the day of the heist when Nate and the team shut down the Russians and Nate catches Jimmy stealing a ledger invaluable to Boston’s crime families.

Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe Nate’s relationship with his dad. The interspersed flashbacks of a frustrated Jimmy teaching young Nate three-card monte anchor the action and give clues into both the con at hand and Nate’s demons. Jimmy really is a total bastard and Nate can be a chip off that old block. They both have to win and they both give as little as possible. The pill scam is a mirror into what could have been if Nate and Jimmy had ever really bonded, but the sadder reflection comes when Jimmy tells Nate, “You’re more ruthless than me, crueler than me. Maybe you really are better than me. I’m so proud of you, son.”

Tom Skerritt is excellent as Jimmy. He and Timothy Hutton play perfectly off each other and are more than believable with their complicated relationship. In fact, Hutton has never been better on Leverage than he is here. From Nate’s astonishment when he realizes his dad conned him to his resigned “I had to” when Parker says, “You let him go,” or his bitter satisfaction in beating his dad at his own game, he runs the full gamut of emotion.

This is a heavier than usual episode, but there are still plenty of funny bits:
“You don’t throw crow bars at people!”
Nate’s, “No, I’m no cop.”
Hardison’s freak-out when he thinks the Russians are coming for him and he grabs his soda.
Parker’s giggly rundown of the banks’ security systems and the team’s expressions as they listen. “What do you guys do on your weekends?”
Sophie casually pulling handcuffs out of her pocket and then later saying “Being handcuffed in a police station is a recurring bloody nightmare of mine.”
The Detectives Davies and Moffat Dr. Who shout-out.
Jimmy Pappadokolous is back.
Parker: “So, is Nate going to be nice now?” Hardison: “Don’t count on it.”

As much as I love Leverage’s normally light tone, it’s a nice change to go deeper into Nate’s psyche. I also enjoy the two versions of family here: the toxic Nate/Jimmy relationship and the much tighter and more supprtive if less traditional Leverage team. Plot-wise, watching the team break a con instead of create one is an interesting change and the twists kept me guessing until the end.

What did you think of “The Three-Card Monte Job?” Would you want Jimmy to make a return appearance?

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