LEVERAGE “The Van Gogh Job” Review

LEVERAGE “The Van Gogh Job” Season 4 Episode 4 – This marks the second episode this season which has seen the writers experiment with a change of formula. The last time found the Leverage crew locked in a murder mystery á la Ten Little Indians type episode. This time we took a flashback all the way to America and France during World War II.

The Leverage team have to try to figure the whereabouts of a lost Van Gogh painting. Aside from standard investigation – which included a lot of hitting courtesy of Eliot and a lot of accents thanks to Hardison and plenty of grifting from…well, you get it – Parker helps the team pick up clues relating to the painting’s whereabouts by listening to a tale of a doomed romance between a black man and a white woman whose efforts to elope are thwarted by her racist father and the racist society in general.

I always love when television shows take a risk. Whether they succeed or fail it is always commendable, daring and exciting, so huge kudos to the writer (Chris Downey) of this episode. Not only did they utilize the quirky humor which has made Leverage as fun as it is (Hardison on the phone in the Indian accent had me chuckling big time) but they also used the opportunity of flashbacks to go back in time and explore racially segregated America, told (by guest star Danny Glover) with Parker and Hardison playing the key roles of the star crossed lovers.

The fact that there was substance overrode the possibility of this episode pandering to the huge portion of the audience who are Hardison and Parker shippers. It so easily could have fallen into the trap, but Hodge and Riesgraf really worked to try and get to the sincerity of this relationship, and they both gave performances which far surpassed my expectations and made me realize that Leverage has a fantastic cast who don’t always get to show off what they can do-but when they do get the script, they’re brilliant.

Flashback scenes can so often be corny and stupid, but they worked very well in this episode, and the culminations of clues and storytelling led to the big reveal which was extremely emotionally satisfying as Nathan pulled the painting out of the pipe organ (which had emotional resonance as it was Riesgraf’s character who hid it there after her plans to elope fell through and she had to remain at the skate rink). There were, of course, bad guys looking for the painting too, though I was never quite sure who they were, aside from excuses to get Eliot fighting with a pink toy bat.

All in all, it was a good, entertaining episode. There were some issues with pacing, particularly in the middle, though it wasn’t as good as last week’s dark slapstick (and I think I puked when Hardison gave Parker that terribly cheesy grin as they left the hospital), but it was one of the better episodes of Leverage nonetheless.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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