eruthros: ST: TOS, Spock holding a kitten (ST: TOS - Spock and kitten)
[personal profile] eruthros
I can post episode reviews! So I am.

The good:

1. Oh my god, Hardison and Kaos had a quickdraw keyboard battle with gunfight music and stances and I loved it times a million.

2. Oh my god, Parker and ... Apollo? Had a stealing-things-fight, and it was awesome. Oh Parker.

3. Oh my god, Eliot and Raquel not-fighting but both being so good at reading body language that they were flashing into how the fight was going to go? AWESOME.

4. Parker thought Sophie was really dead and kept poking her!

5. The bit with the bomb in the vase was really well done, actually; Parker and the pudding, Sophie insisting they all leave. I could've done without Nate being an idiot, there, but I still loved it a lot. (Although, seriously, who do they think they're fooling when they come back from a commercial break to a graveyard?

6. "I would have gone with a scarlet tanager." "That was my second choice."

7. Parker admitting to getting the Kobayashi Maru reference, and reluctantly fist-bumping! I now imagine Hardison sitting Parker and Elliot down for a Star Trek Marathon/Education Session after Eliot nearly missed the Wrath of Khan reference a few episodes back. Parker likes Data best. Or, wait, Q. She likes Q best of all.

8. They trust Sophie to make sure they're all okay.

The bad:

1. The pacing. The jokes were awesome, the genre play was awesome, the team fights were awesome. But the twist and the end felt underplayed; there was too much setup here and not enough time spent on the payoff.

2. As [personal profile] thingswithwings and I were watching the opening set-up with the initial attempt to steal the Klimt we started out really pleased -- the uniforms! Hardison's little "talk to the boss!" And then almost immediately went "what? no." Here is the thing: Sophie and Nate's attempt to distract the receptionist had nothing to do with the rest of the plot. They could have distracted her with anything; embezzlement plots or corporate espionage or, well, anything. And instead they went with implied sexual assault ("you're his type") and murder; they went with foot fetishes ("has he ever expressed interest in your toenail polish"); they went with sexualized threats. In the context of American crime shows, those questions pretty strongly imply sexual assault; they imply sexualized power dynamics, if not actual rape. It was really startling, and offputting, and suddenly unpleasant -- especially in context of the awesome shakesville article (trigger warning) on rape culture that I read not long before watching the episode. Way to argue that threatening sexual violence and making women afraid is a legitimate way to get what you want, show.

3. Did we really, seriously have to rip off Raquel Diane's shirt off? The fight was amazing and hot and I loved it, until the exact moment when they started doing strip-fighting, until they started trying to make it hot. And then, suddenly, ugh. I'm sure they would say it was supposed to be ironic, that it was supposed to be a humorous use of the cliche like the keyboard-fight. But there's a difference between playing genre games with a gunfight, and playing genre games with stripping a fighting woman down to her bra before getting her wet and making out with her. They might argue that it's ironic, but we still see a woman wearing only a bra mashed up against Eliot. (I was trying to think of ways that this could have worked, and [personal profile] thingswithwings suggested that it might've read better if Eliot had been stripped topless, really topless, first, and then she'd stripped down to an undershirt or something instead of a bra.)

I really would have loved this episode; I would have ranked it pretty high in my list of Leverage episodes, despite the pacing problem, just for the genre-play and the Hardison/Chaos keyboard battle and Parker being Parker. But when I think back on it, I get distracted by points two and three; they overwhelm my love for Hardison and Elliot and Parker.



Why do I still not have a Leverage icon? I'll have to go with Star Trek in honor of Hardison.

Date: 2009-08-28 06:56 pm (UTC)
helens78: A man in a leather jacket, seated on the ground, looks up hopefully. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helens78
I was totally there with you for Good #1 and Good #7, and totally cringing at Bad #2 and Bad #3. I'm not gonna start watching this show again, but OMG EEEEEE CHAOS AND HARDISON. I want to write backstory for why Hardison finds Chaos so annoying.

The only problem is that if I tried to do something like that, it would wind up being the gay love/hate story containing about 700 words of porn and about 17,000 words of hacking and hacker culture. /facepalm I am still tempted.

Date: 2009-08-28 07:11 pm (UTC)
runpunkrun: combat boot, pizza, camo pants = punk  (Default)
From: [personal profile] runpunkrun
Bad #2 made me angry too. They keep saying they're the "good guys," yet they basically assaulted that poor secretary just to distract her. She has to spend the rest of her day at that desk and face her boss when he comes back and she'll never be able to feel safe there again.

Also the shirt-ripping-off prompted a big eye-roll from me. I thought maybe Elliot should have lost his pants instead. Heh, that would have been difficult to explain.

Date: 2009-08-28 07:35 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (leverage: team)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
Of course the show abandons her, just like it abandons the headmaster who gets sent halfway around the world only to find that no one knows why he's there. Or, for that matter, the boss in this scenario, who'd probably going to come back and have his receptionist call the police the minute he walks in the door. Or the flight attendant in Mile-High Job, or the guy whose ID Parker lifts in Homecoming Job to get onto the floor of Congress. Or the cops in the pilot who got conned into releasing four known criminals--how are they going to explain that to their superiors? The Leverage team is all about the ends justifying the means.

Date: 2009-08-28 07:56 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (leverage: team)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
This plays into rape culture, into rape-is-funny, and into threatening-rape-is-a-fine-way-to-keep-women-in-line.

I'm not saying that you're wrong for your read; I'm just saying that I didn't read it that way. I honestly didn't see it as threatening rape, or saying that rape is funny.

I am thinking about the Doylesian consequences and the writer's meeting.

I guess that's part of why I'm not seeing it, because I'd be very surprised if Amy Berg thought that it would be funny to have Nate and Sophie threaten a woman with rape.

Date: 2009-08-28 07:28 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
Bad #2 made me angry too. They keep saying they're the "good guys," yet they basically assaulted that poor secretary just to distract her.

But again, that's part of the point--they're the good guys, but they're also really fucking ruthless, and have no problem screwing innocent bystanders in the execution of a con.

Date: 2009-08-28 07:26 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (leverage: team)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
Way to argue that threatening sexual violence and making women afraid is a legitimate way to get what you want, show.

You know, I honestly didn't see any threat in there. I've watched that scene three times, and they made a point that her boss "wasn't coming back". It was so over the top that it read to me as a parody of that kind of stuff in crime shows.

Underneath that, though, is a serious point: our guys aren't nice. If you fail your suspension of disbelief roll, then you realize that they really don't care much about the collateral damage of their cons. What's going to happen to the flight attendant when she discovers that her cat isn't at the shelter--and that she didn't show up to work for what turned out to be no reason? What happens when the headmaster of the private school gets to Botswana and discovers that no one's expecting him or had any idea why he's there? For that matter, what happens when that woman's boss gets back and she thinks he's a serial killer and calls the police?

They may be working on the side of the angels, but all of them are still, bottom line, criminals. Alec's the guy who used the RFID reader to steal your credit card information. Eliot's been a hired killer in some really hinky situations, to use Hardison's phrase. And Nate? How many claims do you think Nate investigated and determined weren't IYS' responsibility without caring--until it personally affected him?

They might argue that it's ironic, but we still see a woman wearing only a bra mashed up against Elliot. (I was trying to think of ways that this could have worked, and [info - personal] thingswithwings suggested that it might've read better if Elliot had been stripped topless, really topless, first, and then she'd stripped down to an undershirt or something instead of a bra.)

We've seen topless Eliot in other episodes, though. And while it was totally gratuitous, again it was played as over the top--there's probably an intentional homage in there. I also really appreciated the fact that she looked like a buff fighter who could take on Eliot with no trouble.

And honestly? Seeing a gorgeous woman in a bra mashed up against Eliot in a tank top, both of them soaking wet? That totally worked for me.

Date: 2009-08-28 08:04 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (leverage: team)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
Re: the toplessness, I know that it was intended as over the top and as homage. But it's homage that still ends up with a topless woman; the irony might be there, but the results are the same, and the attempt to appeal to a certain fanbase is the same.

I just can't get worked up about that when there was a whole episode that was largely fanservice for all of the women who wanted to see Christian Kane with his shirt off. And okay, I'm probably part of the fanbase they were appealing to there, because gratuitous as it was, she was also really, really hot. So yeah, I fail at feminist.

Date: 2009-08-29 01:44 am (UTC)
ryca: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ryca
Seconded. That scene was totally my favorite part of the episode. I rolled my eyes when she got topless, and then cheered when he got topless too, because it was suddenly hot *and* funny, and therefore totally awesome to me. Plus, Eliot's prettiness is the reason I tuned in in the first place. :)

Date: 2009-08-28 10:56 pm (UTC)
theleaveswant: text "make something beautiful" on battered cardboard sign in red, black, and white (Leverage)
From: [personal profile] theleaveswant
So much agreement. After the Top-Hat Job this one felt like a huge step back. I liked the moments of interaction each of the team had with their doppelgangers, especially Parker and Apollo, but that gimmick wasn't enough to carry the episode.

Regarding your other complaints, ouch yes. I'd have been happy if Eliot and Raquel never fought hand-to-hand; the permutations and reaction shots in their first confrontation were much more interesting. I can understand why, in terms of setting up the gag, the soaking and stripping started with Raquel, but I'd have preferred Eliot to have upped the ante on his turn--losing his pants, or at least getting down to skin on his upper body. (I have suspension of disbelief issues with the handcuffs--who pulled them? If they each did, where's the second pair? For that matter, don't you need to shake instant pudding to harden it? Why have an open-casket burial for someone who BLEW UP? Seems like an easy excuse to not fill the earth with more non-biodegradable boxes. And why, if the funeral was for Catherine, does the stone say Sophie?!)

The "distraction" scene made me uncomfortable when I saw it but I couldn't quite place why (besides the toenail polish throwaway conflating fetish with felony), so thank you for helping me articulate it. I do see this as symptomatic of their casual disregard for the consequences of their actions, but I don't see that as an excuse. Yes, they're criminals, and yes, sometimes they're assholes, but if their shtick is helping victims they ought to at least TRY to minimize the number of innocent bystanders THEY turn into victims. "Teasing" that receptionist with the threat of rape to get what they want is as unfunny, cruel and evil as threatening to rape her themselves.

On the plus side, I love American Werewolf in London, so it was fun seeing Griffin Dunne deadpanning again--and was that a North Face logo on Eliot's toque?

Date: 2009-08-29 01:45 am (UTC)
ryca: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ryca
Yep, it was totally a north face logo on Eliot's toque.

Date: 2009-08-29 06:01 am (UTC)
theleaveswant: text "make something beautiful" on battered cardboard sign in red, black, and white (Default)
From: [personal profile] theleaveswant
Now that I think about it, I'm actually not so happy about them trusting Sophie to make sure they're all okay. The actress may be pregnant, but why does the character have to play mom?

Date: 2009-08-29 12:58 am (UTC)
livrelibre: DW barcode (Default)
From: [personal profile] livrelibre
Yes to the 1-8 with an added squee for the Kill Bill homage and the security guard talking about feelings. I was sadly too distracted by the secretary' crimped hair and the weird accents to pay proper attention to that beginning bit but now that you mention it--skeevy; and I was mildly annoyed by the wet fighting (I have this whole thing about gratuitous wetness in general).

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