Episode: Leverage 3.11 – “The Rashomon Job”
Original Air Date: August 22, 2010
According to Wikipedia, Rashomon is a film by Akira Kurosawa which features a story told from several different points of view. This episode of Leverage also features a story told from several points of view (often using exactly the same dialogue, sometimes with a different interpretation), in this case each member of the team.
Five years ago, a dagger was stolen from the Boston Museum of Arts and Antiquities. Each member of the team (except Nate who at the time was not a thief) claims to have stolen the dagger. Each tells a version of the story with slightly different details that ends with them having stolen the dagger, but somehow being frustrated in the attempt to actually retrieve it. Finally, Nate steps in to tell his version which ties together the loose ends and concludes with his possession of the dagger. He discovers that Gladstone, the museum curator, has been staging high profile thefts of artifacts using fakes and then selling the originals on the black market. Nate lets Gladstone off the hook as long as he pays back the insurance money to IYS and gives Nate the name of the dealer Gladstone has been working with.
I continue to be impressed by the strong season. The use of nonlinear story-telling in this episode was a really cool deviation from the norm. And of course seeing the story through each character’s distorted perspective, before they knew each other, made for some really funny scenes. In each of the versions besides Sophie’s, for example, none of the team members can even come close to doing her accent, ranging from Hardison’s sort of Cockney accent to Parker’s nearly unintelligible one. The narratives all switch back and forth between showing the story on screen to the team telling the story in McCrory’s pub. Sophie constantly complains every time someone attempts her accent. It’s particularly funny since Gina Bellman has to actually perform all of them.
I particularly liked the way the background characters in one person’s narrative actually turned out to be other members of the team. Since they didn’t know each other yet, they wouldn’t have recognized each other. So, for example, when Sophie tells her story (she goes first), she describes a doctor who helped out an African dignitary that was choking due to exposure to shrimp (to which he is allergic). We find out in Eliot’s story that he was the doctor and then in Hardison’s that he was the dignitary. And Parker was part of the catering staff (a typical role for her, actually). In the stories told before the reveals, different actors actually played the parts so the audience didn’t even know until the team members revealed their roles (not that it was all that difficult to figure out. The only one I wasn’t certain about was Hardison.).
The guest star in this episode was John “Dr. Phlox” Billingsley who played the head of security named Coswell. His role changes depending on the point of view of the story teller. The thieves all think of him as a highly trained, highly motivated security guard who chases them while they attempt their theft. In one version, for example, he leaves Sophie after talking to her in one of her two roles in her grift. Thinking he is suspicious of her, she sneaks out. We then see him carrying a shotgun while trying to find her. When Nate tells the story, however, we see a very different Coswell. He is in love with one of Sophie’s characters, the scientist who helps categorize the artifacts in the museum. From this perspective, we see Coswell going upstairs and bringing back down flowers in a box. Now when he asks his men if they have seen her, he says the exact same words but this time he appears lovesick. And when he later finds Parker with the dagger in an air vent, she sees him as menacing, but he is just surprised to see her. Billingsley really gets to show off his acting abilities in this episode, going from cold-hearted killer to tender-hearted jilted lover.
Finally, there are some minor details that are worth mentioning since these are the kinds of things that make Leverage such a great show. When Sophie opens the package from the museum that she rerouted to London (her way of stealing the dagger), the typical con music briefly incorporates “Rule Britannia” while the camera pans around central London. It’s a nice example of how important the music is in the show. Another example of the little details that make the show great is Eliot’s use of one of his signature phrases, in this case a reference to the “pills” (really just peppermints) that Hardison took to ward of his “allergy attack” while playing the dignitary: “[Peppermint] has a very distinctive smell.” Eliot also has the great line, “If I’m not honest with you, you can’t improve,” which he says to a random thug that he just called second rate. How kind of him to care so much!
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars