How do you make this already strong season of Leverage even better? Bring in Danny Glover. His appearance is not a stunt, but a bonus as a talented cast continues to shine.
One of Nate's old IYS colleagues comes to him with a story about a Van Gogh painting that went missing during World War II. The guy believes said painting is now in the custody of Charles Lawson (played by Glover), and wants Nate and his team to find it before some nastier types do. For whatever reason, Lawson decides to confide in Parker, plunging the team back into the 1940's, complete with Hardison playing a younger version of him and Parker as the woman he loved.
The unique approach is not just fun, but it also allows for a pair of great performances from Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf. Riesgraf is miles away from Parker in her second role as Dorothy Ross. Hodge has long been Leverage's underappreciated player in my book, and in this episode, he reminds us that while he's great at the comic relief he's most commonly used for, he's also a very capable dramatic actor. There's a quiet strength in his performance that got me choked up by episode's end.
Meanwhile, the fans waiting for Christian Kane to log more fight sequences get several this week, as Eliot dispatches several thugs also gunning for the painting. As usual, he makes these brawls look ridiculously easy. I think he'd make an excellent stunt coordinator if he weren't already busy as a successful actor and musician.
And Timothy Hutton, playing the local sheriff (who just happens to be married to the organist played by Gina Bellman!) gets one awesome costume and is particularly badass in it.
This is to say nothing of Glover, who disappears perfectly into his character.
The Leverage crew also does a great job with the flashback sequences, particularly those that take place during the war; they're beautifully presented in such a way that it almost felt like I was watching scenes out of HBO's classic miniseries Band of Brothers. I love the detail and the look of them, and the period costuming is magnificent. Not to mention that I think I've now seen the best use of a pipe organ ever.
"The Van Gogh Job" is another pleasantly unconventional episode for Leverage. In previous seasons, the characters and their methods may have been quirky, but the episodes weren't always so unique. In season four, it seems that the writing reflects more of the show's overall spirit - the plots and twists are just as oddly endearing as the heroes themselves. At this pace, season four may turn out to be Leverage's best.