Leverage had five seasons, or as I think of them, four acts and an epilogue. That means that for me, the season finales were all turning points, events that picked up the series over-all story (and the community) and turned them in a new direction. The finale of the first season was the wonderful double “First and Second David Jobs,” the first episode destroying the team and scattering them, and the second bringing them all back together as each one voluntarily returns to bring down the bad guy, making the breaks stronger at the mend because they each chose to mend the breaks. Nate’s a drunk, Sophie’s lied to them, they’re all loners but that community, that family is too important to desert. At the end of Season One, the Leverage team knows they’re not there for expediency, they’re there because they want to be there. That turning point spins them into their second act where, now that they’re invested in the community, they have to face its problems, most notably Nate and his drinking, which is why the second season finale episodes “The Three Strikes Job” and “The Maltese Falcon Job,” bring the team again to the point of disintegration. Nate’s alcoholism combined with his need to win puts them all in so much danger that nemesis Sterling offers Nate an out to save him. The problem: the out is just for Nate; his team goes down. Nate goes behind the team’s back again and cons everybody so that, at the end, the team escapes on a helicopter, mad as hell at him for not making them part of the decision, and he bleeds into the pavement as he’s arrested, saying the words that will set him free: “I’m Nate Ford, and I’m a thief.” And that turning point spins them into their third act where they call Nate to account and begin to work, not as a team with a central leader, but as a family that cooperates. Once the sense of Nate’s authority has been torn down, they can finally find the security they need to establish permanence. Nobody talks about walking away any more. And since the community is now established, each member can reveal more about his or her past–Parker in “The Inside Job,” Hardison in “The Scheherazade Job,” Sophie in “The King George Job,” and Eliot in “The Big Bang Job,” the first episode of the finale–and come to terms with it. The security of knowing who they are and where they belong helps them all understand where they’ve come from. There’s a lot of growing up in Season Three for everybody, including Nate and Sophie. And that’s why “The San Lorenzo Job,” the final episode of Season Three, is such turning point: When arch-enemy Damien Moreau escapes to the tiny country of San Lorenzo where he controls the government, Nate doesn’t say, “Here’s what we’re going to do,” he says, “Please.” In full, Nate says, “Now Moreau is sitting in San Lorenzo, a country with no extradition, with his own private security, and he’s going to wait this out until it blows over. But he will be back, I guarantee it. Now we’ve been in this situation before and I pushed you into it . . . . so I’ve pushed you, I’ve tricked you, I’ve lied to you. So now, I’m just going to ask you. And if any of you, any of you, say no, then it’s done. We don’t do it.” Then after a long pause. “Please.” The next scene is the team planning the con, which means it’s a brand new world: majority, aka the community, rules. Compare that to “The Nigerian Job,” the pilot in which Nate gives orders, controlling a fractious bunch of loners who don’t want to be together with the sheer force of his authority, holding himself above them because they’re criminals and he’s an honest man. It’s an amazing transformation, and everything in this episode shows how far they’ve come and how much they’ve changed. Eliot’s estimation of Parker as completely insane has changed so much that when she sings to determine how far beneath the street they are, he just accepts that she’s right. Where Sophie used to con Nate to convince him to do what she wanted, now she just does it: he tells her not to join their candidate on the podium and she walks up anyway and becomes the Evita of San Lorenzo, saving their con. Over and over again, each member does his or her thing, and the others accept it as normal, natural, and valuable. They’re a winning team. But their win here is a turning point, a crisis point, not a climax. They’re so good now, they’ve attracted attention. People know who they are; hell, they stole a whole country. They’ve lost one of their big advantages, and now they’re going to have to work in plain sight. Worse than that, now they’re marks. Everybody’s going to want to get in on their success. And that’s what spins them into the fourth act, the season where they deal with a powerful financier who works behind the scenes to cash in on their jobs, trying to lure them into partnership with him and when that doesn’t work, trying to bring them down. There’s another aspect to “The San Lorenzo Job” that’s also a turning point: Nate and Sophie wake up together. That means that they’re going to be negotiating the long, slow burn of their relationship on a different level, and that’s going to have an impact on the team, too, another adjustment in community dynamics that’s going to be complicated by the evolving Hardison/Parker relationship. Season Four is going to see the team at the top of their game which is a damn good thing because the season becomes a crucible, changing everyone irrevocably. A good turning point throws a story into its next act reborn; a series of good turning points escalates the dynamics of each story, raising the stakes and the tension. The finales of the first three seasons of Leverage do just that, sending the series into the finale of the fourth season, a near perfect climax to four years of great story-telling. Having said all of that, “The San Lorenzo Job” deserves a lot of praise for just being a great political caper movie. It’s just fun, with Nate playing a polished James Carville, Sophie doing Evita, and Eliot, Parker, and Hardison doing what they do with such polished, mature flair that they’re the epitome of confidence porn. This episode also has my favorite Hardison description ever. When Moreau, flummoxed because Nate is beating him, says, “I have the media. I have the guns. I have the government,” Nate says, “I have a twenty-four-year-old genius with a smart phone and a problem with authority.” There’s a lot of pride and love in that statement, and it’s reflected in everything else the team says and does, too. As Sophie says at the end, “We’re a team finally,” and because of that, it’s enormous fun to watch them work.