My latest obsession is this show called “Leverage.” If you haven’t seen it, STOP READING right now and go watch it! It’s incredible! There are a couple of procedural shows I’ve found that have the perfect balance of character development over the long arch of the story and interesting plot line for the individual episodes, and this is definitely one of them. Basically, the five main characters form a team of (formerly) bad guys who work together to right wrongs that have been done to ordinary people when the law leaves off. They’re like modern-day Robin Hoods who con or steal from the rich who have done things within the letter of the law but certainly not morally. Because the people who have been hurt can’t call the police, instead they get the Leverage team involved. And to be fair, the mastermind (Nate Ford) of the team was an honest man (a former insurance broker). So he’s the one honest man keeping the other team members (and former bad guys & gals) in line. The other four members are a grifter (Sophie Devereaux), a computer hacker (Alec Hardison), a hitter (Eliot Spencer), and a plain, simple thief (Parker). I know my explanation might be slightly convoluted, but it’s really ingenious and you must go watch it as soon as humanly possible. (The entire series is free on Hulu for another week.)
Now, here’s the genius of the story: from the first season, it was obvious that Nate and Sophie were interested in each other, though of course, in order to make a good story, they have to have a complicated relationship. And Eliot is quite the ladies’ man, so there’s no point in him having a real love interest. But Hardison, being a tech geek, shows interest in Parker, though she doesn’t seem interested back for a long time. Parker comes from a very hard family where she was abandoned early on in her life, so she’s very emotionless and seems to have a hard time trusting people. Yet slowly we see her shell cracking. I’m a few episodes into the fourth season, and her walls are really coming down–and it’s extremely moving to watch! In the first episode of season four, Hardison’s interest has clearly peaked and he’s upset when she seems to not reciprocate (the audience realizes, however, that she’s just simply oblivious to obvious flirting and signs of interest on Hardison’s part). But during the course of the episode she softens, realizing that she shouldn’t waste time when she clearly cares about him. Then, in the fourth episode of the season, the plot line involves a black man about 50 years earlier who was in love with a white girl but wasn’t allowed to be with her because her father forbid it. In the flashbacks as the man retells his story, Parker represents his lost love (since she too is a white woman), and Hardison represents the younger version of the man (since he too is a black man). Parker softens more through the telling of this story, and the episode ends with the man telling her to not let any more time pass her by.
When I started watching this show, Parker was just a goofy, quirky, aemotional character, often the source of comedy in the show, but never any of the heart. But over these four seasons (five total), at some point she shifted to being the emotional center of the show. Sure, there is still drama between Nate and Sophie as we try to figure out where they will end up, but Parker’s new-found tenderness is inspiring. During the episode I’m currently watching (season four, episode seven), the client seeking help from Leverage has lost her father and says that, although she’s been scammed, she’s glad to know that her father is not suffering any more and that now he’s in a better place. Parker doesn’t understand how the client can be so sure of this, and Nate tells her that the client has faith. Throughout the episode, she seems to be struggling, particularly with death, with why people should love one another if we’re all just going to end up dead anyway. Finally, this comes to a head in a conversation between Parker and Sophie:
Parker: How do you care when you know that people that you will like will someday die?
Sophie: We never really talk about it, but if you lost someone when you were just a child then you might put up walls to make sure that you never got hurt again. But trust me: this life is not worth living without the people that make us want to tear down those walls. The thrill of vulnerability. The danger of opening your heart. It makes us feel alive.
Parker: (chuckling) I feel alive when I’m jumping off a building.
Sophie: Well maybe that’s why they call it falling in love.
I still have yet to finish the episode, but I love Parker’s innocence around these things. Vulnerability is necessary in order to feel alive because it’s the only thing that lead us to true connection with another person. Yes, we will get hurt–that’s just part of living–but it’s totally worth it at the end of the day… and for many points throughout the day as well. May we all be willing to take this leap, whether it’s falling in love, learning to love ourselves, or being willing to take life one day at a time. I would hate to miss all of the amazing things happening in my life right now because I’m blinded with worry about all of the bad things that may or may not happen in the future. Much love, y’all, and Merry Christmas!