Parker: So, I have to tell you something. Hardison: Okay. Did–did you want to talk now? Parker: Yeah. Okay. So, the thing is, I think that maybe I might be having feelings. Like weird, weird feelings… f-for… Parker: …Pretzels. Hardison: Pretzels. Okay. Well, they’re right here, when you want them.
We all have a lot of feelings about this scene and I needed to make a post just about it and my feelings for it. Because this scene is about so much more than just Parker confessing that she likes Hardison. So let’s talk about that.
Parker is not good at emotions. Parker isn’t good with people. When a guy hits on Parker, she literally stabs him in the leg with a fork. She was raised on the street, never have a proper family, she bounced around foster care, had an abusive foster father, was abandoned by her car jacking team, was raised then by a professional thief who decided to make her his protege and the perfect thief. Archie cared more about how she would be his legacy than about ever learning to exist in the world as a person. She was basically a tool. (I mean, when he saw the way Nate & Co helped her grow, he said, “You took her and you broke her.”)
Parker does not know how to be around people let alone how to be in a relationship. She’s emotionally broken and the only way of life she understood was how to be a thief. She’s quirky and weird when she met the team. She thinks nothing of things like changing clothes in front of other people or kissing Hardison or anything like that, because it’s just part of the con. She does what she has to for the heist and doesn’t ever look at any of it with an emotional or personal lens. But she gradually realizes that she likes Hardison. She realizes it without even understanding it. She’s mad when someone else is close to Hardison, but she doesn’t know why.
So when she finally understands it, she needs to talk about it. But just because she understands that she likes Hardison, it does not mean she’s ready to deal with those feelings. She’s not even really ready to admit those feelings out loud. Thus, pretzels. She has feelings, weird, weird feelings for pretzels.
And Hardison looks at her, looks at the pretzels, and then understands perfectly. Because Hardison does understand people. He’s charismatic and kind and warm and welcoming. He’s easy to love and loves easily. He bounced around foster care as well, but he was lucky enough to fall into the home of “Nana” – not his actual grandma, but the woman who raised him and his foster siblings. She taught him how to talk to people, how to be friendly, how to understand other people and read them. For everything that Parker didn’t have, Hardison did.
So when Hardison sees Parker’s stress and struggle to admit her feelings, he instantly knows that she is not ready to deal with these feelings, even though she’s ready to tell him about them. And what does he do in that situation?
He says okay. He nods, he smiles, he accepts it, and then he gently informs her that the pretzels will be there waiting for her when she’s ready for them. He’s there for her. He’s always there for her, he always supports her. He clearly likes Parker very much, he has since episode one. They’ve been working together for two years at this point. They’ve kissed, they’ve danced, they’ve had each other’s backs. Hardison’s feelings for her have only grown this entire time, but he never once ever pressured her. He never pushed her farther than she was comfortable with. And now, even knowing that his feelings for her are now reciprocated, all he does is say, “I’m here for you when you’re ready for me.”
He leaves the ball in her court. He lets her know that he’s open to this in the best way he can and leaves her feeling calmer than she started. He leaves her smiling and confident and happy. He shows her that he likes her without forcing her into something she’s not ready for.
Hardison is the absolute perfect gentleman. He gave her just what she needed, just when she needed it. I have so much respect for him in that scene, because he has so much respect for Parker.
In fact, it’s not until 10 episodes later when she finally takes him up on that offer. The first line is in episode 5 of season 3, The Double Blind Job. In the second to last episode of the season, episode 15, The Big Bang Job, Parker and Hardison are on a train and nearly blow themselves up trying to disarm a bomb. At the end of the episode, all is well, of course, because Hardison is very good at what he does. And this exchange happens:
Parker: You know what I’m in the mood for? Hardison: What? Parker: Pretzels.
It’s such a brief exchange that if you’re not paying attention, you could easily miss it. It was a reference to a line ten episodes ago, and even if the audience doesn’t catch the reference, Hardison definitely does. He takes a moment to register what she says, then smiles and does his trademark “heeeey.” And that’s it.
But you know what? Not once during those ten episodes between the two pretzel lines did Hardison do anything but respect Parker’s emotional space. And that makes me so, so happy.
I just really love this scene. I love it so much. It’s so much more than just an “otp: pretzels” tag (which, lbr, is the perfect otp tag for them). It’s such a meaningful reference. Because it was the moment that you really saw what kind of man Hardison was. And how much he absolutely cares about Parker. It makes everything about their relationship matter so much more, for me.
Lines like, “I got you girl, I got you” and “thanks for not hanging up the phone” and “Do you hear me, Alec? I need you” and “kiss for luck” and all the rest, mean so much more when they’re all based on this amazing relationship that the both of them have. This is why I love Parker and Hardison. This is why I love Leverage.
I love that Hardison’s very obvious feelings for Parker are accompanied by unwavering patience.
Like, I think back to him referring to Parker’s “sexiness” to Nate in the SECOND EPISODE of the series and how he says “just between us”, like he’s not going to shower her with adoration and sweet nothings at almost every turn between them, I think about how he tells her that he likes how she turned out when she’s crying her eyes out, broken, knowing she’s different and weird and possibly even a lost cause at this point, I think about how from the moment he met her, he was already interested and how her quirks - while sometimes frustrating - never pushed/scared him away, I think about how he spends three seasons being a major leg and arm and lung in her growing support system and when she finally DOES tell him that she’s been having “feelings [for pretzels]”, he just smiles even though his heart is probably in his throat at this overwhelming progress they’ve made and he sits down and tells her kindly, lovingly, that they’re there when she’s ready to have them.
He will always be there when she is ready for him.
“Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN.” x
You had to be quick because you were alone. If you got caught, that’s it. I get it. But you’re not alone anymore. Look…look at me. You’re not alone. You’re not…you have a team. You have me. And I got you. I got you girl.