If you actually like Nathan Ford, please reblog this post!
Sorry, I just learned that apparently the entire Leverage fandom doesn’t like/hates him and believes that the show should be all about dat OT3 and I’m just… I don’t understand it. I honestly don’t understand how people could be so blind to his contributions and character development. And for goodness sake, he’s the dad of that OT3 you ship so much!
The contrast between these two men, especially with regards to their relationship with Parker, has always been striking to me.
Archie loved Parker, that much is clear. But he also looked at a lost, traumatized child, and saw the chance to build a monument to his own ego, a way for his legend to live on after age took him out of the game. Archie’s mentorship may have been the most kindness a wild, destructive 12-year-old orphan had ever known, and to an extent it may have been Parker’s salvation, but it was also so much less than what she needed and deserved. Archie may have succeeded into turning Parker into his perfect thief, but when he was done she was just as lost as she’d ever been.
When Nate meets Parker, he sees both the brilliant thief and the wounded girl, and maybe at the very beginning he only cares about the thief, but as the crew becomes a team and they all stop pretending that they’re only there for the job, you can see Parker getting under everyone’s skin. She crashes into their lives and personal spaces, touch-starved and clueless about boundaries, and nobody, not even emotionally constipated Nate, can resist her for long. Due to said emotional constipation, we don’t really get to see how deeply he has come to care for her until The Inside Job, when Parker is in very real and urgent danger and Nate and the team are caught unprepared.
I loved every emotional beat of that episode: how Hardison is the one Parker calls when she realizes how badly trapped she is, how Eliot tries and completely fails to disguise his worry with exasperation, and how Sophie is the first person to speak out in support of Parker’s desire to do the right thing despite the risk. But some of the richest interactions for me are between Archie and Nate, with their layers of rivalry and resentment. Archie Leach declares himself Parker’s father, calls her his legacy, and Nate, still smarting from the sight of the dark, mostly empty warehouse that Parker lives in and the thought that she took on a job without telling them, lashes out at him. “Parker was broken,” Nate all but flings the words at Archie, with the unspoken accusation that he had taken advantage of a vulnerable girl for his own ego hanging heavy in the air. In return, Archie bitterly blames Nate for ruining Parker, his masterpiece, who had just declared her allegiance to a new code, one that puts the common good above self-preservation and went against everything Archie taught her. Both of them care deeply for Parker, both of them are willing to die for her, but only Nate Ford respects her enough to let her determine the kind of person she wants to be.
(SIDE NOTE: It’s interesting how Archie’s encounter with this group of people who call themselves Parker’s team and act like her family, when he thought that she couldn’t fit in anywhere, makes him question the boundaries he put in their relationship. I’ll never get over the look of shock on Parker’s face when Archie acknowledges her as his daughter in front of his real family in The Last Dam Job.)
In the final episode, we find out that at some point Nate had chosen Parker to take his place, and a rewatch of the series shows beautifully subtle clues that lead to this revelation. There is an essential difference, however, between Archie’s mentorship and Nate’s. Parker as Nate’s successor is not Nate 2.0, nor is she expected to be. She hasn’t been honed in Nate’s image, she was chosen specifically because she was distinctly, wonderfully herself. Her unique perspective, different as it was from Nate’s, was something to be celebrated, not changed. Parker isn’t Nate’s legacy, she’s his heir. A legacy speaks to the worth of the one who leaves it, an heir speaks to the worth of the heir herself. Nate may never have called Parker his daughter, but he left her no doubt that she was part of his family, and the one he trusts to lead it after he’s gone.
This is Parker thinking maybe, just maybe, she may have found a place. This is a girl who can get into anywhere but fits in nowhere thinking there might be something here worth staying for. She doesn’t really know these people, doesn’t trust them yet, but she can’t shake the feeling that with these almost-strangers with all their jagged edges she may have found the one thing she always wanted but could never steal: a place to belong.
She doesn’t want to jinx it. She spent an entire childhood being told that she doesn’t fit in, that she’s too strange and destructive and damaged to belong anywhere. But they called her, they asked her to come, and when she did she found that there was already a space prepared for her, just waiting for her claim, waiting for her to mark it as hers. Waiting for any indication that she might stay.
So she buys a plant. She doesn’t really know what it does, but she does know what it means. It means I’m here, it means I’m staying, it means I want this place to be mine.