I started watching Leverage because of seeing stuff about it here on your blog. And it's great! I do love it, overall. But I gotta ask...I know you love Eliot, but why? In any scene with a kid, he's awesome and I can see why he'd be like-able. But I'm almost done with season 4 and he is still so horrible to Hardison All The Time. I cringe whenever they're in a scene together and Eliot is inevitably angry and disrespectful and threatening. Ugh.
So I’ve been sitting on this ask for a while, because I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about it as we rewatch Leverage with the DVD commentaries, I’ve been thinking about it as Leverage gifsets cross my dash, I’ve been thinking about it randomly. And I still don’t think I have a great answer, but I don’t want you to think I’m totally ignoring you, so I’m going to answer it now anyway.
FIrst of all, I’m glad you love Leverage! It’s really one of my favorite shows and it makes me happy when other people discover it.
I’m sorry you cringe at Eliot and Hardison’s interactions. I kind of see what you mean, because on the surface Eliot is a very angry person. He gets frustrated and he’s a grouch and he yells a lot.
But as you mention, he’s also awesome with kids. He takes his job to protect his team very seriously. He haaaaates bullies. He has a deep love of food and considers cooking an art, and he cooks meals for his team and takes the time to try to explain his love of food to Parker.
Speaking of Parker, if you watch Eliot and Parker, you’ll see that they have a really interesting relationship. It’s sibling-like at times, but it also goes deeper than that. Parker and Eliot are the two people on the team who are capable of doing whatever needs to be done. Yeah, Nate can be ruthless and scary at times, but mostly he just thinks of ways to ruin the bad guys, and Sophie doesn’t hurt people and Hardison does his damage virtually. Parker and Eliot, though, both have a darkness to them that the others don’t share, and there’s an understanding and a bond between them because of it. There’s a scene towards the end of S3, I think it’s in The San Lorenzo Job, when Eliot and Parker are together, and a bad guy is on the phone with Eliot and asks him if there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to protect his people, and he just looks at Parker and she grins back at him, not knowing what’s being said on the phone. Somehow that scene just conveys so much emotion in a small moment, and says a lot about how Eliot feels about his family-team.
As for Eliot and Hardison, I guess I read their relationship as being EXTREMELY sibling-like. I have a younger brother, and as much as I love him, my feelings about him for much of our childhood (and even some of our adulthood) could often be summed up with DAMMIT BENJAMIN. Because (a) he’s always been really good at pushing my buttons, and taken delight in doing so just to get a DAMMIT out of me; and (b) we’re very different people who approach the world from completely different angles, and often I just don’t get what’s going through his head and why he’s doing what he’s doing, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
I think for Eliot and Hardison, something similar is often going on. I think sometimes Hardison likes pushing Eliot’s buttons just to get a reaction out of him, and sometimes they’re just two very different people butting heads, especially in the first couple of seasons when they don’t know each other as well, and don’t understand where the other is coming from. But even in those early seasons, there’s evidence that they’re working with each other—e.g., Eliot doing stuff on the computer that Hardison has taught him, Hardison holding his own in a fight because Eliot has been teaching him a few moves.
By the last couple of seasons, I think it’s clear that there’s a lot of respect and affection between them, even when they’re bickering and sniping at each other, because that’s just the kind of relationship they have. And when the chips are down, they absolutely trust and depend on one another, and know that they have each other’s backs.
And now I’ll refer you to this wonderful Hardison and Eliot meta by viveleloutre and secretallie (note: minor spoilers for The Gone Fishing Job in S3 and The Rundown Job in S5), who said it much better than I could.
I hope this answers your question, Anon!