Monday, February 15, 2016

"I've never been to France, Charlie…" | | The Van Gogh Job {review}

Since unveiling my newest blog look a while back, I've gotten several questions about who the terribly adorable couple on the left of the header is.  And, as Rango would say, "I'm glad you asked me that, and I would be happy to tell ya!  But you're all gonna have to listen up!"

As I've told most of you (and will tell the rest of you when I get around to your comments), those two beautiful people happen to come from a certain episode in one of my favorite TV shows, Leverage.  (Actually, the people themselves are in the whole show, but the characters they play are different in this one.  Confusing, I know, but we'll get there.)


SO.  Basically, in this episode of my dear beloved Leverage, the team is protecting an elderly WWII veteran.  This veteran (played by Danny Glover, which makes the whole thing even more awesome) is believed to know the location of a van Gogh artwork which was lost to Nazis during the war.  Trouble is, Charlie (that's the veteran's name, is Charlie Lawson), has no intention of revealing anything whatever about the pice of art.  The reason the team is involved is that he is being harassed by Mean People who want the painting and "aren't very particular about how they get it," let us say.  

Anyway, Charlie isn't talking.  Nor does he think much of the team's protecting him--he has a bit of an independence complex, you see, insisting that "he can take care of himself."  However, he notices Parker (she's the young white woman) and Hardison (the young black man)…together?  I guess?  Basically, he notices Parker grab Hardison's hand and Speak Earnestly to him, and Charlie wisely deduces that they are a couple (which they are).  He then cryptically declares that he will break his silence, but only with Parker.  (That freaks Parker out, because she's not good with people--or at least, she doesn't think she is.  It stresses her, dontcha know.)  


Since the only way to keep Charlie safe is to find out where the painting is, Parker has to listen to his story.  As he talks, he relates a love story--his love story--that took place in the 1940s.  

Now, what the makers of L did with this episode (which I lurve), is they went back and narrated the story in flashback mode, but they had the actors who play Parker and Hardison play younger-Charlie and his love interest, Dorothy Ross.  AND GUYS IT IS SO PERFECT.  I can't even.  

Charlie tells Parker of his and Dorothy's relationship, and the problems they encountered as a would-be biracial couple in the middle of the wartime 40s.  "A black man making overtures to a white woman was literally a crime."  

Dorothy and Charlie have known each other since childhood, and while both are now in love with the other, their romance can't really blossom (getting sappy now, Olivia) because of the senseless prejudices of their time.  They love being together--they hang out at the roller skating rink (is that what it was?) which Charlie works and Dorothy frequents.  They tell each other their secret longings and ambitions, their frustrations with the way others expect their lives to be.  (Oh, and can we just talk about some of those lines?  "Oh, they still let me in the library."  I MEAN.  HAS THE MAN NO FLAWS.)

"I said it so I could take it back, but I meant every word.  I was in love with Dorothy Ross."

After Charlie "slips up" during one of their French lessons (he teaches her French, y'see, and it's like the cutest freakin' thing ever) and suggests that maybe they can visit France together someday, he (understandably) panics, because he knows that he could get into deep trouble for it if Dorothy's father somehow finds out.  Turns out, Dorothy's father does know, and he sends some thugs to gang up on Charlie.  But they are stopped by the town's sheriff, a.k.a….Nate.  (I know.  'Tis difficult to take him seriously.)  The sheriff-whose-name-I'm-forgetting, like his Leverage counterpart, is just the slightest bit of a control freak invested in people's decisions, shall we say, and he warns Charlie of the dangers of "making eyes" at a wealthy young white woman, and plants in his mind the idea of enlisting in the army to try and gain the respect of Dorothy's father.  Maybe, just maybe, if he distinguishes himself in service to the country, Mr. Ross would consider him an equal--at least, worthy of consideration.  

So off he goes to war (WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE TO DOROTHY), leaving his lady-love somewhat in the lurch (I have to throw in a tiny bit of levity to keep from constant crying, you see, because this episode is very high on the feels, which I'll get to by and by).  While in the war, Charlie does a certain something which is Rather Good, but the recognition goes to somebody else…solely because Charlie is black.  


I gotta say, while Beth Riesgraf (Parker/Dorothy) is enchanting and also a very talented dramatic actress in this episode, Aldis Hodge's (Hardison/Charlie) acting is what really stood out to me the last time I watched this episode.  The scene in his military superior's tent is phenomenal.  Just…wow.  

Anyway, Hardison's group was ambushed, and that's when Hardison did the Rather Good thing.  After doing said thing, he discovers a painting on one of the dead Nazi's person.  When he is cruelly brushed aside from the recognition he deserves for saving the group--that was what he did--Charlie decides to return to America and see if Dorothy will agree to elope with him.  They can use the money the painting will bring to live, is Charlie's idea.  

He comes back.  And that sceeeeeeeeeeeene.  "The first time I saw Dorothy after the war, it was like she was floating on air."  GAAAH MY HEART. 


Understand, now, they have never explicitly said anything to each other about their feelings.  They've never said, in so many words, "I love you."  But it's there nonetheless--a real, deep, true love, one that has stood the test of racial prejudice, unjust parental opposition, status inequality, and a world war.  So when Charlie asks Dorothy to run away with him, she agrees, and they make their plans.  

(While all this is going on in flashback, the team, in present day, is trying to find out the whereabouts of Dorothy Ross and and the lost van Gogh.  Just so we don't get lost.)

Dorothy is scheduled to play the pipe organ at the rink that evening, so the lovers enlist the help of Dorothy's aunt, alias Sophie, who is coincidentally married to Nate's sheriff.  At an opportune time, when everyone is distracted by the skaters, Dorothy and her aunt switch places at the organ, and Dorothy slips away to try and meet Charlie.

Note:  From here on out, I'm going to be discussing the ending.  So, spoilers, dontcha know.  

Charlie is to meet her outside the rink, and they are to make their way to the railway tracks (nothing good ever comes from railway tracks *scowls*) and jump a train.  Through a series of circumstances, though, Dorothy has come to realize that her father will never stop hunting them down if she goes with Charlie.  He will track them down, wherever they go, and he will hurt Charlie.  He'll probably kill him. So she can't go with him.  *cue the bullets to the hearts of all the watchers*  Charlie, in a nocturnal scene absolutely brimming and overflowing and piercing with feels, entrusts the van Gogh to Dorothy, makes her promise to keep it safe for him.  They finally have one tearful, all-too-brief kiss, one hand-clasp, and then Charlie says goodbye to his Dorothy and jumps the train. 


(Back in the real world, other issues are resolved, and that's all fine and dandy.)

Parker is crying for Charlie and Dorothy (Dorothy died three years before Charlie returned to the town after the railway goodbye), and Charlie tells her not to.  He says, "I've had an extraordinary life."  (But it wasn't with Dorothy and my hormonal adolescent heart can't handle it.)  And then he encourages Parker and Hardison in their relationship, and it's very gentle and bittersweet and understated. 

I like this episode.  I wouldn't re-watch it very often, because it is very heavy, very un-Leverage-like, but it's good.  It's emotional and sad and beautiful, and, because I don't want to end on such a heavy note, here's this, because this is cute:


Au revoir!



















29 comments:

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    1. Naomi, it really IS. I think you'd like it :D

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  2. Oh my yes! This episode is one of my favorites as far as Pardison goes. They are just TOO cute! I mean these pictures are just ADORABLE! They are easily one of my favorite couples ever.

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    1. Aren't they, Lois?! JUST GAAAAHHHH. Yep, definitely one of my favorites, too :)

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  3. This actually looks really awesome. You've got me interested in a show I otherwise would have no interest in. ;-P

    (AND DANNY GLOVER IS AWESOME, by the way. Have you seen Places in the Heart?)

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    1. Haha! I think you'd like it, Emma ;) It's kind of quirky, but hey, we like quirky, don't we?

      (Isn't he?!?!?! No, I haven't seen that one; I've seen him in this, Lonesome Dove, and Angels in the Outfield. HE'S SUCH A DARLING.)

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  4. Awwww . . . so bittersweet! Charlie looks AMAZING. :)

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    1. Rosie, I know! *sniffle* Yes, Charlie is epic :D

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  5. Wasn't this episode just the cutest?! Parker and Hardison forever, man.

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  6. This is so beautiful . . . and so sad. SO SAD. I mean--I MEAN--there's no reason for it. That's the horrible thing about racial prejudice. THERE'S NO REASON FOR IT.

    And I love how Charlie encourages Parker to keep her relationship with Hardison strong--he wants them to be happy, even if he and Dorothy couldn't.
    IT'S TOO SWEET AND TOO FEELSY AND GUYS I'VE NEVER EVEN WATCHED THIS SHOW SO HOW DOES IT MAKE ME SO EMOTIONAL. Okay . . . I'll calm down now. :-)

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    1. I KNOW I KNOW. This episode makes me really emotional :'( It's just so senseless.

      Right?! It's so perfect! Haha, I understand! You should try it, methinks you'd like it muchly :D

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  7. So yeah, I have to watch this series.

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    1. I am starting the very first ep right now. Finally and last long last.

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    2. Eeeeee!! What did you think, what did you think?!

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    3. I think I need to watch more!!! I especially liked Nathan and Eliot, though that was kind of going to be a given because I'm already a fan of both Timothy Hutton and Christian Kane.

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    4. Yaysies! I love Elliot :) I'm not as huge a fan of Nate, but…that's just me.

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    5. I watched ep 2 last night and it made both cry and laugh, so I'd say I'm hooked :-) Nate's kind of my type of fictional guy, though -- tragic backstory, moody, loner, lots of anger. (Happily, that's not my real-life type, heh.)

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    6. *victory dance* I can't actually remember the second episode, but I'm sure it was fantastic ;) Hahaha! "Happily, that's not my real-life type." Yeah, Nate is good. He's just not my favorite. You know ;)

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    7. I'll be slowwwwwwwly working my way through the first season over the course of this year, savoring it in my spare scraps of time here and there :-)

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  8. awwww!!! This looks SO adorable!! I looked this show up on imdb's parents guide. And it looks like it MIGHT be something I could try watching sometime. Are there any specific instances or episodes that you'd recommend staying away from? And, is God's name abused at all during the show?

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    1. I know I'm not Olivia but I can try and speak a little to that. The show is really quite clean. There are a few innuendos and the female characters use their "sex appeal" at times in their cons but not explicitly at all. Nothing bad is ever shown. As far as language goes.... I tend to automatically bleep out language so I'm sure I miss most of it. I think though that they use some language every once and awhile and probably take God's name in vain at times but not consistently. I know everyone has different standards but this is a show that I feel comfortable watching with my younger siblings.

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    2. Thank you so much, Lois! I will definitely keep all that in mind and maybe I can try the show sometime. :)

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    3. Natalie, it really is!!!

      Ah, yes, about that. So, like Lois said, the language is pretty moderate. I'm pretty sure it's limited to "d---", "h---", and "a--", as well as omg and "Good Lord". As to the sexuality…it's not too atrocious, but there are several scenes in the latter seasons of the beginning of some bedroom scenes. The scenes change pretty quickly, but they are there :(

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    4. Olivia,
      Thank you so much! Judging from your and Lois' advice, I might not rush to try the show right now. But I'll keep it in mind for the future. :)

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    5. Natalie, gotcha! I completely understand :) Maybe later!

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    6. Thanks for understanding! :)

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