SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE SHOW THE PROFESSIONALS.
The Professionals is a bit harder to analyze than the others shows; in part because it’s a British show about two British men, and British culture is a bit different from my American culture. What I mean is that, while the main characters Doyle and Bodie are quite affectionate towards each other for (stereotypically) British men, they are still rather macho and closed-off compared to American men and especially, say, Starsky and Hutch (although aren’t most men!). Even in the episodes in which one half of the partnership is injured, the way the other cares for him is often understated, subtle and hidden under anger or desire to get revenge. This is even truer when the two are joking around with each other. There’s less outward emotion than with other pairings. Instead, you have to look closely at facial expressions, eyes, tone of voice, and body language. Really closely.
But it’s undeniable that Bodie and Doyle care about each other with an unconditional love. Each would willingly die for the other and several times almost do.
As always, let’s begin with an intro. Much of my character analysis below is confirmed and influenced by others’ analyses with which I agree, especially the analysis of Justacat here.
The Professionals is a British TV drama that ran from 1977 to 1983 in the United Kingdom. (Most episodes never aired in the U.S., and it’s still not so easy to watch the series on DVD here.) The show followed the members of fictional elite intelligence agency CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5), especially its founder and leader, George Cowley, and his top pair of agents, Ray Doyle and William Bodie. Doyle, from somewhere around Birmingham, was originally a detective with the Metropolitan Police when he was recruited to CI5; Bodie, from Liverpool, was a Merchant Navy sailor, a mercenary and supposed gun-runner in Africa, and paratrooper in the British Army before his recruitment.
Both men are complex, though outwardly (and to some extent truthfully) they are quite opposites: Doyle is more emotional and artistic, though he rarely expresses happiness and is mostly cool; Bodie is more harsh, cold and rational, though when he feels emotion he really shows it (mostly through anger); he also states that he doesn’t like to shoot people (“Heroes”), and is more physically demonstrative than Doyle. This tendency is made obvious in several episodes and confirms their strong relationship.
Indeed, they both care deeply about each other, hating to leave each other in danger, and it is this caring that reminds me of God’s love. Some episodes showcase this, while others simply have minor moments within the larger story; regardless, I have tried to incorporate the most evidence I can of their selfless love, again chronologically.
Killer With a Long Arm
One moment is important here: when Doyle realizes their search is leading them to a Greek man, Doyle asks, “What do you know about Greeks, Bodie?”
“Uh, the fellows all dance together and the cops shave their heads,” Bodie replies.
“They are a tight-knit community,” Doyle says—as a former detective, he has an intimate knowledge of London’s neighborhoods and people.
“Yeah, ghetto time,” Bodie says.
“Don’t knock it,” Doyle says. “Ghetto means being able to depend on your own kind.”
Bodie looks over at Doyle. “So you and me are a mobile ghetto, eh?” It’s said with a hint of humor, but the way Doyle responds—with a lift of his eyebrows and nothing more—suggests Bodie is serious. It’s quite true, actually: neither can trust anyone else, not the other agents who have their own lives, nor even Cowley, as Cowley is more devoted to the organization of CI5 than he is to his agents (in “Operation Susie,” Cowley makes it clear that if the operation fails, Bodie and Doyle are on their own, and Cowley eventually under threat of treason reveals the pair’s location, though he does try to save them lawfully and barely does so).
This episode, never aired in the UK because of possibly “offensive” content, is very serious in that it not only involves a group of white supremacists targeting blacks (KKK costumes and all) but shows Bodie becoming slightly less racist throughout the episode as he is cared for by black nurses and doctors.
Perhaps in a twisted form of payback, Bodie, while investigating why black families are being evicted by a white supremacist society, is stabbed. Though Doyle knows of Bodie’s racist views, Doyle still shows up at Bodie’s side—not only that, he walks beside Bodie’s gurney and cries real tears. (As opposed to fake tears, of course.) “Oh Bodie, you half-Irish son of a bitch, what’d you want to go and do that for?” he says. When Bodie persists in telling Doyle it was “spades” (a very derogatory term for black people) who stabbed him, Doyle only stares straight ahead, still crying, looking very distressed.
Cowley wants to pull Doyle off the case, saying he’s “too keyed up, too involved,” but Doyle won’t have any of it. “You pull me off, you suspend me, and you’re gonna have to put a bullet through me ‘cause I shall still be there, do you understand me, Cowley? Mr. Cowley!?” Everyone calls Cowley “sir” or “Mr. Cowley” to his face, so calling him solely by his last name is quite disrespectful for Doyle to do. But it also shows just how serious he is about staying on the case to get justice—both for the black families and for Bodie.
“Well,” Cowley says at Doyle’s outburst, “I wouldn’t want all that hot air working against me. All right.”
“Thank you,” Doyle says. “And I’m sorry.”
Doyle proposes he go undercover as a member of the white supremacist group, which Cowley isn’t so sure about: “That means virtually on your own, Doyle.”
“Well I’d be that anyway wouldn’t I, sir? While Bodie’s laid up.”
It’s an interesting comment; it implies that Doyle can’t really trust anybody besides Bodie, and confirms nicely the “mobile ghetto” comment made earlier in the season.
Two subsequent moments, in particular, are very touching: when Doyle, after being beaten up by the white supremacists, is taken care of by a black teenager; and when Bodie, in the hospital, is comforted by a black nurse. These scenes cut back and forth to each other, showing us how wrong racism is and just how strongly God’s unconditional love can work through even people who have been badly mistreated. The doctor and nurse are remarkably composed and full of love for someone who repeatedly (though deliriously) calls them “spades” and insults them. Just as Jesus loved His enemies, so these wonderful people love theirs, seeing the humanity in them.
Also, note this quote by Cowley: “Doyle’s angry at you. That’s bad. That’s the worst thing that could happen to a man.”
Don’t get Doyle angry.
For that matter, don’t get Bodie angry either.
Doyle is given a special gun to try out for CI5, and when it is stolen he and Bodie go on the hunt to find it on the black market while the gun stealer repeatedly follows and targets Doyle with the weapon itself. In the beginning of the episode Bodie and Doyle are very chummy with each other, even when Doyle gives a ride to a new agent, Kathie Mason. Bodie appears to not be very happy that he has to sit in the backseat, but he and Ray’s teasing is more affectionate than truly upset:
“That’s Bodie,” Doyle says to Kathie. Then, leaning towards Bodie, “We’re giving him a lift.”
“Oh, only if you’re going my way, you know,” Bodie says, full of mock-consternation.
“Tea?” Doyle asks Kathie.
“Fine by me,” Bodie calls from the back seat, and Doyle only looks at him.
More teasing abounds: Bodie says Doyle is taking the gun home because he “needs some extra coaching,” and when they find they’re being followed by someone in a Porsche, Bodie leans over close to Doyle and says, glancing down at the gun, “Should we give him a quick blast, eh?”
“Yeah, slice him in two, that’d give him a surprise,” Doyle says, grinning.
After Doyle accelerates, exits and re-enters the highway and gets in behind the Porsche, Kathie asks, “Are you two always like this?”
“Yeah,” Doyle says, and Bodie says, “Certainly not. We sometimes imagine people are following us” in very put-on high-class accent. “Tea?”
“Your place or mine?” Doyle asks Kathie.
“Yours,” Bodie says.
“Shut up Bodie!” Doyle says in a half-amused, half-exasperated way.
“’Shut up Bodie’,” Bodie mocks, then says, “Oh come on, where’re we going?”
“His place,” Kathie says, and Doyle confirms, “My place.” Bodie leans forward, puts his hands on Doyle’s head, and shakes it lightly while making an excited “Woo” sound.
All this shows that Doyle and Bodie are clearly comfortable in each other’s company and have a wonderful rapport with each other. It also shows how much their caring is shown through their teasing, something that is important to remember. When they are really serious with each other you know one (or both) of them is really in danger.
After Doyle’s car blows up, both men are put on edge, and when they go back to Doyle’s place Bodie makes a humorous show of opening the gate: he grabs Doyle’s shoulders, saying, “Uh-uh-uh, watch it, my son,” makes Doyle give him the keys, gets out his gun and kicks the gate open. In a very cheesy way he’s showing his concern.
When they visit an explosives expert and realize the gunman isn’t out to kill but torment Doyle, Bodie says, “Some kind of joker.” “Yeah, great joke,” Doyle says, and Bodie looks at him seriously and with maybe a bit of sympathy.
Then when they’re walking back to the car the gunman shoots out a side window, just missing Doyle. “Backfire?” Bodie asks. “Not on your life,” Doyle responds. “Your life or mine?” Bodie asks. “Mine, I think,” Doyle responds. When you really look at their conversation you realize that Bodie is implying that by Doyle not shooting back, he’s putting himself in danger—that Doyle shouldn’t be worried about Bodie but only about himself. Bodie, of course, is worried about Doyle. Like Starsky and Hutch and Kelly and Scotty, they care more about each other than about themselves.
Later, walking back to the car again, Bodie says, “I always knew it you know.”
“You’re as mad as he is.”
“The nutter! Could be anywhere, couldn’t he. A thousand yards,” Bodie looks around behind Doyle, “what’s that, a hit, easy, couldn’t miss,” and he points his hand at the back of Doyle’s head.
“That’s right, but he won’t will he? Well not yet anyway. He’s teasing me. He’s not just a nutter, he’s a sadistic nutter. Setting me up.”
“Yeah, and you’re just gonna sit here and take it like a traditional nanny goat,” Bodie says, frustration in his voice.
“’Til he comes out to get me,” Doyle says.
“And then what?”
“You’ll save me.”
Bodie’s expression at Doyle is deadly serious, grim and reluctant, but there’s a hint of a smile too—as if to say, “Yeah, I hate to be put in that positon, but of course I will.”
“This something out of your past, Doyle,” Cowley says. “Out of your time at the yard. Someone who hates you so much he wants to see you squirm before he brings you to your knees.”
“And puts a bullet through your head,” Bodie says, concerned and staring straight at the brooding Doyle. “Better check through a list of your friends, mate,” he says, and lightly elbows Doyle and grins. He’s trying to make a joke, but his concern for Doyle—when Doyle wasn’t focused on him—was clear. Maybe he doesn’t want Doyle to know how much he cares (typical!) but he won’t hesitate to show it if necessary.
Bodie sleeps in his car in front of Doyle’s flat overnight in case the creepy gun man decide to hurt Doyle. When he calls Doyle to be let in in the morning he calls himself “your friendly night watchman.” When Doyle sees him he laughs at him, saying, “Couldn’t you find anywhere better to sleep?” “Who’s been sleeping?” Bodie asks.
At the telephone ringing Bodie jumps into position behind the door, gun ready, and doesn’t move even when Doyle tells him it’s Kathie until he sees Kathie come in the door. Kathie brings a “book,” which the pair fear might be a bomb, so they instruct her to go upstairs while they deal with the package.
“Here,” Bodie says, going to turn over the package, but Doyle quickly says, “No! This one’s for me.” The look Bodie gives him is one of respect, exasperation and worried resignation. Then Bodie notices the red dot moving on the wall, and says, “Ray,” calling Doyle by his first name as he does usually in serious situations. Of course the gunman doesn’t hit them, but he does open the package.
It’s unfortunate timing when Doyle goes out to meet his informant and Bodie arrives at Doyle’s flat just after he’s left. When Bodie doesn’t get an answer on the intercom, he jumps over the wall of the garden. He’s not hiding his worry now. He knocks on the door, looks in the glass, then goes back to his car and asks where Doyle is. No one knows the exact location, so Bodie takes a guess and goes to the informant’s houseboat, where he finds a bullet from the gun. Meanwhile, Cowley tells him to meet him at a suspect’s house.
Bodie is really concerned now; he can’t get in the front door of the house so he goes to the gate, kicks it in and when he can’t get in that door, grabs a shovel to break the glass—but Cowley’s there to meet him.
Turns out Kathie is planning to escape with the suspect—she’s been conning Doyle all along “You bitch,” Bodie says, venomously mad, “you set Ray up. She set us up from the start! He didn’t even have to follow us, did he? You knew exactly where you were gonna be. And you know exactly where he is now.” He sits in front of Kathie, very close to her. “You better tell me, my lovely, because of anything happens to Ray, I’m gonna find your sadistic boyfriend. . . . and kill him. Very slowly. And then, to save you the pleasure of spending the rest of your miserable life in jail, I’m gonna do the same for you, with great joy.”
Of course, she gives them the location and Doyle is saved. But it’s very clear: don’t get Bodie mad either. Both men are incredibly protective of each other, not caring about their own safety when it comes to the lives of their partner. This sounds a lot like God to me.
Part Two to come next week.