"You ever feel like you don't know who you are? Like if you weren't around somebody, or that somebody wasn't around you, that you wouldn't be you? Or at least not the you that you think ya are? You ever...you ever feel like that?" - Ray Kowalski
Constable Benton Fraser and Detective Stanley "Ray" Kowalski were best friends and partners in the latter seasons of the 90s tv show Due South. Fraser was a Canadian Mountie who first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father, and for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture, he remained attached as liaison to the Canadian Consulate. In his "off" hours, he unofficially teamed up with the Chicago Police Department to assist on cases. For the first two seasons, he worked alongside Detective Ray Vecchio, but when he was sent deep undercover in the mob, Ray Kowalski was brought in to assume the identity of Ray Vecchio so no one would get suspicious as to his whereabouts. While it was initially an adjustment for both Fraser and Ray, as Fraser suddenly lost his best friend and Ray had some pretty big shoes to fill while getting used to pretending to be someone else, they quickly came to an understanding and were able to become friends and partners in their own right.
Fraser and Ray Kowalski had a much more explosive relationship than Fraser and Ray Vecchio. They were much more on the same level, what with Fraser still being a fish out of water in Chicago and Ray still finding his place in another man's life, so they were both able to voice their frustrations with one another and work out their disagreements rather than letting them fester. Ray got frustrated with Fraser's constant need to logically approach each situation, and Fraser didn't agree with Ray's preference for going on instinct, but they realized that it was exactly their different approaches that made their duet work effectively. Both had the opportunity to transfer to another posting, but neither accepted because they knew that they belonged together as partners. I've actually never seen another show where the two leads referred to themselves as partners more, lending more credibility to the subtext in their relationship, as Fraser was not even an official member of the Chicago PD, so their insistence on being partners was purely just for them.
I watched due South for the first time long after its first airing, so I was able to avoid all of the rabid shipping wars that consumed the fandom between the two Rays. As it stands, I adore the friendship between Fraser and Ray Vecchio and was sad to see him go, but I also adore the very different relationship between Fraser and Ray Kowalski. The subtext ran much deeper with the second pair, and it is definitely not hard to see why so many people jumped on board that ship very quickly. They definitely had an undercurrent of something else running through their relationship that only got stronger as the show progressed. As the series drew to a close and I was dreading what I thought was the inevitable Fraser/Thatcher and Ray/Stella end game pairings, Fraser and Ray taking a dogsled into the sunset off on another adventure together was the absolute best ending I could have dreamed of.
3x01: Burning Down the House
Fraser: "Hey Ray...would you...would you like to go and get something to eat with me?"
Ray: [smiling] "Yeah...I just gotta...I'll put away these files, and I'll meet you at the car."
Fraser Sr.: "You want my opinion?"
Fraser: "Do I have any choice?"
Fraser Sr.: "He's a good man."
Fraser: "I think you're right."
3x02: The Eclipse
Ray: "May I ask you something? Do you find me attractive?"
Prisoner 1: "I wouldn't say attractive."
Prisoner 2: "No. Cute maybe."
Gladys: "I'd say well favored."
Ray: "Did I ask you?"
Prisoner 1: "Sorry, I thought you were asking all of us."
Ray: "Well I wasn't, so zip. Well? Do you find me attractive?"
Fraser: "In what sense?"
Ray: "In the sense of...you know...being a woman."
Fraser: "Do I think you're an attractive woman?"
Ray: "No. No, I'm not the woman. You're the woman."
Fraser: "I'm the woman."
Gladys: "No, I'm a woman."
Ray: "Butt out."
Prisoner 2: "Well she is."
Ray: "Well I know she's a woman. I'm asking Fraser to pretend that he's a woman. Okay?"
Gladys: "Oh, can you do that dear?"
Fraser: "Well, I have done that, yes."
Prisoner 2: "So have I. It was rather fun."
Ray: "Look, you three zip, and you? You pretend you're a woman, okay? Do you find me attractive?"
Fraser: "Very much so, yes."
Fraser: "You're a good policeman, Ray, and I would be proud to call you my partner, and my friend."
Ray: "What was that last part?"
3x13: Mountie on the Bounty Part 2
Ray: "What was that Fraser?"
Fraser: "What was what?"
Ray: "That thing you were doing with your mouth?"
Fraser: "Oh, that. That's buddy breathing. You seemed to be in a bit of a...well, having a problem, and I have excess lung capacity, so..."
Ray: "Buddy breathing."
Fraser: "Standard procedure."
Ray: "Good...okay...alright. Nothing's like...changed, or anything, right?"
Ray: "Okay, thanks."
Fraser: "You're thanking me?"
Ray: "Look, don't get too excited, Fraser. The jury's still out on this partnership thing, okay?"
Fraser: "Oh, well don't worry, Mr. Instinct, I'm not excited."
Fraser: "I realize that logic doesn't always work."
Ray: "I know, and I realize that going on instinct doesn't always work either."
Fraser: "No. No, so..."
Ray: "You gonna take the transfer?"
Fraser: "I don't think so. You?"
Ray: "Me? No."
Fraser: "Alright, so we're...we're still..."
Ray: "I think."
Fraser: "Right you are."
[they smile at each other and laugh]
4x12: Call of the Wild Part 1
Ray: "So, what? We still partners?"
Fraser: "If you'll have me."
Ray: "Come on."
4x13: Call of the Wild Part 2
Ray: "Fraser, you ever get the feeling that, you know, you're lost?"
Fraser: "No, a quick look to the stars or the sun, you can always find your location."
Ray: "No, I don't mean where ya are, I mean who ya are."
Fraser: "Oh. When I first came to Chicago I felt as though I was from another planet."
Ray: "Which you are."
Fraser: "Which I've come to accept. Everything was unknown, and at times it was frightening. I felt as though I was an explorer. An urban explorer."
Ray: "Urban explorer."
Ray: "Fraser, you got this hypothermia thing? Cause you seem to be talking to yourself."
Ray: "Okay, well Fraser just listen to me. You gotta push through the cold and the pain, and keep movin' cause that's what partnership's all about. There's red ships and green ships, but there's no ships like partnerships."
Ray: "So if we live through this, when we get back to Chicago, I guess you'll partner up with Vecchio? That's okay, cause he's a...good guy, you worked with him for awhile."
Fraser: "You know, Ray, my father and Buck Frobisher were partners for more than twenty years, and their territory was thousands of miles. Sometimes they wouldn't see each other for months, but no matter how far apart they were, they always knew that they were partners."
Ray: "I'm not sure if you-"
Inspector Thatcher: "Fraser?"
Fraser: "As for Ray, or should I say Stanley Kowalski, Sergeant Frobisher geared us up with tack and tallow, and led by Diefenbaker we set off, Ray and I. We set off on an adventure. And when we looked below, he saluted. Sergeant Frobisher saluted, and I saluted back, and off we went to find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea. And if we do find his hand, the reaching out one? We'll let you know."