DC's Legends of Tomorrow recap: A wild and tearful goodbye to Ray Palmer
Are you still crying? Because I definitely still am, and it’s all because of Nick and Ray’s tearful goodbye scene on the Waverider in tonight's Legends of Tomorrow. All throughout the episode, I thought I was handling Brandon Routh’s departure pretty well, but then his final scene with Nick Zano arrived and I lost it. The hug! The tears! The “I love you!” It was the perfect tribute to this sweet friendship. Not only that, but the moment was also weird because it was paired with Zari and Constantine performing an intimate scene from Romeo & Juliet. Honestly, weird and sad is how I would describe this "Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness" episode as a whole, which is Routh and Courtney Ford’s last one on the show. It's a very meta episode that has a whole lot of heart beneath it as it explores the importance of endings, change, and growth.
The episode begins with Ray taking Damien’s advice and telling Nora he thinks it’s time for them to leave the ship and start their life together. Soon after that, he tells the team about their decision as they all wait in line for the bathroom, which is occupied by Zari, and avoid any McGuffin talk before Sara has finished her morning coffee. Ray fails to Nate, though, because he knows the moment he does it means he's actually leaving.
So Ray lies to Nate as they embark on his final mission with the team, which sees them travel to London 1594 to recover a piece of the Loom that Charlie left with William Shakespeare. If this were any other Arrowverse show, I would get very annoyed about the writers having Ray keep a secret like this, but it works here because the script doesn’t pretend that Ray is making the right decision. Everyone on the team keeps pushing Ray to come clean to Nate.
Ray, Nate, Constantine, Behrad, and Charlie find Shakespeare hanging out in a pub. Unfortunately, he no longer has the piece of the Loom (a ring) because he gave it to his producer in exchange for a deadline extension on finishing his new play, Romeo & Juliet. For some reason, Billy Shakes has writer's block and can’t figure out how to end it. So, the Legends decide to steal the ring from his producer. Nate and Ray come up with a very cute, intricate, and funny plan, but Charlie goes ahead and nicks it without causing much a fuss.
With the ring acquired, the gang decides to hang back and throw Ray a belated bachelor party. In true Legends fashion, though, they all get too drunk and end up causing a ruckus (read: a bar fight) with their powers. Mick breaks out his flamethrower, Nate steels up, Ray’s Atom suit goes wild. It’s chaotic and inspires Shakespeare to turn Romeo & Juliet into a superhero play that involves Mercutio steel-ing up and loads of other wackiness.
Meanwhile back on the ship, the women invite Zari to join Book Club, which, as they explain to her, is a place where they can talk about their issues (without using c words like cult or clone). Zari resists the overture and instead suggests they throw Nora her own bachelorette party, which involves a stripper, a pony, scooters, and tons of alcohol. Unfortunately, the party is interrupted when Nora notices that the cover of Romeo & Juliet has changed to Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness, a nod to a certain terrible DC movie that gets even funnier as the episode goes on.
So, the team heads back out into the field to clean up this mess, and here’s where the episode becomes very meta. First, it turns out the new play is about the characters collecting gems and learning how to work as a team, a dig at the show’s earlier seasons. Then, Nate tells the actors they’ve been replaced by Riverdale as he collects the scripts. At the same time, Ray chats with Shakespeare, who is struggling to “elucidate” the lesson his characters learn and reveals he’s planning on cramming Violet, Hamlet, and Puck into the play so that they can then team-up to fight Richard III. We call that Dawn of Justice-ing. However, this meta-joke gives way to some pathos as Ray realizes that Shakespeare is doing all of this so he can avoid writing the ending he knows he needs to because he’s not ready to say goodbye to his characters.
“Endings are necessary for growth no matter how painful they may be,” Ray, who realized why he hadn’t told Nate the truth yet, tells Shakespeare. It’s an interesting and emotional moment because you can feel the writers working through their conflicted feelings about having to write Ray and Nora off. Sure, they love them, but the show needs to grow and that requires some endings. There’s another layer to it when you remember that Routh isn’t happy about leaving the show. Having him say those words ends up being weird, sad, and very meta. But I like that the show is fine with how uncomfortable it is.
Unfortunately, Nate overhears Ray’s conversation with Shakespeare and becomes pissed about being the last to know Ray's leaving. So, he pushes Ray away and tells him to just leave rather than deal with his feelings. As Ray and Nora pack their things up, Sara and the Legends perform Romeo & Juliet because Shakespeare’s producer took away his funding, so it’s up to them to make sure this classic play remains in the Western canon. Watching the team perform the play is beyond hilarious, but it’s also a sweet ode to Ray’s impact on the team because it is indeed an action-less and innocent plan that he would come up with. Ray has truly changed his teammates.
Midway through performing Act II, Scene II as Juliet, Nate has an epiphany and rushes off stage to say goodbye to Ray before he leaves. (It’s classic Legends to avoid Romeo’s go-to monologue from this scene and focus on another aspect). Ray and Nate both apologize to each other and share one final bro hug while the Legends' deranged Romeo & Juliet performance continues apace with Zari as Juliet and Constantine as Romeo. Sure, this is goodbye, but Ray will always be with Nate because he’s helped make him a better person. With that, Ray and Nora step into a portal back into the real world.
To further highlight how lovely it is that Nate and the team accept Ray’s decision because it’s right for him, the episode features a subplot involving Astra and her friend, the Coin Maker. Sadly, the Coin Maker isn’t happy when Astra tells her about Constantine’s promise because she’s worried about losing Astra. Instead of supporting her, the Coin Maker manipulates her into second-guessing Constantine’s plan and has her snoop on him to find out exactly what it is, which is how Astra learns about the Loom of Fate.
All in all, I thought this was a wonderful and sweet goodbye to Ray and Routh. I definitely wasn’t ready to see them go, but it hurts in the best way possible because the episode pays tribute to everything we love about the Atom.
Wall of Weird:
- Sara and Ray's goodbye was also very touching since they are some of the few remaining original cast members.
- Sara promises to be there for Nate now that Ray is gone.
- As a final tribute, the entire team decides to give Ray's green juice a try after he leaves — which sends all of them, except for Zari, running for the bathroom.
- Nate's intricate plan to steal the ring ended with "And then we go to Star City and we pick up Wild Dog and we —." I really want to know what they're planning on doing with Wild Dog. Also, why has Wild Dog been mentioned so much on the show?
- "Why didn't he just steel-up again? Stupid Mercutio," Nate, as he reads Romeo V Juliet: Dawn of Justness in a funny nod to how inconsistently Nate uses his powers on the show.
- "The last 'club' I joined programmed me to be an assassin," Sara, to Zari, in Book Club.
- Fun fact: Zari is a classically trained actress.