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Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow for Brandon Routh on Legends of Tomorrow

Goodbte, Ray Palmer

Legends of Tomorrow -- "Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness" -- Image Number: LGN507a_0187b.jpg -- Pictured: Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. That was the moral of last night’s emotional Legends of Tomorrow, as the show said goodbye to founding Legend Ray Palmer, as played by Brandon Routh.

Ray Palmer has always been one of my favorite characters on Legends. I love his optimism. I love his joy. He tries to see the best in every situation, which is something I try to do too. As portrayed by Brandon Routh, an actor who is, like Ray, a wonderfully kind and thoughtful person, Ray was the rare sort of hero who wore his hope and heart on his sleeve and won the day because of that. It was wonderful.

When I heard last fall that Brandon, along with his wife (now both on-screen and off) Courtney Ford would be leaving the show, I was, like many Legends fans, heartbroken. While the Legends have welcomed and said goodbye to many members, Ray always seemed like he would be a constant. But last night, the show tried to make the case that it was okay to say goodbye, even if it hurt.

Ray and Nora decided they wanted a more normal life and decided to move out of the ship. It was a tough choice, but the right one for them as they grew and moved on with their lives. Both the writers of the show and the character wanted happy endings, or happy new beginnings for Ray and Nora, even if that meant bringing their arcs on the Waverider to a close. That’s tough, even if it was for the best for their stories.

The expression of this came down to Nate (Nick Zano), whose friendship with Ray has always been a perfect example of non-toxic masculinity. Nate and Ray love each other and neither is afraid to feel and express their feelings. Finding out Ray was leaving, even if it was a positive thing for his life, was tough for Nate. He didn’t want to lose his friend. But he learned from the best that saying goodbye hurts because of love, and that’s not all bad.

Legends of Tomorrow -- "Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness" -- Image Number: LGN507a_0217b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel and Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

For the bros’ final mission: in the search for the pieces of the Loom of Fate, the Legends ended up in Shakespear’s England where they ruined, then saved, Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare himself didn’t want to finish the play because he didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters he loved, but he did it because it was what was best for their story. Certainly, this is the show making their case for sending off Ray, and while I might not totally agree, I like it and I’ll allow is. Especially since we get Shakespearean versions of the Legends, and what comes after.

In a very fun scene, the Legends themselves had to act out the play, with Constantine as Romeo and Nate then Zari as Juliet in the balcony scene. At this point, Nate has pushed Ray away to leave without him, but speaking Juliet’s words, Nate gets it. He rushes off to say goodbye. This also leads to a wonderful version of the balcony scene showcasing that Matt Ryan and Tala Ashe are incredible, classically trained actors as they play the scene intercut with Nate and Ray’s goodbye.

Nate makes it and gets to tell Ray how much he’ll miss him and love him. Perhaps my favorite sentiment of the episode is that we find friends because we need them, and they help us to grow so we need them less, but we love them even so. Nate and Ray know it’s time to say goodbye, but it’s still hard because of all that love. If you’re going to make a point about love remaining despite someone leaving, you could do worse than quoting Shakespeare to make it.

It hurts to see Ray and Nora leave. I loved them and I love Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford. Reading Routh’s goodbye message to the show and fans made me tear up all over again. But if we have to say goodbye, for whatever reason, I’m okay with it. I’m okay with letting these characters go off to a new, happy adventure. But I, along with the fans of Legends, will always love these two. And love does not diminish with a goodbye, Shakespeare taught us, it only grows.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Goodbye, Ray and Nora. Goodbye, Brandon and Courtney. And thank you for the love and joy you brought us.

(images: Dean Buscher/The CW)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.