Legends of Tomorrow: 5.08 Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness
So here it is, the day we’ve (well, I’ve) been dreading; Ray is leaving the Waverider. It's been no secret that Brandon Routh would be leaving the show but knowing that it was the producers’ decision, not the actor, can’t help but put a slight cloud over proceedings. But they handle Ray (and Nora’s) departure pretty well, even if its all a little bitter sweet.
The main adventure involves visiting Shakespeare; only Ray knows he’s leaving this week so wants to have a huge, wacky, Legendsy adventure. But the Shakespeare encounter is easily and quickly fixed - adventure over! Ray keeps trying to big it up and make it a longer, more exciting jaunt. Of course, the Legends do end up messing things up and effecting the timeline of Shakespeare’s works so Ray gets his wish, obviously, but its fun to see a Legend getting confused because a mission is going smoothly. It does make you wonder if when we’re not watching, the team have a load of easy successful missions?
Mona pops back this week for book-club and a kind of post-wedding hen-do with Nora and the gang. I’m disappointed that Mona has left now; she felt like an unnecessary character that absolutely grated on me for 90% of the time she was on the show but she just started to become interesting - and I was beginning to find her quite charming - when she suddenly went. So it's fun to see her back for a bit, especially since her character did play an integral part of Nora’s arc last season. Her friendship with Rory was also a fun dynamic that was initiated but never got to fully blossom and during her visit, Mona helps Rory with his surprise estranged daughter. Mick’s secret daughter is a really fun idea and again, I like Mona being involved with this to offer support. Rory’s daughter is clearly going to be a major story arc going forward…
After the team meddle and get in a super powered bar fight in front of Shakespeare, he gets inspired and creates the modern super-hero genre early, with Romeo and Juliet turning into an Avengers style team up of all his greatest characters. This is lots of fun and has that wonderful Legends of Tomorrow meta goofiness. The only way the team can fix the timeline, it seems, is to perform Romeo and Juliet as intended, making it a big hit. All the performance stuff is great fun, especially Nate insisting on playing Juliet. Last minute though, he has to back out so he can go and say goodbye to Ray, allowing Zari to step in. Obviously, Tala Ashe and Matt Ryan are actors and I’m sure they’ve played these roles or similar in the past (Ryan was part of the RSC in his earlier career), but I was really invested in the Zari/Constantine Romeo and Juliet performances and would happily watch an entire production with these two. Nothing is worse than actors pretending to be people who aren’t actors acting but here they just play the roles straight and its genuinely enjoyable. Constantine himself takes a very backseat role this week and while he’s great in it, it feels ever so slightly out of character for him to take part in the play so willingly.
The Shakespeare stuff is all great fun and I always think this show deserves kudos for the quality of its British accents – they usually have actual British actors or US/Canadian actors who can actually hold a realistic British accent and while a couple of the accents here maybe wouldn’t hold up under deeper scrutiny there are some very solid support performances, far better than most lazy American shows manage. Also, shout out to the title, its another Legends of Tomorrow doozy!
The play acts as a backdrop for Ray and Nate’s goodbye. This is a nice sort of forgiveness and acceptance moment; Nate having got in a grump that Ray was keeping his leaving a secret from him. While it all works well for the drama of the episode and Ray gets a fitting enough goodbye, it actually feels like he acts a little out of character. He seems slightly duplicitous, almost becoming untrustworthy or a saboteur early on in the episode. While its a very sweet goodbye in the end, it doesn’t quite ring true that Ray would be so underhand and that he and Nora would just go like this. Ray has never shown any sign of being fed up with his job as a Legend; in fact, you could almost argue that he is the character who has taken it most seriously from the start and Nora has become a near fully integrated member of the team, or at least a reliable consultant. Their decision to leave just feels a little weak and I would have liked something more compelling than simply going off to have a domestic happy ever after; these are characters capable of having their happy ever after and still be part of things.
Ray does have a lovely, tender goodbye with Sara, which is nice. It’s easy to forget in the context of this show alone, how these two characters - these two actors - have been a part of each other's lives for longer than the Legends of Tomorrow have been a team. While the Nate/Ray friendship has become a huge part of the show, its important that Sara doesn’t play second fiddle to the bromance and I was glad to see this mature, friendship given a gentle goodbye.
Ava and Behrad have kind of been positioning to take on the roles served by Ray, but with him leaving, the show will lose its heart in many ways. I love this show but genuinely think it never regained a certain something it lost when Victor Garber's Dr. Stein left the show. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more fun, exciting adventures in the future but with the loss of Ray and more specifically Brandon Routh, I feel like there is a little piece of the magic they won’t be able to replicate. I guess it could be a worthwhile trade off if his leaving this show was to enable him to return to a certain other superhero role he’s known for but I won’t hold my freeze breath…
But he’s gone and we, like Nate have to deal with it. To quote Nate and Ray during their goodbye, this sucks.