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Final Legends of Tomorrow Episode for Brandon Routh Was a Metatextual Masterpiece

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BY March 18, 2020
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The final episode of Legends of Tomorrow original cast member Brandon Routh, and his real-life wife Courtney Ford, was mostly perfect. It combined the silliness of this show with some really heartfelt moments. (The gang had to save William Shakespeare’s career while hunting for a piece of the Loom of Fate.) Yet, it also became something of a metatextual masterpiece because of how the characters dealt with Ray Palmer leaving the Waverider. What’s even more interesting is that the writers, essentially, put their argument for Ray leaving in Routh’s mouth.

Back in October, Routh shared an emotional goodbye to the show via his Instagram. As we discussed in our coverage of their Mister Rogers episode, the way the show’s producers handled the exit was not ideal. On Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, Routh said that the news of his exit “wasn’t handled well.” Ostensibly, Routh and Ford were fired from the show. While there are likely reasons for this (probably budgetary), the producers said they wanted to write Ray Palmer a “happy ending.”

We’re going to get into spoiler territory, here. So, if you’ve not seen the final episode of Legends of Tomorrow for Brandon Routh, bookmark the page and return when you’ve seen it.

How the Final Legends of Tomorrow Episode for Brandon Routh Got More Meta Than Usual

Final Episode Brandon Routh Legends of Tomorrow Nick Zano nate heywood Ray Palmer Image by Dean Buscher via the CW

Legends of Tomorrow is a very metatextual show. They started having the characters refer to the annual team-ups as crossovers. In Tuesday’s episode, Nick Zano’s Nate Heywood told a group of Shakespearean actors they were “replaced by Riverdale,” a show that replaced Legends one year. Yet, the most meta thing about the episode was that Nate’s feelings about Ray leaving closely matched Routh’s real-life feelings. To paraphrase David Tennant’s Doctor Who character, Routh “didn’t want to go.”

Throughout the episode, Ray makes the case for his leaving the timeship. Essentially, he wants to support his wife (he married Ford’s character Nora Dahrk who is a literal Fairy Godmother) in her work. The Legends don’t often get happy endings (or elaborate send-offs like this), and so leaving is the only way Ray can get the happy ending the character deserves.

But, just like how the producers handled the exit with Routh, Ray botches telling his best friend Nate about his decision. This created anger and tension between the characters, only to wrap up with an emotional farewell at the end.

Should the Producers Have Written Ray Off of the Show?

Final Episode Brandon Routh Legends of Tomorrow Courtney Ford Nora Dahrk Matt Ryan John Constantine Image via CW

The question left in fans’ minds, then, is whether or not the producers made the right call. Yes, the definitely should have handled the exit better. Also, they all but assured fans (and Routh) that he’d be back in future seasons for guest spots. But, Legends of Tomorrow was always imagined as a series with a rotating cast. There are so many side-characters in the Arrowverse that Legends is a great way to keep them in the loop. For example, Rick Gonzalez’s Wild Dog has been namechecked twice on the show in recent weeks. It’s possible, with the Arrow series finale this year, he may come back into the fold on the Waverider. So, in a way, it is inevitable that all the characters will leave the series, even if it continues to air for many more seasons to come.

However, Ray Palmer is a unique figure on the ship. When Brandon Routh’s Superman made an appearance during hour 2 of Crisis On Infinite Earths, we got to see just how alike the two characters are. Ray is a hero who is pure of heart and endlessly optimistic. While many of the Legends are cynical or damaged, Ray was always there to lift everyone’s spirits. His absence will change the dynamic of the show in a big way, something Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance gave voice to in the episode.

So, it may make sense both within the story and in how the show operates to write Routh’s character off. Yet, it feels like a mistake because there really is no character like him left on the ship.

What did you think of the final Legends of Tomorrow episode with Brandon Routh? Do you think the character should have stayed? Tell us in the comments.

Featured image by Dean Buscher via CW.

DC ComicsTV ShowsArrowverseBrandon RouthLegends of Tomorrow

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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