DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has truly lost its mind in the best way. Tuesday’s episode of the zany CW series delivered an unforgettable hour that also served as a sweet encore for two beloved characters.
“Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac” marked the second-to-last episode for Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Nora Darhk (Courtney Ford), who will soon depart as regulars on the Waverider to start a new chapter in their lives. (Showrunner Phil Klemmer previously told TV Guide the move makes sense for the couple since they’ve hit a steady groove in their relationship and have essentially outgrown their time-traveling gig.)
The episode saw Ray coordinate a sweet date night with Nora that would have culminated with a romantic proposal. However, his plans came to a screeching halt when Nora arrived with her young charge, who hadn’t quite figured out her heart’s desire, in tow.
Courtney Ford Opens Up About Leaving DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: ‘It’s Been Very Emotional’
Things got even more complicated with the arrival of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), who showed up on their doorstep unannounced after being temporarily released from hell. Afraid of what her father would think of her new life, like her current gig as a Fairy Godmother and her wholesome, totally not evil boyfriend Ray Palmer, Nora chose to lie. Sara and Ava became her henchwomen, while Constantine pretended to be her boyfriend. Cue the awkward, but wildly entertaining dinner, as Nora and her friends to keep up their elaborate charade in front of Nora’s evil mastermind of a father.
“I was really excited about that part,” Courtney Ford told TV Guide. “It was a wonderful thing to be able to focus on since there were a lot of things going on mentally and emotionally [regarding her departure from the series]. I know the intention was to have kind of a Father of the Bride aspect but when I read it, the first thing that popped into my mind was The Bird Cage, which is one of my favorite movies.”
The 1996 comedy starring Robin Williams centered on a gay man pretending to be his son’s girlfriend’s boyfriend for a dinner with her ultra-conservative parents while his actual boyfriend masqueraded as the woman’s uncle. In a similar fashion, Legends delivered its own calamitous dinner as roles were reversed and the gang struggled to keep the lie going. According to Ford, that standout moment was just as fun to film as it was for those watching along.
“We could barely get through some of those scenes at dinner because of Neil [McDonough]. Some of the improv he was doing… We just couldn’t keep from breaking, so we kind of ruined the shot. I had to do it over and over again,” Ford explained.
The scene took a bizarre turn when Nora came clean to her father about her relationship with Ray, which lead to everyone arguing and her fed up charge transporting the bickering gang into an episode of the children’s series Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac. Hilarity ensued during the madcap homage to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, as Nora and Damien resolved their argument, while Ava and Sara, and Constantine and Charlie also sorted out their interpersonal issues. The comical segment proved to be too much for Nora’s charge, who realized her family wasn’t nearly as weird as this motley crew and decided to return home. With the kid problem solved and Damien finally giving Nora and Ray his blessing, there was time for one last thing: a wedding!
In one of the show’s most touching scenes, Ray and Nora exchanged heartfelt vows while their friends and loved ones, including a beaming Damien Darhk, looked on. Though fitting, the moment came as a surprise to Ford and her real-life husband Routh, who weren’t expecting such a quick turnaround for the ceremony.
“In real life, Brandon and I knew each other for four years before we had a wedding. So on a personal level, we were like, ‘Wait a minute, didn’t we just say ‘I love you’ for the first time this last episode? What’s happening?’ We’re more practical,” the actress revealed. “We’re like, ‘Wait a minute! Where’s the premarital counseling? Shouldn’t you go on a road trip first to really be sure?’ We’re like, ‘Hold on, hold on. This is a little fast.’ But you know, it’s Legends.”
Ray and Nora’s wedding caps off an exciting journey for the pair, who started out as defacto enemies — she was evil, after all — before forming a strong bond that would change both characters for the better.
“I think that they both meant a lot to each other as far as being able to live a more well rounded life. Ray and Nora are on the surface two completely different people, but if you look closer, both those characters had very, very lonely childhoods. They just dealt with that pain and loneliness in two different ways. Ray really works hard to only see the good in everything, partly because that’s who he is, but partly because he doesn’t want to feel any pain. It’s a defense mechanism,” Ford explained.
She continued: “And for Nora, she’s dealing with the same feelings, but she’s taking the opposite tack where she is saying, ‘The world is dangerous, people aren’t trustworthy, everything is bad. So I am going to wall off my heart and not let any goodness in because once you let that in, there is the possibility for people to disappoint you. You have the [ability] to lose it and that’s painful.’ So they’re both protecting themselves from pain just in totally different ways. They’ve had a tremendous impact on each other because they’ve allowed each other to open up and know what it is to be a human in this world.”
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With Ray and Nora officially wed, “Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac” provided a lovely sense of closure for both characters. The episode also delivered a seemingly final send-off for Damien, who slipped away from the party to wipe out his existence with the Hell sword instead of returning to hell to be tortured for eternity.
Damien might be gone but Ray and Nora still have one more episode left. The pair will ring out their final adventure on Legends with respective bachelor and bachelorette bashes. Off screen, Legends commemorated the occasion with a going away party for Nora.
“They gifted me my fairy godmother wand,” Ford said. “So, I have that here in the house and they printed out this giant card and everybody signed it. I got to do a little speech and give all the hugs and all the tears and all of the things. It’s three seasons for me and six seasons for Brandon [as Ray Palmer]. So, we weren’t just like, ‘Bye!’ There were a lot of emotions there.”
Whether or not Nora will return to the series remains to be seen but Ford hasn’t ruled out the possibility. “I think I’ll have to cross that bridge if it’s ever in front of me,” she said.
Legends of Tomorrow airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.