Ray Palmer and Nora Darhk

It was just announced that Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford will be exiting Legends of Tomorrow as series regulars. The couple took to their social media to express their disappointment and understanding, both sharing remarkably kind and on-brand messages in light of the news. This kind of thing happens in television, especially in shows like Legends. Though, even with that in mind, the departure of these two particular characters is a tough pill to swallow. 

Courtney Ford’s Nora Darhk isn’t just a portrait of survival, but redemption as well. A lifetime of abuse can make the strongest person hard, and Nora’s no exception. It’s that hardness that makes her progression so unique though. Characters who experience trauma frequently cope with said trauma in one dimensional ways. They choose one of two extreme paths (usually in the flavor of kindness or bitterness), and that’s just the way they are because of the hell they went through. 

Nora’s story starts there, but it’s just the beginning of her narrative. Ray Palmer’s unwavering kindness throws her for a loop and leads her to choose another path. Her redemption isn’t immediate. It’s complicated and messy. Nora makes the call to give herself up, but she’s still extremely resistant to friendship and love. We get to watch her heal in real-time, and that’s such an important story to tell. So many survivors come out the other side embittered. To illustrate that the rage and the darkness you feel after that kind of trauma isn’t permanent on network television feels so, so important. I’m thankful for the time that we’ve gotten, but her story isn’t finished yet and to rush it in favor of a character exit seems cheap.

Then there’s Ray Palmer. 

This big, lovable doof (genius) has been a part of the Arrowverse for quite some time. In that time, he has been an unwavering beacon of light. The dude started off on Arrow, so please keep in mind that being that light hasn’t always been a super easy task. Ray Palmer’s less complex than Nora Darhk, but that doesn’t take away a thing from his importance. His is a character that falls under the kindness side of the aforementioned trauma extremes. That kindness is one of the most important factors not just to his character, but to the Arrowverse as a whole. 

Legends of Tomorrow is a pretty lighthearted show from season two on, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tackle important themes. It makes a point to bring up hard conversations, as well as focusing on the plight of The Other. The nature of the team leads to the majority of them being cynics with one notable exception: Ray. Even best friend and darling dude bro Nate Heywood finds his optimism outshone by Ray’s (sometimes frustrating) idealism. But damn, y’all. Everything’s bad! Can’t we have just a little bit of relentless positivity?

Even when the world and all of time is against them, Ray finds a way to lift up his team. It doesn’t matter if that team is the Legends, or the entirety of the not-yet-calling-themselves-The Justice League. If there is one single silver lining, Ray is going to find it. He is going to instill hope, he is going to pep talk until he’s blue in the face, and then he’s probably going to find some weird formula that solves the problem. 

I trust the writers of Legends of Tomorrow. They’ve delivered an awesome, wonderful, and often delightfully ridiculous product time and time again. But I can’t help but feel like this is the wrong call. Characters come and go all the time, but both Ray and Nora bring two very specific things to the Arrowverse. I don’t think that those are things that DCTV can afford to lose right now. 

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