NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow”, including a major character death, are present in this review
Legends of Tomorrow once again leaned especially heavily into its comedic side this week, presenting another spin on the Legends’ usual Encore hunt, while at the same time resolving a big character turn for Ray and Nora. “Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac” mostly builds itself around a prolonged comedy of errors between most of Legends of Tomorrow’s current lead characters, with Charlie more or less being the only exception, as she urges Constantine not to pursue the Loom of Fate. At the same time, Mick and Zari are separated into their own comedy-driven storyline, after an online troll of Rebecca Silver ends up having shocking consequences for Mick’s personal life.
Most of this episode is very funny, and presents another winning comedic offering for Legends of Tomorrow. The best part of this episode however is how its surprising emotional punch manages to sneak in right at the end, even amidst all of the silliness that occurred shortly beforehand. This all occurs because Ray is preparing to propose to Nora, which he puts a complicated plan into motion for, only to have that plan naturally be interrupted by our latest Encore-of-the-week. This isn’t just any Encore however, since the latest soul that Astra freed from Hell just so happens to be that of Damien Darhk, former Arrowverse arch-villain, and Nora’s own father!
This return for Damien Darhk is fantastic, not just because the character is re-framed entirely as a doting father here, supposedly having changed his ways after two years in Hell, but also because the tragic irony of Ray’s proposal being interrupted ends up spiraling into a hilarious collection of lies from Nora, which most of the Legends have to uphold. These include Nora dating Constantine, Sara and Ava now being Nora’s henchwomen, and Nora enjoying life as a powerful, independent witch. Nora is, of course, a put-upon fairy godmother in reality though, so she coerces Ray into distracting her charge, Pippa, which kills two birds with one stone, since it simultaneously allows Nora to hide Ray from her disapproving father.
The domino effect of resulting comedic chaos is often wonderfully executed, particularly when Sara has to initially be talked out of permanently destroying Damien with the Hell Saber, while Ray has to field questions from Behrad and Nate, while also trying to distract Pippa with his favourite childhood show, Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac, a very obvious riff on the highly beloved Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Ray’s efforts obviously end up being fruitless however, since, not only does Nora fail to de-power her father with a potion that Gary prepares (surprisingly successfully!), but Pippa’s response to everyone’s emotional dysfunction is also to wish that they were all trapped in the world of Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac!
This is a wonderfully funny turn that this episode frustratingly doesn’t utilize to its full potential. Perhaps the joke just couldn’t be stretched as far as the writers had hoped, but this episode still feels like it spends too little time in this Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood-inspired world. The Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac twist is at least decently used to help Nora and Damien reconcile, while also leading to Damien coming around on Ray, but it’s also wasted on hastily resolve some less effective drama with Sara and Ava. Apparently, former Arrow vigilante, Rene Ramirez, who is inexplicably going under his code name, Wild Dog in this episode, has offered Sara a permanent job in Star City, which Sara is considering, and failed to tell Ava about. This subplot is too underdeveloped and pointless however, and despite Sara and Ava having to make up as puppets in the Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac world, the joke of Legends of Tomorrow yet again turning some of its leads into puppets would have gone further if there were actual stakes behind Sara’s job offer, which she inevitably turns down.
At least Mick’s reaction to meeting his online troll, a girl named Lita, feels a lot more believable. Mick and Zari end up stumbling onto their own surprising revelation during this disconnected subplot, namely that Lita is the daughter of Ali, Mick’s old girlfriend. Better still is that Ali actually got knocked up by Mick many years ago, and that means that Lita is also Mick’s daughter! This minor subplot is overall better executed than the Sara/Ava spat, since Mick believably memory wipes both Ali and Lita upon hearing the news, then walks away, insisting to Zari that they were never there. As much as some of Zari’s potential as an anti-troll adviser isn’t fully utilized here, Zari being the voice of reason with Mick regarding his fear of tainting his daughter nonetheless works well, presenting some promise for another interesting character evolution for Mick this season, after Ray marries Nora shortly beforehand, with all of the Legends in attendance at Constantine’s estate.
This bittersweet letting go of Nora further impacts Damien’s character, after he acknowledges to Sara that he’s aware she can never forgive him for killing her sister (as depicted several years ago on Arrow), and he can never forgive himself. Sara then discovers in the final seconds of this episode that Damien has voluntarily destroyed himself with the Hell Saber, permanently keeping him out of Astra’s clutches, after Damien violated his Hell parole by failing to cause pain and suffering on Earth. It’s a perfectly somber note for Damien to erase himself on, seemingly removing the character from the Arrowverse entirely at this point, even though time travel could theoretically re-introduce his more villainous side down the road, if need be. Overall, as a final farewell for Damien’s character, which in turn sets the stage for a coming farewell for both Ray and Nora later this season, “Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac” managed to mostly rise above its missed narrative opportunities. Some of the character conflicts could have gone further, and the Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac twist definitely could have been fleshed out more, but Ray’s big step with Nora is nonetheless very pleasing. The real question however is whether Mick will rise to the challenge of being a father, now that he also has something outside of the Waverider to live for.
- Damien Darhk's amusing, surprisingly emotional return (and farewell)
- Amusing comedy of errors at Constantine's estate
- The shocking identity behind Mick's online troll
- Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac world isn't used to its full potential
- Sara/Ava conflict is largely pointless