Listener Email: Brainiac 5 and Brainy/Nia in Season 4
26 May. 2019

Listener Email: Brainiac 5 and Brainy/Nia in Season 4


New Rachel wrote in to share some thoughts on one of her favorite DC Comics characters and his journey in season four!

Dear Supergirl Radio,

I do not mean to dismiss Jesse Rath as an actor, or to disregard Nicole Maines and how important both she and her character are. I thoroughly respect them both and wish them success. This is not about the representation that these characters and actors provide, rather it is about their characters and how they’ve been written and handled throughout the season.

For the majority of the season, Brainiac 5 has been out of character. With the exceptions of some episodes such as “The American Alien”, “Fallout”, “Ahimsa”, “Bunker Hill”, “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, and “Stand and Deliver”, he has been portrayed as comic relief and a background character in other stories, rather than the legitimate hero that comic fans know him to be.

Even through his vocal performance, he is taken less seriously, and I am aware that it is an acting choice by Jesse, meant to pay homage to some of his favorite movies. But he is trying too hard with it, coming off more as a caricature instead of an actual character, and it only makes him sound like more of a joke, in contrast to his more normal voice in season three. There was no change needed, he sounded perfect as he was.

Furthermore, I know that the “boxes” were a recurring motif meant to set up his eventual alignment in 4×21. But if so, they should not have been dismissed afterwards, and should have been recognized as the unhealthy coping mechanism that they are. I’ve joked that they were the reason he was so out of character, but perhaps that is the case, and they’re to blame for his forgetting about certain important things – such as Nura, and the timeline that he was so careful to help preserve in season three (even though the Legion changed it for better and worse in that season as well). Indeed, Nura may not exist at all in the future now, and that is because he said “causality be damned” and told Nia that he loved her, with the two of them soon after becoming a couple.

(Also, I believe the alignment should’ve stuck and he could have stayed a morally gray character in season five, similar to Lena- but that is a matter for another time.)

Brainy and Nia’s relationship should have never been the focus of Nia’s arc. She had a hero’s journey ahead of her, as well as her journalism career, with Kara meant to mentor her in both areas. Yet, Kara soon faded into the background in that storyline, and while I could talk about her sidelining as well, it was Brainy who truly had his story reduced to only servicing hers, and was reduced to being her love interest and someone to be given to her in the end. Her journey, aside from the senseless death of her mother, was an easy one, and there were no obstacles for her in how quickly she learned to use her powers.

She has become too overpowered, given abilities that her canon descendant does not have, and I feel like the story would have been better if her abilities were less, but used more creatively, instead of becoming a deus ex machina. Supergirl, as a show, already has three very powerful superheroes, and while she could be powerful in her own right, I don’t understand the dream blasts or what they add to her other than a cool aesthetic.

Brainy and Nia’s relationship was built on miscommunication and mixed signals from the beginning, and while I understand that it’s normal for CW shows, it still isn’t a great foundation for an intended relationship. As probably the smartest being in the universe at that time (barring any other Brainiacs), he should know how to tell her what she needs to know without revealing too much about the future, and she should know to respect his experience instead of going behind his back and learning about the future, anyway.

On a personal level, they had never been on the same page regarding their relationship, going from friends to mentor and mentee to one having a crush on the other and then the other way around, and they never once had an open conversation about themselves. Instead, Brainy told her that they could never be together in 4×15, three episodes later they still haven’t talked about what happened at the hospital, and the next episode he asks “what does love feel like”, only to declare in the finale that he loves her, and all we hear Nia say on the matter is that she “loves nerdy boys who think too much”, which is also degrading to Brainy as thinking is basically his reason for existence, and it is impossible for him to think too much.

Also, when he had brought up his past (4×06 with the comment about his mother, 4×10 when he said he was on a dark path before the Legion, 4×15 when he talked about his ancestors being evil), she never once asked for more information, or asked about him at all. She didn’t listen to him, even kissing him while he was having a panic attack without his consent in the latter of those episodes, and if she had, she might’ve shown concern once he had become aligned. They barely know anything about one another through a whole season, and I don’t even think that she knows his real name. That is no basis for a relationship, and now that they’re together it would be to their benefit that they do get to know each other, even though they should’ve been doing so all this time.

In conclusion, Brainy as a character is not who he was in season three, and is not the character that I personally fell in love with. While he had interactions with other characters that I very much enjoyed (especially Alex, Kara, and Lena) it is with Nia where he is most done a disservice. Their relationship is mismatched in terms of maturity (he seems to be late twenties-early thirties while she’s in her early twenties) and communication, and while I was hoping that they would have a good relationship (parting amicably after a mutual understanding that he couldn’t be with her forever, lest erasing one of his friends from existence) it is clear that they have a lot of work to do in order to get to that point, with the additional expense of ignoring the established character that was the reason so many fans were excited to see him as a series regular in the first place.

Clarification: I love this show! I’ve been watching since the series premiere and I intend to watch through the series finale! I love most of the characters and the journeys that they go on! But, this in particular, got me really frustrated exactly because this is one of my favorite DC characters, and what happened this season for him could basically be summed up by “what you’re doing doesn’t make any sense”.

Stay super,

New Rachel

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4 Responses

  1. Courtney says:

    Excellent and interesting points about Brainy! I wasn’t a huge fan of Brainy in season 3 because I didn’t know much about his character. Though honestly I would’ve thought Kara would’ve had a more adverse reaction to meeting him since he is part of the Brainiac clan (I think that’s how they’re referred to).

    I wanted to learn more about this “dark path” he was on before the Legion. In my head, I’m have this inaccurate image that he was part of some street gang (a highly intelligent street gang) creating Brainiac havoc and hijinks.

    What if Nura doesn’t have a complete genealogy of her family and Nia and Brainy are actually her ancestors? Remember there was some mass loss of Earth’s history and Nia and Brainy are on Earth. That knowledge could’ve been destroyed. I’m not sure how I feel about their relationship though she did seem intrigued by him when they first met and though it was a slower burn than Kelly and Alex, I still would’ve like it to develop more and not have jumped around as much.

    I also agree Nia got a handle on her powers really quick.

  2. Rachel says:

    thank you!

    I absolutely also thought Kara (and others, especially Winn) would’ve been afraid of him, but then again that was because of Indigo, a Season 1 villain, and as Morgan and Rebecca have said in past episodes, they’ve pretty much ignored season 1 for reasons.

    I don’t know what his “dark past” could entail, but my personal headcanon is that Nura was the one who reached out to him- so that if her being there was compromised (by her not existing, or existing in a different way that would lead to her not being there for him) then he would have never become a good person, and never would’ve joined the Legion. Not saying this is canon, but given how Brainy reacted to Nia in the first half of the season, I think a similarly meaningful connection with Nura is essential.

    I’m aware that that knowledge was destroyed, and it’s possible, but I’m going to fundamentally disagree because even though Brainy is dating Nia right now, I don’t think he would involve himself in her timeline heavily enough to actually be Nura’s ancestor. And she did seem intrigued by him, though recently her comments about him (the aforementioned “nerdy boy who thinks too much” line, and her calling him a “logical idiot”) makes it sound like she doesn’t necessarily feel the same now.

    Kelly and Alex were only introduced to one another in 4×15, and their moment feels like the definitive start of a relationship, whereas the moments with Brainy and Nia are still left more ambiguous. And though I don’t ship the latter couple, I still want them to be more developed.

    thank you for your response, again!

  3. I am curious about how a Brainy/Nia relationship impacts the future, if at all?

    Thanks for sending in your thoughts, Rachel!

  4. Rachel says:

    Rebecca,

    We know for sure (at least as of 4×08, when Brainy first used her name) that Nura exists in this universe, and Eric Carrasco (as well as Jessica and Robert) confirmed that Nia is Nura’s direct ancestor. Assuming that Brainy is not also her ancestor, their relationship puts Nura’s existence at risk if it is serious enough (which, as of the finale, it seems to be).

    But my concern on that matter is that Brainy risked a relationship with her at all, when he of all people should be aware of the consequences of his actions in the twenty-first century. If the writing was better, it would be addressed, and he would put preserving the timeline as a priority over his feelings for Nia.

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