In the fallout of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Supergirl‘s Brainiac-5 has embarked on his most difficult mission yet. On the advice of his female doppelganger, he distanced himself from the Super Friends and aligned himself with Lex Luthor in order to keep an eye on the supervillain’s moves against Leviathan. As Season 5 moves into its final two episodes, this will come to a head when Brainy makes a decision that could nullify all the sacrifices he made to protect those he loves.
Speaking to CBR, Brainy actor Jesse Rath previewed what’s in store for his character in the last two episodes of the season. He promised his double agent storyline will be resolved by the end of the finale, although some consequences will extend into next season. He teased a confrontation with Lex, some “intense” scenes, the return of his sister Meaghan Rath and more. He also reflected on creating a new voice for uninhibited Brainy, what it is like to work with Jon Cryer and why he’d wear his new comic book-inspired costume all the time if he could.
CBR: This season has been big for Brainy. I mean, his personality got almost an entire overhaul. How did you go about crafting this new voice for him?
Jesse Rath: I thought, for episode 10, it was important that each of the Brainies be distinct from each other. There was five of them, including my sister [Meaghan Rath], and two of them had transformations within that same episode. It was emo Brainy turning into the evil Brainy, and our Brainy Prime turning into the uninhibited Brainy. So I thought it was very important to be able to tell it was a different Brainy and a transformation through their voice. I thought it was very important that you could tell just by hearing that it was a different person. So I wanted there to be a distinct sound that could differentiate them between each other.
So yeah, the green Brainy — uninhibited Brainy, who they referred to in the script as Suave Brainy — is just like… I like to think of Family Matters when Steve Urkel takes the potion and becomes cool and he becomes Stefan Urquelle. It was more just uninhibited, more confident in himself and socially grounded. That’s kind of what I was going for.
We’ve also seen a shift in terms of his looks, with a move towards a more comic book-inspired costume. Obviously, you’re not wearing that getup all the time, but how has that changed your hair/makeup experience when do you get into it?
The green and blonde look? I mean, I love it. I would wear it all the time, if I could. I’d wear it home. I’m a big fan. It’s made my life a lot more comfortable. I don’t know if it’s easier, but it’s comfortable. I no longer have to wear a prosthetic forehead on on my face. That makes a world of difference, because it’s very uncomfortable. There’s a wire running down my back to turn on the lights and the thing is hot and I’m not very expressive in it and so it becomes hard to emote. You know, it’s just a grueling process to put it on and take it off. So the fact that that’s not in the mix anymore and that all have to worry about is being painted and get the wig thrown on me, it definitely is more comfortable and it’s made my life a lot easier.
And you know what? Even if it was harder to do and more uncomfortable to wear, I’d still do it, because I love that it’s the comic-accurate look and I know that it means a lot to a lot of fans out there that I look like this beloved character from the books and it means a lot to me too. I want to do the character justice and I want him to look the best he can. So it was a long time coming and I couldn’t be more happy with the results.
Brainy has acted almost like a triple agent all season. Now, with the understanding that the season was cut a bit short due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is that something we’ll see a resolution to when everything wraps up?
Yes. You will. All that stuff comes to a head in these next two episodes. When I heard that we were obviously going to have to cut episode 20 from the schedule, I felt okay about it because episode 19 is such a strong episode. It’s a great episode. David Harewood directed it. It’s epic, action-packed. The whole storyline with Brainy comes to fruition. It comes to a point, and we leave on a cliffhanger. Whereas with episode 20, before we had time to resolve everything and see how the pieces landed, episode 19 will end on big cliffhanger, which is cool. I love it. It kind of puts Brainy in a very dangerous situation and I’m excited for everyone to see it. I think very strong episode. So I’m not worried about it at all.
How does Brainy’s dynamic with Lex Luthor continue to evolve?
I think their patience with each other is wearing thin for both of them. I think Brainy can’t really take it anymore. You know, knowing that Lex is actively manipulating him is a very frustrating thing for Brainy. You see in episode 18, he pulls the trigger on a decision and things start to crumble around him. He’s aware that Lex is manipulating him and that, I think, is part of the whole reason why he’s forced to work with Lex. It’s working against all of his instincts that would put him opposite Lex, and so working with him, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. I think you see, in these next two episodes, how that all unfolds.
You’ve been working pretty closely with Jon Cryer this season. What has that experience been like?
Well, it’s a lot of fun working with Jon. He is a tremendous actor. I learned a lot from working with him, as I do with all my cast mates. It’s great. He’s a really down-to-earth, funny guy. Yeah, I’ve had a lot of scenes with Lex and then some more to come. We have a great one — we have a couple great ones coming up in 18 and in 19, so I’m excited for everyone to see that. I think he does such a great job as Lex. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that role now. It’s so much fun working with him and I can’t wait for you to see these next two episodes and see what happens with this whole Lex and Brainy storyline.
I’ll admit that I’m particularly fond of the BrainNia relationship. That said, how will we see their relationship continue to grow?
Without 20 in our lineup anymore, there are certain scenes that I don’t know if we’ll see or if we’ll have to wait till next season to see. But in this next episode, in 18, Nia does confront Brainy about everything, about him lying to her, working behind their backs and Supergirl and Nia do confront Brainy about how he’s been acting. And in 19, I believe she starts seeing dreams of him. So yeah, there’ll be some Brainy and Nia scenes. I don’t know if it’ll all be sunshine and rainbows, but we do get a lot of Brainy and Nia stuff to come in these next two episodes.
Last year, you had this frankly incredible scene where you ran through a gamut of emotions in about 30 seconds. As the season winds down, will we get to see a spiritual successor to that?
The closest thing I could think to that scene would be episode 10. I think that scene at the end of Season 4 of going through all the different Brainies maybe was like an audition in a sense to show that I could play multiple different versions of the same character. And I think that’s what I really got to do in episode 10, which was physically embody all these different versions of Brainy.
But in terms of what’s to come in these next two episodes, I’m not saying you should expect a bunch of Brainy cycling through a bunch of personalities, but things get just as intense and emotions are high and the situation is very dangerous. There are some epic scenes to come, and I think you’ll be happy with it and I’m very excited for everyone to see. I’m very excited to it see myself!
Can you tease your favorite moment or scene from an upcoming episode?
Well, in 19, my sister comes back to the show. She will return to the show. So I have a handful of scenes with female Brainy, or Meaghan Rath, or whatever you want to call her. So I’m very excited to see those scenes. I always love working with my sister and I’m very grateful for her to come and do the show, so I can’t wait to see those scenes.
Martian Manhunter actor David Harewood has directed a few episodes, and now Supergirl herself Melissa Benoist has made her directorial debut on the series. Would you be interested in directing, yourself?
I would! Yeah, I’ve always wanted to direct. It’s something that I think is so cool, that Warner Bros. and The CW, that they allow their actors to direct. It’s pretty cool. You know, I don’t know any other networks that give us this opportunity and it’s definitely something I’d like to take advantage of in the future. I think it’s pretty cool. Yeah, I would like to do that. So who knows! Maybe Season 14 I’ll be directing some episodes.
You joke, but look at Supernatural!
Exactly! Yeah. Fly in on my private jet and direct a couple. [laughs]
With Melissa directing the last episode, what was that experience like for you?
Oh, it was so cool. We were all so happy for her and proud of her and trying to support her. None of us had any doubt that she would be great. She’s always filming and editing stuff on her laptop and she has a great eye for this kind of thing and, as you saw, the episode was amazing. Such a great episode! I love that whole sequence with “The Man Who Sold the World” song over Lex — that montage of Lex giving speeches around the world. I thought it was a great episode, and I think she is a very talented director. We’re all just very happy for her and very proud of her.
Do you have any game/book/TV/film recommendations for everyone stuck at home?
I’ve been playing a lot of video games. I play Mario Kart with my friends online. We’ve been doing a lot of Zoom calls and playing Codenames and games with my friends and family online. I watched all of Sopranos with my girlfriend and we really devoured that. We’ve just been making our way through television series. We watched Community — for the fourth time, for me. I love that show so much.
I’m really taking this time to just consume a bunch of television and entertainment. It’s really kept me going throughout this whole process. My girlfriend Holly and I, we’re bunkered down here in LA, and we’ve been having a great time with each other, and we’ve been enjoying our quarantine. So we’re making the most of it.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers, David Harewood as Martian Manhunter and Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers. The Season 5 finale will air May 17.
Supergirl star Jesse Rath teased Brainy's confrontation with Lex, some 'intense' scenes, the return of his sister Meaghan Rath and more.