Supergirl lost two beloved characters at the end of its third season when Mon-El (Chris Wood) and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) traveled to the future to fight foes rather than stay in Kara's (Melissa Beniost) time. This left a pretty gaping hole where their storylines used to be, and the CW series isn't the same as a result. But this isn't necessarily a terrible thing.
Where Mon-El is concerned, there's not so much a hole that needs to be filled so much as an empty parking space we're cool leaving open for a while. As Kara's main love interest for the past two seasons, Mon-El provided a romantic storyline to supplement Kara's weekly heroics while also acting as a shoulder to lean on whenever Kara needed a friend and confidant. Obviously, Karamel and all its cuddly cuteness will be greatly missed moving forward, but there's also no real rush to create another romantic storyline in its place.
Last season's love triangle between Kara, Mon-El and Imra (Amy Jackson), Mon-El's wife from the future, didn't achieve the kind of lift-off you want from angst-ridden storylines. Usually when you find out the guy you love (who's still deeply in love with you) got married to someone else because he thought he was stuck hundreds of years in the future, you expect longing looks, forbidden love and an eventual rekindling of romance, wedding rings be damned. But in Supergirl's case, the love triangle didn't create anxiety about who would end up with who; it just bummed everyone out, since it was less a push and pull of passions than a really crappy situation for three nice people to be in. When it all shook out, the storyline didn't even end with either of the couples ending up together; it culminated in Mon-El returning to the future with kind of a "shucks, our timing is just off" shrug of the shoulders.
The whole thing was more exhausting than it was rewarding, which is probably why we're all crossing our fingers that romance won't be on the agenda for Kara again for a while. Fans obviously won't be satisfied with the space Mon-El used to occupy being empty forever, but for now? We're not feeling his loss too keenly.
Winn, on the other hand, provided something so necessary to the DNA of the show that it's been genuinely worrying wondering how -- and if -- Supergirl can recover from his sudden exit. Not only did Winn's tech abilities act as the deus ex machina that saved the day almost on a weekly basis, he provided the kind of charming humor that the show has become known for -- and other characters struggle to pull off. Whether he was popping off a witty rejoinder or providing a last-minute hack, Winn was integral to Supergirl, and it's hard to deny he's left a hole that needs to be filled as soon as possible. Luckily, the series stands a decent chance of doing so with the addition of Brainy (Jesse Rath) to the DEO.
The Season 4 premiere showed us that Brainy is obviously more than capable of providing the technical assist for Supergirl's missions when necessary (with the added bonus of suiting up to help as well, which was another missing component after Mon-El's exit). Replicating Winn's sense of humor is something Brainy will likely never achieve though, and this is probably the biggest cause for alarm as the show moves forward. Even though Winn's storylines dwindled over the years, he still provided the comedic relief that kept this light-hearted show moving through its darker moments. While Brainy provides a different kind of humor, it's more obvious and slapstick, and it doesn't quite achieve the same purpose.
Supergirl has been smart about this issue though, already calling attention to the fact that Brainy can't and won't be able to replace Winn in the hearts of the characters or the audience. Not even if he wears plaid and cardigans! He will, however, attempt to round out some character dynamics. First on the list? A touching, if still a little stilted, friendship with Alex (Chyler Leigh). Winn and Alex's relationship was something that settled nicely into the background of the series a couple seasons ago, but we never quite realized how his exit would leave her in need of a scene partner who could hold their own against her strong personality. So far, Brainy's attempts to form a bond with her have been hit or miss, but the attempt alone lets us know the writers are aware that the dynamic is something they need to pay attention to in Winn's absence.
When all is said and done, Supergirl is going to be a very different show this season for having lost both Mon-El and Winn, but so far the show has proven it's up to the challenge of adapting to their absence.
Supergirl airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.
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