First, the non-spoiler part of the presentation: I watched the first episode and posted a review, which you can check out if you like. I then watched the next two, and really started liking it more and more. I started writing up a recap, but didn’t follow through. I fell behind on the next few episodes then caught up last weekend
BRAINDEAD became a pretty amazing show. I don’t think there’s ever been anything like it; silly, tense, political, gruesome- a unique mishmash of genres tossed together and made to work in ways that appeal to my love of mishmash. It is also most certainly crawling towards cancellation, as it got moved to Sunday night at 10:00, which I didn’t even know was a time that existed.
And now, a very incomplete recap of about 7 episodes:
(For best results, sing everything from this point on like the show open).
More people, including Laurel’s old friends, get infected by alien bugs. Laurel has a strained relationship with republican staffer Gareth, gets taken by the FBI for some reason, but one of them secretly tells her brother who gets her out by throwing his senatorial weight around, and she starts a relationship with the agent, who later acts suspiciously and he, too is infected, so she puts on the brass knuckles Gustave gave her and cracks him in the face like 3 times, somehow not completely breaking his face, but I’ll chalk that up to alien bug powers. Gustave rules, and Rochelle is pretty great except when she constantly tells Gustave he’s wrong about everything, up to and including when Gustave says they need to tell Laurel that her father is bug-infected and she says no. That’s just insane.
Gustave also gave Laurel mosquito netting and headphones to cover herself while she sleeps, but while she uses the netting she looks at the headphones and decides they are silly, so she doesn’t wear them. Bugs from the cherry blossoms that the FBI agent brought her crawl right up under her net and infect her in her sleep, but Gustave comes back, and he and Rochelle try to make her think about things in an effort to fight the bugs. Laurel realizes this is what she was doing with Rochelle’s father when his head explodes, they decide the less-logical, more-sexual right-brain is the way to fight bugs, so they use music and dancing and porn instead. Gareth shows up, because he heard her distress on the phone, and Gustave and Rochelle basically throw him at Laurel, and the sex-cure works. Bugs have been shown to dislike alcohol and sex- human sex, anyway.
And here is where it gets uncomfortably intense: Bug-infested Senator Red Wheatus is intent on starting a war with Syria, but Laurel and her meddling friends are on the case of the alien bugs. His Democratic copunterpart, Ella Pollack, also infested with bugs and constantly fighting with Red and stopping the government from getting anything done, comes to his office, where a giant queen bug crawls out of his ear and a less giant male bug crawls out of hers. They engage in some dirty talk, Ella says Red looks like a bitch and wants it, while the bugs mate. Red sets up an intern to become infected and has his head explode in front of the director of the FBI, while claiming to have intelligence that this is caused by state-sponsored terrorism linked to one Laurel Healy...
So the FBI takes her and prepares to torture her for information. They are about to begin when she says the command structure has just changed and they need the new chairs to both sign. Red signs immediately, but Luke, her brother, asks questions. They tell him very little, and do not reveal the name of the suspect or the source of the intel, but keep saying “ticking clock scenario” which makes torture/”enhanced interrogation” okay. Two of the agents involved are the same two who took her last time. The one who helped her but later became infected and his partner who was sure she was guilty the first time, but is now very uncomfortable with the idea of tricking a senator into okaying the torture of his sister. He tries to dissuade the senator without saying anything, but can’t, since his bosses are right there. Gustave, Gareth and Rochelle know something is wrong, so Gareth asks Luke where his sister is. Luke calls the uncomfortable agent directly and is able to ascertain, without words, that the FBI does indeed have his sister and they are about to torture her. The documents have already been signed, so the only recourse Luke has is to call a special hearing and subpoena the FBI director to stall. He needs votes to repeal the torture legislation, but fails to get them.
Luckily, Gustave discovered the bug communication frequencies, and Rochelle told him to try broadcasting snippets of what he’s recorded. They find two basic commands for “walk in a straight line” and “put your hands in the air.” Red calls for a vote and gets a majority for pro-torture, but when he calls for the oppose votes for the official tally, Gustave sends the “raise hands” command, getting about half the people in the room to oppose. Of course, they all voted already, so they vote again, then Gustave sends them walking into walls, and the nays have it, saving Laurel. Whew!
This was one of the most anxiety-inducing things I’ve ever watched. Maybe it’s because we expect Jack Bauer to be tortured, or Dexter to have that kind of close call, but this show went from fun to terrifying real quick.
In the most recent episode, we learn Laurel’s father has Parkinson’s, is still seeing his mistress despite telling his family he left her 15 years ago, has stopped having sex with his mistress and is faking the shaking, since bugs cure Parkinson’s, probably by ejecting the part of the brain responsible for it.
Rochelle is followed home, and sees her knives are all missing. She is immediately suspicious, opens the firdge and freezer to find a frozen leg of some kind (either a small lamb or a giant turkey?) and uses it to beat her attacker unconscious. She calls Gustave, and they tie him to a pillar and interrogate him, and Laurel comes and sees it, too. He swears he is just a normal, human knife thief and doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but with enough alcohol poured down his throat, he loosens up like a sitcom character and admits to everything about the Bug plan. Unfortunately, he still swears that his human host is in there, like he’s maybe 60/40-bug/human. If they kill him, as Gustave really wants to do, they are killing a person, not just a bug. On the other hand, Laurel’s friend, mentioned in the first sentence of the recap, tells her that if she does manage to get the bugs out of her, she would just be a mindless husk... never using the words brain dead, but there we go, title. Laurel and Rochelle outvote Gustave and they let the bug-brained assassin leave.
end of spoilers.
And there we have it. Most of what happened in the show so far. Anyone as into it as I now am while simultaneously really bummed that it can’t possibly have an audience for being too weird? hard to believe this show is made by the people behind The Good Wife. Maybe, just maybe, producing such a successful show for CBS will get them more time to finish this one.