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Recap: BRAINDEAD Heads Back to Work


[All photos courtesy CBS]

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Season 1, episode 5: “Back to Work: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Congress and How It Gets Things Done (and Often Doesn’t).”
Written by Jacquelyn Reingold
Directed by Allan Arkush


Act 1: We open up right where we left off in the last episode. (You remember the last episode, I hope. They’ve interrupted/moved this show enough now … anyway, more about that in the analysis.) Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wonders why Agent Onforio (Charlie Semine) can’t hear her while there in bed, he claims to have tinnitus from his days has a soldier. But then again, he washed the sheets?

Later, Laurel and her gang discuss whether Onofrio is compromised. After that, they discuss getting the CDC on the bug problem.

Luke (Danny Pino) has a photo op with some constituents: they need the funding restored to the National Institutes of Health that was cut during the budget crisis. Otherwise, one of them will die soon.

Laurel takes this moment to talk to Luke about putting some pressure on the CDC to work with her.

Luke plans on getting the funding restored during a committee meeting, but Red (Tony Shaloub) is more interested in what to name a kiosk in the lobby of the building.

Luke leaves in disgust and runs into a man from the FDA. He tells him that the CDC is pointing fingers at him about these head explosions.

Luke takes a moment to talk to a group of vets.

Act 2: During a party to celebrate the reopening of the government, Laurel catches Onofrio and Red arguing about politics.

Laurel then goes into a meeting with Luke and her gang to discuss the bug situation with him. He says he’ll discuss it with the CDC, but he wants advice from a leading entomologist first.

Onofrio and Laurel go back to his place … where he collapses. Gustav (Johnny Ray Gill) comes in and says that he slipped drugs into his drink so they could try to draw the bugs out of him … with strips of bacon. They get started when they’re interrupted by a knock on the door by an old girlfriend of Onofrios. So they leave.

Later Laurel gets a call from the vets: the sick one is dying in the hospital. He really needs those meds from the NIH now.

Luke, gang. Gang, Luke
Luke, gang. Gang, Luke

Act 3: The gang goes to entomologist, Dr. Joanne Alaimo (Margo Martindale) about the screw worms. After reviewing the footage that Gustav captured she remarks, “This is not a screw worm.” After plotting out all the incidents on a map, they come up with a plan of action to track down where the bugs are coming from.

Onofrio apologizes to Laurel about last night. He must accidentally gotten drunk and blacked out, how else would he have food stuck to the side of his head when he woke up. He says he’s going back to AA. Even with this, she decides to just stay friends with Onofrio for now.

Gustav is working on the theory that the bugs are communicating via high-frequency sound. Dr. Alaimo and he hunts for the bugs in the cherry blossoms in the park, not noticing that bugs are crawling into Dr. Alaimo’s satchel!

Luke meets with a friend of his from the CDC about the head explosion case … and they end up having sex.

I baconed your face is the hardest thing to say.
“My friend baconed your face” is the hardest thing to say. So don’t say it.

Act 4: The other senators are giving Luke a cold shoulder and finger antennas, seems that the lady from the CDC has been talking about how nuts he is.

Luke and Laurel’s dad come down to give him advice on how to handle the vet’s case. It boils down to let him die and blame the Republicans. Luke just can’t do that, so he takes Red down to the hospital to meet the vet and have a photo op. Red will “save” the vet, so they can break the impasse on the NIH funding.

Luke then tells Laurel to stop with all the bug talk, now. Gustav and Rochelle (Nikki M. James) go back to Dr. Aliamo to discuss their findings, they find her much more together than she was the day before and she doesn’t want anything to do with them, Gustav checks her hearing, she’s now deaf in one ear.

Agent Onofrio come to Laurel at her apartment to make amends for the other night, he brought some cherry blossoms. He then tries to hold her down, but she manages to grab a pair of brass knuckles and fight him off, shaken she throws the flowers in the trash.

Red holds a press conference with the vet he "saved".
Red holds a press conference with the vet he “saved”.

Act 5: Red is in full Redness as he takes credit for saving the vets life after restoring funding to the NIH.

Laurel thanks Gustav for giving her the brass knuckles. He gives her some bug protection gear consisting of a mosquito net and a pair of taped up headphones. Laurel goes ahead and uses the netting, but decides not to use the headphones. The bugs crawl towards her out of the cherry blossoms. Gustav, still searching for the bugs in the park, locates their high-frequency call … and it’s coming from the blossoms. Frantically he calls Laurel to get rid of the blossoms, but she’s already asleep. A few of the bugs crawl in her ear as she bolts upright in bed.


Well, we moved the main plot along a little more in this episode, didn’t we? Not much, but a little. We are just one episode from the halfway point in the season. I hope they don’t end up having to cram a lot into the back half if the show somehow doesn’t get picked up for a season two.

We now know how the bugs communicate: high-frequency sound. Maybe that’s why they like The Cars so much?

Johnny Ray Gill (Gustav) was really the best actor in this episode. The level of crazy that his character has just helps to balance out the normal that is his companions.

By the way: considering that one of her friends committed suicide last week, shouldn’t there be some mention of a funeral, condolences, something? Abby’s death was pretty much ignored in this episode.

I know that Laurel leaving the ear protection off and going to sleep is so she does get attacked by the bugs, but shouldn’t she have thrown the flowers out with Onofrio? He attacks her, she knows what he’s trying to do … shouldn’t she be suspicious of the flowers? Did she think they were with the movie he brought?

And now the question is raised: what will happen to her, she now has bugs in her head? Will Gustav get them out before they eat her brain?

It was great to see Margo Martindale in this episode. She was a good choice for the entomologist.

Last episode, Red pretty much threatened Luke’s life and the One-Wayers seemed like they were going to start a mini civil war. This episode, Red is … pretty much a side character: his story doesn’t seem to advance at all, other than Luke using Red to advance the vet’s cause. What happened? Did Red have one of his disgusting green drinks, watch some Netflix and chill between episodes? They could have at least had a mention about the One-Wayers in this episode to keep that plotline fresh.

I guess we will find out in the next episode.

BrainDead airs Sunday at 10/9 Central on CBS. It can also be found on Amazon Prime Instant Video. For more information, visit the official website.




Thomas Townley

Thomas spends hours playing games, reading books and comic books and watching genre tv. You should too.

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