[All photos courtesy CBS]
Season 1, episode 7: “The Power of Euphemism: How Torture Became a Matter of Debate in American Politics”
Written by Laura Marks
Directed by Fred Toye
Read all our previous BrainDead recaps here.
Act 1: Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Gareth (Aaron Tveit) are on a date, where Laurel decides to bring up the bugs. She also notices that she’s being watched.
Red (Tony Shaloub) is mad, the FBI is not doing what he wants he wants it to do, namely, blame the head explosions on terrorism.
All of a sudden, a giant winged bug crawls out of his ear, he feeds it a carrot and it lays eggs in some cherry blossoms, it then crawls back in his ear. He gives the blossoms to his new intern.
The next day, Red, his intern and the director of the FBI are working out in the gym. Red is still trying to convince the director of the link to terrorism when his interns head explodes.
At the office, Laurel is starting another day of constituent complaints, see meets Mr. Cornish (Kurt Fuller). He’s evasive and he’s also taking her in for questioning whether she likes it or not, she doesn’t. So he tazes her.
Act 2: Gustav is still on his bug hunt. Getting a strong signal off of a man headed into the Capitol building, he follows him to Senator Healy’s office, where he finds Rochelle looking for Laurel.
Laurel, meanwhile, is being questioned by a psychiatrist and a doctor at the FBI to determine if she’s a good subject for something they’re not calling torture but is in fact, torture.
Gustav (Johnny Ray Gill) and Rochelle (Nikki M. James), trying to track Laurel down, go to Gareth for help.
Red and Luke are being briefed on the subject that the FBI wants to question about terrorism, being vague about the actual identity around Luke. Luke, however, wants more information before he’ll commit to signing off on this. Red tries bullying tactics on Luke and Luke reluctantly signs off. Laurel is to be questioned using enhanced interrogation methods.
Meanwhile, at the FBI, Laurel asks how many are infested at the FBI, Onofrio (Charlie Semine) confides in her that he’s the only one. Everyone else is doing this on their own.
Gareth goes to Luke asking where Laurel is. It doesn’t take but a minute for Luke to put two and two together to get Laurel in FBI custody. He calls the pudgy agent from earlier and he confirms it, in a roundabout way.
Luke is gonna raise “holy hell”.
Act 3: Luke calls the FBI director and they have a heated argument. He can’t get Laurel out, so he subpoenas the director to the intelligence committee, he’s to report in one hour.
Gustav and Rochelle watch as Scarlett (Paige Patterson) seems to communicate with another person, without talking to him. Rochelle tails him.
At the FBI, Laurel is being questioned about Islamic terrorism. It seems that the ambulance driver from all the way back in episode 1, has ties to a group, which tangentially ties Laurel to him. However, she brings up the bugs that caused Dr. Daudier’s head to explode, this causes the FBI lawyers to question if she’s even mentally fit for the torture.
Rochelle and Gustav have lost Scarlett’s messenger. So they decide to try an experiment. Gustav replays the message that Scarlett sent out to another infested person, a jogger. Sure enough, that guy starts to carry out the message, too.
Meanwhile, back in committee, Luke grills the FBI director and he’s getting nowhere fast. Gareth decides to help Luke and gives him an angle to allow the FBI director to admit to the use of a type of waterboarding. Things are looking good, except that one of the senators has mysteriously left.
Laurel and her would-be interrogator, Agent Cornish discuss how she is to be “immersed”.
Act 4: Luke tries to track down his missing senator, calling his dad, he discovers he left to be with his mistress. Dad will track him down, meanwhile, Luke starts a filibuster to delay the final vote.
The jogger that Gustav and Rochelle have been following leads them back to Laurel’s office. Gustav tries replaying certain parts of the message to see if he gets a different response and it works, the jogger walks into a wall. Trying another sound invokes a different response, in Scarlett she raises both arms. Touchdown.
Luke and Red are in a deep argument about getting this vote down and over with, it looks like Red might win when dad walks in with the missing senator. Time to vote.
Act 5: They vote, but instead of helping Luke, the missing senator votes on Red’s side. Laurel is cleared for torture … or is she? In the committee room, something strange is happening as senators suddenly raise both hands for Luke’s position after they’ve already voted for Red’s. Red tries again and the same thing happens. Gustav has taken control and makes some of the infested get up and walk into the nearest wall, even Red is forced to raise up both hands. The vote is vacated and Laurel is saved.
Agent Cornish even offers to drive her home, glad that he didn’t have to do it. Although he does say to her, “See you again.”
Luke and Laurel are reunited and share a big old brother-sister moment.
However Gustav checks his device, he’s getting a signal … from Luke and Laurel’s father, Dean Healy (Zach Grenier).
Analysis: Wow. This was a chock full of stuff episode. We get to see a queen bug, we get a concrete way of detecting AND even controlling infested people, and we learn that the FBI is paranoid enough that only Onofrio is the only one infested. Looking at the committee, it looks like Red has been busy infesting his fellow Republicans. I wonder how many there are? We also start to get Gareth clued in on the infestation. Will our little “Scooby Gang” get the Fred it so richly needs?
I really loved the queen bug coming out to lay it’s eggs: very nice. I wonder if there is more than one queen bug out there? If there is, is there a master queen?
Gustav does a nice job with turning the iPhone into a frequency detector/message resending device. Let’s hope they put this to good use in the remaining six episodes of this season. I would hate for this to become useless an episode or two later.
The main focus of this episode was torture: not exactly a light subject. The debate they had around it comes off pretty real. Red wants to torture because he thinks it’ll make the country safe, while Luke doesn’t think it solves anything. He only agrees to it after being bullied by Red. Even when they bring it in front of a committee, Red’s side wins … until Gustav and Rochelle play inaudible Simon Says with the infested members.
So, now that we’re over the hump and into the back half of the season, talk is underway as to a season two. I, personally, would love to see a second season provided that the story warrants it. The ratings, however, have been contracting since it’s move to Sunday night. Last episodes dropped down bellow the 2 million mark. This might mean that more people are watching it online or on DVR: I hope that’s the case. I just love that Johnathan Coulton opening.
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.