Television & Film

Recap: BRAINDEAD Gets Notes Toward a Post-Reagan Theory


[All photos courtesy CBS]

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Season 1, episode 6: “Notes Toward a Post-Reagan Theory of Party Alliance, Tribalism, and Loyalty: Past as Prologue”
Written by Aurin Squire
Directed by Fred Toye


Act 1: When last we left our heroine Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the bugs had crawled into her ear. She wakes up screaming. She calls 911, but she gets directed to a supervisor who herself is bugged, so no help there. Luckily, Gustav (Johnny Ray Gill) figured out that the bugs were in the cherry blossoms and went back to save Laurel. So Gustav goes to work trying to keep Laurel from getting her brain eaten, and they try stimulating memories. Then Gustav hits on an idea to have her stimulate her intuitive brain. She starts drinking alcohol and dancing, but it’s not enough. What she needs to do is have sex. Fortunately, Gareth (Aaron Tveit) stops by to apologize and they talk him into it. They do the deed, she orgasms, and she passes out. The bugs leave her head and Gustav manages to capture one.

The bugs crawl in,the bugs crawl out ….

Act 2: In a committee meeting, Red (Tony Shaloub) is attacking the CDC budget.

Laurel meets up with Gustav and Rochelle (Nikki M. James) to discuss last night, they wonder if they could try the same thing with someone who is already under bug control. Laurel decides that they should try on her friend Stacey.

They also start to experiment on the captured bug, Gustav wonders where it came from.

Laurel gets a visit from a constituent: it seems that his polling place has been moved by Red. She goes and confronts him about it, but he tells her to go back to Los Angeles and to stay away from Gareth.

On the way out, she talks with Gareth and they discuss last night. “It wasn’t great, it was weird.”

Gustav and Rochelle meet with Dr. Wu (Marcus Ho) from the CDC and hand him the bug for analysis.

Back in committee, Red is now concerned about Dr. Wu’s frivolous research. If that’s what they’re going to be doing with the money, then Red’s not going to give it. So the Director of the CDC forces Wu to stop and the bug is filed away.

We got one!
We got one!

Act 3: Laurel continues looking into the gerrymandering that Red is doing: it looks like he’s trying to create a super majority for the Republicans, but then she notices an odd pattern in the Washington, D.C., districts and starts to draw the changes out on a map. They look like crop circles. “We’re in a game of chess with a higher intelligence.”

Later, she meets Stacie (Nikiya Mathis) at a loud dance club, hoping to get the bugs to leave Stacey. The bugs address Laurel directly and tell her to stop. They then inform her that they don’t want everything.

They want it all.
They want it all.

Act 4: Back in committee, Red has a new tactic: he asks the director of the CDC about animal testing. This gets Senator Ella Pollack (Jan Maxwell) upset and the vote is once again on hold.

Dr. Dauder is out for a run on the National Mall. She almost gets run over by a pack of infected Washingtonites running the opposite direction, hearing “You Might Think” blaring from one of the joggers headphones. This gets her thinking, and she heads to the office to pull up an episode of Science Friday from PRI. In it, there’s a story on “The Music of the Spheres”, the music that is produced from pulses in space. Speeding up the piece, it becomes clear to her when she hears, “You Might Think” by The Cars in the sped-up transmission.

It was weird.
It was weird.

Act 5: Laurel shows Luke the gerrymandered district maps of D.C. she made, but all he can see is that it helps the Democrats.

Meanwhile, the CDC budget battle is not going well. This time, Ella wants the CDC to fight death itself and she wants them to have a bigger budget to do so.

Rochelle tells Laurel that Gustav might not be as crazy as he seems, these bugs might be extra-terrestrial.

Laurel then tells Gareth about the bugs, all he can say is “Huh.”


We had much more progress in this episode and are now at the half-way point in our 13 episode season. We saved Laurel (which means we have a way to save people who just got attacked). We know a little about the bugs themselves, AND we might just know what region of outer space they come from (thank you, Science Friday). Gustav’s high-frequency detection system works and we heard from the bugs directly as to what they want: everything.

We still aren’t sure how they will accomplish this.

New questions were asked. What is with the crop circles in the gerrymandering maps? Are they calling home or is there an invading army waiting up there?

I know some of you out there are wondering what the hell gerrymandering is. Let me give you a quick rundown.

Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing a voting district in such a way as to favor it toward one party or the other. The term gerrymander was first used in the Boston Gazette in 1812. The Governor of Massachusettes Elbridge Gerry (hence the Gerry part), redrew the boundries of one district to favor the Democratic-Republican party. The resulting district looked like a lizard or a salamander (hence the mander part). For more on gerrymandering, please check out this link to Wikipedia.

Where are the One-Wayers again? They aren’t in this episode, although you do see one of them. The bugged 911 supervisor that Laurel was routed to was one of the One-Way organizers a few episodes back. I wonder what number of Washingtonians are bugged at this point in the series. Dozens? Hundreds? Are they now in high enough places to cover up any head explosions? We know that there was a pack of them running in the park.

So now that we’re in the back half of the season, it looks like the story will pick up some more. The next episode has some hijinks courtesy of Gustav and high-frequency sound.

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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