Jeff Neumann / CBS

Will BrainDead Ever Give Us A Musical Number?

Minority Whips, PACs, and Tax Prom, in an episode that's still more House Of Cards than Fringe; Adam Grosswirth's got questions!

This week's BrainDead advances the political plot swiftly and the alien plot fairly slowly -- which, as I said in my New Show Fact Sheet last week, I quite like. The government has shut down and the Democrats (led by Senator Luke Healy, his sister Laurel, and his already brain-bugged Chief of Staff/sometimes mistress Scarlett) and Republicans (led by brain-bugged Senator Red Wheatus and his aide Gareth) are at each other's throats. It's not entirely clear what role the aliens play in all this and what their endgame is. They make Red more vicious, and Laurel runs into an old liberal friend who's now wearing Laura Ashley and working for the Help America Rise Again PAC -- so the obvious cheap shot would be that Republicans have literally lost their minds. But Scarlett, a Democrat, is infected too, and while her behavior is more benign, we do see her lash out at the FBI agent sent to investigate the "cranial gap opening" Laurel witnessed last week. So are the bugs trying to make us fight each other, or will two infected politicians eventually agree on a course of action that furthers the alien agenda? Do they bring out something deep within you (Abby was always conservative like her parents deep down; Scarlett always mistrusted law enforcement) or insert something new? These are just a few of the questions I have about this week's BrainDead. Here are more!

Why is Laurel so chill about the swarm of spray-resistant "ants" in her apartment?

Sure, she flees, but...look, I won't get into details but I had a particularly harrowing bug issue recently (they were not, granted, from space), and I did not leave for work until it was dealt with. My coworkers all completely understood why I was late, and I didn't also have the "a guy's head exploded on me" excuse that Laurel does. At least call the super! Or just burn the place down!

What's up with the previouslies?

I like Jonathan Coulton as much as the next nerd (okay, I like him a little less, but I do like him!), but...why? It just seems like it's from a different show.

What's Laurel's deal?

Apart from the obvious reason that everyone's a slimeball, some of whom have now been body-snatched, why does she hate politics? Luke comments on how good Laurel is and she says nothing. Her skill seems like it must be more than a fluke, or somehow genetic. We know she really cares about the subjects of her documentaries, but she also seems too smart not to understand that basically no one will ever want to finance or watch them. Why didn't she go into the family business -- or an adjacent PAC or non-profit -- in the first place?

What's Gustav's deal?

This week we meet Gustav, who is some sort of savant who "reads a lot." He doesn't appear to have a job (since he has time to play chess in the park and investigate his friend's exploding head), but he also has a pretty nice apartment, money for groceries, and some decent photo and computer equipment.

How lucky are we to be alive right now and have Jan Maxwell on our TVs?

This week's episode also introduces Senator Ella Pollack, played with perfect icy WASPiness by Tony nominee (she was robbed -- look at those pins!) Jan Maxwell. Pollack publicly defends Luke's admittedly poor leadership of the party (losing your majority because someone switched sides, even if it is the result of a partial alien lobotomy, is...not great), but tells him privately that he'd better shape up or else. After a second high-profile screw-up (which is largely Laurel's fault), Pollack drops her support and announces that she's going for the Whip position herself. A lack of interesting paying roles for a woman her age  drove Maxwell from theatre, so let's appreciate having her around.

Am I going to bring up Jan Maxwell's Tony loss every week?


How long will Laurel be able to resist Gareth?

Sure, they agree on literally nothing. Yes, he's now played her twice, and he's not even a little bit sorry about it. But have you seen Aaron Tveit in a tux?

Will this show ever give us a musical number?

I know I said the Coulton intros seemed off-brand, and they do, but if he wanted to write a song for Maxwell, Tveit, Nikki M. James, Beth Malone, and Megan Hilty....I mean, it just seems like a waste to not do something.

How much of your original personality do you retain when you're space-bugged?

It seems like at the very least you remember things, the better to continue pretending to be the person whose body you're wearing, but Scarlett seems to have forgotten how to have sex. It's the most we've seen one of the infected really act like an alien wearing someone else's body. It's both a cliché and inconsistent. It serves the plot by giving Luke a reason to run off when Scarlett is trying to get him to stay so that the bugs can get him, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Why do some people resist?

It seems to take some time from when they bugs enter your ear to when part of your brain squirts out, but maybe it's faster if you don't fight it. Red was asleep when he got taken, but why do some people (like Dr. Daudier and Oscar) fight the bugs to the death, while others go more or less quietly? Laurel's friend Stacie clearly wants nothing to do with those bugs when we see her in Abby's bathroom, but since I've watched TV before, it's a safe bet she'll be back with her head intact. The bugs' methodology is a little questionable.

Is the "tax prom" real?


Is Exploding Head Syndrome, which Gustav Googles (ChumHums?), real?

Yup, that too!

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