‘BrainDead’ Season Finale Review: The One Where Everyone Bugs Out

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On the back-to-back two episode finale of “BrainDead,” we finally found out everyone’s fate, as Laurel and her crew made a last-ditch effort to stop the alien bugs once and for all before it was too late, while Luke tangled with Congress one last time.

Since this is the last time I’ll have to do this until the show comes back- if indeed it does come back- here are the titles of the last two episodes, for old times’ sake: “Talking Points Towards a Wholistic View of Activism in Government: Can the Top Rebel?” and “The End of All We Hold Dear: What Happens When Democracies Fail: A Brief Synopsis.” Boy, I won’t miss doing that.

As a lot happened in these episodes and I don’t want to drag things out, especially since this is my final review of the season and I’d like to talk about the show as a whole one last time, I’m going to forgo going into the typical detail I usually delve into in favor of a more streamlined approach, or we’ll be here all day.

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Episode One: Laurel informed Gustav and Dr. D. about the CIA’s supposed involvement and all were decidedly skeptical. Luke stonewalled Congress to buy his guy one more day to crack the insane budget “code” to figure out what exactly the Republicans were up to.

Red, acting crazier than usual on account of his bug being injured in the attempt on its life by Laurel and company, is chagrined when Ella asks to take over the lead in Congress, fearing he’ll blow the deal and ruin their plans, as in the bugs’ overall scheme. He isn’t having it and kicks her out of his office.

Laurel’s cohort in the documentary informed her they got funding to complete it, but she suspected that it was Red or one of his bug-infested peeps trying to get her out of town again and was skeptical, going to Red and telling him she didn’t want his money.

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Gustav made a play for Dr. D., who turned him down flat, saying they were too different and she had a man already- Girl Code for “You don’t have a real job and live in squalor, so I’m gonna pass.”

Laurel tells them she’s out and wants to take the money after all, after seeing that it seems like a legit offer online. Gustav is disappointed and wants to outright kill Red, causing Dr. D. to bail as well. Besides, what can they do, really? Killing Red won’t stop the bugs completely, right?

Laurel tells Gareth and says they can pick up where they left off when she returns from making the documentary, then goes to turn in her letter of resignation to Luke. Both are decidedly rattled by her actions. Luke asks her to at least stay through the budget fight, which she agrees to do.

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Red asks Gareth for help in Congress, so he backs Red up by passing him notes on what to say, especially when he gets particularly incoherent. Ella tries to have him booted over “health issues,” but it doesn’t work, so she seeks the help of a radical type to go after Gareth.

Luke’s budget guy finds a bit in the proposed budget that wants to set aside some $108 million for glass! He tells Laurel, who decides to go and check out one of the so-called “internment camps.” It actually turns out to be a cache of hothouses, intended to contain a bunch of cherry blossoms, which will be used to breed the bugs and spread them all over the States.

Laurel tells Luke what she found out and tells him to talk to the CIA and see what they say about it. In a drunken stupor, Gareth asks Laurel to marry him, but she doesn’t take it seriously and walks out without giving him an answer.

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Luke meets with Bob and tells him about what Laurel found, but he claims they already knew about it and reminds him that he agreed to butt out, along with his sister. Luke tests him by slipping in a lie about another thing they supposedly found out about, which Bob says they knew about as well, so Luke knows Bob is lying through his teeth and can’t be trusted.

Luke wants to talk to his dad about all of this and get his opinion, but Laurel stops him, telling him their dad is infected. This only makes Luke more driven to talk to him, and naturally his dad denies it, calling Laurel crazy. Her dad then warns Laurel to stay out of things if she knows what’s good for her.

Luke testifies about the glass thing in Congress and Red can’t really justify it, saying that the reason behind it is “secret.” This time Gareth doesn’t help Red out of the jam, and the judge tells them all to think about the prospect of taking out the Farm Bill altogether, giving them another day to deliberate it.

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Ella’s guy attacks Gareth outside of the Senate building late at night and Gareth barely fights him off, getting himself stabbed with some sort of elaborate dagger in the process (this might have been a political reference that was over my head, given the weird choice of weapon, so if you know what was up with that, let me know down below in the comments section).

Gareth lands in the hospital, where Laurel visits him, but only with minor injuries. His assaulter gets away, and the whole affair is dubbed a failed mugging. Gareth also insists that his proposal was a drunken joke, which goes over just about as good as you think it would.

Laurel nonetheless invites him to go with her to make her documentary, but he turns her down, saying he’d be useless to her and doesn’t want to be a “kept” man. He tells her she should go, though, while he continues to work in Congress. Despite all the craziness, he still believes in his job.

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Bob visits Luke, upset about his trying to thwart the Farm Bill in Congress. Luke makes no apologies, saying he’s not going to sit on his hands while the CIA supposedly takes care of things. Bob gets upset, then starts to bleed out of his ear, resulting in his exiting prematurely.

Luke’s motion fails and the Judge says the vote will proceed, with the Farm Bill remaining intact after all. Luke rejects this and tells the media that it will not stand and stages a sit-in. Others join him and the whole thing is broadcast on television, at least at first.

Ella confronts a seaweed-snorting (!) Red afterwards and calls him out, but he in turn confronts her about sending someone after Gareth, which she doesn’t deny. She pulls a gun on Red, but forgets about the safety, not being used to guns as a Democrat. Red doesn’t make the same mistake, and grabs her gun and shoots her.

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Then his bug crawls out of his ear and confronts Ella’s and kills it as well.This somehow makes Red stronger and more coherent now, and he returns to Congress to confront Luke, saying he’s going to hold a closed-door session to deal with all of this with or without him. Luke says he doesn’t care, as Laurel watches on TV, proud of her brother for once.

Unfortunately, the video feed is cut off, and the sit-in isn’t being broadcast anymore, which Laurel texts her brother about to bring it to his attention. She then suggests he use his phone to broadcast live via Periscope, which ticks Red off because he can’t do anything about it.

Laurel tells Gareth she’s decided to stay for now, and then tells Gustav and Dr. D. that she has a plan to stop the bugs once and for all, as we end the first hour of the show and head into…

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Part Two: We begin with a live acoustic rendition of the “previously on,” as singer Jonathan Coulton sums up the last episode. There’s an amusing bit of continued fourth-wall breaking as a near-by Gustav, talking to Laurel and Dr. D. inside his apartment as Coulton continues to play guitar, knocks on his window to tell him to stop, which he does, as we pick up where we left off.

Dr. D. realizes that the reason the bugs’ plan has to happen in 38 days is that cherry blossoms are about to be out of season and will die out by then. Laurel wants to destroy the hothouse in nearby Virginia, as it is closest to completion, which will slow down, if not outright stop their plans, as it is the first scheduled to go online, as it were.

Laurel meets Gareth’s parents unexpectedly outside Red’s office, who gleefully informs them that their son is dating her, a card-carrying liberal, which they obviously didn’t know, and are not thrilled to find out. (The father wears a “Taking Back America” hat, in an amusing nod to Trump’s similar ones.)

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Laurel asks Gareth to try and get a hold of the blueprints for the hothouse, which he agrees to do. He apologizes for his parents’ reaction to her and they make out a bit before she leaves to return to her brother after the sit-in is shut down because phones aren’t supposed to be allowed in Congress.

Luke comes up with a new plan, paying a nearby cop to “arrest” him on camera, so that it will be brought to the attention of his higher-ups. It works and they rally to his defense, joining in the sit-in and making it an even bigger crowd of people, thus attracting even more media attention.

Gareth searches Red’s office for the blueprints and doesn’t find anything, but he does find a security badge for the site, as well as a mysterious picture of an unidentified woman, who obviously means something to him. Later, Red notices that someone has tampered with his desk, and thinks it might be Gareth.

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Bob confronts Luke again, this time with Laurel present, and tells them he knows they leaked the information he told him in confidence, and what’s more, they have a witness. Laurel is convinced it’s their dad, and confronts him about it. He admits it, and tells her he warned her not to mess with him.

She talks about how hard their dad was on Luke when he lost his first run at the Senate, of which he is clearly ashamed. This unexpectedly causes the bugs to try and evacuate his head, but her dad stops it before they can get too far and throws Laurel out. Gustav thinks it’s because the bugs are getting weak, while Dr. D. thinks it might have something to do with Laurel having made her father feel ashamed of his actions.

Gareth brings them the badge he copped from Red and tells them he needs it back by a certain time or Red will notice it’s missing. He tells Laurel he loves her, for real this time, and she returns the sentiment, also for real this time, after slipping and saying it on the phone by accident earlier.

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Gustav takes a picture of himself and slips it into the badge and reseals it, while Dr. D. does research on cherry blossoms, discovering that salt can irreparably damage them. Realizing that they can stop this without having to destroy the hothouse altogether, which would be a tall order, they go and buy a bunch of salt, planning to douse the seeds with it to stop the cherry blossoms from growing before they even begin.

They almost pull it off at the site shortly thereafter, but are somewhat caught by Agent Onofrio, who doesn’t find out in time to stop them at the site, having his hands full at the moment, but knows that they are up to something and finds the salt and foils their plan in the process.

Laurel tells Luke about what happened with their dad, hoping to get some more inside info on what happened with the two of them when he made his first failed run at Senate, but Luke says, if she really wants to shame him, she should talk about what happened at her 9th birthday party.

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Turns out it was when she got her first video-camera, and she had caught on tape her father coming home late after having missed her party to have a tryst with a mistress, which her mother called him out on. Laurel shows her father the tape, and it causes him to collapse on the spot and the bugs to evacuate his head en masse.

Luke meets with Red, who had planned to shoot him as well, but Luke has to leave the meeting before he can get to it when he gets word about his father. Luke never sees how close he came to getting killed, as he never turns around and sees Red holding the gun on him. He heads to the hospital to confront Laurel, who blames herself for causing her father’s collapse, which is technically true.

Red then confronts Gareth about potentially going through his stuff, and he tells Red it must have been the intern. He gets Red’s badge back just in the nick of time to put it back into Red’s jacket before he leaves, but Gustav left his picture inside of it, which Gareth only notices before it’s too late to do anything about it.

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Dr. D. comes up with yet another plan to take down the bugs: if they put ammonia nitrate fertilizer in all of the cherry blossoms, it could kill the bugs before they have a chance to relocate. In the meantime, Laurel tells Gareth about the shaming thing, suggesting she do so with Red before it’s too late.

Gareth thinks the way to do that might have something to do with the photo he found in Red’s desk. Gareth thinks that she might be the “real” Lana, which is what Red constantly refers to Laurel as instead of her real name. He thinks it might be a lost love or the like, and that Red must have done something to cause it and feels guilty for it.

Gustav and Dr. D. are stopped by a cop, ostensibly for speeding, but Gustav thinks it’s more for DWB. As such, he takes care not to make any sudden moves or cause any trouble. Shortly thereafter, they find out the real reason: it’s Onofrio, who arrives, likely tipped off by Red when he saw the security badge had been tampered with.

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Their having a bunch of fertilizer in the car doesn’t exactly help matters, and Dr. D. warns Gustav to “behave” himself. “I know how to be black,” Gustav shoots back to the condescending doctor. The search reveals a surprising thing: Gustav is actually an NSA agent. As such, they let him go immediately.

Bob and Red approach Luke and tell him they have a sex tape of him and Scarlett that he wouldn’t want people to see, so he’s forced to shut down the sit-in, much to the disappointment of everyone, including Laurel. The budget is passed after all, as Red says snarkily: “We shall not be moved, my ass”- a tweak of the song they were incessantly singing at the sit-in. (That would have been enough for me to shut it down alone, lol.)

However, there is a method to Luke’s madness. It turns out that his budget guy found a loophole which has something to do with motorcycle helmets or something like that. I didn’t quite get that part, but whatever the case, it causes the bill to be retroactively defeated after Luke and his people bring it to the Congress’ attention.

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Laurel does some research on Red and finds out that Lana was an illegal immigrant that Red fell for back in the day. When he discovered that about her, though, he turned her in to immigration, causing her to be deported, something he regretted to this day. Laurel confronts Red about it, hoping to shame Red into giving up the bugs when she informs him Lana died as a direct result of his actions.

Unfortunately for her, Red pulls out his gun and goes to shoot her instead of being shamed by the news. Gareth sees this and tackles Red at the last minute, and then the two struggle over the gun. In the process, Red shoots himself in the ass, and the bug flies out of his ear after all. It lands on the ground, where, ironically, the intern comes in and sees it and stomps on it. Score one for the interns!

As the Queen bug dies, the other bugs scream out in agony, just as the team hoped would happen, and they all start to vacate their host bodies, causing chaos everywhere in the area. The bugs head en masse to their Queen, where they all flock to her and die on the spot, as Gareth and Laurel jump up on the desk to avoid the buggy menace.

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Gustav apologizes to Dr. D. for not telling her he was NSA, as he was on leave at the time and couldn’t really do anything in an official capacity. It’s obvious she feels bad about being so condescending to him, and the prospects now look good for their getting together after all. As they sit, the cherry blossoms fall to the ground, dying, as the bugs die back in Red’s office.

We end with one last song from Coulton, who sums up the rest. Laurel and Gareth move in together, but hit a wall when it turns out he wants a huge family and she doesn’t. Red apparently gets away with everything on his end, including literally murder on several counts. He goes back to work, only slightly less demented than before, as we see him testifying into a light fixture instead of a microphone.

Luke and Laurel’s dad remains in bad shape, unfortunately for them- and him, of course- leaving him to reside in the hospital for the foreseeable future as his disease returns and ravages him. Luke retires from Congress and moves to Wall Street, which was one of the places the creators of the show mentioned wanting to head to next if they get another season.

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Sure enough, as the show ends, we see one of the bugs- looks like a Queen to me- flying off of a cherry blossom as we cut to credits. Looks like the bugs didn’t die off entirely, as it turns out. Of course, if they had, we wouldn’t have room for a sequel, right?

While I suppose one could argue that the ending was slightly anticlimactic and not as “big” as one might have hoped, all in all, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, there were a lot of thwarted attempts to defeat the bugs before they finally succeeded, and I actually liked that the bugs were taken out somewhat at random, by the intern, no less.

Yes, granted, it was a little on the low-key side, but I imagine that’s because, on a certain level, the showrunners knew there was more story that they wanted to tell, and as such, they couldn’t go too far with things, lest they make things seem TOO final. While the proposed several more seasons might be wishful thinking, you can’t fault someone for being ambitious.

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My only real complaint would be, if they did manage to eke out one more season, I’d actually have liked to see the Hollywood-set one over the Wall Street one next. That premise could be rife with possibilities, what with the state of Hollywood at the moment, between all the Reality TV nonsense and complete and utter lack of originality in general, what with all the sequels, remakes and reboots flooding out of there these days.

Still, Wall Street could be fun, too, so you never know. Honestly, though, I’d have loved to see what celebrity cameos they came up with for the Hollywood one, and it’s always fun to see Hollywood spoof itself, so maybe they will change their minds if the second season hinges on their wrapping things up in two seasons instead of the proposed four. We shall see.

Until then, this was a fun ride overall, and better than your typical empty-headed summer show tends to be. Indeed, CBS has been killing it on the original programming front, between this, “Zoo” and “American Gothic,” all of which I reviewed and enjoyed. Summer isn’t exactly known for solid new shows of the non-reality or competition type, but this summer has been a surprising exception that I hope continues moving forward.

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Of course, a lot of it depends on ratings, and I think the rating for all of those shows were a bit on the soft side, but overall, I really enjoyed them, and the audience that were watching them were loyal and steady, at least, so there’s that to be said. “BrainDead” might have had its flaws, but it was never less than watchable, and occasionally even better than it almost had a right to be, given that B-movie premise.

All in all, this sort of thing, along with the other shows I mentioned, is the TV equivalent of a popcorn movie, and that’s just fine by me. I happen to like B-movies and popcorn flicks, so “BrainDead” worked for me, as did “Zoo” and “American Gothic,” for that matter. Hopefully, we’ll get more where that came from next summer- and less crappy reality TV shows and the like. (Talk about the REAL brain dead- what excuse do those people have?)

What did you think about the season finale of “BrainDead”? Were you satisfied with the ending? Or do you think it could have been stronger? How about the overall season? Would you like to see the show continue for at least another season? Or even three more? Or would that be pushing it? Sound off down below, and see you next season- if there is one!