Is Laurel hooking up with a brainless alien-bug man?
Credit: Michael Parmelee/CBS
S1 E5
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Who knew hearing loss could be so terrifying?

The last episode of BrainDead ended on a cliffhanger, as Laurel hooked up with FBI agent Anthony and soon learned he was showing signs of being infested by brain-eating bugs. By the beginning of this episode, however, she’s starting to think she might just be paranoid. His hearing loss is caused by tinnitus, he tells her, and he simply changed the bedsheets while she was sleeping because he’s a neat freak. Of course.

As Laurel tells Gustav and Rochelle, “It’s nothing. He just had trouble hearing in one ear.” To which Gustav immediately replies, “Oh my God, he’s a bug man.” I’m on your side, Gustav.

But they have bigger problems than whether or not Laurel’s dating a bug man. They’re still trying to get their friend Wu at the CDC to keep investigating the outbreak, but his bosses are reluctant — so it’s up to Laurel to get her brother to put a little friendly pressure on the CDC. And just for good measure, Gustav gives Laurel some brass knuckles to defend herself in case Anthony actually is infected. Where did Gustav get brass knuckles? Lord only knows.

As for Luke, he’s facing problems of his own. He and Laurel meet a group of veterans who desperately need the government to restore funding for their medical treatment after the shutdown. One of them is a man named Brett Middleton, who has terminal liver cancer and a 1-year-old daughter, and even though Luke isn’t afraid to make the political machine work to his advantage, he doesn’t have a heart of stone.

Luke thinks it’ll be easy to get the funding recovered — no one wants to vote against veterans — but Red is on the warpath after Luke went behind his back to reopen the government. A supposedly easy measure to rename a kiosk after a former Capitol cop (with the last name Sharie) is shot down, because Red alleges Sharie sounds like Sharia law, and besides, why shouldn’t they name the kiosk after Ronald Reagan? Ella chimes in and wants to name it after a woman, and Red replies, “Tell a woman to do something. Then we will consider naming something after a woman.”

The only good news is that when Luke storms out of the room, he overhears the FDA complaining about the CDC blaming the strokes on blood-pressure medication. Luke’s not stupid, so he knows something’s up — and that maybe Laurel’s not crazy. He agrees to put some pressure on the CDC, but only if Laurel, Gustav, and Rochelle agree to meet with a CDC entomologist for some more proof.

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Meanwhile, Laurel invites Anthony to a government-reopening party, where he gets in a raging partisan fight with Red. He also chooses the green juice over the alcohol, and he isn’t exactly doing a great job of convincing her his brain hasn’t been eaten by bugs. The two go home together — as Gareth wistfully looks on as they leave — and he’s still prattling on about Maureen Dowd and green smoothies when he suddenly keels over. She’s prepared to call 9-1-1 when Gustav bangs on the door and barges in. As soon as he sees Anthony on the floor, he does a little fist pump and promptly slathers Anthony’s face in bacon to draw out the screwworms. “Don’t you want to know if he’s a bug?” Gustav tells her.

Gustav: “They’re drawn to the bacon.”

Laurel: “You’re making this up.”

Gustav: “Check Wikipedia.”

NEXT: Bugs, actually

They’re all ready to get final confirmation about whether Anthony’s infected when another woman starts banging on his door. Gustav and Laurel skedaddle, and it’s now unclear if Anthony is a bug man or just a scumbag. Not sure which one is worse. Probably the bug man.

As for Brett, he’s now in the hospital, still waiting on Luke to greenlight the funding for his experimental medication. Luke is getting desperate to save his life, so he does the unthinkable: He tries to compromise with Red. Of course, Red refuses, saying that helping the veteran will only help Luke — so he’s more than happy to let Brett die and to let his 1-year-old daughter lose her father. “You don’t like children,” Red tells Luke. “No one likes children.”

Meanwhile, Gustav and Rochelle meet with the entomologist, Dr. Joanne Alaimo (who’s played by Margo Martindale!). She thinks they’re nuts, but she’s still willing to investigate. Together, they go on a bug hunt, looking for high-pitched frequencies that indicate infestation. While they don’t find any bugs, the bugs find Dr. Alaimo and she’s soon infected.

Luke, on the other hand, tries to fight the bugs his way, hooking up with a contact at the CDC — literally — and telling her about the bug theory. She, however, completely laughs him off, spreading rumors about him and his crazy theories until he’s the Capitol’s laughingstock.

That, and the fact that a newly infected Dr. Alaimo tells him there are no bugs, is enough to make Luke order Laurel to stop investigating. So for now, it looks like Laurel, Rochelle, and Gustav are on their own.

But Brett is still in the hospital, and he’s running out of time. Luke’s dad suggests he let Brett die because it’ll look good for his eventual presidential campaign. Cold as ice. Instead, Luke swallows his pride and goes to Red, letting him take the political credit in order to save Brett’s life. And to add insult to injury, the kiosk is renamed the Reagan Hut.

However, the most horrifying part is still to come. Anthony shows up at Laurel’s apartment with an apology pizza, apology flowers, and a DVD of Love Actually. (Everyone knows it’s a Christmas movie, Anthony. What are you doing?) It has all the makings of a sweet moment, until things turn sinister: The flowers are infested with bugs. Anthony grabs her, but fortunately, Laurel kept those brass knuckles Gustav gave her — good looking out, Gustav! — and she’s able to fight him off, even as he pleads for her to take him back, grinning creepily as blood drips down his face.

With Anthony out of her apartment, Laurel is shaken but otherwise intact, and Gustav kindly brings her headphones and mosquito netting so she can sleep peacefully. We once again end on a creepy cliffhanger, as the bugs find their way through the netting and into Laurel’s ear. Is Laurel going to join the legion of bug people?!? Surely not, but then again, I thought Anthony couldn’t possibly be infested. Shows how much I know.

Odds and ends

Number of times we hear “You Might Think”:

0! I miss it. Bring back The Cars.

Grossest moment:

It’s not exactly gross, per se, but Anthony’s attack takes the cake for being the most horrifying moment of the episode. Much of what we’ve seen so far on BrainDead is a nice mix of horror and comedy, but the Anthony scene is downright unsettling (even more so because it’s set to Hugh Grant dancing to “Jump For Your Love”).

Best lines:

Luke to Laurel: “We’re snobs, face it. The Healy children: No one’s up to our standards.”

Laurel: “Hey, what are you doing?”

Anthony: “Not much, what about you?”

Laurel: “Oh, you know, just saving the world.”

Luke: “I’m going to share with you a wonderful little civics lesson about the glory of our system of government: Everybody hates everybody.”

Red: “I know the difference between an A and an E, but not everyone does.”

Gustav: “Maybe he’s not a bug. Maybe he’s just a bastard.”

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