BrainDead recap: The Power of Euphemism: How Torture Became a Matter of Debate in American Politics
Queen bees and expendable interns
Hey, remember how last week’s episode was a fairly lighthearted romp involving sex, chocolate, and salami? Welcome to BrainDead episode 7, where the theme of the week is…torture.
Last week, Red Wheatus told Laurel he was going to keep an eye on her, and now he’s making good on that promise. After devoting most of his energy to keeping Washington as gridlocked as possible, he’s decided to actually take action and goad the FBI into investigating the mysterious CHIs (catastrophic head injuries, a.k.a. all those spontaneously combusting craniums). All he needs is one eager-to-please intern, a couple of cherry blossoms, and a giant queen bug that’s apparently been hanging out in his head this whole time. (Gah.) As if it wasn’t creepy enough to watch an enormous bug crawl out of Red’s ear, this bug can FLY and LAY EGGS. After Intern Mike takes those egg-covered cherry blossoms home, the poor guy doesn’t stand a chance.
As part of his plan to get Laurel out of the way, Wheatus orchestrates a meeting at the Capitol gym, including Intern Mike and the FBI director. Wheatus says the FBI absolutely needs to start investigating these head explosions, which he strongly believes are linked to terrorism. To drive the point home, he makes sure Intern Mike has a head explosion of his own, splattering blood and brains all over the poor FBI official. Fare thee well, Mike. We hardly knew ya.
Now that the director of the FBI has literally watched a head explode in front of his face (and on his face), he decides, yeah, the FBI probably should start looking into these CHIs. Their first stop is Laurel (thanks to a not-so-subtle nudge from good ol’ Anthony), so a man named Mr. Cornish (Kurt Fuller) shows up at her office, where he pleasantly hands her wrist restraints and apologizes for tasing her — as one does when kidnapping someone for FBI interrogation.
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Soon, they’re checking her vitals and asking about her tolerance for pain. As potential torturers go, Cornish is exceedingly polite, but still, Laurel isn’t too keen on the whole torture thing. But even when faced with possible waterboarding, Laurel is smart, and she knows the FBI needs the approval of the two senators in charge of the security committee. Those two senators happen to be Red Wheatus and Luke Healy. Red is, of course, raring to sign off, but Luke needs some convincing. In the end, however, he does sign — without knowing he’s approving the torture of his own sister.
NEXT: Did somebody call Jack Bauer?
This is one time when Gustav’s paranoia comes in handy. After Laurel fails to answer her phone, he quickly realizes she’s missing, and he, Rochelle, and Gareth go to Luke for answers. Luke immediately puts the pieces together, and one of the FBI agents reluctantly confirms that yes, Laurel is the suspect they have in custody.
While Gareth and Luke set out to rescue Laurel, Gustav and Rochelle try to keep an eye on Ella, since they know she’s infected. They soon realize she’s communicating with some of the other infected people, and Gustav uses his high-frequency detector to monitor and record their messages. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that they themselves can pose as bug people, broadcasting out the recorded messages. Even better, they’re able to parse the message into smaller chunks, causing the bug people to run into walls and throw their hands in the air, all depending on what they broadcast. Finally, the humans have an advantage.
Meanwhile, Luke and Gareth are putting their political skills to the test while locked in a congressional committee with Red, who’s desperately trying to get the senate to approve the use of “controlled immersion” (a.k.a. waterboarding). Things don’t look good for Luke, as Red waxes philosophical about how Jack Bauer was an American and he was totally cool with waterboarding. The vote looks like it’s going to go Red’s way, but the chamber soon devolves into chaos when Rochelle and Gustav use their handy-dandy broadcasting app to wreak havoc, causing senators to run into walls and vote multiple times.
Since running your head into a wall doesn’t really count as a vote, they end up letting Laurel go! Since so much of BrainDead has focused on Laurel’s story, it’s kind of fun to watch her friends do the detective work for once — and, in the process, save her from being tortured. But this is BrainDead, so things can’t end on a touchy-feely, hug-it-out happy moment. Instead, things take a turn for the worse when Gustav’s frequency app picks up some strange signals coming from Laurel and Luke’s father. Looks like Laurel isn’t the only Healy family member to have an encounter with the bugs.
Odds and ends
Number of times we hear “You Might Think”: 1
Grossest moment: It’s a toss-up between the queen alien bug squirming out of Red’s ear and poor Mike’s exploding head — although the queen might have the advantage, since we’ve already seen our fair share of head explosions. (Which is a sentence you will not read about any other show on TV this summer.)
- Red, upon meeting Gustav and Rochelle: “Nice to meet you both. I do think black lives matter.”
- Red: “Look at Jack Bauer. What did he have to do to keep America safe?”
- It’s not a line, exactly, but I’m including Rochelle and Gustav’s little triumphant handshake because it was my favorite moment of the episode.