Laurel faces off against the space bugs once and for all

By Devan Coggan
September 12, 2016 at 04:42 AM EDT
Michael Parmelee/CBS
S1 E12
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Well, here we are! After several weeks of brain-eating space bugs, political gridlock, and the occasional Michael Moore sex scene, we’re finally at the two-part season finale of BrainDead: “Talking Points Toward a Wholistic View of Activism in Government: Can the Top Rebel?” followed by “The End of All We Hold Dear: What Happens When Democracies Fail: A Brief Synopsis.” And boy, is it a doozy. So let’s jump right in…

Laurel, Gustav, and Rochelle may have failed to kill the queen residing in Red’s head, but they did do some damage. With the queen injured, Red is left dazed and constantly on the verge of tears. He can barely hold it together, so Ella decides to step in and crown herself queen of the bug invasion.

As for Laurel, she’s starting to wonder whether there’s anything she can do. Her attempt to kill the queen failed, and now Luke is telling her the CIA is on top of the invasion — and that she, Gustav, and Rochelle are only getting in the way. Plus, she just received a surprise $2 million gift to finish her documentary, on the condition she flies to the Solomon Islands and gets started immediately. With all of that weighing on her mind, she’s starting to wonder whether it’s time to leave Washington for good.

Rochelle and Gustav are ready to continue the crusade, even after Rochelle turns Gustav down for a date. (Aww, Gustav! Poor guy.) Still, Laurel tells them she’s out. She’s taking the money and finishing her documentary. The world needs to know about Melanesian choirs.

Still, before she leaves, Laurel can’t resist taking a road trip to check out one of these so-called internment camps Red is building. There, she discovers they’re not building camps to hold human beings; they’re building greenhouses to grow cherry blossoms in 80 towns all over the country. Right now, the infestation is still limited to the D.C. area and the cherry blossoms are fading — but thanks to the greenhouses, the bugs will be able to breed and spread throughout the rest of the country. Dun dun dunnnnn!

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Concerned, Laurel tells Luke. He goes to the CIA, where they tell him that yes, they’ve figured that out and he should still stand down. Suspicious, he makes up some nonsense about the water supply, and they say that yes, they know all about that, too. So, the CIA is definitely lying — and in cahoots with the bug people. Things aren’t looking too good for Team Laurel.

Meanwhile, Red is still fading and Luke has staged a major sit-in protesting his budget bill. By the time Ella confronts him in his office, Red is reduced to snorting seaweed in hopes of regaining his strength. (Somehow I think snorting it would make it worse, but what do I know.) Ella tells him he’s too weak to continue, and he should just go ahead and hand the reigns of the invasion over to her. She pulls a gun out her purse and even moves to shoot him, but she fails.

NEXT: Laurel takes a page from Game of Thrones’ Septa Unella

Red manages to overpower her and grab the gun. “You know the problem with liberals? They don’t know where the safety is,” he says. And then HE shoots HER! Meanwhile, the queen crawls out of his head and dismembers the bug living in hers. Yuck.

It turns out senator brains are far more effective than seaweed, and it’s enough to get Red and the queen back to full health. By the time we start hour two, the fate of the world isn’t looking too promising.

For the last and final episode, musical recapper Jonathan Coulton shows up in person and plays the final song outside Gustav’s apartment, much to Gustav’s annoyance. Still, the hothouse plot and the CIA being compromised is enough to convince Laurel to stay. The bug-busting team is back together!

Facing the end of the world, Laurel goes to her father again for a last-ditch attempt to get him back. He’s still firmly convinced the bugs are a good thing, until she starts to confront him about letting down Luke. That’s when she notices the bugs starting to leave his ears. He quickly hurries away, but when Laurel fills in Gustav and Rochelle, Rochelle posits that maybe it’s shame. According to her, shame is one of the most deeply rooted human emotions, and if you could truly induce shame in an infected person, it may be enough to drive the bugs from their head.

As for Gustav and Rochelle, they try to figure out a way to sabotage the cherry blossoms. First, Gareth nicks Red’s badge, and together, Rochelle and Gustav sneak into the hothouses to sprinkle the cherry trees with salt in an attempt to stop them from growing. Unfortunately, good ol’ psychopathic FBI agent Anthony is there, and they have to make a hasty exit before he spots them.

While Rochelle and Gustav fail at being spies, Laurel tries once again to shame her father. She digs up an old videotape she made on her ninth birthday, when her dad missed her party to spend time with his mistress. At first, it has no effect, but soon, he collapses as the bugs exit his ears once and for all!! Looks like Team Laurel finally has the advantage.

Foiled by Anthony, Rochelle and Gustav turn their attention to the cherry blossoms in D.C., planning to douse them with fertilizer to make them drop their flowers early. But when they get pulled over by the police, it doesn’t look too great to be hanging out near the National Mall with a trunk full of fertilizer. Especially not once Anthony shows up.

But Gustav has a trump card! Or an ID card, to be more specific. It turns out Gustav is a high-level NSA official and has been this whole time. Which actually makes a lot of sense.

NEXT: Gary the Intern, you’re my hero

As for Laurel, she has her final confrontation with Red, revealing she’s figured out why he’s spent the entire season calling her Lana. I thought it was just a running gag, but it turns out to actually be relevant to the plot! See, Red was once in love with a woman named Lana, an illegal immigrant whom he reported to the authorities. It’s his biggest regret — and Laurel thinks it’s enough to shame him into expelling the queen — but he fights back and pulls a gun on her. Gareth rushes to her defense, there’s a struggle, and they accidentally shoot Red in the butt. The queen leaves his ear, and before Gareth and Laurel can squish her, Gary the Intern accidentally steps on her. Maybe you’re not so useless after all, Gary the Intern.

With the queen dead and the cherry blossoms beginning to fall, every bug in Washington leaves its host and converges on Red’s office. Invasion averted! Most everyone gets a happy ending — even Red, who still makes a pretty effective senator even though he only has half a brain. Laurel and Gareth even manage to realize that even though they have radically different political views, they’re perfect for each other. All is normal in Washington…or at least as normal as it usually is.  

Everything looks like it’s been tied up in a neat little bow, and so far, BrainDead hasn’t been officially canceled or renewed. If things ended here, I’d be happy, but I would also love a second season to explore the aftermaths of the bug invasion. Plus, I just want to see these characters again…especially Gustav. Gustav’s the best. Let’s start the campaign now for a Gustav spinoff.

Odds and ends

Number of times we hear “You Might Think”: Just once! Still, I’m officially never going to be able to hear The Cars without thinking of brain-eating bugs.

Grossest moment: Probably the swarms of bugs converging on Red’s office at the end? This show has made me more afraid of bugs, not less.

Best lines:

  • Gustav: “You wanna go out?”          

    (Rochelle laughs.)

    Gustav: “What? Would you like to go somewhere amusing?”

  • Gustav: “We kill Red. We wait until he’s heading home, and we run our car over him.”

    Rochelle: “You don’t have a car.”

    Gustav: “Then we run YOUR car over him.”

  • Gustav: “Why aren’t you on your plane to…something mean I’ll think of later?”
  • Rochelle, when she and Gustav are arrested: “Don’t make any furtive moments.”
  • Gustav: “Excuse me, I know how to be black.”
  • Unanswered questions:

    • Can Laurel and Gareth make it work? I guess if you’ve been through an alien-bug invasion together, everything else seems like small potatoes.
    • Will Gustav and Rochelle ever give it a go? I hope so. They’re cute together.
    • No one seems particularly concerned that Ella, a major senator, is dead.
    • Did we ever figure out why Red wanted to make voting districts into crop circles?
    • It should be a crime to cast Aaron Tveit in your show and not have him sing.
    • What happened to Gustav’s cat??? I hope he’s okay.
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