After thirteen episodes, CBS’s brilliant political satire has come to an end, and thankfully the producers did not leave us with an unresolved cliffhanger (or did they?). Pretty much all of the puzzle pieces were assembled in a satisfying manner, and the resolution to the conflict was pretty funny.
Over the course of the two-episode finale (which was designed to conclude on September 12 as that was the key date on the series, but CBS screwed that up by moving the show to Sunday) things were looking bleak, first for Red Wheatus and then for humanity. After injuring Red’s queen last week, the effect those injuries had on Red were more than a bit obvious as his health rapidly deteriorated.
When Ella Pollack tried to wrest control from him, Red again turned murderous and blew her brains out, freeing her king which allowed his queen to attack, restoring not only her health but Red’s as well. Of course Ella’s disappearance left us wondering why no one on the committee missed her when it came time to vote again on the farm bill Luke tried to stop.
Speaking of Luke, while he was finally coming to terms with Laurel’s bug hunt courtesy of the CIA briefing, and especially as he began to understand that the CIA was in cahoots with the aliens, his world crumbled a bit more when Laurel finally revealed that their father was also infected. Rather than breaking him, it only strengthened his resolve to stop whatever it was that Red and Ella were up to. As the show has done a few times over the course of the season, they once again borrowed an episode from real life as Luke and his fellow senators staged a sit-in on the senate committee floor, hoping to force a vote on the farm bill.
Another key revelation in the finale concerned that bill and the internment camps it appeared Wheatus was secretly funding. But, thanks to the diligence of Luke’s analyst, digging through footnote after footnote, it was discovered there was unusual funding set aside for large amounts of glass for windows. But why would internment camps need windowns? When they’re actually greenhouses. Yes, the plan was to build greenhouses across the country to produce cherry blossoms for the advancement of the invasion.
When Laurel got too close to revealing the truth, a sudden $2 million grant fell in her lap to complete her documentary. And then Gareth got drunk and proposed to her. And then she and Gustav had a falling out when she decided to leave DC to finish her film. And then Ella had someone try to murder Gareth — who was confused because he though they were on the same side as the Republicans, but all she had to tell him was that Hillary woulnd’t cut funding for the arts and he was good with that — which worried Laurel enough that as things finally started making sense, she decided to stay because if the world was about to end, she’d rather be by Gareth’s side.
Rochelle and Gustav attempted to infiltrate a greenhouse facility in Manassas, VA using Red’s security badge, with Gustav replacing the photo with his own, after discovering salt would keep the cherry blossoms from growing, preventing them from being transported across the country to the other greenhouses. But they were also spotted by our favorite FBI agent, but Rochelle came up with another way to kill the already existing cherry blossoms — but loading a car with chemical fertilizer and driving around DC is probably not the best of ideas. In fact, the two were pulled over (thanks to the handiwork of Agent Anthony) and were nearly arrested … until Gustav dropped his own bombshell: he’s an NSA agent! On leave, but still Rochelle was a little less than pleased he’d been putting her in such danger … but she was the one with a car. His status usurped everyone else and they were free to go about their business.
Back in Red’s office, things were coming to a head between him and Laurel. Growing ever more suspicious of Gareth, he was going to call him into his office but Laurel was there instead. Trying to position her in just the right spot to splatter her brains against the wall (something he also tried to do with Luke, but those Healys just won’t sit still). Laurel, however, had discovered with her father that the feeling of shame was something so powerful, so deep-seated in humanity, that the bugs could not deal with it. Gareth had previously discovered a picture of a woman in Red’s desk, who turned out to be Red’s one true love Lana. Bearing a resemblance to Laurel, it became clear that he always called her Lana not because he was disinterested in remembering her name, but because she reminded him of that woman. His shame came from calling immigration on her and having her deported (even though she was born in the US to immigrant parents) and died in the country of their origin.
It was too much for Red (and the queen) to bear, so he pulled out his gun, but Gareth intervened and as the three wrestled with the weapon, it went off. But who was shot? Turns out it was Red, and in the butt. The entire fracas caused his queen to take flight and just as she approached the office door, it swung open and SQUISH! New intern Gary entered and accidentally stepped on the bug, making a big gooey mess.
After a few attempts at killing the queen, all it took was the intern’s perfectly timed entrance, causing what can best be described as a “disturbance in The Force” as millions of bugs screamed out in horror, vacating their hosts brains to find their queen and presumably die en masse (we never did see the clean up or get an explanation of what happened with the pile of dead bugs). And Rochelle’s and Gustav’s plan to kill the cherry blossoms also worked as they were engulfed in a blizzard of petals after the queen’s death (giving her hive nowhere to retreat). And it seems a little romance may have developed between them (although we’re still not sure if Rochells really has a boyfriend or if she was just using that as an excuse to politely turn down Gustav before she knew he worked for the NSA).
There was a real romance between Laurel and Gareth however, but the result of the death of the alien parasites is having a devastating effect on those who were infected. Red, and presumably the rest of the affected senate, has been reduced to a barely functioning vegetable (although the bit with him speaking into a light instead of a mic was pretty funny), and Luke and Laurel’s dad has become even more debilitated by his Parkinson’s. So while the world was saved, the ending was very bittersweet.
And then we even got the “Previously on” singer Jonathan Coulter to appear on camera on last time (the last episodes got a bit meta with cast members acknowledging the guy in humorous ways) to wrap up the season in song, admitting that not all the questions were answered, but the threat to humanity had been thwarted. But has it? Keeping that door open for a follow-up season (though highly unlikely) we see one lone branch of cherry blossoms outside a florist shop with a new queen taking flight.
BrainDead really had an uphill battle this season with viewers. Many who tuned in to the first episode found it a bit lacking, and there was a rough imbalance between drama, comedy and pure satire. It was hard to figure out what the show was supposed to be when it seemed like even the writers were unsure of how far to push things. It seemed to want to be funny, but it could have just been a classic sci-fi alien invasion thriller like Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.
By the third episode everyone found their groove and the satire kicked in, thanks in part to the brilliant use of political current events, mirroring some of the things happening in real life like the sit in. But trying to convince people to re-join a show they’ve already given up on is tough. It also didn’t help that CBS had to bump the show from its Monday slot, where it was actually doing okay, for the political conventions. The ratings really floundered on Sunday night and the producers — having constructed a story with a beginning, middle and end — are not hopeful that we will see these characters again (although they do have plans for a second season that would have taken place on Wall Street with an evolved species, like we saw flying off at the end.
But if this is the end, we give a tip of the hat to series creators Michelle and Robert King (The Good Wife), their writers, and their amazing, brilliant cast for giving us a sharp, witty, hugely entertaining summer diversion.
What did you think of the finale and the season as a whole? Tell us in the comments below!
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