Space bugs. CIA investigations. A secret war room. A Romeo and Juliet-esque D.C. romance. It all comes to a head – literally, in the case of the space bugs – in BrainDead“s season 1 finale.
Ahead of the back-to-back final two hours airing tomorrow on CBS, creators Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife) talked to HitFix about what viewers can expect to happen next in their wacky tale of Capitol Hill being overtaken by brain-eating extraterrestrial bugs.
Last week”s episode left off with Luke meeting the CIA “director”s director,” who informed him about the bugs. So Luke is finally in on (and believing) the truth about the bugs, but it looks like the brass at the CIA are infected with bugs too. Now Luke, Laurel, Gustav, and Rochelle (and also recently, finally in-the-know Gareth!) have to decide how they”re going to contend with the CIA.
“The biggest thing is now they have to deal with the possibility of the CIA being involved or at least seeming to take care of [the bugs], and how do they handle that? Especially when Laurel is challenged with possibility being able to leave and do her documentary,” Robert King said.
While Laurel”s faced with an opportunity to go finish her documentary that“s near-impossible to pass up, we do get to see new developments for Laurel and Gareth”s relationship, Michelle King promised. And yes, she agrees that they really struck gold there with the chemistry between actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit. “Are they not so wonderful together?” she gushed. One thing to especially look forward to there in the finale: Laurel running into Gareth”s conservative parents.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit in BrainDead's season finale. Photo credit: Michael Parmelee/CBS
Laurel will get a crucial face-off with Red Wheatus, played by Monk alum Tony Shalhoub. Originally, the Kings weren”t planning to pen any major scenes between Shalhoub and Winstead. But once they saw the performances from both actors, “we ended up putting more scenes of them together and started re-writing toward a finale that would involve the two of them,” Robert King said.
Tomorrow“s back-to-back 12th and 13th episodes of BrainDead come after a run of more serious episodes, following the hysterical episodes 6 and 7. The ninth episode then didn”t even explicably mention the bugs at all, and Gustav was absent. In a show that CBS touts as a “comic thriller,” which deals both with real world-based politics and sci-fi elements, tone is a tricky thing to figure out for the Kings and their writing staff.
Johnny Ray Gill as Gustav, catching a space bug on BrainDead. Photo credit: Michael Parmelee/CBS
“The tone is more guided by the politics,” Robert King explained. “Sometimes our satirical instinct goes towards something that has a heavy underpinning – when I say ‘heavy,” I just mean the issues are important.”
Episode 7 (its lengthy, periodical essay-esque title is “The Power of Euphemism: How Torture Became a Matter of Debate in American Politics”) ended up being both suspenseful and hilarious as Laurel”s kept in FBI custody and Gustav and Rochelle discover how to track bug-infested people and, better yet, how to control them a bit.
The husband-wife showrunner duo noted that episode was not intended to be the show”s funniest, but Michelle King credited guest star Kurt Fuller with bringing a lot of the comedy in “Power of Euphemism.”
“I agree, 6 and 7 are the two funniest,” Robert King said, though the writers found a way to highlight what happens when torture goes by another name, as Laurel”s about to undergo “controlled immersion” with water. “I just remember the way America was, torture was never even on the table as a possibility,” Robert King added. “Any candidate who mentioned that they wanted to torture someone would be seen as disgusting and Middle Ages. Now this country is allowing itself to kind of in euphemism discuss torture as if it's an option.”
Danny Pino and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in BrainDead. Photo credit: Michael Parmelee/CBS
Ultimately, with tone, “the more serious our mini-conspiracy gets, the more serious it gets for our characters,” Robert King said.
The finale, though, aims to supply a good dose of laughs and wackiness, while delivering the climax of the show“s high-stakes storylines, including the next (final?) step in our ragtag team“s efforts to take D.C. back from the bugs.
Also in the season 1 conclusion to BrainDead: Jonathan Coulton, who”s been writing and singing the show”s catchy recap songs, will appear onscreen in a troubadour role.
After the finale airs, come back to HitFix for a postmortem discussion with the Kings as they answer our burning questions about BrainDead“s first season and the prospects for a second season.