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BrainDead - 1.01 "The Insanity Principal" - Review: You Might Think I'm Crazy!

"What's Eating Washington?" is perhaps an understated tagline from this new political satire dramedy-thriller with science fictions leanings from the creators and producers of the just recently-ended, The Good Wife. 

We are introduced to Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Weinstead), a young wanna-be documentary film-maker, who finds herself negotiating a deal with her father (Zack Grenier) to work for her brother Luke (Danny Pino), a Democratic Senator in Washington D.C. for six months in exchange for funds to finish a documentary on the disappearance of  an indigenous Island people!

On her first day of work as constituent case-worker, she is introduced to a small number of interesting people from a man wanting to leave behind a large chocolate dog, to a woman who thinks her husband, Randall, is acting strange due to examining a shipping container aboard a ship at sea that somehow is linked to Luke's office, and Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tveit) a man working for an opposing Republican Senator named Raymond "Red" Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) who blackmails a deal for a 40 million dollar Earmark for autism research, or else the Government will "shut down"!

We follow Laurel through a series of events trying to convince Luke to take the deal, but ultimately reveal to the audience that he is cheating on his wife, Germain (Lily Cowel) with his Chief of Staff, Scarlett Pierce (Paige Patterson) and he doesn't budge.

In the meanwhile going back to Breanna Burke's concern that her husband did not come home the same man, and going back to the beginning of the episode where a meteorite fell onto Russian soil and has now made it's way to the Smithsonian, we also follow Dr. Daudier.(Michael Potts), who was trying to examine the meteorite, but was quickly escorted away due to the government shutdown (and later, in the most intense scene, also falls pray to the little buggers)! We then follow these alien ant-like insects, whom come to the Burke household. Breanna is held down by husband and becomes another victim of the alien invasion!

After discussing more with Gareth, Laurel is pushed further to stop the shutdown continuing and make the deal. She realizes that going to her father is the only way, which ultimately works, until it doesn't. Red Wheatus is character when first introduced doesn't seemed the most engaged of Senators and clearly had a drinking problem, but he too strangely becomes another victim of insect-sized aliens. Wheatus, now more alive then ever, is extremely reluctant to go forward without another ultimatum.

Laurel also had an alarming conversation with Breana andcontinued to investigate both the ship and the not-so-contained meteorite specimen left at the Smithsonian, which at very least felt like cover up, but one that comes with musical flavor. It seems the aliens are making a come back with 1980's new wave hit from The Cars, "You Might Think"! The song continues to pop-up with great frequency everywhere Laurel goes for the rest of the episode.

Breanna later tells Laurel that everything is fine and she overreacted. Laurel tries to talk Luke about it at one point, but like so many a politician, causally dismisses it. The episode ends with the revelation that Luke's staff must now work out of a horrible office building, instead of the more lavish and upscale building they were in before!

Things I Liked:
One of things I liked most about the pilot was that aliens don't bring a zombi-fied aspect to their victims, despite that they no longer have brain matter! Looking at Randell and Red Wheatus, it appears that it took characters with alcoholic problems and brought them more to life! Even in the case of  Randell, he says he still loves Breanna and that he just wants them to "connect" in a way they never could before--When we see them reassure Laurel that nothing was wrong, they even spoke in sync, which is also interesting when Dr. Daudier mentioned that the space rock was constituted more like a bee-hive, suggesting that they can have "bee-hive-mind"!!

Another thing I liked are the characters whimsical names. Many of the names relate to plants and flowers, which in and of themselves, as such with Laurel or Red Wheatus (Red Wheat), could also have allegorical significance, but even looking ahead at press releases, there seems to be some other fun pun-like names! Be on the look out for other Senetors' names in particular!

Then there is also how they used real news clips featuring many of the Presidential Candidates or events and some fictional footage of the cargo container holding the meteorite on the ship, which was a nice motif playing to Laurel's documentary film-maker exasperation!

But mostly, I loved how there was still a story about an ethically conscious girl whom may be forced to come to terms with the often thoughtless political nature of her family,

The Good Wife Factor/ Odds and Ends:
-Actor Zach Grenier played character David Lee for all seven seasons.
- David Buckley returns to provide the musical score!
-Random Large Chocolate Dog reminiscent of Micheal Tacsioni carrying around his lap dog.
-Lily Cowel is Christine Baranski's real life daughter. I find it amusing that her character starts off with her husband cheating on her with his Chief of Staff (a child of divorced parents), as cheating on spouses or considering divorce was not only thematic to The Good Wife from the viewpoint of Alicia and Peter, but the series ended with potentially Diane Lockheart's husband cheating on her, and Baranski is set to star in the The Good Wife's spinn-off.
-The horror in some of the scenes was so over dramatic at times! It reminded me of some the fictionalized television series the The Good Wife characters would watch or one of Eli Gold's favorite horror flicks, It Follows.
-I mentioned flower/plant names, but I am also curios if there will be a future correlation or dynamic between Red Wheatus and Scarlett Pierce. In addition I am reminded by both Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare with such names.
-Some of The Good Wife's more creative and cheeky episodes also used great music! (End, Iowa, Mind's Eye)
-When Laurel sits with Gareth, as he is about to eat his lunch and basically tells Laurel to get lost reminded me of The Good Wife's last episodes where Jason is trying to get information for Peter's trial (that lead to a belief that he was cheating with one of his former Chiefs of Staff). The woman he interviews offers him half her sandwich.
-Laurel and Luke talk at the bar over drinks = Many Good Wife characters talking at the bar over drinks.
-Like The Good Wife, the characters' clothes are very fashionable. I want all of Laurel's coats!
-The ship was named The Alba. I have to wonder if that is a reference to an Albatross and the poem The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner? 
-The Full Episode Titles, such as, "The Insanity Principal: How  Extremism in Politics is Threatening Democracy in the 21st Century" are like educational political science books! There is something about dating it that also makes it seem like it's futuristic, which was another minor characteristic of The Good Wife. (ie: Jason buys Alicia a deed to a plot of land on Mars)

Favorite Scenes:
- The Alien Transition Scene For Red Wheatus
- Dr. Daudier's Ambulance Scene (Seriously, terrifying)
- Laurel realizing "You Might Think" is playing everywhere.

Questions/Notes About the Aliens/Mystery:
-Do the Aliens target certain people (substance abusers)?
-What is going to be their bigger Agenda?
- Do they make humanity/America better or worse?
- Why was the container obtained behalf of Luke's office? -Did someone else set them up intentionally? Could Gareth know more than he lets on? Or how about Dean Healy?
-Known Victims: The Burkes, Dr. Daudier, Red Wheatus, Scarlett Pierce, and The Alba Crew.
-Aliens seem to have Bee-Hive Mind/ Love The Cars "You Might Think"

My hopes for the series upon it's announcement was that it could produce the same quality of an intellectual, witty, and theatrical-style of writing through a great mix of some of the best character actors & actresses of film and stage, giving strong or unique, but also relatable personalities --and with episodes that are embedded with pop cultural and relevant sociopolitical issues, along with a kind of well-rounded blend between political family drama that bounces back and forth between home and the workplace, but with a heart of serious contention, but never stays serious too long without a quirky or charming sense of satirical fun that also includes something rather fashionable! I found that although this series may be a little more "out there" and at times, rather dark, it has many of the same components that made The Good Wife such a well-round delight.

What did you think? Favorite characters? Theories on the Alien Insects? Other The Good Wife Easter Eggs? Let us know in the comments below!!

About the Author - Darthlocke4
Laura Becker (Darthlocke 4) is a long time commentator, TV addict, and aspiring writer participating with other fans on SpoilerTV. She writes reviews and analytic type articles. Some of her other interests include philosophy, cultural anthropology, reading, drawing, and working with animals, as she grew up and continues to work on her family's horse farm.
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