TV Recap: BrainDead, Series Premiere

Braindead Poster

BrainDead attempts to conquer too much ground in its first episode. This leaves viewers not knowing what exactly is happening. All that is known for sure is that the show is a political thriller set in the present-day and mysterious bugs infect people. That’s it. There’s no description of where the bugs come from or why they exist. We know they remove people’s brains and cause those people to act uncharacteristically, but why does it happen? Also, why are those who start investigating the bugs’ source stopped?

If those questions were answered in the first episode, there would be no reason to continue with the other 12 episodes. However, the only information on the bugs’ origin is in the press release and other reviews. CBS wants you to know they are from space. The pilot only establishes that the bugs came from a box on a ship, but doesn’t reveal where the box came from or hint to where the bug story will lead.

When BrainDead isn’t indulging in its nonsensical science fiction plot, the show is a fairly straightforward political drama. Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) reluctantly accepts a job working for her brother Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino). Since there is now a brother-sister team in the Capitol, Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tveit) and Senator Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) try to exploit Laurel’s close relationship with Senator Healy, which makes for a more compelling story. However, this story is ruined once bugs remove half of Senator Wheatus’ brain and his personality changes.

At least I think that’s what happened, BrainDead left me both confused and glued to the television with my mouth open. The show has fantastical West Wing plots with a heavy dose of Lost’s lack of direction.

BrainDead would better as a Netflix show because the story arcs seem to be written for binge watching. I would love to watch the next episode today, yet feel hardly compelled to tune in to CBS next week to find out the drawn out fate of the characters. I’ll invest two hours into the show, not a week of waiting knowing disappointment awaits. It’s extremely disappointing when you watch one episode in a series only to find out that you will need to watch the entire series in order for a chance at having your questions answered.