Title (S01, E05): Back to Work: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Congress and How It Gets Things Done (and Often Doesn’t)
Director: Allan Arkush
Written by: (created by)-Michelle King, Robert King (written by)-Jacquelyn Reingold
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit, Nikki M James, Johnny Ray Gill, Danny Pino, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Shamin, Jan Maxwell, Zach Grenier, Megan Hiltz, Beth Malone and more
Executive producers: Ridley Scott, Michelle King, Robert King, David W Zucker, Liz Glotzer
Episode length: 42 min
Laurel, Gustav, and Rochelle seem to be making headway in their attempts to bring public awareness to the bugs, but the bugs seem to have them outmaneuvered at every turn.
This was an excellent episode that moved the story forward a couple of giant steps and then moonwalked them back just as fast, as if the show’s creators were saying “Whoa, slow down there, think you’ve got it figured out what’s going to happen next? Its not going to be that easy”
A lot of the wit and charm evident in the first episode was back in this very amusing installment. There were a couple of times I actually laughed out loud at the events on the screen and how they were portrayed.
(*warning spoilers follow*)
The episode begins where we were left off last time, with Laurel in bed the morning after with Antony, after falling asleep on her sofa. Apologizing, she notices he seems to be deaf in one ear, reminding us that she, Gustav, and Rochelle had discovered that people affected by the bugs have their hearing missing in one ear along with displaying a poor sense of balance.
Anthony continues to display behavior that makes Laurel suspicious, and indicates he might have been fallen victim to the extraterrestrial insects. Things like changing the sheets while she was asleep, and being less inclined to be physically intimate.
Laurel expresses her doubts about Anthony to Gustav, who is now calling those affected by the insects ‘bug people’, and as Laurel is leaving he pulls out a couple of tranquilizers for her to use on her bug people friend as he puts it, he also pulls out a set of brass knuckles in case she needs them for the same reason. Gustav is a hilarious character, not only was it funny that he had those things in his pockets, but the way he presented them was also very amusing.
Gustav and Rochelle are still determined to convince someone that the exploding heads that have been occurring have nothing to do with blood pressure medication, and try to convince Laurel to say something to her brother, in hopes of getting Luke involved in lending credibility to their theories about the bugs by having him give the CDC a nudge by expressing his interest in the matter to them.
Luke rejects the idea initially when Laurel mentions it, but after hearing an FDA employee grouse about the CDC and the blood pressure medicine , he changes his mind and decides maybe there’s something to it after all.
After hearing what they have to say, he reacts reasonably, and sends them to meet a recognized entomologist with what little evidence they have, to see how the scientist reacts to what they have to say.
In the meantime, in a more politically oriented subplot, there is a matter regarding some veterans affairs that Luke wants to push forward as part of what the bipartisan committee discusses that day, and it soon turns into a sh*t show of quibbling and accusations after Red Wheatus brings up a ridiculous detail regarding the matter.
Once again, the show is dead on target in its satirical portrayal of what goes on behind closed doors must be like. The depiction of petty bickering, over trivial matters, and wasting of time over what amounts to nothing in the scene, rang all too true as to what it must really be like.
The show is capable of being deeply disturbing, downright creepy, and infuriating in its portrayal of how our elected officials behave when they are not on camera. The veterans matter is eventually reduced to a photo op and political ammunition with little regard for actually doing good or helping someone, Shalhoub continues to be very convincing and memorable as the unsavory, and detestable Red Wheatus.
Anyway, Gustav and Rochelle meet with the entomologist, Dr. Joanne Alaimo (guest star and excellent character actress Margo Martindale), who recognizes the bug is not a screw worm as Gustav has surmised, but something completely new and different, that she has never seen before. She expresses a real interest in the insects, and about looking into the situation, and it seems like finally a scientist, and someone who can help bring the situation into the light of day is on board.
Gustav goes back to see her later, when it occurs to him that maybe the bugs are communicating with sounds so high pitched they cannot be detected by human ears, and when he goes to leave to retrieve a device to explore that avenue of inquiry, Dr Alaimo goes with him.
They visit the site where Gustav’s friend was afflicted, with no luck at finding any insects, but the insects find them, and climbing into her bag, they travel home with her, and get her that night. This, of course, causes her to reverse her opinion regarding the situation, and she reports back to Luke that Laurel and her friends are crazy.
Luke has already been ridiculed and mocked on capital hill because he mentions the bugs to the CDC woman he has sex with that night, who, for whatever the reasons, leaks his interest in the insects. As a result Laurel and her friends lose what might have been a valuable ally, and can no longer turn to him because it might hurt his critical career.
Anthony shows up at Laurels, after she told him earlier they should just be friends, because she is convinced he is a bug person, despite the fact he explained away all of her suspicions with very reasonable sounding excuses for his behavior.
He brings pizza, flowers and a romantic comedy by way of an apology and claiming he understands the new parameters of their relationship. Wile he is there, Laurel’s phone buzzes and he stands in her way when she goes to answer it.
He embraces her, and what starts out as an awkward hug, shifts into an unpleasant clutch, and then escalates into a brutal assault on his part. When Laurel spots the brass knuckles Gustav gave her earlier, she bashes him in the face a few times, until he leaves. A strong reminder that no means no.
Gareth calls right afterwards, he was shown earlier in the episode kind of sulking in the wings, and Laurel, who is visibly shaken from what she just experienced, is glad to hear from him. There’s a knock on the door. Its Gustav with mosquito netting, and improvized ear muffs for her protection. Laurel hugs him and thanks him for brass knuckles, an explains what happens. Gustav sees the flowers, the same flowers as in the park, cherry blossoms, and inquires about them, and is relieved to learn Laurel is throwing them away because they came from Anthony.
Laurel promises to use the stuff he bought, but goes to bed without doing it anyway, until she suddenly sits up changing her mind and sets up the netting but foregoing the earmuffs.
At he same time Gustav has returned to the park where he thinks he may find the bugs, and using his device, he discovers the cherry blossom trees are crawling with them, he tries to call Laurel because he’s realized they are the same flowers the received as a gift, and that’s why Anthony gave them to her. He starts running to go back to her place.
Back at Laurel’s, the bugs are shown making their way up under the netting and onto her bed, while her phone goes on buzzing, unheard by her nearby. A bug is shown entering her ear, and she suddenly sits up with a very surprised look on her face. That’s how the episode ends.
Wow, that’s just mean, leaving us hanging like that, not knowing whether Laurell has become a bug people or not. This was an excellent episode, with more emphasis on the bug part of the story than the political stuff. It made excellent use of mystery and suspense during its duration, with a couple of very funny moments. The portrayal of Anthony’s attack on Laurel was brief but powerful in its impact.
Despite the show teasing the story moving forward, it really didn’t do that much, taking back as much as it gave in the progress of the storyline. We are near the halfway point in this summer series, and I am beginning to wonder when we will get some sort of explanation of why the bugs are doing what they do, and whats behind it, but unless the show’s creator’s are as crazy as their show, it should begin to be revealed soon.
This show is much better than I ever originally expected it to be, given the comedic approach to the premise, and the fact its a summer show. A welcome surprise in the form of a very entertaining series.