Past as Prologue: Notes Toward a Post-Reagan Theory of Party Alliance, Tribalist, and Loyalty Recap

Laurel jerks away and clutches at her head, moaning in pain. She calls 911 and says that she needs medical assistance because bugs crawled in her ears. The operator transfers it to her superior, Miss Messer, who tells Laurel that they're calling for an EMT…z and then starts eating a carrot.

In the bathroom, Laurel is getting out a Q-Tip when Gustav pounds on her door and warns that the bugs are in the cherry blossoms. She opens the door and says that the bugs are in and Gustav checks the phones. Messer says that the EMTs are on the way but claims that they're busy with other calls. The operator puts gustav on hold, and Gareth calls. Gareth hears Laurel screaming in pain, and Gustav says that they're all good in pain before hanging up.

Laurel tells Gustav that she can feel the bugs eating at her brains, and Gutaav has her recite from memory. Rochelle arrives in response to Gustav's call, and he puts salami on Laurel's head to draw out the bugs. Laurel remembers that they did the same thing with the other victims, and Gustav tells Laurel to stop thinking because they've been fighting the wrong side of the brain. Rochelle realizes that they need to do with the intuitive side of the brain, and goes to get food and alcohol while Gustav puts on loud music.

Rochelle has Laurel drink from the bottle and dance. Laurel realizes that it doesn't hurt and keeps drinking and dancing. The bugs finally start moving in Laurel's brain, and Gustav realizes that they need to get more aggressive. As they see elephants having sex on TV and get an idea, Gareth arrives and asks if Laurel is there. Gustav tries to slam the door in his face, but Rochelle tells him that Laurel needs his help. She ushers Gareth in and says that Laurel needs a burst of dopamine. Laurel tells Gareth that she isn't supposed to think, and he agrees. She starts singing and Rochelle joins in. Laurel advances on Gareth, who realizes that she's been drinking. Gustav and Rochelle sing along and put on radio, and laurel kisses Gareth. He wonders what they're doing, and she says getting bugs out of her head. He's more than glad to agree and they end up having sex in her bed while she eats candy and drinks. She gets on top of Gareth and then passes out, snoring.

Gustav and Rochelle are waiting outside and see the bugs crawl out from under Laurel's bedroom door. Gustav grabs one and puts it in a glass, and a puzzled Gustav comes out, stares at them for a moment, and leaves. Rochelle checks on Laurel, who says that the bugs are gone.

The next day, the news is reporting about the CDC budget vote. In their office, Ella and Red are arguing, and Armante says that he wants a straight-up vote when they go in. Red complains about the pork in the bill, and Luke reminds him that a lot of the pork is going to Red's state. The elder senator says that times have changed and yells into the next office, telling Gareth to bring himhis emails. Gareth is busy thinking about what happened with Laurel, and starts to call her before stopping.

In her office, Laurel stares at the phone and finally starts to call. However, Rochelle calls first to see how she's doing. Laurel says that she's good and wonders if the same thing might work on Stacie. Rochelle says that they're examining the book, and asks if Laurel talked to Gareth yet. She wonders if Gareth saw the bugs, and Laurel figures that Gareth will never want to talk to her again. Rochelle tells her to call and Laurel hangs up. She then calls Stacie and suggests that they meet up for drinks, claiming that she has a scoop for Roll Call. Stacie agrees to meet her.

Gustav and Rochelle realize that the bug hasn't moved yet. Rochelle takes a sample from it to study its chemical composition, and Gustav points out that the sample is moving on its own. He wonders if they might be from outer space, but Rochelle doesn't want to hear it.

Luke brings Mr. Brewster to see Laurel and get her help. Brewster complains about how they moved his polling place, and she realizes that Red had it moved. Laurel goes to Red's office and asks to see Gareth. Red comes in and tells his receptionist to get him kale, and invites Laurel into his office. Once they're alone, Red says that Laurel is the bleeding heart behind Luke. He tells Laurel to go back to LA, warning that things are going to get bad very quickly. Red says that he cares because she's in her way, and knows that she's distracting Gareth. He knows how Luke will react, but he can't anticipate what Laurel will do. As she goes, Laurel sees some maps of the U.S. on Red's desk. She confirms that he doesn't drink anymore, and Red quickly picks up the maps. Laurel sees another map and Red puts it away, saying that it's just office work. When she says that it isn't very smart to let her see them, Red tells her that it doesn't matter because she's going to lose. Laurel smiles and asks why if that's the case, why does he want her out of the way.

Gareth comes in and Red leaves them alone to talk. They go into Gareth's office and Laurel says that she's there about gerrymandering, not what happened the night before. Gareth wants to talk about the previous night and they go for a walk. They both admit that it was odd, and Laurel asks what he saw when she passed out. He confirms that he didn't see anything near her ears, and Laurel claims that she has migraines and needed human contact. Gareth wonders what would have happened if he wasn't there, and says that he'd like to feel like he wasn't being used. She assures him that it was great but weird, and Gareth says that he wants things to be normal. However, he needs some time to think first. Laurel then asks for his list of gerrymandered districts.

Gustav and Rochelle meet with Dexter from the CDC and says that they have a bug. It's 90% potassium chloride, which is combustible, and they can't identify the other 10%. They hand Dexter the case and Gustav says that they're trusting him with it, and Dexter assures him that he's on their side.

Armante calls the committee to order and reviews the 38 amendments to the CDC budget. Red starts discussing zombie pandemics in comic books, and points out that the CDC publishes it. Luke objects to his stalling, and Red says that a constituent has told him that Dexter with the CDC is investigating bugs that eat human brains. He moves that they delay approval of the CDC budget until they receive assurances from the CDC director that the people's money isn't being misspent.

Soon at the CDC, Dexter's superior asks if he's studying zombie bugs. Dexter admits that he is, and his boss Rod Pakula tells him to stop because they're budget is being held up by it. He has the security guards take the case with the specimen and lock it up in a storage room.

In her office, Laurel is checking DC voting patterns when a delivery man drops off Gareth's gerrymandering info. She plots out the changes on a map, and Luke comes in and says that everyone thinks that she's crazy. Laurel insists that she's just doing her job, and Red is acting as a clearinghouse to gerrymandering for the House. He warns her that politicians don't embarrass easily. As he goes, Luke says that the more ludicrous the district, the better. Laurel continues plotting out the districts and discover that they form a series of discrete circles.

Laurel calls in Gustav and Rochelle and shows them what she's found. Gustaav agrees that they look like crop circles, but Rochelle doesn't believe it. He notes that the circles are all pointing toward Capitol Hill, and Rochelle admits that Dexter's boss took the bug away from him thanks to Red's interference. Laurel goes out to check on the CDC. She goes to Luke's office and finds him in conference with Ella and his fellow Democrat Senators. Luke tells Laurel that he can get the CDC running again, but he can't be heard talking about bugs.

As Laurel leaves, she sees Gareth at a desk leaving a note. She asks to see the note, and he reluctantly hands it over. It's him asking her out for a drink, and Laurel agrees. He says that he doesn't want things to be awkward, and told Red not to talk to Laurel about their relationship. Laurel then says that she has to meet a friend that night and says that they can get together the next night. She thanks him, assuring him that they can make it normal again.

That night, Laurel meets Stacie at a noisy bar and offers her friend a drink. She invites Stacie to dance, and drags her out onto the dance floor. Stacie doesn't dance and Laurel asks her about her dating life. Angry, Stacie tells Laurel that she and Abby aren't Laurel's playthings and don't need her remaking their lives, and walks off. Laurel goes after her and says that Stacie's not going to turn it back on her. She says that she felt the bugs in her head and found a cure, and points out her former boyfriend Michael on the floor. Stacie grabs Laurel's wrists and tells her that "Stacie" is gone and she doesn't want to come back. If the bugs leave then the real Stacie will be a lobotomized idiot. Laurel asks what she wants, and Stacie says, "Everything." When Laurel asks if they're taking over the government, Stacie says that there is no government anymore, puts her fingers to her head in an antenna gesture, laughs, and walks away.

The next day, Rochelle is out jogging and several other joggers slam into her when going the wrong direction. Back at her office, Rochelle brings up a web site belonging to Ira Flatow, who answers science questions and has a recording of interstellar radio "noise."

Dexter and his boss testify before the Senate, and Dexter says that he's doing research. Red asks Pakula about his work. Pakula says that he's doing live testing with animals, and admits that some of the animals expire. Red confirms that they render the animals down, and Ella asks how many animals are killed a month. Afterward, Ella tells Luke that at some point they have to put an end to animal testing.

Rochelle confirms that she's listening to the sonification of light waves, and realizes that it's the same rhythm as "You Might Think" by The Cars. The rhythm in space is coming from the Draco constellation, 148 light years away.

Laurel shows Luke the patterns that she's mapped out and points out that they look like crop circles. She suggests that he used it to embarrass Red, but Luke points out that some of the patterning helps Democrats. His sister wonders why, and Luke figures that it's just stupidity. Laurel asks about the CDC budget, and Luke admits that they're losing because Ella and Red are agreeing.

At the appropriations budget meeting, Ella speaks up against Red. However, she wants to have the CDC fighting a war on death and they give them an additional $3 billion. Pakula wonders what Ella is doing, and Luke says that Ella is closing down the CDC because she knows Red will never agree to the budget increase.

Rochelle visits Laurel and admits that Gustav might be right... and the bugs are from outer space.

In the CDC storage room, the bug specimen starts chewing.

Laurel meets Gareth for drinks, and they reintroduce themselves. She says that she thinks that she's going insane because she thinks that bugs are eating people's brains and turning them stupid. Gareth realizes that she isn't joking;.

Written by Gadfly on Aug 1, 2016