Playing Politics: Living Life in the Shadow of the Budget Showdown - A Critique Recap

Laurel is at home and listening to a newscast about the Democrat government shutdown. She sprays for bugs but discovers that it doesn't stop the bugs coming into her apartment. She stomps on them but they keep coming, and she quickly leaves. The remaining bugs eat their dead comrades.

At the Capital, Scarlett is berating a waiting FBI agent, Anthony Onofrio, about his being a godless Republican and wants to know why they're trashing the Constitution. Laurel comes in and Anthony asks to speak to her. He questions Laurel about what happened to Daudier in the ambulance. Anthony hasn't seen the body, and Laurel explains that Daudier's head exploded. He suggests that it might be about terrorism, but Laurel disagrees. Luke watches as Anthony goes, and tells Laurel afterward that Anthony likes her. She isn't convinced, and Scarlett reminds Luke that he has a caucus meeting. As they talk, Scarlett munches nosily on a plate of salad and Laurel asks her brother if something is up with his assistant. Luke dismisses it as nothing and suggests that Laurel go home and get some rest, but she insists on working. He asks his sister to meet with two constituents and keep them happy.

Laurel meets with Annie and her father Hank. Annie has cancer and their raising money for research, and they want to visit the Lincoln Memorial to complete their 20-monument fund-raiser. It's closed because of the shutdown. Park Service won't make an exception, and Laurel says that she'll have Luke look into it.

At the caucus meeting, everyone is blaming Luke. Senator Ella Pollack speaks up and says that she's glad that they're getting angry, but it's at the wrong person. She reminds the others that Healy family has done a lot for the party, and suggests that they table a vote on leadership and fight the Republicans. Afterward, Luke thanks Ella for her support, and Ella abruptly asks what he's doing to get the majority back. He's going to find out what Republican was pushed aside to get Spitz to switch, and he'll offer them the moon to get them to flip to their side. Ella warns that she can only defend him for a little while and leaves.

At lunch, Laurel tells Luke about Annie. He warns that they can't help all their constituents, and advises Laurel to only feel if it makes her effective. Luke then asks if Laurel is in touch with Gareth. When she confirms that he keeps calling her, Luke asks Laurel to come to DoubleApeak where he's on with Red. He wants Laurel to let Gareth apologize and find out which Republican was demoted to make room for Spitz. Luke points out that Gareth used her and it's her turn to use him back, and warns that he's in danger of losing his job.

On DoubleSpeak, neither Luke nor Red take the blame for the shutdown. Host Claudia Monarch points out that the people want them to work together, and Luke insists that it's a temper tantrum. In the green room, Gareth tries to talk to Laurel. She reminds him that he was going behind her back to steal Spitz, and Gareth says that Red changed his mind. Laurel accepts his apology, and Gareth says that he didn't apologize. She asks Gareth if the Republicans gave Spitz a chairmanship and PAC money, and Gareth refuses to comment. He then asks if she's going to Tax Prom, a prom run by tax lobbyists.

In the studio, the cameras are off and Red asks Luke why the Democrats are being so stubborn. He says that he'll lay out their offer at Tortilla Nights tomorrow at 9 am, and assures Luke that it will be good. Once he leaves, Laurel tells Luke that Gareth didn't say anything. Luke is happy that she's going to Tax Prom, and Laurel reminds him to get Annie into the Lincoln Memorial.

In the park, Gustav Triplett is playing speed chess against several opponents simultaneously and winning. One of his opponents hasn't made a move, and Gustav notices that he's bleeding from the ear. He calls 911 and they take Oscar to the hospital. As they give Oscar a CAT scan, he screams that they're in his head. The nurse tells Gustav to distract Oscar, and Gustav goes in and tries to discuss chess. Oscar keeps screaming that they're in his head, and then his head explodes.

At Tax Prom, the tax lobbyist in charge thanks everyone for coming and announces their triumphs. The DJ cranks up the music and everyone applauds. Laurel comes in and notices a woman staring at her. a woman, Stacie, comes in and hugs her friend Laurel. She says that she's working for Roll Call making some money, and says that their friend Abby Summers has changed a lot. Stacie takes Laurel to Abby, who says that work sent her. She now works for Help America Rise Again, a right-wing group. Laurel is surprised that her friend is now Republican, and Abby insists that the literature makes sense. She was going to write a novel, but doesn't see the point when the American Dream is under attack. Abby steps away to take a call, and Stacie says that she thought Abby rebelled against her Republican parents. Laurel finds Gareth and he invites her to drink. She wants a drink instead.

At home, Gustav is researching exploding head syndrome. He takes samples of brain matter from Oscar's coat and examines them.

At the bar, Laurel tells Gareth that things have changed. They start arguing left vs. right and then DC vs. LA. Gareth steps aside to take a call from Red about the Republican they shoved aside to make room for Spitz. He writes down a phone number and Laurel makes note of it. She then goes to the bathroom and dials it, and ends up calling the office of Senator Barneki Laurel braces herself by reminding herself that Gareth used her, and then calls Luke and gives him Barneki's name. Luke says that he's on it and helping Annie. Laurel goes back out and invites Gareth to dance, and he accepts.

The next day, Laurel meets with a woman, Rochelle Daudier. Rochelle asks what happened to her father, and points out that sheis a resident at Mount Vernon and there is nothing in the blood powerful enough to open a cranial gap. She wants the truth and asks if her father said anything before he died. Laurel tells her that he said that "they" were inside of him. Rochelle shows her a parasagittal scan of a health cranial cavity. She also has a scan of Oscar's brain and it shows unusual patterns of activity. The nurse did a second CAT scan and discovered that the patterns moved... and then his head explode.d

The next morning, Luke and Ella meet with Red. Red talks about how he's stopped drinking, and then says that they want commerce, education, and energy eliminated. If the Democrats cut them then they'll agree to a budget deal. Luke and Ella realize that he's serious, As they leave, the two Democrats figure that the Republicans have gone off the deep end... and they can use it.

Gustav is taking continuous photos of the brain sample and then plays back the photos. He sees a bug moving across the sample and realizes that something is seriously wrong.

At his office, Anthony asks his assistant Grace about overheated blood. His new assistant, Butch, informs him that Grace was furloughed and he's Anthony's new temp. He ushers Laurel in and Anthony hastily cleans up his cubicle. Laurel tells Anthony that someone else died like Daudier did, and suggests that Anthony speak to Rochelle. The agent give Laurel his cell phone number so she can call him directly. Luke is on the TV with Annie, using her as a political prop to highlight the shutdown.

Furious, Laurel visits Luke and complains about what he's doing. He insists that he does care, but he wants to win it for all Annies. Laurel doesn't buy it and walks out.

Gareth and Red are watching the newscast, and Red says that they neutralize the issue. He refuses to take Annie to the Lincoln Memorial because that's the old way. Red tells Gareth to bring him a knife.

Laurel, Stacie, and Abby have a girl's night. However, Abby is busy on the phone and then comes over. She says that she's on a cleanse and doesn't want any wine, and starts talking about an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Laurel asks about her novel, and Abby claims that it wasn't very good and she needed the money. She says that she doesn't like how the Democrats treat the opposition like they're insane, and points out that she doesn't have a family to pay for her debts like Laurel debts. Abby breaks into tears and says that she has to get home, and walks out.

Luke and Ella meet with Barneki and try to get him to switch sides. They promise that they'll get him a better office, the gavel, and $12 million in PAC money. A short time later, Luke returns to his office to tell Laurel that they succeeded. Scarlett says that Laurel isn't there, and Luke tells her that they've got Barneki to switch. She stares at him, smiling, and they end up in bed. Luke continues boasting about flipping Barneki, and says that they're having a press conference in the morning to announce it. She hesitates when Luke kisses her, and then tells him to kiss her. However, Scarlett still doesn't respond but claims that it feels so good. Luke says that they don't have to do it, but Scarlett insists that they should continue and glances over at the open window. He figures that Laurel talked to Scarlett about his wife and made her feel guilty, and leaves as Scarlett yells that she wants him now.

Laurel is at home watching video of Abby partying when she was younger. She calls Abby and gets her voicemail, and asks her to call so she can apologize. Luke arrives and asks what Laurel said to Scarlett. Laurel says that she didn't say anything, and he tells her to leave Scarlett alone. She realizes that Luke is sleeping with her again, and Luke quickly leaves.

The next day, the news is running a story about how rumors have surfaced that Hank is teaching classes that Lincoln was gay. Red laughs in triumph and calls Gareth in to congratulate him.

Laurel and Luke are watching the news, which is running a follow-up piece on how Hank and Annie sued to keep the Pledge of Allegiance out of their school.

Red hugs Gareth and thanks him for getting a weapon to use against Annie. Barneki comes on the news and says that Luke tried to get him to switch sides, and condemns the Democrats for switching sides.

Luke figures that Laurel was played. She visists to see Gareth and accuses him of feeding her misinformation. Gareth points out that she didn't have to steal the information, and Laurel storms out.

At the caucus meeting, the Senators are blaming Luke. Ella asks to speak, and says that she is now calling for a vote to remove Luke as whip. She puts herself forward as a candidate to replace him, and everyone applauds... except Luke.

At the Lincoln Memorial., Laurel goes up to the Park Service officer, Stan Maynard. She claims that she's with Luke's office but he tells her to move along. Laurel explains about Annie, who is standing nearby with Hank, and Stan gives them ten minutes inside. She goes in with them and admits that she's never been there. Hank takes a photo of the two of them in front of Lincoln, and Annie then reads the inscription. Laurel wonders why nobody thinks that way anymore, and Annie says that people just need to not give up.

Back at her office, Laurel starts searching the Internet for reports of exploding heads. She sees a bog post by Gustav showing the photo montage of the bug crawling across Oscar's brain sample. He asks anybody who has seen a bug like that to contact him, and Laurel starts to send him an email. Abby calls and Laurel apologizes for being out of line. Her friend says that maybe she was jealous and apologizes, and invites Laurel over for tea. Laurel takes a rain text and hangs up.

At her home, Abbie looks at Stacie's cup of tea. Stacie is in the next room and complains that the bathroom door is locked from the outside. Abby says that it will be over in a minute, and bugs out of the vent and advance on Stacie. In the kitchen, Abby turns up the music to drown out Stacie's screams.

Written by Gadfly on Jun 21, 2016