Well, damn. Limitless, the freshman series that won my heart as an unapologetically off-kilter comedic serial with episode-long Ferris Bueller homages and made-up ailments like “micropenis,” took an intensely dark turn for its winter finale. It shifted the focus from Brian to the rest of the characters—and what happens when they take NZT. Spoilers ahead.

First, the big one: Caseeeeey! Don’t go gentle into that dark night. Meaning, you shouldn’t have gone and gotten yourself blown away by Boyle after you took a hostage in your own FBI workplace. Does this mean no more Desmond Harrington in Limitless?! I mean, they did use pretty definitive language—“shot in the head” and “remove the body,” for example—but no one said, “Casey’s dead.” Things don’t look good, though. In fact, they look really bad, and his (apparent) death is sending shockwaves through the bureau.

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But when Casey and his boys dropped NZT, it marked other folks in the office dabbling in the stuff. Big surprise: it was a chaotic disaster that led to broken hearts and death. However, continuing to explore what NZT does to other principal characters will no doubt be vital to fueling the show through the rest of season one and beyond.

It also served as a great way to differentiate Brian on NZT from others on NZT, and helped establish Brian as having other defining qualities than just being a savant whose body withstands the ravaging effects of the death super pill. He doesn’t delve into shadowy places of dubious morality like the SWAT guys did, and his innate intuition of how people work is what prompted Boyle to at least re-examine his heat-of-the-moment decision to take Casey out.

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On a lighter note, however? The entire cold open. It was kind of a fake-out, because I was hoping for a entire Mike and Ike-centered episode! These dudes are hilarious, and the actors—Tom Degnan (Ike) and Michael James Shaw (Mike)—need to be given more screen time. Two sincere LOL moments for me: “This is stress? I look like I have leprosy!” and fears of being a Brian Finch “lifer.”

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New episodes of Limitless aren’t back for another 11 episodes on January 5. In the meantime, ponder what dragons Boyle would unleash on NZT:


Contact the author at bryan@gizmodo.com, or follow him on Twitter.