Finally, things are ramping up on Limitless! By my count, there were four subplots—all of which could’ve gone off the rails very easily, and nearly did—but the show handled them pretty deftly. We covered a lot of ground, like staging a rescue for a super-engineered lab rodent that was mouse-napped, but we also went a bit darker with tragic family backstories, and a little betrayal, too. Spoilers ahead!
Subplot 1: Brian’s getting bored of using NZT to charm his way into random girls’ sheets, so he decides to become online pen pals with quantum physicists and thought leaders. One of them, a sorta kooky homebody genius named Arthur, thinks he’s engineered a mouse to live two months longer, thanks to Brian’s NZT-fueled, emailed tips—which could hold the secret to longer human lifespan. Lo and behold, the miracle critter gets swiped, leading Arthur to get implicated in the murder investigation of his jealous former business partner, who he actually cofounded a huge biotech company with. (“He thinks I helped him create an immortal mouse” is quite possibly a sentence never before uttered by a human, anywhere, on a TV show or otherwise, but it escapes Brian’s lips as he explains to the FBI his relationship with Arthur.)
Subplot 2: A Chinese defense contractor named Mao Zhang is being accused of sneaking U.S. drone intel to his home country. Brian gets the unglamorous task of popping NZT and combing through his trash. (For real though, I kinda thought: Y’know, it would be pretty interesting to rake through strangers’ junk while on an intuition-sharpening pill. It’d be a freegan’s dream!) Similar to the mouse line, Limitless is probably the first show to air a scene of a man, with the temporary smarts of a supercomputer and wearing a “Female Body Investigator” t-shirt, examining another man’s discarded milk cartons and then envisioning that man sitting on a toilet. Seen here:
Subplot 3: We finally learn more about Rebecca’s dad. All we had previously known is that he’s dead, and he was also an NZT user himself; by episode’s end, we see Rebecca at an art show filled with her father’s NZT-inspired paintings, and that he’d been making art for longer than she thought, eventually coming face-to-face with a huge, beautiful portrait of herself. We also learn that Rebecca is the bureau’s Hermione: she’s the most brilliant, strait-laced agent in the office, but doesn’t have a problem bending the rules. She tells Brian to put his Zhang assignment on hold to ditch his bodyguards/supervisors Mike and Ike to rescue the mouse, and she also helps him escape after he stole an employee keycard to break into the biotech center. Which leads us to subplot 4...
Subplot 4: Pressure from Senator Morra’s people on Brian. They want Brian to be their mole within the FBI bureau, and to steal NZT-related files from the boss’s safe and relay them back to the Morra camp. That’d mean betraying Rebecca, the one person who’s put her neck out time and time again for him. But in yet another twist to this already borderline convoluted episode, Brian’s dad is back in the hospital, and Morra crony Sands heavily hints that something could make his dad take a turn for the worse if Brian doesn’t secure the files. (Recall that his dad’s nurse is a Morra minion, too.) So Brian betrays the FBI and steals the NZT files. They do, however, put Zhang away and rescue Arthur and his mouse.
What did you guys think? There was a lot going on, but it worked for me. I’ve been saying that I wanted more dark, NZT-related complications, and we got it. We also didn’t get, finally, milked stock footage of that minutes-long Bradley Cooper scene from the pilot. I get that he’s Coop and he’s the exec producer, but this cast is doing just fine by themselves without that scene being paraded in front of the viewers once an episode. (Jack McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter are great so far.) Plus, there was no shortage of levity and weird Brian fantasies, so I think the show found a pretty good balance between heavy and funny this week.
That being said, I wouldn’t be opposed to Cooper coming back to voice-over a talking animated fetus again sometime soon.
Images via CBS.
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