Limitless: This Show Should Be Popping More Super Pills to Crank Up the Goofiness

This week on Limitless, we learn that a super drug—that grants you Watson-like mental powers but also destroys your body—is actually an effective dating tool, as well. But surprise! It also makes things a lot more complicated, which Brian learns the hard way as he continues his tenure as FBI consultant-slash-human guinea pig while souped up on the NZT wonder pill.

In this episode, Brian runs into Shauna, his cute girlfriend from three years ago who dumped him in the midst of his deadbeat days. But after spending the morning with her doped up on his daily dose of NZT (which again, whose side effects he’s immune to after Bradley Cooper’s sketchy senator character, Eddie Morra, kidnapped him and administered a protective injection), he wowed her all over again. He’s witty, he’s got a flashy new job, he’s speaking an Asian language fluently with an elderly woman on the subway (it sounded like Thai to me, can someone confirm?). Clearly he’s turned his life around. Dinner date scored! Let the flirty emojis begin! (Which—they do.)


But, womp womp, now Brian’s worried she’s falling for “NZT Brian” and not “Brian Brian.” At last, NZT causing some inner struggle! Like I said before, I want to see him wrestle with at least the emotional aspects of his weird new gig of regularly ingesting a tablet that’s a failed government experiment that’s also killed people.

And yet? I kinda wish they jettison the drama once and for all and turn this show into a comedy.

Because honestly, I don’t even really remember what this week’s whodunnit was. Something about a fallen FBI agent, a Mexican drug lord, blah blah blah. Even the tie-ins with the main Morra plot aren’t that interesting.

While exploring the dark side of NZT use more regularly would be cool, for me, the real fuel for this procedural is the decidedly light-hearted comedic tone the show jumped to between the pilot and episode two. Since the immunization shot serves as a means to explain away all the grim implications of using NZT, we should be having pure fun with our hero, for as long as his F’d up higher-ups want to exploit him as a human test subject. Pop dem pills and have some fun, I say!


Like, I love how Brian calls his stone-faced bodyguards Mike and Ike, I love him shredding documents and festooning them around the room, and I love the fantasy sequences: Like when he envisions their drug lord suspect as a gun-toting playboy living a resort life of Mexico and feeding his enemies to a swimming pool of piranhas:


Or when he brews up a scenario in which straitlaced partner Rebecca busts into another murder suspect’s apartment with badass, ‘70s-style funk playing in the background:


io9ers, did anyone else watch, and love, USA’s Psych? Were you guys fans of delicious flavor? This show’s main character is a kind of simulacrum of Shawn Spencer, Psych’s main character. Not as goofy or ’80s-obsessed as Shawn, but I’m seeing wannabe Shawn flashes in Brian for sure. Both are wise-crackers with computerlike observation skills and intuition, even if they exasperate all the more serious investigators forced to work with them. After all, Brian is a guy who can tell that a character got testosterone injections by how he shifts in his chair and which butt cheek he leans on.

Also, back at headquarters, the boss says: “These are bad people, and they’ve killed federal agents before.” Brian raises his hand: “Do you think they’d kill consultants?”


I mean come on! Let’s keep this light and fun and innocuous Tuesday night viewing. Otherwise, when you stay restrained with the screwball relief, but also don’t decide to go the other route and make the show completely dark, spotlighting a potentially complex character in a complex situation, you’ll end up like every other boring crime show on primetime.

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