It’s an unpromising start: as usual, the previouslies are followed by the episode proper, although since the first minute or two is Brian having some flashbacks, including just about everything we already saw in the previouslies, it looks like a way of maximising Bradley Cooper’s screentime without actually requiring him to do anything new.
Things get better after that, though. The Case of the Week is fairly standard procedural CotW stuff: a retired FBI agent is shot dead by a sniper in Bronx Park. He was investigating possible CEO candidates at a tech company, and they are the initial suspects; in addition, there’s clear evidence implicating a former Olympian as the shooter. But the sniper isn’t the actual sniper, the motive is something else entirely, and even if – SPOILER ALERT – the baddie is who you think it is, the plot is carried off with a reasonable, if not exceptional, amount of flair.
As ever with procedurals, though, it’s the surrounding detail which makes the difference, and for now Limitless is scoring very heavily in that department. There’s plenty of wit, both visual and otherwise: I liked the “tall sniper database”, the Miami Vice reference, the piranhas, and the explicitly Sherlockian cold reading with which Brian impresses an FBI drug squad.
And as a sort of B-plot, a NZT’d Brian bumps into Shauna, the girl who got away, giving him the opportunity to be a much more impressive version of himself second time round – and which of us hasn’t had that fantasy? But in due course he manages to be impressive enough even when the drug has worn off, which leaves hanging the possibility of whether Brian is actually becoming a better person as a result of what he’s doing. There’s a nature/nurture argument in there somewhere. On top of that Colin Salmon turns up near the end, accent perhaps a little too gorblimey for British ears, as Morra’s sinister point man. Highly enjoyable.