Limitless s1 ep 4

images-34To distract himself from the loss of Shauna, Brian has thrown himself into a round of NZT-fuelled one night stands. But hang about – I thought the point was that he got one capsule a day, which wore off at about 9pm, so unless he’s going out on the pull at about 7.30…? I probably shouldn’t overthink this, particularly because Rebecca’s being remarkably tolerant of Brian, which in due course might lead to a ship I can get behind.

Anyway, Brian is read into the top secret investigation of Mao Zhang, an employee of a defence contractor, who is suspected of selling intel to China, specifically drone technology. As it happens, although this is ostensibly the Case of the Week, there isn’t very much that is whodunnity about it; its function is to provide a counterpoint to Brian’s own acts of treachery. Because Sands has started to flex his muscles: he wants Brian to break into Naz’s office and find out what the FBI knows about NZT, or Morra will decline to allow Brian his next anti-side-effects shot. And when Brian stalls by fabricating FBI files, Sands arranges for Brian’s father to be infected with a virus which requires him to be taken back into hospital.

If that weren’t enough, Arthur, an eccentric scientist who Brian first meets online, claims to have developed an immortal mouse. Arthur asks for help when the mouse is stolen, perhaps by his former business partner, who then turns up murdered with Arthur’s fingerprints all over him.(Somewhat distractingly – and I have no idea whether this was deliberate – the baddie’s name in the Case of the Week sounds a little like “mouse”: there’s a point when Rebecca is after “mouse contact”, or possibly “Mao’s contact”.) Brian suspects it’s a fit-up and decides to try and prove that Arthur isn’t guilty, although it would have been remarkable were his intervention actually necessary to ensure that at least one piece of exculpatory evidence – the DNA under the deceased’s fingernails – was taken into account. Still, it’s highly entertaining.

And there’s more: Rebecca’s dead father was an artist, and his dealer doorsteps Rebecca to tell her that he left three paintings behind, and would she like them? Rebecca declines, but later goes to see them in a gallery; this coincides with Brian reading through the FBI’s NZT files, and ends the episode with a double-WHOA moment.

‘Page 44’ is remarkably busy. But I watched it during a 50-minute train journey, roughly the same length as the episode, enjoyed every second of it, and disembarked feeling uplifted. I don’t want to damn Limitless with faint praise – which I sometimes do with network procedurals – nor do I want to build it up into something it isn’t. But once again the abundant wit – verbal and visual – of previous episodes were on full display, with a sense that the writers are able to confidently juggle the sombre and the silly. A show which has me smiling pretty much all the way through – even at Brian’s ridiculous T-shirt – is something to be treasured. I think Limitless is seriously good.

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3 thoughts on “Limitless s1 ep 4

  1. e March 5, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    I think Limitless is seriously good.

    You’re still in the first half dozen episodes where it hasn’t even hit its stride.

    There really were only three stories despite the freneticism: the mouseman
    with Brian trying to do the right thing to make up for the bad situation he’s
    been put in, the Mao/Sands one where he faces and confirms his guilt,
    and Rebecca’s angst about her father, and they all tied together beautifully.

    Rebecca and Brian swapped roles in a really great development. She became
    the rebel, encouraging and becoming an active participant in his bad behavior.
    Brian, in contrast, was considering the serious consequences of his actions and
    stepping back from being all emotional/id/manchild all the time.

    Rebecca’s rebellion felt earned, that there was always this “brian-ish” streak
    she was repressing. From rescuing Brian at the research labs to that perfect
    moment among the trash cans and the sadder moment at the gallery, she
    became a much richer character. And she won’t be the last to get that kind
    of attention, either. I love that she’s extremely smart and capable and that
    her story doesn’t depend on Brian.

    But it was the Sands story that really hit hard, with the the parallel ending,
    as Mao narrated his betrayal while Brian acted it out. Again, calling back to
    Chuck, there is a darker streak that balances the show’s wish fulfillment angle,
    and the show is much better for it.

    • Jed Bartlet March 6, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      The freneticism was absolutely fine, and really well handled – there was a moment, in fact, when Brian realised that he’d forgotten about one of the plots (can’t remember which one) and I realised that I’d forgotten about it as well, there was so much going on.

      I’m much happier with Rebecca being supportive of Brian than suspicious of him. It’s a theme I’ve picked up a few times recently, but I was getting a bit fed up with TV police officers recruiting outside “talent” and then, week after week, being resentful of it. How many cases does Castle/Jane/Sherlock have to solve before you start to trust him? When Abbott joined The Mentalist and was all, you know what you’re doing, Patrick, so just get on with it, and if you want to have a relationship in the workplace I’m cool with that as well, it was like the sun coming out.

  2. CJ Cregg March 10, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    I don’t really have much to add, beyond I agree with you both and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am totally on board with Brian and Rebecca (Brecca?). I love that there was never even any hesitation on her part about helping him with the Mouse Mystery and generally how supportive their relationship is. Poor Brian. His betrayal is going to cost him a LOT.

    The T-shirt made me laugh a lot more than it should. As did “Please don’t spill coffee on the confidential file.” And the mice suddenly plopping down the stairs beside Brian during the lab lockdown. HEE.

    I did see the final reveal with the file on Conrad Harris coming, so it wasn’t a shock but, combined with the (gorgeous) painting, it was still, as you said Jed, a double-WHOA moment.

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