Limitless s1 ep 13

‘Stop Me Before I Hug Again’ starts with the aftermath of a murder: the victim was, we are told, raped, stabbed, and strangled. Gosh, I thought: by the standards of this show this is a bit grim. At that precise moment Brian’s subconscious reaches the same conclusion, and conjures up a beloved children’s TV star from his past, who suggests replacing the unpleasant words with more palatable ones. Thus the victim was “sent to an awesome farm in the country” by a “serial hugger”. And huggers don’t get cool nicknames any more, they’re named after ice-cream flavours. So the perp in this case, whose thing is to snip off the ring finger of his victims, is no longer the Marrying Man: he’s Mr Pralines and Cream.

In order to help with the hunt for Mr Pralines and Cream the team is joined by brilliant, intense, cool, bit-of-a-blowhard FBI profiler David Englander, who’s been after him for years. So when Brian, with the inevitable assist from NZT, solves the case in like 40 minutes, Englander invites him to Quantico for a couple of days hanging with the cool kids. “Will you stop shouting ‘road trip’?” Naz demands of Brian, who totally wants to go. So Naz lets him, but insists Rebecca goes with him to supervise his NZT intake.

My shipping antennae were twitching at this point, but what Rebecca really wants to talk about – and Brian really doesn’t – is the possibility that Senator Morra is on NZT, enhancing his reflexes to the point that he was able, literally, to dodge a bullet during last week’s assassination attempt. (Also, he’s gone from being a loser writer to a viable Presidential candidate in a couple of years.) She’s completely right, of course, but Brian does not want her going there, so he comes up with a risky plan to disprove her theory. Unfortunately for him, Rebecca is nearly as good a detective off NZT as he is on it, so – although he doesn’t know it yet – this isn’t going away.

Meantime, though, Brian has been reading Englander’s book about what a great profiler he is, and reviews the case of Mr Butter Pecan, the nickname of Andre Hannan, a serial hugger on death row. Brian is convinced that Hannan is innocent, and doesn’t budge when he finds out that Hannan offered a detailed and accurate confession, nor when Hannan passes a polygraph test on his admission of guilt. The completely deranged solution to the mystery will involve a crooked therapist, a tech zillionaire, the electronic manipulation of memory, and a shaved dog.

Fortunately, I don’t need to believe a word of it to find it terrific fun. The word-substitution device – delivered with a straight face throughout – is mostly a delight (and also conceals a serious-ish point about the glorification of brutal killers, in both fact and fiction, which can perhaps wait for another day). The shifts in tone are handled as adroitly as ever. Jake McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter are just lovely. And, most of all, the episode is as imaginative and witty as ever. By this time next week we should know if Limitless has been renewed. I really hope it is.

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6 thoughts on “Limitless s1 ep 13

  1. e May 12, 2016 / 12:56 am

    This one got mixed reviews but I loved it. It’s unrealistic to think that Brian can suddenly cope with the gritty brutal world of the FBI and they addressed it in such a clever way. Oh how seriously all the characters talked about hugging and ice cream flavors, etc, all the while the dark undercurrent of reality made a chiaroscuro and the ridiculous “B” story actually worked out.

    After the whole death-by-robotic-arm story, I was a little worried that the show was leaving Brian’s emotional arc behind and focusing on outlandish plot but the stories coming up (with perhaps one outlier) reassured me that while “unlikely crime” remains a leitmotif, that for the most part the creative team remembers what story is actually important: Brian.

  2. Jed Bartlet May 12, 2016 / 5:06 pm

    I was a little discomfited by what “cowboys and Indians” was a proxy for, but on reflection: (a) if you’re going to use the device, you might as well do it properly; and (b) there is, as I said, a point lurking there about how TV is quite happy to glorify huggers, ticklers, cuddlers, and players of Cowboys and Indians, to the point of giving them sexy names. And I’m quite happy to watch them doing it. So if I’m finding “cowboys and Indians” offensive, but comfortable with “violent rape”, perhaps the problem isn’t with Limitless.

  3. e May 15, 2016 / 12:18 am

    Just a quick warning: 14 next week is okay. Don’t be discouraged. 15 and 16 are superb. There were grumbles in even the most loyal fanbase during the 13-14 two week period, basically “has Limitless lost its magic?” Answer with 15 and 16, nope, they were saving the good stuff. And I liked 13 a whole lot.

  4. Jed Bartlet May 15, 2016 / 12:29 am

    I love this show, e. There’s no chance of me getting discouraged. Even the lesser episodes fizz with imagination and vitality, in my view.

    I don’t think I’ve been so invested in a down-to-the-wire renewal decision since – apposite comparison – Chuck.

  5. CJ Cregg May 15, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    I really enjoyed this one too. I had the same thought about the word-substitution vs glorification of murderers and rapists as you, Jed, and I thought it was handled beautifully, making the point in a subtle but also very-true-to-Brian kind of way. The story was obviously demented, but so well-told and so well-played by McDorman and Carpenter that I was charmed nonetheless. I really want Limitless to be renewed as well.

    • e May 15, 2016 / 11:19 pm

      You guys are going to love 15 and 16 so much. They’re magic.

      Renew this show already!

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