Oh wow. After a couple of weeks of treading water, Limitless came roaring back this week with an utterly fantastic episode. Confidently writing its own mythology from the start – the title, ‘Undercover!’, inviting direct comparison with the dazzling ‘Headquarters!’ episode; and the subtitle, ‘A Romantic Caper in Three Assignments’, telling us exactly how it’s going to do it – the show then did its very best to deliver on its promises.
There’s a framing device – Brian, being interviewed, explaining how something or other went down – but that needn’t detain us. The premise is that the FBI’s list of undercover agents has been stolen, but not yet leaked, so the agents still in the field need to be brought in before they’re in danger. Five agents haven’t yet been found, so Brian and his “team” are asked to help. He tracks four down pretty quickly – and even this brief sequence is a model of wit and invention – leaving only one, Lucy Church, thought to be undercover at a corrupt hedge fund.
Brian manages to find Lucy as well (hee on the big signs) but she wants to stay undercover, because she’s found out that the hedge fund has been laundering money for an upmarket escort agency, The Blue Limit, which has been using trafficked women and holding their passports so that they can’t escape. So it’s agreed that she can have two more days to bring the traffickers in, with Brian’s more or less willing help. First up is a Blue Limit benefit – is this a thing? Benefits for high-class knocking-shops? – at which Brian is undercover! as a client, with Lucy on his arm.
Having worked out who has the passports, undercover! assignment 2 for Brian is temping at The Blue Limit, where he steals the passports – then spends an afternoon making some money betting on horse racing, in order to give the trafficked women some funds as well. Now, because Lucy is hot, and Brian is Brian, and it’s a romantic caper, there have been sparks flying all over the place from their very first meeting. But this convinces Lucy that Brian is a nice guy – which he is – and the two of them totally Bollywood. How Rebecca feels about this is hard to discern; she certainly approved of Brian in a suit, but the show is still leaving itself some wiggle room if it decides not to pursue Brebecca (?).
And the third undercover! assignment is at a company called Edelweiss, whose name keeps cropping up in The Blue Limit’s ledgers. By this point Brian’s NZT has run out, and it shows. (Interestingly, we will find out in due course that Lucy has worked out Brian’s deal. Also – once again – Brian off NZT is still as moral as Brian on NZT, if not as brilliant.) The Big Bad behind the trafficking is at Edelweiss; Lucy gives serious consideration to killing him, but Brian – still holding himself partly responsible for the death of the custody clerk in last week’s episode – just about manages to talk her down. Lucy will then disappear out of Brian’s life, Cheshire Cat-like, leaving her smile behind, and I’d be happy to see her back.
But it’s not all romantic capers, and as ever, the show manages to balance the fun and the darkness: Rebecca is invited for a meeting with Sands, who offers her a generously-compensated job working for Morra. Rebecca not only declines the offer but discloses to Sands that she’s investigated him and discovered that he was bought off by Morra himself. Which is smart, but puts Rebecca in even more danger. Undercover! is an excellent demonstration of why this show is so very much more than a standard procedural, and of why we’re going to miss it.