Limitless s1 ep 17

Brian’s trying to salve his conscience about his constant lying to Rebecca. This he does by taking one of his secret stash of NZTs, and heading onto the streets at night for some additional, out-of-hours crime-fighting. But then the lights start going out in Manhattan, which Brian traces to a mysterious bacteria that feeds off electricity. As he and Rebecca investigate they’re exposed to the bacteria. And, since it might be of extra-terrestrial origin (spoiler: it isn’t), and might be deadly (spoiler: it isn’t), and they might be contagious (spoiler: they aren’t) the two of them are put in quarantine.

Now, a few weeks ago, when reviewing a spectacular Blindspot, CJ suggested that the going-undercover-as-a-couple kind of episode is “the second-greatest gift a procedural TV show can give”. I’d also put the “quarantine” genre in the top 5. You know the sort of thing: the show’s will-they-won’t-they OTC find themselves in an industrial refrigerator with no hope of rescue, or in a locked bank vault, or in a broken-down lift in an office building when everyone’s gone home for the weekend and their phones are out of charge. Or in any situation which forces them to confront their feelings about each other; then, ideally, make out like teenagers. Such as, for example, quarantine.

It was pretty clear from the get-go, though, that this wasn’t happening here. Firstly, the place where Brian and Rebecca are quarantined is like a greenhouse rather than a love-nest, with plenty of people watching them, so any chance of “Well, if one of us is contagious then both of us are, so if we’re gonna die anyway…” is out of the question. But then the two of them start arguing – Rebecca had Brian’s house searched and some of his contraband NZT had been found – and the trust and truth issues which have been there since the first episode are finally out in the open. In fact, when the two of them get out of quarantine – saliva very much not swapped – Rebecca tells Brian that he’s getting a new handler as she can no longer work with him.

Not only that, but Brian’s sister Rachel had decided, despite his warnings, to confide in her family – and in Ike – about the incident in last week’s episode when the injured Sands turning up at Brian’s door. And she’d also worked out there was a drug involved, and had even lifted a couple of them herself. Which means that when Brian, seeking a refuge from the Rebecca situation, turns up at his parents’ house he’s cold-shouldered by his mother, who – understandably – thinks he’s mixed up in the sort of things that a mother doesn’t want her son mixed up in. To a certain extent, of course, she’s right about that.

The blackout will turn out to be cover for a crime which is of no great consequence: the episode’s real takeaway is Brian’s deception of family and co-workers finally catching up with him, as it was always going to. And so, with nowhere to turn, he decides that he’s got to do something to fix his relationship with Rebecca, and he leaves her an apologetic note saying that he’s going away. It’s not the episode I was expecting by any means, but it’s powerful and surprisingly sombre, and demonstrates just how well Jake McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter have fleshed out their characters.

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One thought on “Limitless s1 ep 17

  1. CJ Cregg June 8, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    Yeah, it’s not how I thought the episode would go, either. Poor Brian! It was very good, but it made me sad 😦

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