Limitless s1 ep 22


Spoilers, and a volcano lair.

‘Finale: Part 2!!’. Nearly done. As the search for Sands and his Legion of Whom gets under way Brian is back with the CJC, and back on the NZT. He deduces that the best way to find them – and their volcano lair, heh – is to work out what the Legion wants. But his immunity shots are wearing off and the NZT side-effects are starting to overwhelm him; he’s hallucinating,

As it happens, what Sands and the Legion are planning is a typically off-the-wall spin on a fairly standard plot: they want to make money by shorting certain stocks, but their scheme depends on the consequences of a melting ice-shelf, the emergence of a new Northwest Passage, and just how Canada and Greenland are going to divide the spoils of that. And, meantime, Brian is trying to find Piper: partly because she can provide him with immunity shots, and partly because he likes her, which means that the potential Brian and Rebecca hookup isn’t happening. In fairness, it should be said that the show has kept their friendship nicely balanced; apart from the occasional glance and what-if? it’s been plausibly platonic.

So Canadian nationalism rears its head – while wearing a spectacular bodysuit; a couple of diplomats get shot; the NZT lab is found; Sands takes a bullet. And Piper – perhaps improbably, but let’s not quibble at this stage in the game – turns up at Brian’s family house to give him a permanent immunity shot, before leaving again; she doesn’t want anyone else to get access to the antidote, but Brian deserves it. In fact, one of the themes of this episode is – and, again, we’ve picked up on this before – that NZT didn’t change Brian’s fundamental personality; it just made him a mega-intelligent version of who he already was. “You’re a hero”, Rebecca tells him, possibly still angling for some post-Piper sugar. “On or off the pill”. So the CDC wants him back, and he’s even getting his own crime-fighting squad, which is a satisfying, if low-stakes, ending. And there’s room for a coda, sweet and funny by turns, in which Brian recruits for his squad. As a season finale it leaves a couple of loose ends – where’s Piper going, where’s Morra, and whither Brebecca? – but nothing too consequential, which means it also works as a series finale. Which is good; because, of course, it is.

Now, I get slightly irked when people claim that a show they love has been cancelled because, y’know, it’s just too intelligent/quirky/witty/sui generis for everyone else. The quickest of looks around the current landscape proves that, more than any other time in TV history, there’s something for everyone. (And, as I’ve said before, the bar has been raised even for standard procedurals, which have a speed and complexity that couldn’t have been contemplated ten years ago. Say what you like about Quantico, for instance – and we just have – but you couldn’t complain about a shortage of plots. If anything, it’s too cluttered.)

But sometimes, no matter how good it is, a show just doesn’t find its audience. Perhaps Limitless would have been more successful, in relative terms, on a cable or streaming channel; we’ll never know. It will stand, though, as a season’s worth of dazzling, inventive, imaginative TV, which I would still wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it. After the clusterfuck that was late-period Dexter, it was lovely to see Jennifer Carpenter visibly enjoying herself again (I think). And in due course the real takeaway might be that Jake McDorman is a genuine, name-up-in-lights star. I hope to see him back on TV soon, in another vehicle worthy of his talents.


4 thoughts on “Limitless s1 ep 22

  1. CJ Cregg July 7, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    It was a much happier ending than I expected with the way the ep was panning out – I wonder if everything from Piper turning up and giving him the immunity shot onwards was added once they realised they weren’t getting a second season? Or if the original plan had been to have Piper turning up with the booster shot be a hallucination (that’s what I thought it was at first) and end with a “Brian in hospital, Rebecca and co race against time to find the enzyme and save him” cliffhanger? I don’t suppose it matters either way. I completely agree with you, Jed – Limitless was absolutely wonderful. Even this last ep managed to cram in so much that was brilliantly clever and funny, while also being quite dark and melancholy till things ticked up at the end. The Legion of Whom suits. The volcano. The Brunisher. HEE HEE HEE.

    Jake McDorman is indeed a star, Brian did indeed deserve the enzyme and he looks v handsome in his new jacket. It was a bit tidily resolved, but bless him, I’m glad he got his happy ending. I would have been delighted to watch a season 2, but never mind. What a joy season 1 was, I’m really glad I listened to you and e and watched it. Let me say it one last time for the road: I LOVE BRIAN.

  2. e July 8, 2016 / 1:50 am

    I call complete BS on the ending. The final shot should have been him in the hospital, hallucinating the whole happy Piper thing. Everything was out of character — wouldn’t they have called him right away if she had shown up safe?

    It was a cheap and meretricious letdown to a brilliant series.

  3. Jed Bartlet July 8, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    As far as I know the whole season was shown in America before any (official) word on cancellation, so I think the episode finished the way it was intended to, although I agree that one or two elements looked a little grafted-on. Agree about the improbability of the Piper finale, e, although it didn’t spoil the episode for me (and Unpopcult is in your debt for your evangelising of this show, without which it’s likely we wouldn’t have bothered).

    • e July 8, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      Actually the weeks before the finale, the showrunners gave many interviews where they talked about their excitement about future storylines.

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