TV Review: Limitless (1X17) “Close Encounters”


Welcome back to our coverage of Limitless. I’ve been off for a few weeks talking about Agent Carter and believe me, I’ve missed me some Brian Finch. So let’s blow the dust off of our NZT bottle, and jump right back in. 

The last few weeks may have felt a bit standard for Brian Finch in the cases department, but a steadily growing web of lies has been slowly creeping its way to the surface. Our drug fueled friend not only had to tamper with the evidence of Eddie Morra’s assassination, but now has to live with the fact that Sands is the one who murdered Rebecca’s father. In fact, as we find him at the beginning of this episode, he’s been trying to shut Rebecca out of his life in any way that he can, while solving night crimes using his spare NZT pills. Rebecca quickly picked up on the always inconspicuous Brian’s trail and started to suspect that he’s hiding something. This suspicion is ultimately what breeds the main tension of this episode, but unfortunately, their first confrontation is cut short by the entire city going black.

Yes, it seems as though New York’s power lines have been cut in an attempt to stop a deadly unknown bacteria that seems to feed off of light from spreading. While that may have seemed fairly standard at first, further evidence reveals that this bacteria could have had intergalactic origin. Yes, Limitless briefly teased us with the existence of aliens, in yet another attempt to out-weird itself. However, the discovery of the source of this virus was only half the battle, as Brian and Rebecca found themselves quarantined when the substance was found on them. Kind of a roundabout way to get Brian and Rebecca to be stuck in one room together, but in many ways this scenario was exactly what the show needed at this point in the story.

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In fact, this was such a compelling set up for an episode that the results were ultimately a bit disappointing. After so many rounds of stylish but fairly meaningless fun, this was the chance for Brian and Rebecca to really cut into each other. Instead, we really only got one such scene when Brian discovered that Rebecca had sent men into his safe house to find his remaining spare NZT pills. While their ensuing argument was well performed and written to a degree (especially the part about Rebecca being “addicted to Brian’s success”), it never really went much further beyond a “you lied to me, bro” tone. This made their easy release from the quarantine seem like a bit of an emotional let-down, with Rebecca’s ultimate decision to dump Brian from her care feeling a bit forced. After all, they’ve had plenty of similar arguments, and here was a chance to have them hurt each other.

Honestly, the most painful confrontation came from Brian’s mother, who came to find out about the NZT pills while the whole family was under Mike and Ike’s protection.  Blair Brown has had basically nothing to do up to this point, but she really relished the chance to lay into her son. In addressing that her belief in the good side of Brian outweighing the bad being shattered, her scene more than anything re-enforced the themes of self identity that have been running through this whole season. Jake McDorman’s best piece of acting tonight sprouted from this, the pain of being shunned from his home written all over his face as he returned to his safe house.

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What got my mind racing the most was Brian’s letter to Rebecca at the end of the episode. He not only apologized to her (without revealing his ultimate lie, mind you), but teased that he is leaving for a few days to start to “make things right.” He’s got two NZT pills that he managed to swipe off Mike, and presumably he’s going to see Eddie’s would-be assassin Piper to form a plan to take the presidential candidate down. This next episode is the one I’ve been waiting for all season. Finally, it seems like we’re going to break out of the procedural model and get back to the main story which is by far the most interesting aspect of this show. It doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing Bradley Cooper return next week, but I suspect that very soon we’ll be seeing him pop up for at least a couple episodes in a row as Eddie and Brian’s final battle starts to take shape.

Rating: 7/10 

When Michael Fairbanks first saw Sam Rami's Spider-Man film back in 2002, everything changed. The experience began a lifelong passion for cinema that has gone undeterred since. In 2009 he began reviewing movies on Youtube, which ultimately sprang into a lifelong passion for film criticism and entertainment reporting. He is currently studying screenwriting at Chapman University. Aside from seeing movies, Michael enjoys making bad puns while playing video games, going on long late night drives, and socializing over large plates of food. For more of Fairbanks' movie reviews check out: