TV Review: Limitless (1X09) “Headquarters!”

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.09.51 AM

Well then, so much for this show being boring. After a couple weeks of dreary, generic procedural episodes, Limitless aggressively shook things up this week. As Brian said, he needed a some more “cool and fun stuff to do” and in response, the writers gave him by far his most loopy, and zany case yet. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t anything dramatic or emotional to even out the silliness. It was just in service of the show loosening up a bit, aiming for a more character driven story that reminded us of just how much of a lovable goofball Brian is, while also asserting that he’s become quite the investigator in his own right.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.09.15 AM
Beginning with a hysterical montage of Brian pestering Naz for his own office titled “Headquarters!” it was clear that our punk rock Sherlock was getting a little bored of the way things have been (he and I both). Tired of the FBI assigning him cases, Brian decided to take matters into his own hands, attempting to catch all 10 criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list within a couple of weeks. Obviously Naz and Rebecca were skeptical, and with the assembly of a group of Brian’s FBI friends (including the janitor) called the “Bruntouchables” to travel across the globe …they were still pretty skeptical. This could have ended up being a cheep gag, but it ultimately served to fantastic comedic effect. The other “Bruntouchables” weren’t really juggled into the story so much as they were occasionally cut to, but that’s what made it work. Just when things would slow down a bit in Brian’s case, we’d see office sad sack James get a little too sucked into the cult he was supposed to be investigating, or Ike being furious with Mike getting to lounge in Costa Rica while he braved the Arctic circle. There was a genuine sense of camaraderie here, book ended by a rather sweet scene where it turned out that the janitor had made Bruntouchables T-Shirts for all of them, leading into a 22 Jump Street like closing credits sequence with other fake adventures for the team (Civil War anyone?).

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.10.26 AM
Meanwhile, Brian found himself in a bit of a pickle in his case. Immediately following a fun moment where Brian essentially gave himself a Jimmy Neutron “Brain Blast” in order to gain the ability to track scents, his nose brought him to Laurence, an engineer who had a bit more complicated than he initially thought. Accused of killing his wife and breaking out of prison, Laurence had actually drawn an elaborate journal detailing the different man who had actually killed his wife (a man in a ski mask). Believing his story, Brian let him shack up in his apartment (to Rebecca’s horror), ultimately leading to them allowing Laurence to take some NZT to recall the events. It’s always cool seeing somebody who hasn’t taken NZT try it for the first time, and as Laurence remembered the night of his wife’s death verbatim, he was able to make out the facial structure of the man in the mask. While this lead to a somewhat anti-climatic resolution of hired killer Phillip Rubaker agreeing to plead guilty for weakly Pumpernickel bagel deliveries to his prison cell, it ultimately served as a solid vehicle for Brian’s more compassionate side. Throughout this whole series, Brian has always been one to hear out the other side of a story. While sometimes that’s bitten him in the ass, here it’s what got the job done, let’s just hope that Naz dosen’t find out about Brian’s little NZT cheat (although wouldn’t that make for a brilliant interrogation strategy).

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.09.42 AM
Brian’s family also played a significant role here, creating the main dramatic arc for the episode. After taking a dinner tour of Brian’s new digs, everyone is impressed, except for Brian’s father. Always a deeply trusting and accepting man, he felt alienated by the secrets of Brian’s FBI life. After a weed-fueled conversation with his sister Rachel, who suggested that perhaps it would be best to just come out with it, Brian and his father shared perhaps what has been the most genuinely emotional moment of the series thus far. Begging his son to tell him what has been going on, Brian’s father proclaimed that he didn’t care about the danger involved in knowing. When he looked Brian in the eyes and said “I would suffer for you, die for you, you’re my Brian”, tears welled up my eyes, as well as a foreboding feeling in my gut as Brian began to tell him about NZT. Something tells me that Eddie isn’t going to be as understanding about Brian’s family troubles.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.10.07 AM
After a few laborious episodes started to make this show feel like a bit of a chore, Headquarters! was exactly what the show needed to get itself back on track. By far the funniest episode yet, it embraced all the most fruitful character interactions and didn’t waste a single second of airtime. Hopefully the upcoming episodes will take a huge cue from this one, because somewhere right around this tone is where Limitless escapes it’s roots as a typical supernatural cop drama, and becomes something truly special.

Rating: 8.5

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: