It seems as though Brian’s decision to tell his father about what’s been going on with him has bit him in the ass a little at the beginning of Arm-ageddon. Usually a kind-hearted and even-tempered man, Dennis did not take any of his son’s story lightly. In his mind, it’s time to take the fight to the FBI and CDC, who have been manipulating his beloved son into a dead end that will only result in Brian getting hurt. This conflict was by far the most interesting aspect of this week’s Limitless, which unfortunately side-lined this story for a new case involving robotic arms and military gadgets. Fun stuff, but it almost seemed like a massive blinder to keep the more intense family dynamics at bay.
Let’s get the caper out of the way first. Aaron Shaw, Agent Doyle’s former military squad-mate, found himself grappling with a heap of trouble when the robotic arm given to him by a tech company named CRAFT malfunctioned, ending with Shaw strangling his wife to death. Soon after, other robotic arms given to veterans started malfunctioning, ranging from lots of elevator buttons being pushed, to massive car accidents. This lead Brian to believe that the arm was hacked, and in order to find the actual culprit, he had to figure out how to break the unbreakable code. Only problem, Brian had never really figured out what hacking meant, processing it as the thing people do when they type in movie montages. This lead to a keen and rather funny self-awareness of just how little the general audience cares about hacking. No details were even bothered to be explained, with Brian instead letting us watch Vines of exploding things, and adorable cats while he figured it out for himself. You hear that Michael Mann? Hacking is boring.
The solution to the case was fairly standard. A crafty hack-tivist named Kenny Sumeta set somebody at CRAFT up as a patsy for the crimes, and when he was caught, he confessed to minimize his prison sentence. In fact, I found it interesting that Brian found the capture of said patsy to be a bit too easy, considering that all of his past few cases have wrapped up very neatly. Having Aaron actually be in on his wife’s murder, being paid by Sumeta to kill his wife to get out of his marriage was a decent twist, but frankly, the actor playing Aaron really didn’t sell the victim act anyway. In fact, the most interesting part of the case was the introduction of Quincy, a scientist at CRAFT who Brian dubs as “Q” for his penchant for gadgets. These two have a really nice dynamic, and hopefully the scene at the end of the episode where Quincy provides Brian with the jet-pack running device Brian drools over the whole episode is an indication that he’ll be back. Perhaps Eddie will get his hands on some CRAFT tech. Only time will tell.
However, this really was Ron Rifkin’s episode to really shine as Dennis Finch. Overwhelming his son with his protective desire to get him out of the program, Dennis went much farther than I thought he would to ensure that the FBI would get their just deserts. Sure, Brian realized that he had to tell his father that he actually enjoys being in the program, but Dennis decided not to back off there. In what was by far the best scene of the episode, he confronted Naz in the park, laying it out very clearly that if Brian is hurt or killed in the line of duty, he will expose what has been going on, and put Naz’s ass in jail. What is so fantastic about Rifkin’s performance is that this isn’t the typical over protective father act. He may have decided to take on the system behind Brian’s back, but he also listened and acknowledged Brian’s desire to continue on, because above all else, he cares about Brian’s happiness. This really should have been the main focus of the episode, but I have full confidence that this dynamic will expand as we continue on with the season.
Frankly, I’m not sure when Limitless is scheduled to return. Could be next week, could be in a month. However, if this is the last time we get to hang out with Brian for a while, he certainly went out on a solid if unspectacular episode. Hopefully when the break is over, some of the dominoes that the show has been building up over the past few weeks will start to drop, and we can get some episodes that are a bit more meaty then the “case of the week” fare we’ve been getting for the last few weeks.