Tonight’s Limitless opens with a grim scene. On a stormy night, the crew goes to investigate a brutal murder, in which a woman was tied to the bed and stabbed dozens of times. “This isn’t very fun,” Brian thinks, as if he’s reading the minds of viewers. That’s when we’re transported into his subconscious.
In Brian’s subconscious, we meet a Barney rip-off named Joshosaurus Josh. Brian loved Joshosaurus when he was a kid.
Now, he’s pretty chill about him.
Joshosaurus sets up the conceit of this episode: Everything is filtered through Brian’s perspective, and he’s decided to establish some rules. The first is that distressing words (like “kill” or “stab”) be replaced with nice words (like “hug” or “cuddle”). That leads to Agent Rebecca Harris saying, with gravitas, lines like, “The soda pop splatter indicates she was still playing air guitar before being sent to an awesome farm in the country.”
The FBI is searching for a “serial hugger,” which brings us to Brian’s second rule: All serial killers are referred to as Mr. or Mrs. [insert ice-cream flavor]. If reading these last two paragraphs has been frustrating, I’m sorry. The cutesy substitutions don’t let up. This conceit would maybe seem charming for 30 seconds … and it lasts the entire hour-long episode.
To track down serial hugger Mr. Pralines & Cream, the FBI calls in David Englander, a famous profiler, who is incredibly cocky about the whole thing. Brian looks at the case file for roughly 40 minutes, and solves the case instantly. The opening credits haven’t even rolled.
Englander, impressed by Brian’s acuity, invites him to Quantico. Brian and Rebecca put on the Modern Lovers’ “Road Runner” — which is about Massachusetts, but I’m splitting hairs here — and head down to FBI HQ to crack some serial-killer cases.
During the road trip, Rebecca tells Brian why the Eddie Morra case from last episode seems fishy to her.
It seems like Rebecca is figuring this out. Brian will have to run interference.
At Quantico, surrounded by kittens and lollipops — reminder: kittens and lollipops are actually weird serial-killer stuff — Englander proposes that Brian continue to do profiling work. After all, it’s a lucrative profession that leads to book and movie deals. Englander himself struck gold with the case of Mr. Butter Pecan, otherwise known as Andre Hannan.
Brian’s “serial killers as ice cream” rule also gives us … whatever this is:
Brian reads up on the Hannan case, concluding that Englander put an innocent guy on death row. He and Rebecca determine that Hannan wasn’t strong enough to kill his victims, even though Hannan passed a polygraph confessing to the crimes.
Hmmm. Is there an out-of-the-blue, only-on-Limitless explanation for this? Of course there is. Brian realizes that false memories were implanted in Hannan’s head using a technique known as optogenetics. Rebecca and Boyle are tasked with looking into Hannan’s doctor, Dr. Gilroy.
Meanwhile, Brian runs interference on the investigation into Morra. He swaps out crucial evidence — a coat containing samples of Morra’s blood — which could link the senator to NZT. Brian pulls off the switcheroo, mentally adding it to his long list of federal crimes.
Just as he’s making the switch, though, Rebecca and Boyle arrive to grab the coat. Brian slips away just in the nick of time.
Back to the main case: Brian bluffs his way into Dr. Gilroy’s office by reviving his older alter ego Mike Ikerson. Once inside, he sifts through client files to discover the real culprit … and it’s some until-now-unknown rich guy. Basically, Dr. Gilroy was paid to plant false memories in Hannan and frame him for murder. Hannan gets released, and the real bad guy is arrested. Case closed.
Englander isn’t thrilled that Brian discredited his work, but he makes him an offer. What if they worked together on a book about the real case?
Brian — who has a super-pill that he could use to change the world, but instead chooses to spend his time solving crimes — says no. Duh doooyyy.
In the episode’s final cliffhanger, Rebecca notices discrepancies on the replaced coat of Eddie Morra. She’s getting closer to the truth! It seems like this could be a big problem right around … I don’t know … May sweeps?