Bradley Cooper’s running for president!
That’s right, everyone’s favorite blue-eyed senator is back in Brian’s life, and before he can announce his bid to become president of the United States of America, Sen. Edward Morra gets to calmly narrate his own assassination. It turns out that when you do things like blow up people’s houses and try to save the world with super rice, you make a lot of enemies, including disgruntled former employees who then try to murder you. Thanks to NZT, Morra notices the glint of a sniper rifle, and he’s able to position himself so that bullet only grazes him and transforms him into a hero who survives an assassination attempt — instead of a corpse.
The FBI conveniently gets assigned to look into the investigation, which sends Brian into a brief panic attack when Sands shows up and starts chatting with Naz. He quickly imagines every possible scenario in which this could go wrong, which starts with Rebecca figuring the whole thing out and ends with Sands saying, “Can we talk about Sen. Morra’s eyes for second? Amazing.” Naz, meanwhile, just sighs wistfully, whispering, “Blue.” This is only the first of several great Naz moments in the episode, including but not limited to: “I’ve been single ever since I joined the bureau. You think I haven’t slept with anyone here?” Get it, Naz.
But anyway, of course Sands doesn’t let it slip that he knows Brian, and after he thanks the FBI for their thorough investigation into the matter, he catches Brian in the elevator and fills him in on the real story. He tells Brian that they actually do have an idea who tried to shoot Morra: a woman named Piper Baird, who originally helped Morra create the enzyme that negates NZT’s side effects. According to Sands, she took NZT and “went a bit mad,” murdering her boyfriend and going on the run. Brian’s job, in the meantime, is to keep the FBI away from Piper and away from the idea that Morra is in any way connected to NZT. (Side note: As a general rule, it’s not a great idea to have a clandestine conversation in an elevator…where there are most likely cameras…especially when you’re in AN FBI OFFICE BUILDING. Come on, guys.)
Brian heads to the hotel suite with Boyle, and after he notices the word “NZT” drawn onto a hotel painting in eyeliner, Piper get his attention and formally introduces herself, using the laser sight on her sniper. She tells him, via Morse code, to seek out Sammy DiPietro, which is easier said than done: DiPietro was a mafia leader who disappeared in the ‘70s, and his body was never found. Fortunately, Brian has access to the past few decades of FBI files, and it’s enough to lead him to the truck driver who helped dump DiPietro’s body. Even more fortunately, the guy’s a massive opera fan, and Brian has an FBI wiretap recording of his wife singing Puccini to their son. What opera-loving former mafia guy could resist that? He points Brian to DiPietro’s body, where he finds Piper’s secret hideaway, which is currently covered in pictures of Brian’s family. Good.
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Brian rushes home to confront the psychotic sniper who’s presumably terrifying his family, but instead, she’s having coffee with his parents on their couch and has since introduced herself to them as Brian’s new girlfriend. That’s a lot better than introducing yourself as a trained assassin, but it’s still kind of creepy to show up at your boyfriend’s parents’ house uninvited, especially when they didn’t know you existed. Piper then tells Brian her side of the story, saying that he has no idea how dangerous Sen. Morra really is. After she herself realized the lengths he would go to to maintain his grip on power, she stole the enzyme and a bunch of NZT pills. In retribution, Morra had her boyfriend killed, and he framed her for the murder.
So, Brian sets up a meeting with Morra so he can ask him in person if he had Piper’s boyfriend bumped off. Morra is hurt that Brian would even SUGGEST such a thing. Doesn’t Brian know that he’s trying to save the world and end hunger with super rice? Morra still maintains that Piper went crazy, stole a bunch of NZT, and murdered her own boyfriend. It’s like the world’s worst edition of he-said, she-said, and to top it all off, Sands gives Brian a gun and tells him that Piper is now his responsibility.
NEXT: Rebecca gets crafty
Meanwhile, Rebeca’s putting the pieces together, by taking a page from Brian’s book and making a handy-dandy yarn diagram. She realizes that the sniper fired at Morra from an incredible distance, a distance that would make it the longest sniper shot of all time — by about six football fields. That, of course, sounds impossible…unless you’re on NZT. But just as she’s about to follow that hunch, it turns out she doesn’t have to: An anonymous tip leads them to a woman who promptly confesses to the whole thing. The only thing is, she’s not Piper Baird. On paper, she’s a great suspect: She was a sniper in Iraq who got kicked out of the military and then went radical. She says a meth dealer gave her an NZT pill, and the rest is history. Rebecca and Boyle aren’t stupid, and while blood tests confirm that she had NZT in her system, they also confirm that she’s dying of a disease that impairs her coordination — something that makes it pretty difficult to take an impossible shot. Plus, her parents’ house was just conveniently paid off by a mysterious third party. All signs point to a patsy.
Brian, on the other hand, is meeting with the real Piper while Sands listens in. She briefly thinks that he’s there because he believes her, but after she notices the gun, it’s pretty clear that he’s not there to talk. He chases her into a subway station and then promptly PUSHES HER IN FRONT OF A TRAIN. Our Brian, who wears chunky sweaters and prefers to solve problems by giving people bagels and opera recordings, just murdered a woman in cold blood. Sands is totally impressed — after he checks the DNA to make sure that the body on the tracks is, in fact, Piper. He even tries to do a bit of bonding with Brian by drinking whiskey together and swapping stories about their first murders. It’d be heartwarming if it wasn’t so horrifying.
Even Morra stops by the FBI to check and make sure that Brian’s okay. There, he vocalizes the major issue Brian’s been grappling with ever since he took his first NZT pill: the question of identity. Up to this point, we’ve seen a lot of parallels between Brian and Morra, and NZT took them both from slackers to superheroes. This time, however, we’re starting to see where they diverge. Morra is almost disgusted by who he used to be and has fully embraced the man NZT has helped him to become. Brian, on the other hand, is still clinging to who he is when he’s not on the pill, determined not to lose sight of who he used to be.
But in turns out that Brian hasn’t changed all that much — because Piper isn’t actually dead. “Luckily I know a lot about jumping in front of subway trains,” he explains, “and she, disturbingly, knows a thing or two about stealing cadavers and rigging them under subway platforms.” Piper’s now free to leave the country and continue trying to synthesize the enzyme in secret, Morra’s free to officially announce his presidential bid, and Rebecca’s free to begin investigating why someone on NZT would want to kill Morra — and how exactly a scruffy-looking writer turned his life around to become a presidential candidate. All of which spells bad news for Brian.