For someone who works on some of the FBI’s biggest cases, Brian hasn’t faced too many truly terrifying bad guys. Even when we’re faced with some of Limitless’ most notorious murderers and kidnappers, they almost always have some quirky personality trait to make them less scary. The convicted felon who’s committed several murders-for-hire will happily confess to another as long as you give him some bagels. The former mafia man who spent most of the ’70s transporting dead bodies is a total softie as soon as he hears his wife singing opera. The infamous Malaysian pirate leader collects pinball machines.
Sure, all of these quirks can be partly attributed to Brian’s generally optimistic worldview: He’s the kind of guy who tries to see the best in everyone, and he’d rather manipulate people by indulging their more positive desires — e.g. bribing them with bagels and pinball machines — instead of threatening them. Which is why the opening of this episode feels like such a dramatic shift in tone. For the first time, we see the aftermath of a particularly gruesome murder — including a LOT of blood.
Brian is understandably jarred by the grisly scene laid out in front of him, so he immediately retreats into his subconscious, which takes the form of his childhood bedroom. (I love the poster of Rebecca above his bed.) There, the host of one of his favorite childhood TV shows, Josh-o-saurus Josh, is on hand to help him process these traumatic visuals by replacing horrific terms with more G-rated words. The responsible serial killer, who’s been nicknamed The Marrying Man, is now Mr. Pralines and Cream, and so on and so forth.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about replacing words like “strangle and murder” with “tickle and cuddle.” It’s an attempt to make these horrific crimes a little easier to swallow, but it really just ends up making the whole thing creepier. (It’s particularly unsettling when violent rape gets rebranded as “playing cowboys and Indians.”) It’s an attempt to dig into some more serious stuff while still maintaining the (mostly) playful Limitless tone, but I’m really not sure it works in this instance.
Once we leave the dead woman’s apartment, though, the rest of the episode is a little more in line with the show’s established tone. For years, a top profiler at Quantico named David Englander has been chasing
The Marrying Man Mr. Pralines and Cream, so he immediately flies up to New York to jump on the case. Englander is…rather pompous, to say it politely. He’s the kind of guy who chases the most vicious and sensational cases possible in the hopes of translating that into a book deal/speaking engagements/general fame. As Englander is (rather dramatically) filling in the FBI on the Mr. Pralines and Cream case, Brian rules out his suspect almost immediately, narrowing it down instead to two other guys. One of them has a secret box filled with finger bones, so it’s pretty clear that he’s the killer. Case closed.
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Englander is, of course, impressed, so he invites Brian down to Quantico to take a crack at a few other unsolved serial murders. Murders committed by serial killers like Mr. Fudge Brownie, Mr. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Miss Mango Sorbet. Brian isn’t too keen to spend much more time with Englander, but he can’t resist the opportunity to tackle some unsolved puzzles. Also, ROAD TRIP. He needs someone to give him his daily dose of NZT, so Rebecca’s tagging along. Just no bongs in her car.
Rebecca is a mostly perfect road-trip partner, and she does a pretty good job at channeling Hall & Oates. The only snag is when she brings up Edward Morra, which sets off every alarm bell possible in Brian’s head. Rebecca isn’t stupid, and she can see how unbelievable it is that Morra can go from being a failing writer to a presidential candidate, and his assassination attempt still seems suspicious. Add that to the fact that the shooter was on NZT, and it’s pretty clear that Sen. Morra isn’t who he seems to be.
NEXT: Malicious distribution of sex toys