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'Limitless' recap: 'Brian Finch's Black Op'

Save Ferris… from being kidnapped by the CIA.

Posted on

David M. Russell/CBS


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jake McDorman, Jennifer Carpenter, Hill Harper
Drama, Sci-fi, Thriller

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could end up stranded in the woods with a suspected terrorist.

Which is exactly what happens to poor Brian Finch when he tries (and fails) to play hooky from the FBI in Limitless’ homage to the 1986 John Hughes classic (and a movie your recapper has seen about 12 times) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Showrunner Craig Sweeny says that after a few episodes, he was surprised to realize just how much of an influence Ferris was on Limitless, and truth be told, this episode doesn’t feel all that different from a regular Limitless episode. Some of the movie’s signature style, like Ferris directly addressing the camera or using onscreen arrows and diagrams, is what Brian does constantly — although Brian’s story involves a lot more murder and a lot less “Danke Schoen.”

Brian’s Day Off begins with him taking a page straight out of Bueller’s book, telling Mike and Ike that he can’t go out — cough, cough — he’s sick, and that he’ll have to stay home from the FBI today. (Have Mike and Ike taken to actually calling each other Mike and Ike in real life, or is that just Brian’s wishful thinking? Hoping it’s the former.) The resulting sequence is a shot-for-shot remake of Matthew Broderick’s epic speech about life moving pretty fast, complete with a shower fauxhawk and John Lennon quotes. Also, thank you, Brian, for answering the question that has plagued me for seven episodes: How do you afford such a nice apartment in New York City? (Answer: The FBI owns it, of course.)

Thanks to Senator Morra, who Brian apparently keeps a framed photograph of, he’s got five NZT pills, and he’s planning to use one on an epic day off that would make even Ferris Bueller jealous. But before he can head to the Art Institute or spontaneously join a parade through downtown Chicago, he’s kidnapped by the CIA and dropped in the middle of backwoods Pennsylvania.

It turns out that the CIA not only knows about Brian and his NZT use, but they want to borrow him. Instead of asking nicely, they grab him and only ask for permission afterward, when a smarmy, Rooney-esque agent named Dean Merrick stops by to inform Harris, Boyle, and Naz. Rude.

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Once Brian wakes up, he’s told that a terrorist named Aleksey Basayev has snuck into the states and is hiding in the woods. A CIA task force is made up of leader John Kellerman (who Brian nicknames Rooney), communications guy Kyle Hollinger (Cameron), and silent translator Mikols Petrov (a.k.a. Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago). Brian, understandably, isn’t thrilled to be there, but once Rooney gives him an NZT pill, he uses satellite imaging to pinpoint a few possible hiding spots for Basayev. After they find the right place, they capture Basayev and everyone congratulates Brian on a job well done — until it becomes pretty clear that they’re not going to be bringing Basayev into custody any time soon. All that Russian that the FBI made Brian learn comes in handy as he figures out that the plan isn’t to throw Basayev in jail, but to kill him. 

NEXT: Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.