'Limitless' recap: 'Fundamentals of Naked Portraiture'
Brian solves a murder — with the help of the victim's robotic replica
One of the trickiest things a show has to do in its first season is world-building. The pilot introduces our primary characters (Brian, Rebecca, Naz, and Boyle), as well as the show’s main premise (this guy takes a magic pill that gives him a super brain and uses it to solve crimes for the FBI), but charming leads and a decent hook can only take you so far. Limitless has introduced some interesting characters over the last 13 episodes, and No. 14 sees many of them return, for better or worse.
Mike and Ike’s role has also expanded substantially — both in Brian’s life and on Limitless the TV show — which means that they kick off this episode looking for an extra person to give them a hand. Most of the interviews are duds — although we do get a great tidbit about Ike having a crush on Brian’s sister — and the only applicant who seems even remotely up to the task is the overly eager Spike, whose appreciation for Goatwhore and Rosemary’s Baby piques Brian’s interest.
While Spike is settling into his new role as Brian’s assistant, Rebecca is doing exactly what Brian doesn’t want her to do, which is still digging into Sen. Morra and his blood-soaked Brooks Brothers coat. Brian successfully switched out the coat that Morra was shot in for one with NZT-free bloodstains, but Sands got sloppy, and the new coat isn’t a perfect replica. (Sands pops up again in this episode, too, to get the original coat from Brian, give him his NZT booster shot, and attend a lecture on Iroquois farming techniques at the Museum of Natural History. “I’d invite you, but it’s sold out,” he tells Brian. Cold as ice.)
Specifically, the buttons on the new coat aren’t chipped in the same way, something that Rebecca immediately picks up on. So, instead of dropping the case, she’s decided to dig even deeper, even as Brian tries to dissuade her.
Rebecca’s smart. Like, really smart. Not only does Rebecca’s intelligence make her a good crime-solving partner for Brian — it would get really boring if every episode was Brian patiently explaining things to his stupid co-workers — but it makes me wonder if we’ll ever get to see what she looks like on NZT.
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But Rebecca doesn’t have much time to dwell on the mysteries of Morra and his stylish coat because we’ve got a murderer to catch. Remember Quentin Walker at CRAFT? The tech researcher studying robotic arms and the guy whom Brian dubbed the real-life Q? The dude who lent him a jetpack? Turns out that the woman who invented that jetpack just got murdered.
Eloise Carlisle has been spending all her time working on mind files, the idea that some day people will be able to upload a copy of their brain to a computer system, where it will continue to think and act as they would. Eloise herself was Test Subject No. 1, which means that even though she’s dead, almost everything she knows lives on in one (EXTREMELY CREEPY) robotic head. But the tech isn’t advanced enough to let Eloise’s head do anything but be really, really creepy, so instead Brian turns to more traditional methods: poking around in CRAFT’s computer system.
And apparently, Eloise wasn’t as clean as she seemed. Mysterious emails sent the night she died reveal that she was selling mind files to a big buyer. In all, six mind files have gone missing, including Quentin’s. A little snooping on the deep web reveals that she used a middleman dubbed the Scrub Jay to fence the stolen mind files. (Some of the Scrub Jay’s past transactions include European baby formula, celebrity sex tapes, swords, human hair, Four Loko, sea cucumbers, endangered reptiles, STD-free sperm, cheese, brides, the pope’s slippers, and Iranian beluga caviar.)
NEXT: Einstein’s eyeballs
One of the stolen mind files belonged to an artist with a penchant for painting “psychologically disturbing naked people,” as Spike puts it, so Brian decides to add another felony to his list and do a little art forgery. Using an extremely eager Spike as his nude model, Brian fakes a painting in the hopes of luring the Scrub Jay out. It works, but before Brian can get any info out of him, the Scrub Jay gets poisoned. Bummer. They do, however, get his real name, which leads them to a few rare items he fenced (a genetically modified cat, Einstein’s eyeballs) and the think tank that bought Eloise’s mind files: the Global Enterprise for Research and Development.
GERD happily admits that, yes, they totally bought the mind files. In fact, the U.S. government told them to. What they didn’t do is murder Eloise, and the mind files they purchased are actually pretty useless. Everything they need is locked in those files, but the software that actually allows the heads to use that data isn’t advanced enough yet. The head of GERD says the tech is years away.
But this means that Brian can at least help speed that process up a little bit. He doesn’t go as far as achieving true artificial intelligence, but he does make significant upgrades to Eloise’s mind file, which allows them to finally ask her if she has any idea who murdered her. Robot Eloise is like, “Uh, yeah. Probably the mentally unstable co-worker I’ve been having an on-again, off-again relationship with.” This guy, Gerard, killed her when she tried to break up with him and, realizing what he’d done, stole an old copy of her mind file as the next best thing. To cover his tracks, he stole a few extra mind files to give to the Scrub Jay, making it look like Eloise was the corrupt one all along.
Which is sort of romantic, in a creepy, twisted way. It’s so romantic that it inspires Quentin and Rebecca to ask each other on a date. If this relationship continues, it’s going to make the best meet-cute story ever. “How did you two ask each other out?” “Well, we were watching a confessed murderer have a romantic conversation with the robotic head of his victim/former lover, and it just seemed like the right time.”
Meanwhile, Mike and Ike have gotten a little fed up with Spike constantly sucking up, so they do a little snooping to find out that he’s been informing on Brian to ADIC Johnson. (Remember when Naz’s niece got kidnapped by pirates and she almost went to jail for it, so that awful guy filled in for her and he was just generally terrible? Also, Brian told everyone that he had a micropenis? Yeah, that guy.) Bye, Spike. He doesn’t even get to take his extremely graphic nude portrait as a souvenir.
As for Rebecca, she’s been trying to get ahold of the clerk working at the evidence locker the day Brian switched out Morra’s coat, and just when Brian thinks the game is up and she’ll totally figure out that he’s working for Morra, Rebecca shows up at his apartment — not to arrest him but to share some news: The clerk is dead. Peanut allergy, apparently. But again, Rebecca isn’t stupid, and Sands is being really bad at his job. If you’re going to replace a bloodstained coat with a similarly bloodstained coat, make sure it’s identical. And if you’re going to prevent someone from talking to a witness, don’t murder that witness right before the FBI tries to talk to him. That’s a pretty bad way to avoid attracting attention. Come on, Sands.