'Limitless' recap: 'Brian Finch's Black Op'
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.
Back in New York, Boyle and Harris reach out to (read: threaten) one of Boyle’s contacts at the CIA, and they manage to find out the identities of the three contractors who took Brian. They learn that after fighting for the Russians during the Chechen war, Basayev married into a Chechen family, and although his new father-in-law promised to help the U.S. government, he was secretly sending money to the Taliban. Basayev had nothing to do with it, but he agreed to work with the U.S. government as long as they took out his father-in-law without hurting his own family. When it came time to extract the father, the CIA learned that there was a Taliban warlord in town, so they bombed the entire compound, killing everyone instantly — including Basayev’s wife and child. Not only that, but once the Taliban learned that Basayev was working with the U.S., they put a bounty on his head of $5 million cash — or $10 million if he’s left alive.
Which is exactly what Cameron and Abe Froman are counting on. Cameron shoots Rooney and says they’ll keep Brian alive, but only as their insurance policy, as he and Abe plan to sell Basayev for the $10 million bounty. Things are looking pretty bad for Brian, which is when he conjures a daydream version of Rebecca (dressed as Sloane Peterson, complete with a stylish white fringe jacket and looking distinctly Mia Sara-ish), who helpfully reminds him that there’s no way Cameron and Abe are going to let him walk away. Instead, she suggests that he take advantage of his last NZT pill by poisoning it and manipulating Cameron into taking it.
Meanwhile, the FBI manages to convince Merrick to let them talk to Brian, and he sends them a coded message about his whereabouts. But as soon as the FBI hangs up, Cameron shoots Abe, and Basayev gets loose and kills Cameron. But instead of killing Brian, Basayev steals Brian’s NZT pill and takes it, even after Brian told him it was poisoned. (Surprise! Basayev speaks English. I know all of the Ferris Bueller references are in Brian’s head, but I was still expecting Basayev to respond, “What country do you think this is?”)
So, Brian is left wandering the Allegheny wilderness by himself, with no NZT and Cameron’s dried blood on his face. Imagine Matthew Broderick doing THAT. It turns out that Brian’s less of a Ferris and more of a Cameron (aren’t we all?), and he winds up collapsing in the woods, singing, “Let my Brian go” and once again hallucinating Sloane/Rebecca.
Fortunately, actual Rebecca shows up to… save Ferris. All seems well, but there is one lingering question: Did Naz actually know about this? She’s lied before — mainly about Rebecca’s father — and Brian’s black op was approved by someone high up on the food chain. While Rebecca and Brian are trying to figure out how much Naz knows (and Brian is berating her for having never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Basayev is still wandering the woods, hallucinating a school bus in the middle-of-nowhere, Pennsylvania. Ohhhh, yeah. (Chicka-chicka.)