For the past eight episodes, almost all of Limitless’ goofy, irreverent style has come entirely from Brian. He’s the show’s hero and its comic relief, and up to this point, all of the characters surrounding him have only served to rein him in or (attempt to) keep him on the straight and narrow. “Every day I come in here, and this place tries to make me a little bit more like it,” he explains to Rebecca. “I’ve done a lot now. It can be more like me: fun, cool, colorful.”
So, in Brian’s quest to get his own fun, cool, and colorful FBI headquarters (exclamation point!), he badgers Naz — “Remember that time like three weeks ago when you were languishing in prison and how I got you out and stuff?” he reminds her — until he comes up with one of his most ridiculous schemes yet. If he can catch all 10 criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, she’ll acquiesce. After all, he’s already caught No. 4, who’s been on the run for years after bombing doctors’ clinics. (Sidenote: Brian caught him by checking in with everyone’s favorite bomb expert, Taurus, from way back in episode 2. Interestingly, Taurus made an appearance in last episode’s game of screw-marry-kill, too, and while it was a throwaway line in both that episode and this one, I wonder if he’ll play a big role in a future episode.)
Naz begrudgingly accepts Brian’s wager, and he assembles the Brian Finch and Rebecca Harris Amazing Major Crime Squad, a.k.a the Bruntouchables. While Boyle, Mike, Ike, Casey, James, and Stavros the janitor aren’t initially thrilled, they can’t help themselves when faced with such a crazy task, and finally, characters other than Brian get to have a little fun. There’s no NZT intrigue or veiled threats from Sands; just a race to catch as many bad guys as possible. The result is the show’s snappiest and most delightful episode yet.
James heads to rural Idaho to try to locate cult leader Susanna Travis, who convinced her followers to commit suicide and then skipped town. He successfully infiltrates the new cult but manages to get mildly indoctrinated himself. Casey and Boyle team up to take down Ray Allen Clements, a notorious cop killer. Mike tries to find a cartel leader who murdered several DEA agents and now spends all his time poolside in Costa Rica. Poor Ike, on the other hand, is trailing a kidnapper in the wilderness of Greenland, and he spends so much time shivering and being miserable, he fails to notice that the guy who’s running the research station where he’s staying is the guy he’s looking for.
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It takes Brian and Rebecca all of like two seconds to convince No. 12 and his mistress to rat out his mob boss, No. 9, so he can get bumped up into the top 10. Apparently, being on the FBI’s Most Wanted list is the best publicity you can get if you’re in the mob. With another name checked off the list, that frees up Brian for a fancy dinner party with his entire family, where he dazzles them with fancy quail at his fancy apartment. The only thing he can’t do is get Hamilton tickets. Come on, even NZT can’t get you Hamilton tickets. Brian’s father, however, is uncharacteristically silent through the entire evening, and it’s clear that something’s up with him.
While Brian’s trying to figure out why his dad is acting so weird, he befriends Katy Perry, Bill Gates, Justin Bieber, and Ellen DeGeneres and convinces them to tweet out the FBI Top 10. The Katy Perry fans come through, and one of them points Brian to an apartment where Lawrence Drake may be staying. Drake is a former engineer who killed his wife nine years ago and later escaped from Rikers with another inmate.
The only problem with using social media to track down an escaped convict is that it’s not exactly private. By the time Rebecca and Brian show up, Drake is long gone, and Brian has officially declared him his nemesis. He’s so desperate to track down Drake that he takes to sniffing his old clothing and using synesthesia (or smells visualized as colors) to hunt him down, but when Brian sneaks into Drake’s new digs by himself, he learns that the man has spent the past few years obsessed with solving his wife’s murder. Not exactly the behavior of a guilty man. By the time Drake returns, Brian’s convinced that he’s innocent and decides to help Drake prove it.
NEXT: Bribery by bagel
He and Drake are holed up in Brian’s apartment, trying to solve a nine-year-old murder, when Brian’s sister Rachel stops by to take advantage of his surround sound and watch Game of Thrones. (Totally reasonable. Game of Thrones deserves a fully immersive viewing experience.) It’s a nice bit of brother-sister bonding, especially when the only fleshed-out familial relationship we’ve seen so far is Brian and his father. Brian’s relationship with his dad is one of the things he and Rachel discuss, and it’s clear that while the rest of his family is psyched about his new job and ambition, his father is still suspicious.
The next day, Brian fills in Rebecca about Drake’s situation (and she isn’t thrilled). All Drake remembers about the night his wife was killed was wrestling with a man in a black ski mask, who he believes was hired by his former business partner. It seems like a dead end, until Brian gives Drake an NZT pill to help him recall details about that night. Even though the assailant was wearing a ski mask, Drake remembers what the man’s face felt like under the mask, and he creates a model of the suspect. Facial recognition points them to a felon who’s been convicted for several similar murders-for-hire. He won’t admit to being hired to kill Drake and his wife, but he fesses up once Brian offers a bribe. As an incredulous Naz asks: “He admitted to murder in exchange for a dozen bagels?” Uh, YEAH, Naz. Have you ever HAD a bagel? I’d admit to murder, arson, and various other felonies I didn’t commit in exchange for a weekly supply of decent bagels. Come on.
The only thing Brian has left to do is to hash things out with his dad, and while he knows he shouldn’t tell his father the truth about NZT, it’s over as soon as his dad brings out Brian’s old childhood artwork. (Man, does he know how to be emotionally manipulative.) All we know is that Brian told him about the existence of NZT, but it’s unclear whether he told his dad the official FBI version (that he’s somehow immune to the drug) or the Senator Morra version. Either way, it’s a big deal, and as Sands has made explicitly clear, there’s no way that this doesn’t end up with Brian’s father being hospitalized — or worse.
But even with that depressing thought looming, this episode goes down as arguably the goofiest one yet, as the Bruntouchables end up bagging seven out of 10 criminals (eight, if you count Drake) before D.C. shuts them down. While most of the series has focused on the friendship between Brian and Rebecca, he officially has his own squad now. (Eat your heart out, Taylor Swift.) With their sick new T-shirts, courtesy of Stavros, the team takes on a series of dramatic adventures, complete with mutiny, Naz’s murder, and Mike in a figure-flattering dress. And after eight episodes of Brian getting to be the class clown all the time, it’s so much fun to see some other characters get their chance. Here’s hoping we get to see extended editions of “Bruntouchables 2: Twice Bruntouched,” “Bruntouchables 3,” “4Ever Bruntouchable,” “Bruntouchables Civil War,” and “Bruntouchables Generations 1, 2 and 3.”