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REVIEW: Limitless 1X05 “Personality Crisis”

Okay, before we get into the review of Limitless, I have to ask: Did anybody else experience some Dexter déjà vu while watching, “Personality Crisis,” this week? Because all I could think about when Desmond Harrington was onscreen with Jennifer Carpenter was whether or not either of them knew that one of their coworkers was the Bay Harbor Butcher.

Anyways… after taking that trip down serial-killer memory lane, I found myself generally pleased with the latest episode of Limitless. 

As it turns out, Harrington’s character (FBI Agent Casey Rooks) is actually the secret beau of Rebecca. Though they’re not at the, “HR stage,” of their relationship, they’re serious enough for him to have a key to her apartment and not have to resort to Brian’s method of gaining entry AKA breaking in. In addition to serving as Rebecca’s on-the-sly love interest, Rooks is the new self-defense trainer of someone who desperately needs a bit of physical training: Brian.

Brian is still a character whose cockiness often straddles the line between annoying and funny, but in this week’s episode it was the latter. Limitless actually managed to use the questionable character trait to put Brian in his place and make him an amusing spectacle in, “Personality Crisis.” The show is becoming increasingly self-aware, with Brian noting that, “I can be really annoying when I’m on NZT,” a mere twenty minutes into the episode.

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It might just be me, but there was something so deeply satisfying about watching Brian get his ass handed to him repeatedly at the start of this episode. His assumption that NZT is the equivalent of the Intersect 2.0 from the much beloved Chuck, i.e. it would turn him into a kung-fu master simply because he’s, “Seen Enter the Dragon like fifteen times,” was yet another instance in which we as an audience are reminded that NZT can really only do so much where the user is concerned. The pill might give Brian total recall and an IQ that could rival Marilyn vos Savant, but it does not magically turn him into an individual that is physically capable of handling himself in the field. In fact, it actually makes him approximately 100 times less intimidating since his cocky bravado is shut-down by a young man with one effective right-hook… thus prompting the FBI to quickly have him start training with the aforementioned Rooks.

The episode’s actual case centers around a meth situation that the FBI is quick to understand is actually part of a much larger plan for a terrorist attack linked to a hate group. The young man who clocked Brian is brought in and, after requesting to speak to Finch, he reveals that it’s actually his brother who might be the real person the FBI should look into. Brian works his NZT magic and manages to figure out a possible email address used by a frequent blogger on the hate site and the FBI discovers coordinates that lead to a local hospital.

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My first thought was that the mysterious terrorist would be pulling a Joker a la The Dark Night, and planned on targeting the hospital in his attack, but instead it’s revealed that chemicals in the hospital were stolen. Of course, not just any chemicals. That would only be cause for minor concern. No, the chemicals that were found to be missing were those that could transform a standard bomb into a Radiological Dispersion Device. NOT GOOD.

Brian, through my nemesis known as the voiceover, explains the possible ramifications of an RDD on the population, painting a picture that is not quite as pretty to look at as those done by Rebecca’s father. The FBI forces Brian to speak to Chris, the younger brother of now confirmed terrorist Sam, and convince him to help bring his brother in before the planned attack. This was a significant sequence for Brian because it reaffirmed the fact that he is really more of a pawn than anything. He does the FBI’s bidding but isn’t happy about having to lie to Chris, feeling guilty as it mirrors the lie that he’s hiding from Rebecca concerning her father.

Brian is successful in convincing Chris to help bring his brother in, but something goes wrong at the scheduled meet-up and leaves the young boy with a bullet in the chest and Brian with an added layer of guilt. This week’s episode got a fair bit darker than usual as Brian experiences real consequences for the first time. There have been vague threats of potential problems but this is the first instance in which we see him in a high-stakes situation and not walk out singing show tunes. Chris’ death seems to break Brian emotionally as he takes responsibility for it and realizes that his lies, no matter the intention behind them, will undoubtedly have ramifications. Rebecca does her best to assure Brian that the death wasn’t his fault but ultimately speaks a harsh truth, “What’s best for the case, what’s best for the world, turns out to be a very different thing than what’s best for the person.”

It’s something that Brian needs to hear in order to understand how the FBI operates but ends up leaving him with a new determination to play the FBI and Morra’s respective games his way. Said determination seems to serve as a motivator for Brian, who ends the episode at Rebecca’s door with her father’s FBI folder in hand.

Episode Highs:

  • I thoroughly enjoy Desmond Harrington in most of the things he’s in and Limitless is no different. He’s the epitome of deadpan and, for one reason or another, his constant dryness is endlessly entertaining to me. Also… Rooks is more perceptive than some of the other people on the show and already knows that something’s going on with Brian.
  • Sands. He was barely in this episode but he managed to make his few minutes of screen time stick. He’s menacing and clearly a threat but damn he’s kinda awesome to watch. Also, being British, he calls NZT N-Zed-T, which is fun for a Yank like me to hear.

EpisodeLows:

  • I understand it was necessary to move the overarching plot forward but they really beat the audience over the head with the parallels between Brian’s dilemma/guilt with Chris and his other struggle with Rebecca.

Additional Thoughts:

Did anyone else find it a bit odd that CBS promoted next week’s episode of the show more than this week’s? We get it, Bradley Cooper’s coming back. Maybe it would have been more exciting to discover this on the show rather than from a boatload of promos released two weeks before the actual episode.

Episode Grade: B

What trouble do you think Senator Morra will be bringing next week? Speculate on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen