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REVIEW: Limitless 1X09 “Headquarters”

It was a family affair during this week’s Limitless, which was somewhat surprising considering we haven’t actually seen Brian’s family in weeks (not a bad thing in my opinion).

The past few episodes have been so focused on action that the emotional tethers have dropped a bit to the wayside and, “Headquarters,” decided to bring said tethers back into focus with some super awkward familial interactions. Brian’s path with the FBI began because of his determination to help his father, a driving figure in his life whose presence has caused some of Brian’s most emotional moments to date, meaning that it’s unsurprising that the father-son tension was brought back to the forefront this week.

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Unsurprising but… kind of unnecessary in my opinion. Yes I realize that introducing a plot like the shifting relationship between Brian and his family so early on in the series means that of course it would be reintroduced, but taking into account the great episodes produced as of late… I think that dropping the family arc might actually have been the wiser choice to make. Limitless has been on a roll in the past few weeks and the glaring absence of Brian’s family may have played a pretty large role in the success.

That’s NOT to say I didn’t absolutely love this episode. Because I did. The family plot took up maybe 12% of, “Headquarters,” and the other 88% was rife with the humor that makes the show such fun to watch. That plus the fact that the FBI characters are all starting to noticeably gel and you’ve got yourself a solid episode of television.

Spoilers ahead!

Before getting into the family plot of the episode (and subsequently re-voicing my belief that said plot might actually be a hindrance to the show) let’s focus on the central (and far more fun) storyline involving Brian’s quest to find and capture all 10 criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

It takes 35 days but Brian finally does a pretty solid job selling Naz on the idea, casually turning on the news where a segment concerning the arrest of MWC (Most Wanted Criminal) #4 and the anonymous caller who helped lead the police to the wanted bomber’s door. I doubt you need NZT to put these pieces together but, in case you haven’t figured it out, Brian was the individual with the useful tip.

He promises to help the FBI catch the rest but there is a minor caveat: if Brian manages to find all 10 MWCs in a mere two weeks (with the help of a few other agents), he gets his own work, “headquarters,” within the FBI building. Apparently he’s gotten sick of being sequestered in the file room and think it’s high time that he gets some new work digs… and the chance to pick his own cases every now and again. Naz decides that it’s a deal worth making and tells Brian to get to work finding the other 9 criminals.

Easy peasy while on NZTsy right?

Brian gathers a team of top agents (also, a janitor) to help him on his new mission: co-team captain Rebecca, Rebecca’s secret beau who finally reappears Rooks, bad-mood-dude Boyle, some rando named James, and the dynamic duo of Mike and Ike. It’s a divide and conquer type of mission and Brian takes great pleasure in doling out assignments to his new team, affectionately labeled THE BRUNTOUCHABLES.

The gang slowly manages to cross off the MWCs from the list and things run pretty smoothly until Brian decides that his former nemesis (the MWC who actually manages to elude him on his first attempt at catching him) Lawrence Drake might actually be innocent. Because Brian is Brian, and still hasn’t quite processed the whole, “rules and regulations,” aspect of the FBI, he brings Drake home with him when Rebecca leaves to provide backup for Boyle and Rooks.

Unsurprisingly, Rebecca is quick to point out that bringing a wanted fugitive to one’s home is a terrible idea and tells Brian that, unless he can convince her that Lawrence is innocent without the use of NZT, he won’t get another pill and she’ll bring Drake in. But Brian is like, really, good at arts and crafts and, while his NZT-produced claymation figures may be superior, he manages to put together a pretty nice model of a, “space elevator,” that he thinks someone was willing to kill Lawrence for.

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Brian does a sufficient enough job at explaining himself but then throws another curveball at Rebecca by suggesting that they give an NZT pill to Lawrence instead. Brian reasons that the pill will help Drake remember something from the night of his wife’s murder, and his arrest, that might lead them to the real killer. As it turns out, Brian hit the nail on the head and, in between hilarious visuals of Lawrence experiencing NZT for the first time, we discover that he is in fact innocent and that a hired killer was the man behind the murder.

Brian and Rebecca manage to track said murderer to the prison that he’s currently serving two life-sentences in and demand that he confess to killing Mrs. Drake, give the name of the individual who hired him, and admit to framing poor Lawrence. He initially scoffs at them in the way that only a creepy prisoner could, saying he has everything he could need, but Brian is able to place his accent and figure out the perfect bargaining chip. Which leads us to…

“He admitted to murder in exchange for a dozen bagels?”

Yup. Though, in his defense, New York does have the best bagels in the world.

The FBI puts the kibosh on Brian’s fugitive-hunt, saying that the CJC isn’t technically authorized for such work, but Naz is impressed with the 8/10 success and gives Brian his wish: his own office that is not an office and is actually dubbed headquarters (technically dubbed H.Q. –no exclamation point- but the wound’s still fresh so let’s not get into it).

The BRUNTOUCHABLES get together to celebrate a job well done and we finally find out why the janitor is a member: the dude makes a noice custom t-shirt. #BruntouchablesForLife

The episode ends with another tense exchange between Brian and his father that eventually leads Brian to confessing… everything. After his father admits that he doesn’t know him anymore and can’t deal with the lies, Brian sits him down and starts from the beginning: NZT.

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Aaaaaaaand that’s the episode!

The FBI plotline of, “Headquarters,” was clearly the stronger of the two because it focused on the strengths of the show. To be honest, it kind of felt like the Scooby Gang getting together for some high-stakes hijinks… which was not a bad thing since we all know that my favorite aspect of Limitless is the humor. The show has been so consistent in distancing itself from the typical morose tone of the standard crime procedural, and this episode once again emphasized that, of the many strengths found within Limitless, levity is the greatest asset to the show.

The stiffness of the characters from the first few episodes is gone and, the fact that we can now distinguish between Mike and Ike goes to show how much the agents in Brian’s life are being developed. We’re starting to see clear personality traits be established and, what was originally a bit of a weakness in the early episodes of Limitless is now another clear tally in the strength category. The characters are no longer nameless cutouts and their relationships with Brian are growing into something that’s genuinely exciting to watch.

Bringing me to the sole weakness of the episode: the family drama. After weeks of establishing the central characters and focusing on their dynamics, throwing Brian’s family back into the mix seems like a bit of a random attempt at reminding viewers that there are people outside of the FBI in Finch’s life. I’d forgotten he even has a brother and sister until they were thrust into that awkward dinner together and, though their presence is understandable, knowing nothing about them means I don’t care much about them either.

Should Limitless continue to integrate Brian’s family back into the overarching plot, they need to be approached in the same way as the various FBI agents: introduced and gradually expanded until viewers perceive them as actual characters rather than a moving background.

All in all, I really enjoyed, “Headquarters.” Though kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t feel at all like a filler episode. It was fun and entertaining and essentially a standalone episode that was used as a means of giving some beloved, though lesser known, characters some more screen time and fleshing them out as individuals.

Episode Grade: A-

Episode Highs:

  • Lawrence Drake on NZT. It was cool to see someone else experience the drug for the first time and say, “It’s like a statue came to life in a museum and started walking around,” when looking at Rebecca.
  • The entire BRUNTOUCHABLES montage at the close of the episode.
  • This glorious visual of Brian and Mike:

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Episode Lows:

  • Family drama is never a good thing especially when it’s used as a common TV trope that doesn’t add much to a show as unique as

Additional Thoughts:

  • Did this week’s refocus on Brian’s family prove that, perhaps, they shouldn’t get any focus at all?
  • Rooks was asking Boyle a lot of questions about Brian and the mystery drug he’s taking… Super suspicious or just one dude showing concern for another?
  • Where can I get a BRUNTOUCHABLES shirt and who wants to get one with me?

 

What did you think about this week’s Limitless? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen