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REVIEW: Limitless 1X10 “Arm-ageddon”

Before I delve into reviewing, “Arm-ageddon,” please allow me the brief tangent of saying how trippy it is to go from watching Ron Rifkin as Gotham’s murderous monk on Mondays, to Limitless’ over protective father on Tuesdays. It’s quite the juxtaposition and is really starting to throw me for a loop.

Anyways back to focusing exclusively on Limitless. I’m a firm believer that, if a TV episode decides to throw a pun directly into its title, it’ll likely be an entertaining forty-two minutes of television. Luckily for us, this week’s Limitless did a pretty solid job of further proving my belief correct. It was rife with the standard wit and humor we’ve come to expect, once more ensuring that it distinguishes itself as a wholly non-standard kind of crime procedural.

Also, it paved the way for me because you know I’m going to fit as many hand and arm puns as possible into this review. So let’s get to it.

Spoilers ahead!

The case of the week centers around an old friend of Boyle’s who’d lost an arm while serving in the military. Since then, he became one of a few lucky people enrolled in a beta program to test new prosthetic limbs that would put even Iron Man’s technology to shame. All seems to be running smoothly until the handsome fellow gets arrested for murdering his wife…

Something that Boyle doesn’t buy it for a second, because there’s simply no way Shaw, a longtime friend who wanted to be a teacher for goodness sake, would ever commit such a crime. The dude’s totally ‘armless!

Knowing that the police likely won’t take Shaw seriously, Boyle turns to one Brian Finch for help. Naturally, Brian agrees to lend Boyle a hand and joins him in questioning Shaw, who claims that, while he is innocent, his robotic arm is not. Confused? So was Brian at first, until Shaw explains that he literally lost control of his arm and was forced to watch it strangle his wife. “So you’re saying you’re innocent… but your arm is guilty?”

LmtlsInterrogation

Precisely. Shaw points the finger at his robot fingers and claims that he played no hand in the death of his wife.

After Shaw pitches the idea that perhaps the technology in the arm was hacked, Brian and Boyle make their way to the company behind the robotics… and are promptly told that such a thing is impossible. CRAFT, the super fancy technology company, previously hired the best and smartest hackers to try and crack the arms and all of them were unsuccessful.

You know who isn’t unsuccessful? Brian. Because he has a trick up his sleeve: being armed with NZT.

After a few days, glossed over via voiceover as Brian explains that hacking montages exist because hacking is boring as hell, Brian manages to hack into one of CRAFT’s prosthetic arms, thus proving that such a thing is in fact possible. It’s the first bit of good news that is promptly followed by the reveal that dozens of the beta arms had gone haywire across the city.

And to think, people freak out if their Twitter gets hacked these days. Calm down tweens! You don’t know the true horror of being hacked until it’s your actual limb that you’ve lost control of.

After discovering that there was in fact a mass hack of the CRAFT beta-prosthetics, Rebecca, Boyle, and Brian make their way to the company and interview all of the employees to try and figure out who might have had a motive for making the limbs play mostly harmless pranks throughout the city.

Mostly harmless because there’s still the whole, “Someone got murdered,” thing.

After hearing one employee say a particularly random phrase, Brian links her to a hacktivist account he’d been communicating with and clues Boyle and Rebecca in on the connection. They find codes for the hacks and a whole lot more damning evidence on her computer and take her in but… we’re only halfway through the episode so obviously she didn’t really do it.

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No, instead Brian figures out that money was the real motivator for the incidents and manages to hack into the New York Stock Exchange to determine the single shell corporation that benefitted from Arm-ageddon. As it turns out, said corporation was the baby of a different CRAFT employee who made a boatload of money off of the hacks and promptly left the country after cashing in.

Rats! Now what?!

Now Brian uses his newfound hacking skills to get Kenny kicked out of Dubai and put on the first plane back to the United States. We don’t actually see any of it happen because, again, hacking is boring as hell so Brian instead lets us watch cute videos of kittens in order to keep us entertained.

Good lookin’ out Brian!

Anyways, Kenny is brought in by the FBI for questioning and confesses to most of the crimes he’s being arrested for. He admits to the hack, admits to the fraud, admits to stealing people’s identities, and admits to paying one of the betas $200,000 in exchange for letting him test out his hack.

But there’s still that one incident that seems to stick out like a sore thumb.

The murder of poor Kristen Shaw.

Which brings us back to that mysterious beta that Kenny gave $200,000 to: one Aaron Shaw.

Oh snap!

Turns out Boyle’s ex-buddy did kill his wife and used the Arm-ageddon hack as a cover. He knew Kenny was planning on causing a bit of chaos with the prosthetics and also knew that it would provide him with the perfect excuse for murder: “It wasn’t me it was my robotic arm which coincidentally was hacked with all of the others! How convenient!”

You’ve gotta hand it to him, it was a pretty decent plan and might have actually kept him out of jail if it weren’t for the fact that A. The murder occurred one day prior to Arm-ageddon and B. There were no cameras in the Shaw home during the event… meaning Kenny couldn’t have hacked the arm because he couldn’t hack the cameras, AKA he couldn’t have seen what he was doing.

Game, set, match to the FBI!

In the sub-plot of the episode, Brian is keeping his father at arm’s length post-NZT reveal. The main reason for this is the fact that Mr. Finch wants Brian to get out of the FBI, sue them, and no longer be their guinea pig for the NZT testing. The problem with this is that Brian doesn’t want to leave the FBI, in fact, he quite enjoys the work that he’s been doing as of late. After spending the majority of the episode dodging calls, Brian takes some solid Rebecca Harris advice and finally just admits to his father that he has no interest in suing the FBI because he doesn’t want out. Mr. Finch isn’t too pleased with his son’s admission, but grudgingly accepts Brian’s choice and agrees to pull back on his mission against the FBI.

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Or so we, and Brian, think. What Mr. Finch actually does is have a stern conversation with Naz during which he is vaguely and then blatantly threatening, stating, “If my son doesn’t survive this in tact, you’re going to jail,” before making one heck of a dramatic exit.

And that’s the episode.

After watching, “Arm-ageddon,” I’ve decided that the best thing about Limitless is how self-aware it’s grown over the past few weeks. Even from the Pilot there was a clear understanding that the show wouldn’t be taking itself too seriously, but it’s become even more obvious that Limitless doesn’t break the Fourth Wall purely for gimmick’s sake. Instead, it utilizes cat videos, random graphics, and direct communication with the central character as a means of preventing the episode, and the show itself, from going stale.

“Arm-ageddon,” blatantly pointed out all of the boring things shown on TV and skipped over them. It glosses over the boring stuff because it knows it’s boring. Nobody cares about hearing computer jargon, and since nobody cares, why show it at all? Limitless is literally made for viewers because it’s so aware of what an audience does and does not enjoy that it merely recaps the boring parts and accentuates the interesting ones with other visuals and direct character commentary.

Direct commentary that I spent the first few episodes complaining about!

I was vocal about my personal dislike for voiceovers, outwardly confessing my hope that Limitless would get rid of them once the informational period of the show was over, and have, by some unknown miracle, come to genuinely appreciate them. Because they’re no longer the equivalent of annoying white noise. No, now the voiceovers are yet another thing that the show is using to ensure that the content being provided to viewers is stuff that they actually wish to see.

“Arm-ageddon,” though seemingly not all that pertinent to the show, is an episode of television that managed to do the impossible and make me look forward to voiceovers and the various other add-ons that wouldn’t work for any show other than Limitless.

All the thumbs up for that.

Episode Grade: B

Episode Highs:

  • The Rebecca/Brian dynamic is getting more and more fun to watch with each passing episode and the pun-off between them this week was quite entertaining.

Episode Lows

  • I mentioned it last week but I have a feeling that I’m really not going to enjoy the continuation of Brian’s family drama. Is it too much to hope that Limitless might skip over this plotline too?!

Additional Thoughts:

  • I counted 10 arm/hand/finger puns. Was I spot on or am I as terrible at counting as all of my math teachers said I was?
  • We’ve had Naz-centric, Dad-centric, and Boyle-centric episodes so I hope that means we’ve gone full-circle and can soon have a Rebecca-centric one again!

What did you think of the latest episode of Limitless? Sound off with your thoughts and opinions on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen