Episode 1 – Pilot
The show hits the ground running by introducing our lead character Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), a day dreaming musician, on the run from the FBI. We get a quick primer about the shows other star NZT, a neurotropic, that enhances the users speed of thought and grants total access to their memories. Limitless enters the world of the 2011 thriller of the same name starring Bradley Copper with a fresh spin.
Before Brian’s flight from the FBI is resolved we back track a few hours and see that he is the dreamer of the family, unmarried and focused on his music rather than a career and kids like the rest of his siblings. His mother and father are supportive, but recognize that his ambition might not be future proofed. We quickly learn that Brain’s father, Dennis (Ron Rifkin), suffers from a mysterious illness that doctors cannot diagnose.
With his father in the hospital Brian reports for his first day of a two-week temp assignment at a large investment bank. He is tasked with filing thousands of forms. Encountering his old band mate and friend, Eli, Brian confesses he is stressed about his father’s sickness and lost. Eli offers him a single NZT pill, a kick-start to help him find his way. Brian is reluctant; afraid it is some sort of narcotic. Eli urges him to take it, saying it is a rare opportunity.
This sets the story in motion and a series of thrilling events that are the backbone of the show. Quickly tapping into the power of the pill, he finishes his two-week temp assignment in 2 hours. He is thrilled with his newfound focus and turns his attention to his father’s medical condition. Pouring over books until the effects of the NZT wear off he develops a theory and presents it to his skeptical parents. They question how he could determine this when the doctors could not, he urges them to trust him and share the theory with the doctors. Brian’s theory is right, but reveals a greater problem, his father needs a liver transplant or he will die.
Visiting Eli to ask for more of the neurotropic, he finds his friend shot dead and his apartment trashed. Planning to call the cops he hesitates knowing he must find the NZT before he involves the authorities. He finds a secret stash containing one pill just as the FBI arrives. Unable to explain his presence at the scene of his friends murder he flees. Boosted once again by NZT Brian leads the agents on a parkour filled chase into the cities subway system connecting us to the events of the shows opening.
I think we have spoiled enough at this point. Limitless enters the world crafted in the 2011 film perfectly, even teasing the existence of Senator Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper). The next half hour of the show leads you on a thrilling and heartfelt journey as Brain tries to absolve himself of guilt in Eli’s death. Along the way he gains the trust of Rebecca the lead FBI investigator and the suspicion of Rebecca’s boss, Nasreen Awad (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Subtle threads are spun together linking Brian and Rebecca that promise to play out over the series.
Thrust into the underworld of mind augmenting drugs Brain becomes the focus of several powerful individuals with diverse agendas. This builds a strong foundation for the show that has the potential to create some very engaging television. Part human drama, part sci fi thriller, Limitless is a show to keep your eye on.
Episode 2 – “Badge! Gun!” Airs on Tuesday, September 29th at 10pm on CBS.