Tuesday, April 5, 2016

REVIEW: 'Limitless' - Brian Helps Rebecca Prove that Sands Killed Her Father in 'Hi, My Name Is Rebecca Harris'

CBS' Limitless - Episode 1.20 "Hi, My Name Is Rebecca Harris"

When Rebecca learns the truth about her father's death, she takes NZT for the first time and uses it to seek justice for his murder. Sands makes a dangerous move against Brian to ensure the success of his new initiative.

Brian Finch has long been the only person at the FBI who can take NZT without it having any severe consequences - both physically and mentally. The drug opens the brain up to its full potential but that only lasts for so long and the come down is very debilitating. More importantly though, Brian has been a much better person while helping the FBI on NZT. He has found purpose in his life while also making a difference in the world. He's making the world a better place and is really excited by that. Of course, this entire arrangement was built on a lie. Brian isn't naturally immune. He has been lying to the FBI this entire team. They could easily find someone more qualified to aid them in the field while on NZT with the immunity booster shot. And now, Brian has to deal with all of those consequences. Of course, Brian's soul and mind isn't corrupt by the drug either. That's a concept that some don't want to embrace as reality because it's still a drug and Brian is fueling an addiction. But it's still meaningful that Brian's sympathy for the world shines through even when he is running on NZT.

Rebecca knows that Brian hasn't been truthful with her. She is able to unravel every single lie he has been telling this whole time. This arrangement has been a very solid foundation for the show. And now, the series is challenging that very core in a really exciting way. Rebecca and Brian have formed a real friendship. And yet, that has been compromised by what Brian has had to do for Morra and Sands. He values Rebecca as his handler and colleague. But now, he fears that he has ruined that relationship because of all of the lies. He has to come clean to her with everything he knows. Sure, he may be putting his family in harm's way. But this reality was already starting to fall apart the second that he revealed to Morra that Piper was still alive and working on recreating the immunity shot. So now, Brian has the chance to tell Rebecca the truth.

And the truth awakens something very exciting and intriguing within Rebecca. She is hurt and betrayed at the depth of which Brian has been deceitful. He broke the one rule she had for this relationship. In this moment of high emotions, she chooses to take NZT herself. It's a bold decision on the show's part. Rebecca shouldn't take this drug considering the history she has with it from both her father and Casey. But she completely disregards all of the potential consequences in order to be on an even playing field with Brian. She needs to know if he is being truthful. The only way she believes she can do that is by taking NZT. The rest of the hour then explores how her world changes because she is on the drug as well. It makes her partnership with Brian much stronger and more effective in the field. But there is also a recklessness on display too that should provide many compelling consequences for the conclusion of this season.

Brian has gotten so accustomed to being the only person at the FBI on NZT. But now, he has to share that spotlight with Rebecca and welcome her into the world that only they can see. She becomes fixated on capturing Sands and proving that he's the man who murdered her father. She learns all about the work Brian has been doing for Morra and Sands. But this story is still one driven by her personal emotions. She has always had a strong connection to NZT through her father. When she takes it, she sees him again at every turn. It's quite a rush for her. She's able to be much more effective at her job than she has ever been before. She accomplishes a lot in the span of just one pill. But this episode doesn't just forget about the cost of these actions either. Rebecca wants to be in her own little world with Brian. She starts to trust him again because he has the knowledge to take Sands down. But she goes about it in a way that is frightening and could cost her her job as well.

Rebecca is willing to accept all the lying and treasonous actions Brian has done over the past few months because he can give her justice for her father's death. The two of them are successful in that venture as well. The previous episode established Sands and his new initiative as the true big bad for the season. That was a thrilling reveal that felt much more earned than the continued presence of Senator Morra. Every time he pops up, it's clunky and inconsistent. But with Sands as the opposition to the protagonists, it's a much more nuanced character. Brian has learned so much about this man. He is a lethal assassin who was show no mercy when it comes to killing. And yet, Brian and Sands formed a bond when Brian helped save Sands' son. That connection places doubt in Sands' mind about killing Brian and Rebecca in order to tie up that loose end. That's a mistake that costs him dearly in the end too.

Everyone has a deeply personal motivator in this episode as well. Rebecca is willing to look past everyone Brian has done because of the information and insight he can provide about Sands. Brian wants to prove to Rebecca that this friendship has been genuine and he'll risk his future just to help her get closure. Despite the nefarious introduction of his new initiative, Sands still has his son as the most important thing in the world to him. All of these connections are complicated and manipulated over the course of this hour. The episode teases that Rebecca genuinely wants to kidnap Sands' son just in order to arrest him. Of course, the show later takes that dark twist back by saying that Brian and Rebecca were playing for the cameras. But it's still a crucial element of the episode as well. NZT heightens the emotions Rebecca feels for her father. She finally gets the satisfaction of putting his killer away. But she was so fixated on that prospect that she completely ignored what was happening elsewhere. Naz is a minor character in the scope of this episode. But she wants to hold Rebecca and Brian accountable for their actions. With Brian sharing the full truth, he'll no longer be able to work as a consultant for the FBI. That's a devastating final reveal that sets up an uncertain future for the show as its heads into its big two-part season finale.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hi, My Name Is Rebecca Harris" was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Holly Dale.
  • The potential of a Rebecca-Quentin romance is dropped pretty quickly in this episode. It's a tad surprising too. It comes up because Brian wants to use Quentin's resources with this case. But Rebecca had a bad date with him and now wants to stay away. It's a weird moment to a minor subplot previously introduced - and in hindsight for no reason whatsoever.
  • Brian helps Rebecca track down Sands because he needs to know where Piper is and if she can really make the immunity shot. Sands is successfully captured but isn't talking about that. Brian gets a glimpse of what his future could be without the drug and the shot as well. It's not pretty at all.
  • Sands keeps Piper's whereabouts from Brian because he already considers them even after Brian helped save his son. Sands alerts Brian of the lethal bullet heading his way - though Rebecca still takes it in the shoulder.
  • Naz's big red flag about Rebecca being on NZT comes after noticing she and Brian did work twice as quickly as Brian usually does. And yet, Brian and Rebecca were a part of two different murder scenes. Neither one of them had major consequences on the narrative at all.
  • Rebecca has so much fun seeing the world how Brian always sees it. It makes for a great partnership throughout the hour. But a key question remains: Will Rebecca want to take the drug again moving forward? The ending really doesn't give a clear answer to that.