Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Limitless 1x08 "When Pirates Pirate Pirates" (We Are Family)

"When Pirates Pirate Pirates"
Original Airdate: November 10, 2015

Family is really important to me. I'm the eldest sibling — with a younger brother and sister who I would basically do anything for. And I think what is truly important is the fact that even now, eight episodes into the first season, Limitless is intent on providing building blocks for the show's relationships. Fundamental among those? The building block of family. The entire series, after all, began with Brian Finch's quest to save his father. He wanted to be respected by his family, but he also wanted to be able to do something to help them. He was tired of feeling worthless, tired of feeling like his life had no direction. So when he was given the chance to be more than he thought he could be, he seized it. Brian would do basically anything for his father (a fact basically exemplified throughout the season already). Similarly, Naz would do anything for hers.

Here's the thing, though: the act of protecting your family — or any loved ones, really — is rooted in emotion. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it does lend itself to recklessness and desperation. We've seen this recently on Arrow in regards to Laurel Lance, and we see it in "When Pirates Pirate Pirates," too. Brian Finch is willing to put a lot on the line to keep his family safe and Naz is willing to funnel money through a man on terrorist watch lists to do the same for hers.

Because you see, it doesn't matter HOW they protect their families. All that matters in the end is that they DO.


One of the most important aspects of any procedural to establish a solid team dynamic. That is what Limitless has done with the relationship between Rebecca and Brian, but I admit that I found the integration of Boyle to be a little underwhelming up until now. Thankfully, this episode remedied that. Boyle is... well, he's a lot like what Donald Ressler on The Blacklist was like in the first season: a stiff do-gooder who always wanted to be at the top of the class. That's all, really, we knew of Boyle for a long time and it's the persona that he perpetuated.

But "When Pirates Pirate Pirates" gave us a deeper glimpse into Spellman Boyle as a character. You see, he didn't like Brian Finch at first. He didn't trust him. And as the episodes have gone progressed, Brian has proven himself over and over again to the FBI. He hasn't just proven himself to be a valuable asset to the team, but a valuable person. I think that this is what has allowed Boyle to trust Brian Finch more — I think that he recognizes qualities in Brian that are fresh, honorable, and good. Brian isn't a jaded FBI employee. He's not a trained agent. He doesn't carry the weight of that stuff around with him. He's a good person who wants to save other people. That's it.

And at his core, that's who Boyle really is, too. He is the kind of person who is loyal to those he cares about and acts the way he does in order to fight for the greater good. But the fact that Boyle used to think of Brian as a threat (or at the very least, a potential problem) becomes an asset for the team in this episode. Because all Grady Johnson sees when he looks at Boyle is the same stereotypical qualities that he possessed in the pilot. And therein, wonderfully, lies the downfall of Johnson.

I sincerely like that we got character development AND backstory for Boyle during this episode (learning about his relationship with Loretta, and how awesome was it to watch Boyle, Rebecca, and Brian eat brownies together?). I honestly believe now that Boyle is a part of the family unit that Limitless is creating for Brian Finch. And it's delightful.

Speaking of family, this episode revolves around Brian and Rebecca (and by extension, Boyle) trying to save Naz's niece, Meetra, from pirates in the South China Sea. When Boyle and Rebecca arrive at the safe house Naz instructed them to go to, they also meet someone unexpected — Naz's daughter, Ava. Brian and Ava have a few little possibly romantic moments during their time there (but who wouldn't automatically be entranced by Brian, really), but both work together to try and determine where Meetra was taken, by whom, and how to rescue her. They do end up rescuing her, thanks to an informant and a rare pinball machine. It... you know what? Never mind. It's actually better if I don't explain the plot.

While this episode of Limitless didn't exactly move the plot forward and I'm getting kind of bummed at the dangling threads (are we going to ever return to Brian's father? Besides name-dropping him, have we kinda forgotten about Rebecca's beau? Is Naz's one act of redemption last episode enough for us to forget about what she did? Will Rebecca and Brian ever really have that conversation about the NZT pills he got from Morra?), the truth is that this show is still one of the most consistently well-written procedurals out there.

And that is due to the fact that the relationships are the heart of the show. I've talked about this extensively in other reviews, but it would be fun if Limitless was all about Brian solving cases week after week while on NZT. It was amusing in the pilot to watch him traipse all over the city, giving business advice and playing guitar. But if that was ALL that the show was... I still feel like it wouldn't be enough to sustain me. Hijinks, shenanigans, and case-solving are like candy — they're sweet and you enjoy them, but they're not meant to replace a meal, either. The heart of the show — the meal, as it were — is in the relationship between Brian and others around him. THAT is why I keep returning to this show. I love it because Brian is flawed, but ultimately relatable. 

I love it because Limitless is asking me to buy into a family unit between Brian and the people in his life. And you know what? I really do.

Bits & pieces:
  • I think this is the shortest review I've written. I'm blaming it on my tiredness.
  • "Feel free to picture that however you like." The visual gags on this show are always SO on point.
  • The fact that Ike was feeding Brian Mike & Ikes is my favorite thing this show has ever done. Period.
  • "Are you listening?" "Kind of."
  • Rebecca and Brian have such a great relationship. I think this is one of the few shows on television where I don't romantically ship anyone. I actually really enjoy these two as best friends/partners who have a sibling-like banter. It's refreshing in the best way possible to not ship the main characters on a show, romantically.
  • "Is it wrong that I feel less special now?"
  • "What are you thinking about?" "Trying to think of if there's a way this ends with me sword-fighting pirates..."
  • "Does it?" "... ish." Okay but Jennifer Carpenter delivered that line so flawlessly, I giggled.
  • "Seriously? The pirates were pirated?"
  • "I... have a very particular set of skills." Liam Neeson would be proud of you, Brian.
  • Pradeep was PERFECT.
  • Brian and Rebecca played "Screw, Marry, Kill" and it was the actual best.
There you have it, friends and readers! What did you all think of this week's Limitless? Let me know in the comments below! :)

1 comment:

  1. In what way Pradeep is perfect, may I ask?

    I'm actually from Malaysia, and I'm surprised and please at how great Jake McDorman pronounciation of the language. The actors who played Pradeep, Ahmad Wan, and the tattooed thugs doesn't sound native at all, their pronounciation is just wrong....and stuttered. Haha

    Jake McDorman is like a guy on real NZT, as he can master malay language that good. =)