Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Limitless 1x12 "The Assassination of Eddie Morra" (Trust No One; Question Everything)

"The Assassination of Eddie Morra"
Original Airdate: January 5, 2016

Whenever I watch shows like Pretty Little Liars and The Blacklist, I immediately recite a mantra that I’ve had for years when watching similar-themed television series — “trust no one; question everything.” I don’t trust characters easily on television shows set up to be dramas or suspense-action series. I know that characters are always harboring secrets and are always one step away from betraying the people closest to them in order to protect their own interests. This week’s premiere of Limitless found me doing nearly the exact same thing. In fact, at one point I essentially tweeted: “I know I should trust Piper, but also I love Bradley Cooper too much.” And I think that’s essentially the point, as Brian notes: the significance of the “twist” in the episode wasn’t that Piper was alive. It wasn’t for our benefit that he showed us how he helped her fake her own death.

What is significant, of course, is the fact that Piper tells Brian that he cannot keep playing both sides forever. He will eventually have to make a decision and side with the one he actually trusts. For now, however, and throughout “The Assassination of Eddie Morra,” Brian is content to keep himself alive, his morals intact, and Piper away from Morra’s clutches while he tries to figure out who he can really trust. Elsewhere in the episode, Rebecca and Boyle get really close to unraveling all kinds of secrets.


First things first: I am so glad that this week wasn’t a typical procedural. My friend Claudia tweeted: “The episodes that derail you from the procedural really do suck you in, huh?” And though I think Limitless is one of the most well-done of all the procedural dramas on television these days (CBS really has done well between this show and Scorpion of interjecting uniqueness and power to tried and true formulaic series), it definitely is nice to have a break from a villain-of-the-week story in order to focus all of our attention on the relationship between Brian and Eddie Morra.

And it really was great to have Bradley Cooper return in a larger capacity than we have seen him yet on the series. Eddie Morra is such an elusive character — charming, intelligent, and well-liked, Morra is the kind of character whose morality is purposefully ambiguous. We don’t know whether or not he’s lying to Brian or telling the truth. Or, perhaps like a number of politicians, Morra’s lies have become truth to him. As a politician, of course, Eddie Morra is concerned with keeping himself both alive and also in the public eye — something interesting given the fact that he’s perpetually on NZT.

There’s a point in this episode in which Brian and Morra have a conversation about who Brian was before NZT came along. “Why are you trying so hard to cling to the person you were before NZT?” Morra asks (I’m roughly paraphrasing here). And that’s something that I think is especially poignant in Limitless, a series nearly all about identity. There are a lot of complex themes running through the show at large, chief among them the question of “who are you?” Brian spent an entire episode grappling with this — is he NZT? Is the person he is while on the drug who he REALLY is? Or is he the guy before the drug? How does he decide who he is and who he’ll become?

Brian is such a moral character, a fact that Piper picks up on after only seven minutes (and, okay, one NZT pill) with his parents. Brian has always had a moral compass — he was raised with good values and a good heart. That’s one of the things that draws me most to Brian Finch as a character and a human being. I’ve said it before and I’ll likely repeat it many more times before this series ends: Brian has a great heart. He never had to learn to become a hero; he was always a hero. The saddest parts of Brian are the parts that don’t believe he’s worth anything. The self-deprecating nature that he has, because of his past and failures, is the hindrance in his character growth. But it’s something he’s climbed over repeatedly in order to become better.

Back to Morra for a moment, though: this character is so interesting to me. I really need to watch the entirety of Limitless (the film) in order to appreciate and understand him, but Brian and Morra are vastly different people. Morra cares about public appearances, about power and changing the world. And I can’t quite tell if those desires blind him to the realities and allow him to justify the means in order to reach the end that he wants (I’m rather certain that he IS blinded because of those things). What I do know is that Brian doesn’t care about any of that stuff. The reason he took NZT was to feel like he mattered — to his family, to the world, and to himself most of all. The reason he takes NZT isn’t to elevate himself, but to save the people around him. Where Morra’s use of NZT is for personal gain, Brian’s is selfless.

And Morra doesn’t understand that. He doesn’t understand how Brian could be limiting himself on the drug, refusing to give in to its alluring properties and limitless (pardon the pun) potential. Brian’s self-checking is something of a foreign concept to Morra and it’s something worrisome to Brian at the end of the episode. He knows he can’t play Morra’s game forever and remain unscathed.

So when, on NZT, Brian begins to imagine two different camps in his head — the ones wearing The Dude’s (Jake McDorman’s reference) sweater and those donning leather jackets — what is really important is that those warring dual identities come to a head when Brian’s father’s voice appears. His advice is simple: Brian doesn’t have to make every single decision today. He doesn’t have to be #TeamPiper or #TeamMorra. All he has to do is take a breath, pause, and decide who he believes. 

The rest will simply follow, Brian’s father reasons.

And while in a way, I think he is right, I think that Piper is too — at some point, Brian will have to make a decision on who he believes versus who he WANTS to believe. I think Brian wants to believe Morra, wants to know that he has everyone’s best interests at heart (despite, you know, the extortion and blackmail). But I think that after being on NZT, Brian has a difficult time trusting people who aren’t named Rebecca. And I think he’s right to be wary of everyone.

So maybe after all, my mantra is right up Brian’s alley: “trust no one; question everything.”

Only time will tell.

Bits & pieces:
  • Since there was no real case to discuss, this is a bit of a shorter review than normal!
  • I loved Georgina Haig as Piper in this episode, a woman who tries to assassinate Eddie Morra because she used to work for him and he had her boyfriend killed. I loved her not only because she was awesome in the role, but also because the last thing I saw her in was Once Upon A Time where she played Elsa. From the snow queen herself to an NZT semi-assassin!
  • Bradley Cooper returned in this episode, which was delightful. That man is super beautiful.
  • SHADY SANDS IS ALSO BACK. YAY. He gave Brian the worst “pep talk” known to man after Brian faked (though Sands and Morra think it’s real) killing Piper.
  • I missed the way that Brian imagines scenarios in his head.
  • “You know that ‘I barely listen to anything you say recap’ you do? It’s rude.”
  • In the scene where Brian imagines himself in his head, NZT Brian models his sweater and it’s adorable.
  • I love that on Limitless, the FBI are actually intelligent. Rebecca and Boyle manage to piece together the fact that the woman who confesses to the assassination attempt isn’t the woman who actually did it. And at the end of the episode, Rebecca seems fairly close to figuring out that something is amiss with Eddie Morra. On nearly every other show I watch, the FBI are buffoons so seeing these agents actually being good at their jobs and steps ahead of everyone else is refreshing.
  • I literally yelled: “Why are your eyes so blue?!” at Bradley Cooper last night. I don’t understand it though.
What did you all think of Limitless’ return? Was it all you hoped it would be? Who should Brian really trust? Hit up the comments below and let me know your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating episode. I liked the underlying anger between Brian and Boyle. I think that is going to fester. How long will Boyle be able to work with someone who took away Boyle's ability to believe he did the right thing in shooting Casey? Boyle's guilt is going to be difficult and Brian will be part of it and I really hope Boyle can come through it without doing something terrible.

    Rebecca has the end of a thread now with her suspicion of Morra. She's gonna pull on it, especially given her father's history. And as Morra feels threatened he will retaliate. Yikes.

    Eddie Morra is very interesting. Brian made a good point when he pointed out that Morra has been on NZT longer than anyone else alive. There is really no way of telling what that process has done to his mind. But when he uses phrases like "we are different from everybody else" and "you are above this kind of concerns" major alarm bells go off in my mind. That's the kind of thinking that leads you to believe that just because you are the smartest person around you are also the most important. And that ethical "concerns" are beneath you. Scary.