One of the reasons why Limitless has become a ratings success during this generally lackluster new fall television season is that it’s a show with a sense of humor. That goofball charm has never been more in view than in this episode, “Brian Finch’s Black Op,” which offers up a note-perfect spoof of the classic movie comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

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If You’re Going to Take a Day Off, You’re Going to Want Your Own NZT

Brian Finch wants to take the day off. In fact, when his FBI pill handlers show up, he pretends to be sick so they’ll leave him alone. They don’t know he has his own NZT (thanks to the senator) and he’s going to have some fun. This entire sequence is shot exactly like the opening scene of the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, including having Finch talk directly to the camera, aided by pop-up text highlights. But unlike Ferris Bueller, Brian Finch doesn’t even make it out of the front door before he’s tasered and kidnapped.

Welcome to Your First Black Op

Back in the office, Rebecca learns that Brian has been kidnapped by the CIA, led by a mysterious Agent Merrick. They want to use him for a “little operation” that supposedly won’t last longer than a day or two. Merrick somehow knows about the NZT, which raises all sorts of questions. Finch wakes up in a forest that he recognizes as being somewhere in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. He meets a trio of mercenaries, who tell him they need his help tracking a Chechen terrorist named Alexei who is hiding somewhere in the surrounding wilderness. Finch quickly identifies his possible location, but that doesn’t make him feel any safer.

The FBI still can’t locate Brian, and the assistant director’s office says they don’t know who approved the transfer. Naz gives Rebecca a file with names she claims will help them find Brian. Meanwhile, Finch and the trio of mysterious mercenaries are taking a 12-mile hike to the presumed location of the terrorist. They won’t talk, so Finch gives them nicknames: Rooney, Cameron and Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. They finally arrive at the location spot, Alexei’s camp, and decide to wait for darkness to attack.

Rebecca and Boyle continue their manhunt for Brian. Next up is a visit to an old ranger buddy of Boyle’s who is now working for the CIA. He refuses to help until Rebecca pulls out the file Naz gave her and threatens to out the CIA assets named inside. She gets the info about Brian and they discover a fourth member of the squad didn’t make this mission, so they decide to try and track her down. By now, it’s nightfall and Brian takes another pill as the squad begins their assault of the hideout. They are successful and begin an interrogation the following morning. They don’t realize Brian knows Russian, and as he overhears the interrogation, he realizes that they plan to kill the prisoner for some hidden reason.

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A Corrupt CIA Handler. I’m Shocked

Rebecca and Boyle speak to the fourth member of the squad. She won’t say much but does say that if the other three are working together again, it likely has something to do with Alexei. According to her, Alexei isn’t a terrorist. He’s a man whose wife and kids were killed by the team that was managed by Merrick. The terrorist uncle of Alexei’s wife blames Alexei for her death and has issued a $10 million bounty for his capture alive. Alexei came to the US to kill Merrick and the team members because he’s likely going to eventually end up dead himself due to their actions.

Things quickly go bad back at camp. Two of the team members kill the third and tell Brian they plan to sell Alexei back to the terrorist uncle and claim the bounty. They tie up Brian, and as he waits to die, he begins speaking to an imaginary Rebecca, one who is dressed in fringe a la Sloane in the Ferris Bueller movie. She tells him that for him to live, the two mercenaries are going to have to die. Brian, Alexei and the two remaining mercenaries begin their walk through the woods in the direction of the extraction. But back at FBI headquarters, Naz and Rebecca are threatening Merrick with public exposure if he can’t prove to them that Brian is safe. They speak briefly with Brian via a satellite phone and he secretly gives Rebecca enough clues to locate him.

Whatever Happens, Happens

The two remaining mercenaries have a falling-out and one kills the other. During the confusion, Alexei grabs a knife and kills the remaining mercenary. Alexei forces Brian to give him his remaining NZT dose and he takes it. Alexei leaves Brian in the woods, and now that his NZT dose has worn off, Brian is left stumbling through the trees trying to find civilization. He’s eventually rescued by the FBI and he recounts his experiences for Rebecca and Naz, using all of his Bueller references. It turns out Rebecca has never seen the movie, so he convinces her to watch it with him. Alexei is still stumbling through the woods, accompanied by a bit of “Oh Yeah” music from the Bueller movie. The screen fades to black, but Brian Finch returns and looks at the camera. “You’re still here? The show’s over. Go to bed.”

Limitless airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV