It seems as though even Brian was a bit burnt out by all of the exposition and moving pieces of last week’s episode, as he decided to take a day off as this episode began. In pure Farris Bueller fashion, he played sick in bed for Mike and Ike, and talked us through his plans for a lazy day on NZT. Certainly a well executed and adorable parody, but I worry what movies we’ll be re-enacting by season 3 if we’re already on the Ferris Bueller episode. That said, I don’t remember Matthew Broderick’s day being interrupted by a pair of unfamiliar CIA agents with a stun gun they’re quick to use. You see, this may be Brian’s day off, but only from the FBI, as the CIA have gotten a bit jealous of their sister agency’s new toy, and have decided to take him out for a spin in a rather dirty black op in the woods of Pennsylvania.
These agents, who Brian has nicknamed Rooney, Cameron, and Abe Forman for a lack of real names, went behind the FBI’s back so that Brian could help them track down ruthless terrorist Aleksey Basayev who has hidden somewhere in the Pennsylvania woods. Seeing Brian in this new environment was both the greatest strength and weakness of this episode. For one, it was fun to watch him figure out what his moves should be, and which one of these guys could be trusted and/or played. Seeing him not only talk to the lighter side of his subconscious, but Bad-Ass Brian as well really drove home just how isolated he felt in this new environment. However, the severe lack of Rebecca was definitely felt, as some of the most alive moments of the episode were when he hallucinated a more sarcastic but very in form Rebecca when he ran out of options.
Perhaps the somewhat sluggish pace the fault of the Black Ops agents simply not being terribly interesting characters. They were very stock, generic “speak low, carry guns, and say a lot of jargon” types. Only Cameron received any humanity in his relationship with Brain, as the two related on feeling like the dumb ones in their respective groups. However, this was very much under-cut by Cameron turning out to be a two-bit traitor who was simply in on this op to sell Basayev for the ten million dollar bounty on his head. In fact, Basayev proved to be the most interesting out of all of them, his back story shrouded in mystery and only briefly touched upon by a comic book panel montage. Seeing as Brian took mercy upon him, and helped him escape certain death, part of him seemed genuinely appreciative as he took the last NZT pill off Brian’s hands. It certainly seems that he could be an interesting recurring villain going forward, as he found himself escaping the woods by deus-ex-school bus. Seriously, what school bus would pick up a scary looking Russian man in the middle of nowhere who is clearly drugged and dangerous? Bus driver must be union.
Meanwhile, Rebecca’s side of things was hardly worth mentioning, as she essentially spent the entire episode trying to track down Brian and clean this situation up. However, she did get a pretty noteworthy moment upon Brian’s return. The two were talking about the things that Brian had to endure out in the woods. She mentions that when Brian arrived, he had this mentality like “the world hadn’t touched him yet” that she wanted to protect, that she feels has been destroyed now. It was by far the most potent moment in the episode, and goes to show just how much better both of these characters are together.
While this episode certainly had some moments of real personality, especially when Brian was riffing on Bueller, or singing a strange version of Let My People Go that had animals looking up from their grazing spots, most of it felt rather cold. While I certainly appreciate the attempt to take Brian out of his comfort zone, I hope that next time it can be around characters who are as colorful as he and Rebecca are. This show really needs to embrace just how wonderfully weird it can be, because when it gets locked up in being another police procedural with a new gimmick, it most certainly isn’t using 100% of its brain.