Bienvenido a Miami de nuevo! Picking up only days after we left off before the winter break, we find Fiona recuperating in bed from her flesh wound, thanks to Nurse Michael. Sam has been asking around about the death of Michael's CIA contact (who took a header off a roof), and while Michael's not a suspect, his plan to get "back in" is definitely dead. So Michael agrees to take on a job Fiona took before she decided to leave for Ireland (which is no longer an option). The job involves an insurance scammer forcing a widow to file a wrongful death suit against the city for her husband's death and turn over the settlement to him. Michael takes on the persona of a tanktop-wearing wheelman to get in good with the insurance scammer (a.k.a. Mr. Sordid Past from the current 24) and his boss/father (Mike Novick from the 24 of yore), and helps them collect money from bikers and even come up with new and creative insurance scams. But when a bug planted by the newly ambulatory Fi reveals that they're gonna run one of Michael's scams themselves, Michael and Sam have to do a little demolition derby to stop some poor sucker from getting nudged in front of a train.
Meanwhile, Sam was unable to charm an old widow at the city records office to get info on a shady doctor who gives a lot of shady diagnoses, so Michael's mom is asked to give it a shot. After all, they have a lot in common: they're the same age, shop at the same stores, smoke the same cigarettes and appeared on the same '80s cop drama. (Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, together again!) Unfortunately, the two become BFFs, so when Michael needs Madeline to blackmail her new friend into turning over the medical records, Madeline gets really pissed off, since it'll end their friendship and get her friend fired. To her credit, she then does her best impersonation of a stone-cold blackmailer and gets the files, but she won’t talk to Michael for a while. By demolition derbying the scammer into a city vehicle and dumping the files in his car, Michael gets the scammer and his dad arrested, thereby ending all of their scams. And to make things up to his mom, Michael breaks into the city records building to cover up her ex-friend's file theft.
Meanwhile, Sam's perused the call log on Stricklen's cell phone to get a lead on the cleaner who killed Michael's CIA contact. But when Michael goes to check out the guy's hotel, the cleaner is not only not there, he was expecting Michael, and he's rigged his hotel room to catch fire when Michael got there. Tracking the assassin's cell phone with Sam, they find it at an abandoned amphitheater, where he calls Michael to be menacingly British before placing a few sniper rounds into the seating. (He hasn't decided whether or not to kill Michael.) But after Sam figures out from various clues that the assassin is a fabled killer named Gilroy -- and that he knows where Michael lives -- Gilroy calls up Michael and tells him he wants to meet.
-- Zach Oat
For this half-season premiere, I thought I'd travel to Florida. Now, I'm not in Miami, but up on the Gulf Coast, where there are a lot more walkers than sports cars and any hot young things in town are only here to visit their grandparents. Kind of a different vibe, but at least it's warm. And hey, remember what happened at the end of last season? If not, this episode has one of its rare sets of previouslies. Which I will not recap, because that's what the previous recaps are for.
The opening sets the mood with some obligatory Miami porn, over-edited as always with salsa music as the backdrop. What puts me in a much better mood is that this segues into Fiona in her bed. In pain. Michael's putting some fresh stitches in the bullet hole in her arm, which you'd think would have healed in the five months since we last saw them. But some expository dialogue lets us know it's only been a couple of weeks for them, even though she's still managed to pop the stitches twice. Michael tells her to hold still lest she do some serious damage, and of course she threatens any damage will be done to him. He finishes up and invites her to go ahead, then easily blocks the punch she throws up at him. She says he's lucky the sedatives are kicking in, and as she starts to drift off, Michael VOs about the advantages of doing your own field medicine: "No conversations with the police, the food's better, and the relationship between patient and caregiver is very close." Then Fi throws another punch, which, since his guard was down this time, connects. "Gotcha," she says smugly. Dude, what is up with her, anyway? Stitch up your own arm, asshole. "That last one can be a disadvantage as well," Michael's VO adds. Yes, especially when it's Fi.
Michael emerges from the sickroom (or sicko-room, as the case may be) to see Sam waiting for him at Fi's kitchen table. Sam admits that he "actually felt a little bad" when he thought she was leaving town. Funny, I feel worse now that I know she can never return to Ireland. Sam's been working on some research while Michael was working on Fi, and has learned that Diego Garza's death is being investigated by various intelligence agencies. The good news, at least, is that there were enough witnesses who saw Michael at the scene to rule him out as a suspect. The bad news? "Operation Unburn Michael Westen is officially off," Sam says. His current project is looking through the phone Michael took from Strickler, hoping to find out who killed Diego. The best lead among all the chaff is a hotel in South Beach. Sam offers to come along as backup, but Michael would rather Sam hang back and take care of Fi. Yeah, so would I. Oh, wait, he doesn't mean "take care of" her in that way. Never mind.
Michael enters the lobby of a swanky hotel in his usual spy-business outfit of a suit and no tie. "Getting information out of hotels," he VOs, "requires a delicate touch. One whiff that you're snooping, and you'll just hear a lot of 'we can't give out that information.' You need to get them on your side. Convince them that you're someone that needs customer service." With that, Michael approaches the desk clerk with a lame story about looking for a friend. "Mr. Westen?" she interrupts. "We've been expecting you." She hands him an envelope with his name on it. Wow, that wasn't nearly as hard as he was making out. "Of course, when the hotel clerk turns out to be expecting you, that makes things a little easier," his VO concedes. She explains to him that he was described as "six-one, exquisitely dressed, with impeccable posture." Michael opens the envelope to find a note with nothing on it but the handwritten words "Room 302." So far we know that the person he's looking for is a diabolical kiss-ass.
As Michael slowly makes his way down the hallway of the third floor (the better to leave enough time for the voice-over), he gives us a little speech we've heard before about making first contact in the intelligence community. "Whatever the method, that first contact tells you a lot about a person." And as he approaches Room 302, whose door is open, the whole room suddenly bursts into flame. Luckily Michael wasn't in it yet. "Especially when someone introduces himself by firebombing a hotel room," his VO concludes. And that tells him what, exactly? That his quarry is The Who?
After the titles and the ads, we're at Michael's loft. Fi's curled up in one of his chairs as Michael says nobody saw the arsonist, but the room was registered under a name that Sam recognizes as belonging to a nuclear scientist who was killed in 1999. In a hotel room fire, coincidentally enough. "I think Mike's new friend is telling us that he was involved," Sam says, his voice not even wavering despite that limb he's out on. Rather than continue discussing these matters of life and death, Fi changes the subject to something more important: a favor she needs from Michael. He wants him to meet a client of hers about an insurance scam. "I would do it myself, but in my current state..." she hints pathetically, cradling her tiny little arm bandage. Michael points out that she was about to leave the country, but apparently this was one last gig she was going to do. "But someone got outed as an American spy and now I can't go home," she reminds him, like it's Michael's fault a violent psychopath went after Fi. Excuse me, another violent psychopath. Sam reminds Fi that they also saved her life in the process, but she doesn't care about that. She just tells Michael to go to the impound lot. Well, that part at least sounds totally above board.
Okay, actually, Fi's client turns out to be one of those innocent doe-eyed female types who wears dresses everywhere, so it'll be fine. She just wanted to show Michael the remains of her husband's car, whose front end is completely squished. Which would explain how her husband got killed in it. Apparently he was taking part in an insurance scam and ended up dying in the pre-planned crash that was supposed to be part of a fraudulent claim. Not pre-planned enough, apparently. Michael makes sympathetic faces as she continues that recently, a guy in a Corvette showed up at her house, wanting her to sue the city for wrongful death and give him the money. Threatened her family and everything. Didn't even say sorry for her loss, presumably. Can Fi help? Michael tries a variation on the usual speech he gives when taking a case: "I'll see what she can do." But the subtitles still take it, saying this is now "Calia -- The Client."
After she leaves, Michael pulls out his cell phone and dispatches Sam to the county records office to score some insurance files. Sam protests, saying those aren't exactly public knowledge. Is he saying that we've finally found the one government institution in South Florida where Sam doesn't have a "buddy"? I guess so, because Michael simply suggests, "Use your Sam magic," and hangs up. "Why didn't I think of that?" Sam asks his dead phone.
Michael's busy at his loft, VOing, "The day that the cell phone call log was invented should be celebrated as a national holiday for spies." Wouldn't that make it an international holiday? "Even a cautious cell phone user who uses dial back systems or switches phones often leaves behind a lot of information you can use." Fi comes downstairs to find Michael doing just that, and suggests Michael hand it off to Homeland Security. Michael says, "For all I know he could be working for Homeland Security." Yes, that's dark and all, but it's just the latest example of Fi trying to talk Michael out of doing something that Michael's not going to get talked out of doing, preferring to explain to Fi (read: us) why he's doing it.
Sam enters the loft in his Chuck Finley suit and hair, reporting that he came up empty at the county records office, describing the woman he tried and failed to shake down: "She's 65, a widow, and completely immune to my charming ways." How can all three of those things be true? Unless Madeline is moonlighting at the records office. Fi gives Sam a hard time about his failure, like he wasn't doing this as a favor for her in the first place, but Sam assures Michael that he's already got a plan B in mind. "But you're not going to like it." Someone else is going to like it even less.
Cut to Michael at his mom's kitchen table, as she turns out to be kind of resistant to this new chance to be part of the team. "You want me to lie to some woman at the county records office?" she protests. "What did she do?" Michael explains that she has access to information they need, and Madeline's in the target demograp