Burn Notice

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hic. Michael assures her that it's for a good cause. Madeline's only answer, for now, is to take a drag on her cigarette.

"Ironic" cut to the no-smoking sign at the county records office as Madeline enters the next day. Michael VOs, "Human intelligence can often be collected with a cover identity. There are times, though, when a cover ID has more to do with who you are than how you act." And then we see Madeline in the office, sitting on the other side of a desk from none other than Tyne Daly. Yes, it's that much-ballyhooed Cagney and Lacey reunion! Which, I confess, I'm not all that excited about, having never watched that show. I can never even remember which of them was which. In fact, having just seen a twentyish Sam Axe in Evil Dead a couple of weeks ago, I'd almost rather see a reunion of Bruce Campbell and several hundred gallons of fake blood. The ladies seem to be getting along fine, laughing and everything, but when Madeline asks for some records, she hits a brick wall. Tyne Daly isn't about to share, even though she seems to buy Madeline's cover story about records lost in a hurricane and her dead husband. Although you'd think that if an older lady came in to ask for the same records that a smooth-talking dude asked for the day before, maybe a red flag would go up. Madeline gets up to leave, but slows down a few steps away. With her back to Tyne Daly, she struggles to work up some tears as Michael VOs, "Working an intelligence asset is part acting, part strategy. Some people don't have the talent and some people do." He doesn't say whether it's genetic, but judging by Madeline's timing and tears as she pathetically turns to thank Tyne Daly for her time, it just might be. She comes back and sits down again as Tyne Daly hands her a tissue sympathetically. And Tyne Daly offers to do even better than that. "Let me see what I can dig up...don't get me fired." Madeline puts on a big show of acting grateful, completely missing the foreshadowing that just clocked the rest of us upside the head.

At a sidewalk café, Michael meets Sam, who's thrilled about all the goodies Madeline got him, and gives her props for knowing how to work an asset. "She's done her fair share of manipulating people over the years," Michael snots. He sits down, joining Sam in his stakeout of the county clinic that the records led them to. "There's a few too many shady characters walking out of there with neck braces," Sam says by way of updating Michael on his stakeout. There's also a Corvette parked out front, like the one Calia said the bad guy was driving. Sam had the plates checked, and the car belongs to one Ryan Johnson, on parole for fraud and assault. He just happens to be exiting the clinic right now, shaking hands with a doctor. You may recognize him as the guy who's been tormenting Katee Sackhoff (and let's face it, me) during this season of 24. Sam briefs Michael about this week's cover ID: Michael will be posing as a guy from North Carolina who is a friend of Eric Lee -- also a friend of Ryan, who happened to have died in the same crash as Calia's husband. Small world, no? "Well, looks like I'm goin' for a drive," Michael says, dropping into an exaggerated Southern drawl and stripping down to his wifebeater. Instant redneck!

As Michael's Charger screeches through traffic up behind Ryan's Corvette, Michael VOs, "Precision driving is part of the standard training for an operative." How modest. "It's mainly used when pursuing or being pursued. But on occasion, it's a great way to make an impression." Michael pulls up next to Ryan's car in the oncoming traffic lane, and through their open windows, whoops that they need to talk. He drops back just in time to avoid a collision, but Ryan doesn't seem interested in talking. He tries to lose Michael, but Michael won't get lost. Instead, he pulls up next to Ryan again and whips his wheel around, causing the Charger to skid in a 180 in front of Ryan's 'Vette so the two cars end up stopped nose-to-nose. Ryan gets out of his car, all upset and wondering what's going on. "Hell, what's it look like, boy?" Michael drawls around what sounds like a big nasty plug of chaw in his mouth. "It's a job application." Don't most people wear ties to those? Or at least shirts with sleeves?

After the ads, they appear to have driven their cars to more civilized parking spots by the curb while Michael makes a show of wiping down the Charger with a rag. He VOs, "Criminals deal with a shortage of skilled labor just like all businesses do. They can't give too much information to new hires, of course, but they also can't pass up real talent." That talent being Michael, of course. Michael explains about how he was a friend of Eric Lee, part of his "insurance crew," and now that Eric's been killed working for Ryan, Michael wants Eric's job. Well, who wouldn't? The subtitles suddenly pick this moment to let us know that Michael is talking to "Ryan -- Insurance Scammer." Have a nice nap there, subtitles? Ryan admits that Michael can drive, and Michael is aggressively boastful about agreeing. Ryan is so impressed with Michael's bravado that he tells Michael to come to a meeting at a bar by the river tomorrow at noon.

But first, Michael and the team meet with Calia at the Carlito. They tell her to keep playing along like she's going to do what the bad guys want, because the team's plan is to take out the whole gang. Sam says it's a network: "Doctors, lawyers, auto repair places, enforcers." Specifically, Michael plans to initiate a scam of his own and get the bad guys caught participating in it, while Fi protects Calia and her son. Rather than objecting to being used as bait in a freelance sting operation, Calia is super impressed with Fi, "and the people you have working for you." "It's so important to have good help," Fi agrees, and sucks her straw at Michael. Isn't anyone going to tell her to shut up? Ever?

Leaving the restaurant, Sam updates Michael on the b-plot. In the face of a lack of clues, Diego's death was officially ruled a suicide, but Sam's a couple of days from triangulating a cell phone Strickler was calling. A couple of days? Sam needs to get a buddy at CTU. They can pull that off in a matter of seconds. More to Sam's point, he warns Michael, "No matter who this guy is, we know two things: he's a killer, and he saw you coming before." Michael says they're out of options, since he apparently feels responsible for the death of his CIA contact. "I don't get to walk away or pretend it didn't happen." So that's Michael's new overarching goal now, and the titular burn notice is permanently back-burnered? Maybe the show's title should be changed to Poorly Motivated DIY Investigation into the Murder of a Guy Michael Didn't Even Like That Much.

It's not as catchy as White Collar, but it's close. On another subject, Sam informs Michael, "I think your mom is a little unclear on the proper handling of intelligence assets. You might want to talk to her."

So Michael heads over to Madeline's house, where he finds his mom enjoying herself with cards, cigarettes, gin and tonic, and Tyne Daly. Madeline introduces Michael, who acts polite. "Your handsome son!" Tyne Daly gushes. Yeah, Nate's the ugly one. Through the doubly-thick smoke in the room, Michael chokes out a request to talk to his mom. He takes her out to the backyard and asks what she's doing. Madeline thinks she's just playing canasta with a friend. "That's not how it works," Michael tries to explain. "You don't socialize with an asset." Madeline objects to that characterization of her friend Tina, and she's really not getting it, even when Michael reminds Madeline that Tina broke the law. Well, yeah, because Madeline got her to. "You said that job was over," Madeline protests. "Just don't get too close," Michael says, finally giving up. Yes, and make sure Tina and Sam are never over at the house at the same time.

The next day, Michael is changing Fi's bandage at her house while she tells him to quite being such a worrywart about this. She remind

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Burn Notice

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