Burn Notice

Episode Report Card
M. Giant: B- | Grade It Now!
Crash into Me
I wouldn't feel too bad when I destroy her life?" Michael points out that he's trying to stop innocent people from being used, which Madeline points out is pretty much what Michael is asking her to do to Tina. She says Tina will lose her job for this. "And if she doesn't, people will lose their lives," Michael insists. "Is this what you do, Michael?" Madeline asks. "You destroy good people?" No, mostly bad people. Michael says he helps people, and sometimes it means he does things he wish he didn't have to, when there's no other way. He reminds her, "You lived in the same house I did. You made hard choices. So you know this as well as I do." Sure, play that card.

Cut to Madeline pacing the lobby at the records office as Michael VOs, "When you're blackmailing someone, you have to be cruel to be kind. Show any sympathy for your target and you only make it worse. You have to be the bad guy. Let them feel they have no choice. It's easier that way. Easier for them, anyway." Tina comes out, showing off her new haircut. It looks a lot like Madeline's, which is certainly an improvement on the Julius Caesar 'do she was rocking before. She invites Madeline on back to her desk.

At her desk, Madeline is dropping to stone-cold shit on Tina. Tina protests that she can't get that many files that quickly without giving herself away. "I don't want to hurt you," Madeline says with a very convincing lack of conviction. Tina realizes she's being blackmailed, and breaks down in tears. There's some of those Judging Amy chops. Mirroring their first encounter, Madeline hands her a tissue, and coldly says Tina can come up with a story about where the documents are. "You know I'm going to lose my job," Tina sobs, "and you don't care." Madeline says Tina can get another job if she behaves. I have to say, I'm seeing a flaw in this blackmail scheme, which basically consists of "If you don't want to get caught for this thing you did, do more of that same thing that will certainly get you caught." I understand leverage, but the fulcrum in this case seems misplaced.

But it seems to work, because outside, Madeline shoves her file-stuffed beach bag into Michael's hands and walks away. When he asks if she wants a ride, she yells back that she'll take the bus. Better hope that bus doesn't get pulled into an insurance scam.

Later, Michael and Sam are in their respective vehicles (Sam in a rusty old sedan outside Ryan and Connor's lunch hangout, with Michael elsewhere in the Charger), discussing the next stage of their plan over the phone. Michael says a city vehicle has been conveniently parked on Halston, and Sam says the goods Madeline got are really good. "Put this thing in the right place at the right time, whole thing comes crumbling down." Then Sam switches to walkie-talkie to report to Fi that Ryan is just leaving the bar. "This should be fun," Fi says. Over his own walkie-talkie Michael reminds them (that is, Fi) to stay focused. "My mother may never speak to me again after this job, so I want to make sure it was worth it." Well, that sounds like its own reward. "And, go," Sam says.

Ryan's Vette hits the road. Before long, he's sandwiched in by Sam on the right and Fi on the left, presumably both in stolen cars. He doesn't seem to notice anything amiss, even when Michael's Charger rolls into his rearview with a clunky new accessory bolted to the front end. Michael's VO tells us what that is: "A push bar is a hardened steel frame attached to the front of a car. It's usually used by cops. But it's useful for anyone who's planning on being in a high-speed collision." Ryan finally seems to realize that Michael's behind him, just before Sam and then Fi fender-check him. "Oops!" Sam calls out. They bounce him back and forth a few times before forcing him into a turn down a street with that city vehicle waiting at the end of it. A hard bounce to the back bumper from Michael's push bar, and Ryan crashes into it, hard. The front of that Vette is fucked. "Yeah, baby!" Sam cheers. While Michael and Ryan get out of their cars, Fi is already on the phone to the cops, telling them a story about how Ryan crashed on purpose after waving a gun around. "Anyone ever teach you how to park?" Michael says in his redneck voice, complete with the plug in his mouth. Even after his cover was blown. I hope he's not starting to like chew. Michael taunts Ryan over his daddy issues, goading him into taking a wild swing at him. While Michael pops him a few in return, he VOs, "There's a tunnel vision that people develop in a fight. They focus on their enemy, oblivious to everything else. The angrier they get, the more intense their focus. There comes a point where the adrenalin is so intense, you could land a jet behind them and they wouldn't notice." Good thing all Sam wants to do is stash that big stack of files in Ryan's wrecked car, and not land a jet in it. With Sam's job done, Michael decides his is too. He drops Ryan on the street and then throws down his plug, saying, "You know what? I'm gonna go somewhere where I'm appreciated." The whole team lays rubber out of there, just in time for Ryan to be surrounded by gun-toting cops forcing him to his knees. Bad day for Ryan.

Back at Carlito's, Calia thanks Michael and Fi for their help. "That's the reason people call me," Fi says. "And him," she adds, indicating Michael. Well, look who's giving credit where it's due. They denouement that Ryan and Connor turned on each other and made it an easy case for the city, like it's been weeks and they're just now doing the debrief. Calia thanks them again and leaves. Please note that no money is seen changing hands. So with another "job" complete, Fi tells Michael that she talked to Madeline, by way of guilt-tripping Michael about Tina. "I'll see what I can do," Michael says. You think Fi might be able to help out? Since this was her gig in the first place? I don't like her anyway, but I'm hoping that when her arm heals, the hateable tendencies she's displaying this week will abate so I can get back to my more comfortable noise level of disdain for her.

It's dark outside when Michael lets himself in through Madeline's front door. She's sitting at her dining room table in her bathrobe smoking, with her makeup and hair undone. It actually makes her look ten years younger, but like a ten-years-younger dude. "Look who's here," she grumps as he sits down. She says she couldn't sleep at all because of all the Tina flashbacks she'd been having. "Made me wonder how you've even been able to sleep at all the past two decades." He admits it's hard sometimes, which doesn't impress her at all. She yells at him for playing God. Michael begins, "What can I do? People come to me --" She cuts him off, saying, "You don't have to go running around blowing things up. Every time a problem comes your way you are on the job and you dragged me into it." Michael slams the table and yells, "You think I do this for the money?" "Yes!" She spits at him. Well, then she's an idiot, because nobody ever pays him. "I don't know. Why do you do it?" she sobs. Michael fully airs his messiah complex: "People need me. So I have to." Simple enough. Madeline seems to kind of accept that and sits back down, and finally asks what he's doing there at six in the morning. He explains that there was a break-in at the county records office. And amid the mess that was left behind, nobody will ever be able to tell that Tina took anything. Well, maybe he should have led with that. Madeline notices that the sun has come up, and offers him a cup of coffee. She seems to feel a lot better now that Tina isn't in any danger of losing her job. Although I still don't see any more beach trips in their future.

Michael comes home to find Sam sitting on the steps to his loft, holding a manila folder and looking grim. Seeing this and hearing the sad cello music on the soundtrack, Michael asks him what's wrong. Sam says his research has proved fruitful. The original stadium shooting in 1998 in South America -- six victims, to match the six shots earlier in the episode -- was reputedly the work of someone named M

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Burn Notice




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