Burn Notice

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Method to the Madness

Michael follows his latest crossword puzzle to his latest rendezvous, voice-overing about how the arrangements a covert operative makes for a meeting can tell you a lot about them. For instance, Michael's current decoded message is "Tiny Pelican, Lumnus Park ten a.m.," which according to his VO means "They've just got an irritating sense of humor." And an eye for detail, as Michael notices the public trash bins around the park that feature pelican mascots in janitor uniforms. Too bad -- I was hoping for a dirty anagram, or at least a clever one, as Michael vainly searched the crowd for a woman wearing antic lip dye or perhaps a pin-clad yeti, only to wind up feeling acidly inept.

.

Instead, he's in a chess park, which is the kind of place I primarily know about from Searching for Bobby Fischer and so looks a little odd to me in sunny Miami. Wandering among the hustlers and patzers taking turns slapping their clocks, Michael is finally called to by a guy sitting alone at a table: "You look like you could use a partner," he says as Michael sits down across from him. He's a nondescript guy with brown hair, sunglasses, and a flowered guayabera. I should clarify that he looks nondescript to me, but apparently the actor, Michael Shanks, is kind of a big deal to Stargate SG-1 fans. Just so we know Carla sent him -- and won't be showing up herself, drat the luck -- he says that she wanted to leave Michael a harder clue, but he didn't want it to go over Michael's head. Plus, do you know how hard it is to find a plaid yen tic in this town on short notice? "Love the shirt," Michael deadpans. The guy threatens Michael, then laughs that he's kidding and invites him to sit, introducing himself as Victor. "You could think of me as a wrangler," Victor says. "I make sure the broncos don't buck too much, wander from the pen, that kind of thing." "Like a rodeo clown," Michael quips, setting up his side of the chessboard. Victor informs Michael that he's going to be helping with a little project (what, They weren't happy with the little keycard Michael got for Them four episodes ago?) and hands him a bedazzled red cell phone. Victor explains how it works: "I call, you answer. No, you do not get a return number." "You know, I already have plenty of these things," Michael states, sliding the phone back and adding he's not taking a job before knowing what it is. Victor slides it back to him as Michael VOs that when you're meeting a new operative, it's sometimes useful to open with an aggressive move. "You learn about people when you make them play defense. Their reflexes, weaknesses, how they handle themselves under pressure." This is exactly what happens as Michael grabs Victor's hand, turns it to expose his wrist, and presses the cross of his king against the skin. "You tell me about your bosses, or I open your radial artery," Michael threatens. And they say the king is a weak piece. As the camera cuts away furiously to the other players in the park slapping down their pawns, bishops, knights, and anvils, Michael guesses that Victor will bleed out in a minute or two. Victor sets Michael straight: "The people I work for, they're into the whole carrot-and-stick thing, and...I'm the stick." With that, Michael hears the cocking of a gun beneath the table, and Victor informs him that a .22 can do some damage up close, describing how it'll rattle around in Michaels femoral artery -- or worse, his naughty bits -- causing Michael to likely bleed out before Victor does. These two are going to get along great: like Michael, it seems that Victor also likes to act like an icy pedant, even if this meeting threatens to end up with them both iced. Despite having brought a chess piece to a gunfight, Michael's VO refuses to admit checkmate: "Even if they're able to counter, it never hurts to know how far they're willing to go." In other words, he meant to do that. Cue the subtitles: "Victor -- The Wrangler." Way to roll over like a little girl, subtitles. And now it's time for an epic linty ad. Don't worry, I'm done with the anagrams now.

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Burn Notice

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