Burn Notice

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Occupational Hazard
l him he's been released.

A moment later, he's out in the street in his suit pants, stolen pink t-shirt, and bare feet. From behind him, a blond meathead in sunglasses calls, "Now where can I get myself a pretty shirt like that?" "Harlan," Michael says before turning around. Yes, I'm good at recognizing voices, too. Can I be a spy? He turns and greets Harlan uncertainly, and Harlan protests that he should at least get a "Hey, old buddy." "Hey, old buddy," Michael dutifully says. The subtitles swoop in to inform us that this is "Harlan -- 'Old Buddy.'" Thanks, subtitles, we got that much. Harlan says he heard about Michael's situation, and had one of his security clients -- a high-powered lawyer -- do his stuff. Michael extends a hand in gratitude, but Harlan holds out for a hug. After getting one, he says he's been trying to find Michael, who suddenly turned up on some databases, along with the claims that he sold secrets abroad. Michael gives his old story about being burned, which is turning into his elevator speech. Harlan already heard it from Sam, but he's happy to give Michael a ride. A ride in his car, presumably.

Because soon we're back at Madeline's house, with the front door and windows still blown out and replaced by plastic sheeting. At least the place seems structurally sound enough. Madeline gives up on sweeping the blasted-out sun room just as Michael pushes aside the plastic curtain over the door and steps inside, followed by Harlan. They've stopped at the loft, because Michael's changed into one of his own polo shirts (pink, oddly enough) and his familiar Algerian sunglasses. Awfully nice of Management to send them back to him. Madeline greets him sarcastically. "I did a little remodeling with Sam. You like it?" she asks, remembering to add that she's glad he's not dead. Although she says it in a tone that implies that's a temporary situation. Michael apologizes, like it's his fault Madeline planted her feet when bad guys were on the way and thus got herself and Sam stuck in a situation they had to blow their way out of. Michael introduces Harlan. "We did some work together, in some other countries, a while back," he non-explains. Harlan gets his Eddie Haskell on and wins Madeline over quickly, so she leads him off to the kitchen for a beer after sending Michael to the back to help Sam and Fi with the repair plans. I'm sure they'll get the place all fixed up good as new, hours before Madeline burns it to the ground with one of her cigarettes.

In Madeline's tiny back courtyard, Sam's complaining about how much harder rebuilding is than blowing up. "You have no one to blame but yourself," Fi points out. "If you blow something up correctly you have nothing left to fix." Because she would have done sooo much better with Christmas lights and Coffee Mate. This is how Michael finds them. He and Fi are about to have a mushy reunion, but Sam, like me, would rather keep things moving. He says that Carla's people were the only thing keeping the police and the intelligence agencies of twelve countries out of Michael's grill. Fi makes a stupid analogy about third-degree burns and acne, and while Sam tries vainly to keep this on track, suddenly Harlan comes out asking if they're talking about "the gig." "The gig?" Michael repeats, as though there isn't always a gig, and in fact this one isn't suspiciously late in showing up. Seems Harlan met a girl "down south" and she needs their help. "No worries," Sam assures Harlan. "He does this for fun." I'm not entirely clear what exactly "down south" means in Miami. Key West? South America? Antarctica? Of course, I'm writing this from Minneapolis, where our definition of "down south" includes, among other localities, the entire state of Iowa. Slightly different frame of reference.

And suddenly we're at Carlito's, where the soon-to-be-client, a pretty (of course) Latina woman named Marta, is telling Michael her sob story, while Sam and Harlan provide moral support. Apparently she and her family were evicted from their farm, at the behest of some American corporations who are bribing officials to steal land "down south." Marta adds that her father's in prison thanks to some judicial briery, and is likely to die there. Apparently her father is Maurice from Beauty and the Beast. Sam whips out a State Department dossier on the Miami boss behind the whole operation: one Rufino Cortez, who just happens to be wanted in Venezuela. All they need to do is nab him, and everyone gets their land back. If only all geopolitical problems in South America were so easily solved. Michael gives Sam a look, and he invites Marta up to the bar to get a drink with him, leaving Michael to chew out Harlan alone. "Don't tell me it was coincidence that you bailed me out of jail and then you just happened to have a job for me," Michael accuses. After some stammering, Harlan succumbs to Michael's Blue Steel and comes clean. He says Rufino is pretty paranoid after a few past attempts at getting to him, but Harlan's already got a plan; he just needs Michael's help to pull it off. "You always were the smart one and I was the pretty one, right?" he chuckles, and begs Michael for his help. Michael gives in, and utters the words that are his contract: "I'll see what I can do." "Marta -- The Client," the subtitles confirm from where she's standing with Sam. They certainly know their cue.

And then night falls, and we're at one of those Miami clubs they keep going to, with the red ambient lighting and the curtained off entrances and the dancing babes. Harlan and Michael step into the lounge. Both are wearing suits, but Michael has for some reason topped his off with a straw panama hat at a rakish angle. I'm not at all sure why he's decided to go undercover as Duran Duran's "Rio" video. Harlan explains that Rufino comes here every night (because security-paranoid people love nothing more than a daily routine), and he thought they could get to him in there, since he owns the place. "He's the boss. I forget how you say that in Spanish," Harlan says. Fortunately, over a shot of Rufino in a booth in the back, chatting up an extremely reluctant bimbo, the subtitles clear that up by telling us it's "Rufino Cortez -- El Jefe." The girl he's been talking to tries to get up, but he grabs her arm to stop her. While Michael comments on what a smooth operator Rufino seems to be, Harlan moves on to the guy on the other side of Rufino in the booth, a white-suited guy played by the notoriously rough-looking H!ITG Jeff Kober. Harlan says that's Falcone, Rufino's right hand man. Harlan goes on to tell Michael about Rufino's security detail, but Michael can see for himself all the large men in suits standing around looking serious. Harlan says the only time they're not around is when Rufino "takes his nightly skirt to the back. Private room." Michael VOs about high security. "The real security doesn't announce himself with anything but where he looks, and shirts loose enough to hide a gun." By those standards, there doesn't seem to be anyone but security and a couple of go-go dancers in this place. And Rufino, and Falcone, and Harlan, and some dork in a hat.

Harlan leads Michael into a back hallway, which has a door to Rufino's private room right before it opens out to the alley. Harlan plans to grab him and take him out that way, and produces a key he got a hold of. "Classic Mike Westen," he boasts, using the key and getting them into the room despite Michael's protests that they need to wait. Once they're inside the boudoir, Michael angrily asks, "Do you really think a guy like Rufino would allow the most sensitive part of his club to be beaten with a storage key?" Harlan asks what else they need, unintimidated by Michael's attitude. Of course, with that hat on, Michael would have trouble intimidating his fellow contestants on Dancing with the Stars.. Just then, a key pad lights up and sirens go off. "How about the code for the alarm?" Michael bitches, looking like the angriest gossip columnist ever. Out i

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Burn Notice

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