Michael meets his alleged "worst nightmare," a Detective Paxson, who has apparently decided to make Michael her new project. After spending another night in jail, he gets drafted by Fi to help lean on a client's ex-husband to let her see her son, only to learn that the kid's been kidnapped. Michael and Fi take on the job of getting him back, which they go about by attempting "reverse interrogation." In other words, Michael poses as a junkie snitch who's heard about the kidnapping, hoping to learn more about the job by what questions the kidnapper asks him. Yes, it's as painful and risky as it sounds, but it works for getting information. Except now they have to get both Michael and the kid away from the kidnapper. Once that's done, Sam turns the kidnappers on each other, and the kid's parents get back together. So now Michael's free to extract his stash of explosives from a storage facility without Detective Paxson being any the wiser, and then attend his own belated birthday party at his mom's house. Where his gifts are Madeline's cooking, four beers from Sam, and a bayonet from Fi. No wonder he didn't seem excited.
The episode opens with Michael traveling along the shoreline at a dead run, which raises the question: who is he chasing/fleeing? Nobody, actually; he's wearing shorts and a t-shirt instead of his regular clothes, which indicates he's just taking some exercise. His voice-over doesn't even seem out of breath as it explains, "Whether you're hunting down extremists in the mountains of Kashmir or tracking arms dealers through the streets of Moscow, the life of a spy takes a toll." Good thing he isn't one of those any more, then, right? As he returns to his loft, he continues, "So during down times you work out, eat right, and try to recharge your batteries. Because you never know what's waiting for you around the next corner." Makes sense, except that if he's going to practice his running, he should probably do it in his suit and dress shoes, like he's used to doing anyway. He lets himself in the front door just as a knife thwacks into a wall a couple of feet from his head and vibrates there. Michael looks surprised at this, like he just recently met Fi or something. Fi -- for naturally it is she who's been flinging deadly blades around his home -- introduces Michael to "Bud," a bald, tattooed, leather-vested character who is Fi's latest bail jumper. "You got a real chair in this dump?" Bud grumps at Michael from where he's handcuffed to a support pillar. Sore spot. Fi breezes that Bud's in a bad mood. "He didn't like the music in my trunk." And the reason he's there is so that Fi can try to convince Michael to help her out with some of the extra bounty-hunting work her bail bondsman has been sending her lately. Fi tries to make a flirty case for partnering up, but all Michael wants is for Bud to leave. And also Fi, of course, but I think that's just a bonus.
But as the three of them start down the steps from the loft entrance, they hit a hitch already. Down in the courtyard is a woman in a pants suit who introduces herself as Detective Paxson, and her nondescript male partner in the open gate as Detective Lopez. Paxson is played by Moon Bloodgood, whom you may know from Journeyman and Terminator: Salvation but whom I know primarily as a person whose name is a highly efficient demonstration of all the different vowel sounds a double-O can make. She says wants to ask Michael some questions, and when he says he's "in the middle of something," she turns her attention to Fi and busts her for not having a bail enforcer's license, taking Bud into custody. Bye, Fi's bounty. Michael says he's already been to the station, just in the last episode, but she's looking into a specific "traffic incident." You know the one. She says someone matching Michael's description was seen driving away, and although Michael points out that he's pretty generic-looking Paxson won't be put off. "Are you going to answer my questions, or am I going to pick my way through everything you own?" Are those the only two options? Michael rattles off a list of his possessions: "That would be a workbench, six power tools, four yogurts -- three yogurts, I actually had one." She says he can tell her about it at the station, and tells him to get in the car. "I'm going to enjoy this," she says. Which I'm not really buying, because so far she just looks bored rather than even remotely into it. I assume that's a by-product of having had to step in for Jennifer Esposito at the last minute. Michael gets in the back of the detectives' car, right next to Bud. "Welcome to your worst nightmare, Mr. Westen," Paxson says. "Detective Paxson -- Michael's Worst Nightmare," say the subtitles. Those subtitles are pretty gullible, if you ask me.
Next day, Michael's walking out of the Miami Metro Police department for the second episode in a row. Fi tells him he looks "wretched," which, he was brought in right after a run, and it doesn't look like they gave him his shoelaces back, so the tongues of his high-tops are flapping around like clown shoes. Michael says Paxson is going to be trouble, and Fi says she's already cost her a bounty. Like it's anyone's fault but Fi's she was loitering at Michael's place with an illegally obtained bail jumper. Or that she extorted a key to the loft from him back in the first season. But fortunately for both of them, Michael has a chance to make it up to Fi right now by helping her out with a new gig. Michael is the luckiest boy in the world.
Michael has changed into a suit by the time he and Fi get to a restaurant to meet this potential new client, who happens to be the sister of one of Fi's past bail jumpers. "Had to hit him with a brick to get him in the car," Fi reminisces. "Sweet guy." Michael gives one of those pained smiles that never reaches his eyes as he asks the woman, Patricia, how they can help. She shows them a photo of her son Brandon, a blond, preteen kid and explains that he's been staying with his dad (from whom Patricia is separated, apparently). She says Howard hasn't let her have any contact with the kid for three days. Michael suggests a lawyer, because the first to-do item on all of Michael's jobs is to try to get out of it, but she wants something quicker and simpler: "Howard just needs someone to knock some sense into him," she says. Which is like catnip to Fi, so she takes the job on behalf of her and Michael both before Michael can finish protesting. Nodding and smiling, Michael sees Sam's giant red Buick pull up outside and excuses himself to go talk to him. Which is not particularly wise, because who knows what else Fi will agree to while he's gone?
Outside, Sam gives Michael some new info about his "new girl," namely that she rebuilt the Buick's engine by herself. "I'm telling you, just put a nice, sturdy tool in that woman's hand, and--" Ew. Fortunately, Michael cuts him off and asks what he found out about Detective Paxson. "Turns out you've got a stalker with a badge," Sam says. Apparently she's been combing self-storage places all over south Florida, and came up with some surveillance footage of Michael visiting one. Which would be the one where Michael has some, ah, demolition equipment. Sam advises Michael to clean it out before Paxson gets to it. Fi calls out to Michael to ask if he's coming, so it looks like dealing with his incriminating evidence will have to wait. So will Sam, who's trying to wheedle lunch out of the deal. "Next time," Michael sighs, going back to Fi so quickly you can practically hear the reel on his retractable leash ratcheting as it takes up the slack. Sam consoles himself by polishing his Buick. "I got you, baby," he says. Neither of those last two sentences was a euphemism.
Later, the Charger pulls up outside a shabby little house, with Michael and Fi in the front and Patricia in the back. She bitches about the condition of her ex-husband's yard. Hard to believe they couldn't make it work. Just then Michael's phone rings with a call from his Mom, because he doesn't have enough to deal with right now. Fi tells him to go ahead and take it while she and Pamela head up to the house. "Just keep your eyes on the street. Should be pretty straightforward," Fi tells him. Honestly, are her only two modes of speech really "obnoxious" and "jinx"?
From deep within her usual cloud of cigarette smoke, inside her completely repaired and redecorated house, Madeline sings, "It's somebody's birthday today!" She's inviting Michael over to dinner with Sam and Fiona to celebrate. What, no Nate? That doesn't sound like Madeline. Michael's surprised they're celebrating birthdays at all now, and asks resignedly, "Where are we getting takeout from?" "Who said anything about takeout?" Madeline chuckles guiltily, tucking away the stack of menus she was holding until now. Watching Fi yelling at Howard through his front door, Michael says he'll try. Not good enough for Madeline, who wants