Burn Notice

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M. Giant: A- | Grade It Now!
Up Michael's Alley

It's a busy night at the club below Michael's loft, but as he and Fi come home for the evening, he VOs about why he and other spies aren't really into that scene: "In a career where hearing loss is a serious operational concern and crowds of strangers have to be constantly monitored, they just don't seem like much fun." That doesn't seem to keep Fi complaining about not getting to go in and shake her narrow ass for the masses. When they enter the gate to Michael's courtyard, there's a blonde at the bottom of the stairs to the loft, and she looks pretty friendly. Michael thinks she's a lost clubgoer, but she assures him she's there for him. She presents Michael with a fancy gift bag, which she says contains "rejuvenating body lotion. A gift from a friend. I can apply it if you'd like." Michael politely declines the service, and hands the bag off to Fi as the woman leaves. Fi wonders who Michael's friend is. "He's not a friend. He's a recruiter," Michael reminds her. "Oh, Strickler," Fi remembers, and offers to apply it herself. Okay, a straight dude sending another straight dude a bottle of body lotion is a little creepy, no? Is that just me? Fi seems pretty impressed with the way Michael shot that bimbo down. As though we didn't already know he has the sex drive of a captive giant panda THERE I SAID IT.

Next day, a lot of helicopter shots of Miami accompany Michael's morning VO: "Training a covert operative takes years and costs a lot of money. In theory, it's all for the taxpayers who paid the bills. In practice, it's worth a lot on the open market. And when something's that valuable, there's always someone trying to sell it." That someone, of course, is Strickler, lounging on the sun deck of his yacht with that same blonde from last night, until Michael appears and tosses the unopened lotion bottle into his lap. "Strickler -- Agent To The Spies," the subtitles remind us, in case we don't remember last week. Shading his eyes, Strickler talks up the lotion, which he says is 40 percent aloe vera. "They say it's great for burns." Yeah, still creepy. Michael's not amused, so Strickler offers him a mimosa, and a story that might interest Michael. It's about an NSA logistics guy who was involved in a career-ending scandal, but got a second chance thanks to a fortuitous conversation on a ski lift in Aspen. "I know, because I was there," Strickler boasts. He used to be a ski lift? Strickler's point is this: "If we were working together, I'd be there for you, too." In other words, he might be able to help Michael get what he really wants, and let's say it all together now: Back In.

Then we're back at the airport, which is, you'll recall, the home base of Miami-based spy Diego Garza, the poor bastard Michael glommed onto a couple of weeks ago and got drafted into becoming his contact point. As Michael sneaks in the back entrance of Diego's hangar, he VOs, "Spies hate drop-in visits. Any questionable contact has to be reported to superiors, a process that involves hours of paperwork and uncomfortable questions. If you're a questionable contact, that gives you some leverage. If you know where a spy operates, even a guy running a lowly import-export cover business [Michael sneaks up behind Diego and hisses his name, I guess because he figures that if this doesn't work out he might as well commit suicide by spy], you can make someone's life miserable." When Diego isn't happy to see him, Michael asks, "What, I can't just drop by and say hi to my favorite 'point of contact?'" Michael's air quotes have the power to call down subtitles, which currently read "Diego Garza -- Michael's Point Of Contact." Michael asks Diego a favor: check out the name Tom Strickler. He even writes it down on Diego's desk notepad and tears the sheet off for him. "Maybe you should Google him," Garza suggests. "Or find someone who cares." Michael's way ahead of him on that, because he's just turned Garza into that very person. As he leaves the sheet on Garza's desk, he informs him, "I let the local Homeland Security office know that I was dropping by and leaving that document there." Heh. Poor Garza.

Michael and Fi are walking across the grounds of a schmancy condo complex, Fi doing her contractually-obligated Complaining About What Michael's Up To This Week. "In my experience, if something's too good to be true, it's best to shoot it, just in case," she says, which is a good line if not really in context. Did Christopher McQuarrie write this episode? She's still arguing when they approach the entrance, which is showing clear signs of a break-in. They ditch the groceries and go quiet, briefly making me wonder if Michael left those clues himself just to shut her up for thirty seconds. She draws her gun and they go in carefully, Michael looking naked without a weapon. He VOs, "If you want to stay alive, you have to recognize the signs of a break-in. The most skilled operative in the world won't last long if he walks into an ambush carrying a box of cereal." I think that depends on what the prize in the box is. If it's a loaded Uzi, you're probably good. Michael isn't carrying anything at all, at least not until they get inside the front door. Fi nods at the umbrella stand, and he pulls an automatic out of it and racks the slide. He should have known that was in there; why the fuck else would Fi own an umbrella stand? They split up, and Fi rattles the French doors into her bedroom while Michael covers the other exit from the room, VOing, "When a target is cornered, the best strategy is to flush them into a chokepoint where they have two options: surrender or be shot." When a figure bursts into the hallway, Michael snaps, "Drop it!" Down goes another gun, in pieces on the tile floor. Oh, and about the person who was holding it... "Of course, if your target turns out to be thirteen years old, carrying a dismantled pistol, it changes the tactical response somewhat." That must be why the kid has time to duck into the bathroom and lock the door. Michael hands his gun back to Fi and busts in, only to see the boy dropping out through a window that's too small for Michael to follow. Michael darts out the back door, not letting a conveniently-timed pickup truck backing out of a garage stop him from cornering the kid against a high fence. The kid apologizes and says he was just going to "borrow" the gun, which Michael doesn't believe. What I don't believe is that the only weapon the kid could find inside Fi's apartment was disassembled. Someone like Fi would have dozens of weapons mounted on spring clips to every available surface in her home. She probably stirs her soup with a .357 Magnum. Anyway, Michael says he'll have to call the kid's parents. But the kid protests, until Michael gets him to tell him what's happening: "I have to kill my stepdad." Michael's eyes narrow like somebody just blew a dog whistle that only he can hear. Which, in a sense, is pretty much what just happened.

After the titles and the ads, Michael and Fi are sweating the kid in Fi's living room, while Michael enjoys a cup of yogurt. He's going to spoil the dinner that Fi was going to make for him. Eventually they get him to start talking: the kid is trying to prevent his stepdad from winning custody of him and his brother from their mom. Fi points out some of the impracticalities of his plan: "Even if you could reassemble a Colt M1911 and fire it, what happens after you shot him? Did you have a plan to dispose of the body?" Michael offers a deal: tell them who his mom is, and they'll try to help. "Joey -- The Client," the subtitles say. They can do that one in their sleep.

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Burn Notice




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