Burn Notice

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

With Michael in the shotgun seat, Sam pulls his Buick up to the curb across from Carlito's and complains about the gig. "So, Mikey, we're doing domestic disputes now? Is that a good idea?" Before Sam can even remind Michael that the last time he got involved in a case like this the helpless mom turned out to be freaking Xena, Michael gets a little owly, saying he said he'd help and offering to let Sam sit this one out. Sam backs down. "A little kid, abusive dad, kind of hits home, so I'll give you that one. But when the time comes to rescue a bunch of rich women trapped in a brewery, you better step up." I can't wait for that episode. For now, the mom's inside with Fi. "The idea was that she'd feel more comfortable talking to a woman," Michael explains. "I'm not sure Fi counts, Mike," Sam quips, already getting out of the car to join them. Even Michael has to admit that Sam's point is drenched in validity.

When we catch up to them inside, all three of them are talking to Joey's mom, April, who's explaining that the custody hearing is in a week, and her ex is "connected." She gives his job as "businessman," plus he's apparently on a lot of boards and commissions. "That all there is to it?" Sam asks cannily. She admits that his brother Quinn is a gangster, and Erik only married her to give the family a respectable face. Too bad he got violent. They listen to her rather upsetting story about how she went to the police and left him when he turned on the boys, all to no avail. She's about to get up and leave when Fi asks, "Where can we find him?" "What can you do that the police can't?" she wonders. With a very determined set to his jaw, Michael understates, "You'd be surprised." Yeah, no shit. I'll see if I can keep a list going.

Next thing we know, Sam and Michael are at a poolside table at a country club. From where they're sitting, they have a view of a little golfing party on the course, one of whom is apparently Erik Luna, a smug, golf-shirted douche. Sam informs us, "He's on every local political board with an extra chair. He's a big deal down at the docks. I guess he even owns part of this golf club. He's a sorry excuse for a man, but he's got a lot of friends." "Erik Luna -- Sorry Excuse For A Man," the subtitles confirm as Erik celebrates the drive he just made. But Sam is more worried about the guy at the bar in the gray suit. That would be Erik's brother Quinn, a shady character who's built a small criminal empire. "But none of it means anything without Erik's pretty face and clean record, so he's a little protective." "The guy behind the guy," Michael sums up, and the subtitles swoop in below the face of Nicholas Lea, a.k.a. Alex Krycek, to let us know that this is indeed "Quinn Luna -- The Guy Behind The Guy." Seems a shame not to publicize a moniker like "Quinn Luna," though. "Between Erik's connections and Quinn's muscle, these guys are damn near untouchable," Sam warns, in a sad attempt to make us think Michael might find this difficult. Michael says they'll just need to divide and conquer, and any doubts Sam might have harbored are now a thing of the past. "He's smacking his wife and kids around. I'll plant a five-iron in his freakin' skull if it'll help." Now, see, that's something the police couldn't do.

Over at the clients' house, Fi and Madeline are bundling April, Joey, and a little toddler (aww!) into Madeline's old dark-blue box-mobile so they can stay with her, presumably in the "Michael's Current Clients" suite. April's still got her doubts, but Madeleine assures her, "For two little boys who are being knocked around by their father, Michael would take on the Chinese army, honey." She omits the fact that he would probably lose. Fi pulls April aside to ask if there have been any issues between the two Luna brothers, since Michael's plan is to split them up. April says Erik's got a side business he really doesn't want Quinn to know about, and Fi asks her about that. April's reluctant to share information that Erik told her he'd kill her for revealing, but I can't imagine he'd be cool with her hiring freelance secret agents to defeat his evil plans, either.

By the time we meet up with Sam and Michael in Madeline's garage, Sam has it all figured out as far as how they're going to get to Erik: it turns out that despite the fact that his entire part in the criminal organization is to not be a criminal, he's got a shady side business of his own going on. Apparently he grabs seized contraband off the docks and sells it off the books, pocketing the cash, "anonymously." I don't know how saying "anonymous" makes it so, but it seems to work for him. "So if I showed up as an unsatisfied customer..." Michael suggests, as they notice Joey lurking in the doorway. "He'd never know the difference," Sam finishes. He takes off to "put together a name and a game" for Michael's cover while Joey asks for a word with Michael. Joey takes in the magnifying stand and the soldering iron Michael's working with and asks what's going on. "I'm turning a cell phone into a listening device so I can keep tabs on your stepdad," Michael explains. When Joey asks how he learned that, Michael stammers, "Sort of, special school. Hard to explain." Especially the part where he got picked up by a short bus in the morning. He does let Joey help out by holding a wire for him to solder. Joey voices a few doubts about whether Michael can pull this off, but Michael knows he can make Erik run. "It's gonna be my pleasure."

Stepping out of Fi's Saab at the country club and sliding a black suit jacket on over a dress shirt and gray slacks, accessorized with a flashy new pair of square sunglasses, Michael VOs, "When you're undercover, you often fight your emotions. If the operation demands you be a target's best friend, you do it, no matter what you're feeling. But there are times emotions can help sell a cover ID. If hitting a guy reinforces your cover, you give it all you got." With that, Michael storms all the way back into Erik's office and interrupts his rug-putting practice with a sock to the gut. Which I think is the first thing on this week's list of things the police can't do. Using an angry high-class lockjaw voice, Michael claims he bought a car from Erik that nearly got him killed. He gives his name as Peter. "I bought a Lotus from you a while back. One day, it disappears, replaced by a note which informed me that I'm a dead man. I go home, my house is torched. Next day, I'm nearly killed in a drive-by. All of which made me curious to know: where the hell'd you get that car from?" Erik says that was an anonymous transaction (doesn't seem to have worked, though), and picks up the handset for his desk phone. Which Michael smashes the keypad of with Erik's putter (that's number two). "I'm trying to stay a step ahead of a death squad!" he grits. "I need my money back." When Erik balks, Michael knees him in the gut a few times (that's three, four, and five), yelling, "Didn't anyone ever tell you the customer! Is always! Right!" While Erik's on the floor gasping, Michael drops that modified cell phone into a handy potted plant (six, without a warrant). Michael writes a contact number on the pad on Erik's desk, giving him one day and warning him, "If they're after me, you can be damn sure they're after you." That was a pretty intimidating display. Here comes this big, scary guy into his office, warning Erik about the people he's scared of. Effective. That would totally work on me. In fact, I now have absolutely no plans to go to Miami

After the break, Michael and Fi are at Madeline's house, assuring April and the kids that it's all going according to plan, even though Erik called her to yell at her. April says he sounded more angry than scared. "Well, that's about to change," Fi says. Does the toddler really need to be present for these little briefings?

"99 percent of controlling someone's behavior is controlling their environment," Michae

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Burn Notice




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