'Burn Notice': Michael the minion

Jeffreydonovan_burnnotice_s3_290 It's death by a thousand annoyances this week on " Burn Notice." Michael deals with an incompetent underling, Sam gets a tax audit, and Fi gives up the last of her C4. Sob!

Paxson  continues her reign of aggravation by assigning a 24/7 police chaperone to Michael. Really? That's what Miami's tax dollars go to? Sam determines that she can't be bought, bribed or scared off a case, so Michael decides to take another tack: He'll prove he's one of the good guys by helping her land the criminal that got away -- without her knowledge, of course. Fortunately, the cops watching him seem singularly incompetent, so that's not hard to do.

The guy Paxson's been chasing even longer than Michael is Matheson, a scumbag who robs drug dealers and doesn't care if people get killed in the crossfire. Because cozying up to him is too difficult, Michael finds another in -- frustrated middle manager Tommy, a bumbling aspiring public enemy. Michael adopts the persona of Milo, a fresh-out-of-prison criminal who admires and respects Tommy for all his achievements. Tommy falls for it, and inaugurates Michael, Sam and Fi into his crew. As Tommy kind of sucks at being a criminal mastermind, Michael not only has to save his "boss" from himself, he has to make Tommy think all the tings that go right came out of Tommy's head. He manages to do this without ripping off Tommy's head. I admire his restraint.

All this is to get close to Matheson, but then things take a turn. Matheson proposes robbing a meth lab, and tells Tommy to let his crew do security. Tommy knows this is a suicide mission, so he refuses to let Milo take the job. He even tells Milo that he's just a small-time hood. But Michael still needs to take out Matheson, so he tells Tommy the truth and puts his plan in place. With Fi, Sam and Tommy's help, Michael seals Matheson inside the meth lab he's robbing, and he's still there when Paxson arrives. They even left the last of the C4 in the trunk of a stolen car. So now Paxson can pin all the explosions on Matheson. If she chooses to do that, great. If not, her case against Matheson may fall apart. (Although I'm unclear on why.) Paxson agrees to back off -- but warns Michael that she'll be watching him.

Sam's audit
Sam is in almost as big a pickle as Michael -- he's getting a tax audit. Apparently, deducting mojitos is a bad idea. But wait! The auditor is named Stacey, so Sam plans to wage a charm offensive on the comely lass. Alas -- it's a dude. A dude who is not impressed by Sam's charm. A dude who seems to be out for blood.

And there's a reason for that. Deep in the audit, Sam realizes that he used to date Stacey's mom (who had it going on). In fact, he remembers Stacey when he was a wee boy. Stacey remembers Sam, too -- and has never forgiven him for letting Stacey think Sam liked him, and then disappearing. Aw, kid, it wasn't like that -- I wanted to keep seeing you, but your mom wanted nothing to do with me.

And apparently that's enough -- Sam and Stacey make up, and Sam uses his miraculous powers of booze to introduce Stacey into the world of mixed drinks. Now Stacey's got a father figure -- and the makings of one hell of a hangover -- so all is forgiven.

Personal matters
Fi is thrilled that all this nastiness is behind Michael. He's free of the people who burned him, the cops are off his back... time to build a new life together, capturing bail jumpers and kicking criminal ass! Bu Michael wants to use this opportunity to get back with some of his intelligence sources. Won't you ever give up the spy game? she asks. Not going to happen. Sob!

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
  • Last week, commenter Scott complained that the show was overusing the captions. This week, I kind of agree with him. Dial it back a bit, show!
  • Poor Fi -- her date turns into another meal at the regular hangout (Carlito's), where Sam horns in and steals her expensive dessert.
  • Another stellar physical performance from Jeffrey Donovan. We saw him settle into Milo's body as he watched -- and imitated -- Tommy's gestures and posture.
  • The sucking up was masterfully done, too. "Milo" was suitably awed that he got to call "Mr. D'Antonio" Tommy. Hee!
  • Tommy was a soft touch -- he bought a greyhound with a broken leg from the dog track. When he renounced crime, he thought he'd go back to St. Louis to open a kennel. Awww.
  • Sam gets increasingly frustrated trying to explain his business deductions -- especially since he's not allowed to talk about his jobs. He finally gets through to Stacey when describing how he came by a gun in the Middle East. Was it stolen? Was it a gift? "There was this thing, then... the gun didn't have an owner anymore." Stacey gets it -- "I'll just mark that down as windfall income."

Spy tips from Michael
  • My favorite tip of the season thus far: A thick layer of superglue, quick-dried with compressed air, can cement a door shut in less than a minute. I SO want to try that...
  • A police tail is a double-edged sword. It makes things tough for criminals (like Michael), but it makes things even tougher for cops who are doing surveillance, like Paxson, when Michael brings them to visit.
  • Flirtation is always an option in a op. Just don't make assumptions based on names. Remember Stacey Keach!
  • You learned the first rule of spycraft when you went to a new school -- copy everything to fit in.
  • How to rob a dry cleaner, part 1: The lock on a cash register is designed to stop it from being pulled open. Whack it the other way and it will often break.
  • How to rob a dry cleaner, part 2: A chain attached to the clothing carousel can rip a padlock and hasp off a door.
  • Why you shouldn't rob a dry cleaner: After you return the money (you WERE planning on returning the money, right?) you'll be in the hole for $1,000.
  • To place a bug on someone's person, try putting the device in  something they carry all the time, like a pack of Morleys. "Then it's just a matter planting it on them and hoping they keep ignoring the surgeon general until you get what you need."
  • Spycraft and self-inflicted injuries go together like peanut butter and jelly. This time, Michael gave himself a black eye to elicit sympathy from Tommy.

The Rules of the IRS from Stacey
  • The IRS cannot be charmed with a fancy shirt, smooth talk and pink drinks.
  • The IRS demands the truth.
  • The IRS does not allow classified deductions.
  • The IRS considers gifts, accommodations and other considerations from sugar mamas as earned income.
  • Business as defined by the IRS does not involve the application of cucumber lotion.
  • Your auditor may be out for revenge
  • If so, and if you can give him back his childhood and teach him to drink, you may be in the clear