'Burn Notice' exposes the evil step-father

Jeffreydonovan_burnnotice_s3_290 For those of you who actually met Burn Notice's Bruce Campbell at Comic-Con today... I'm so totally jealous. Alas, I did get my other wish: an episode that returns to the basics that makes the show great.

I'll admit I've witnessed some messed up family situations in my life, but I'm sure no one in them was ever driven to shooting the bad parent to eliminate the overall problem. Little Joey Luna knows his step-dad is bad news to the point of breaking into Fi's home to steal a gun. Michael corrals the kid and upon hearing the back story, feels compelled to be the hero and save the family from the inevitable bloody conclusion.

Erik Luna (Hey! It's Jay Harrington!) is the bad dad in question, but he's only the clean, legit face for his brother's nefarious operation throughout the city and at the Port of Miami. Once the family is safe with Maddy, Michael goes undercover as Pete... a man who bought a car from Erik and now has "problems" of his own. Throughout the whole ordeal, he manages to land quite a few sucker punches on Erik. It must feel good to give bad guys what they deserve without them knowing your true intentions. "Pete" places a listening device (that Joey helped to make) in Erik's office, but that's only the beginning of the end. Our dynamic trio play on Erik's emotions by scaring him straight: first by making him think Pete's attackers are onto him, second by having brother Quinn find out that he's blowing the family operation up over his paranoia. Erik tries to play it cool on the surface by continuing to yell at wife April, but even Joey can see the bad dad is weakened.

Of course, not every good idea came from Michael. Erik calls "Pete" to let him know a blue car has been circling around his place. Michael's worst fears are confirmed when Maddy finds her car (and Joey) gone. He catches up the kid (now magically with a shotgun) before he can pump his step-dad with nothing more than birdshot a la Dick Cheney and his hunting friend. Michael catches up with Erik, continuing to play up the "getting out of town" card, but Erik's not done yet.

Jayharrington_betteroffted_290 Fi and Sam join the operation as two assassins-for-hire... and bad ones at that. They devise a sweeping plan where they create tiny explosives to simulate gunshots (complete with "blood") in order to scare Erik off for good. All seems to go well enough in the Hallandale neighborhood with our trio going down in a blaze of glory. Erik runs away good and scared. Problem solved, right? Well, Quinn gets word of the operation and wants to see the scene himself. Thanks to the listening device, Sam give Michael and Fi 30 minutes heads-up to figure something out... that something being a reenactment out of the Michael Weston Playbookâ„¢. What worked in 1999's Moscow works here as the three clean up the scene to show no signs of anything ever have happened. They even go as far as to don different personas to really make Erik completely lose his mind. With Erik in a mental institution, April regains full custody and Miami is once again at peace.

Meanwhile, on the Strickler front, Michael pays Diego another visit, but when he refuses to help, our favorite spy has to become creative. By hacking into the data stream, he's not able to determine much of any actual information... BUT the data IS useful by showing Diego is changing security settings, meaning he's hiding something. Because Michael initiated conversation with Diego, he forced him to have to deal with four days worth of paperwork from six different government outfits... including one Diego didn't know even existed. This is enough for Michael to ultimately go into business with Strickler.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
•    We continue to see Michael take family abuse cases personally. It's good to see he can put aside his crusade to clear the burn notice for the children.
•    If by "eat yogurt" you mean "become a spy," then message received Michael!
•    Good to see Jay Harrington play against the type he's been given as the lead in the severely underrated Better Off Ted.
•    Seriously Burn Notice? Now you have Sam pimping the low calorie Miller beer? Oy vey.
•    Anybody else think revisiting the Quinn storyline might work down the road?

(Some) Spy tips from Michael
•    If you've managed to corner the person who has broken into your house, flush them into a choke point where escape is impossible.
•    Going undercover, you must become the target's best friend... no matter what your emotions may tell you. Of course, this could vary, but only on rare occasions.
•    99% of controlling someone's behavior is controlling their environment.

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