Premierewatch: 'Burn Notice'
For this, the glorious return of Burn Notice, I'll be filling in for Sarah Jersild who's off battling ninja clowns to keep us all sleeping safe at night. Me? I just fight my DVR. I'll get you, gadget!
Spoilers below and Spy Tips in bold!
When we last saw Michael Weston, he'd pieced together the basics of the assassination plot the company who burned him planned. In order to foil it, he'd have to get that special access card from his apartment. As he just cracked open the door, Sam informs him that the sniper they'd been following is dead via a booby trapped door. Michael leaped over his railing just as the explosion ripped through his apartment, his body hit by the blast.
When he comes to, Sam is there. Michael's battered but alive - his car broke his fall and sheltered him from some of the blast and debris. Sam helps him into his Cadillac and tells him he's been out for about twenty minutes. Oh crap. There's a car staking out the place. Sam takes off, the Black Car in pursuit. Black Car #2 tries to cut them off but Sam narrowly gets around by driving under a scaffolding on the side of the road.
Having successfully escaped, they stop and get out near some shops. Sam's car is...well, not looking good. After a moment of silence for his fallen baby, they walk but Michael is still hurting. He assumes the guys in the cars are Carla's, he figures she'll want to have a talk with him especially considering she had Nate arrested.
Michael tells us that paranoia, when channeled correctly, can be turned into hyper-awareness -- a handy tool when you're being hunted. Distinguishing between different kinds of suspicious behavior is key -- someone doing surveillance is different than someone trying to commit suicide. Which is what one particularly fidgety man attempts by walking into the middle of traffic. Still hobbled and holding his ribs, Michael runs into the street and stops him before he gets creamed by a bus.
His name is Kenny. He was trying to kill himself because his son Jack needs the money. Sam comes over and reminds Michael they need to go but Kenny is not okay. So it's off to Kenny's place with Sam keeping watch outside. Michael wants to know how getting hit by a bus will help Jack. Kenny explains Jack is 6-years-old and has a deteriorating heart condition. There's a treatment center in Arizona that could help him but Kenny blew his money on a scam. A woman in a pharmacy chatted him up and pulled him in. It seemed to be working but, $250,000 later, the "doctor" disappeared and Kenny found out the medicine was pet pills spiked with pain killers. Clearly this didn't help the child. Michael takes one look at Jack and tells Kenny to give him everything he knows about the scam artists. He'll get his money back "by any means necessary." Ooo...that gave me chills.
Walking and limping down the street respectively, Sam tells Michael it's not a good idea to take the case considering everything that's going on. But Michael's running on fumes and need to help this guy. Cue Black Car #1 coming down the street. Instead of running, Michael picks up a giant pavement stone and smashes it through the driver's window. He then tells the guy to unlock the door, calls him a jackass, and gets in the backseat. Genius.
Michael finds himself ziptied to a chair with a black bag over his head in an office somewhere. When Henchman #1 removes the bag, he sees Carla who asks what the hell he was doing. She's not very happy. He runs down the awful list of things that have happened (brother in jail, chased through town, blown up, the sniper getting taken out) but she denies having anything to do it. She does however confirm the "operation" got compromised. Carla asks what kind of game he's playing, but Michael "didn't blow myself up for your benefit." He demands his brother out of jail and answers. He also wants his life back. This is the first time he's seemingly cracked under the pressure of the whole situation. Carla's response is to order the goons to get him out there, adding that they'll be in touch.
Fiona comes over and examines the damaged doorway, Michael asking for her to check the chemical traces to see what kind of explosives they've used. Sam's been looking over the medical records and found that the scammers got their lead from a Coral Gables clinic. Cut to Sam walking in complaining of liver damage and pain.
The receptionist says there's no openings and he tries to pay her off. A particularly observant phone operator seems very interested in him. When Sam goes to sit down, Fi's there and talks to him, mentioning a miracle drug that helped her father. The Nosy Operator calls someone as Fiona takes Sam to her car, saying that she has some of the drug there. Michael tells us that scam artists don't like other people moving in on their territory and often have enforcers to make sure that doesn't happen. This particular enforcer's name is Todd, which isn't a very scary name for an enforcer.
As soon as Sam leaves, he gets out of the car and stalks over to Fi. Todd tells her to get out of there and flashes his gun, saying someone's already working the clinic. Enter Michael as Fi's enforcer. Spy Tip #8,397: "As a spy, the best approach is to become someone's friend. Some situations, though, call for a different approach." This approach starts with Michael being friendly and ends with a knee to Todd's face and shoving him into Fi's trunk.
Spy Tip #287: "Empty commercial buildings are useful when looking for a place to interrogate someone. No one pays attention to people coming and going and the floors are usually sound proof." Storing Todd in a recycling bin, Sam and Michael go about securing one of the rooms per Spy Tip #98: "Securing a room isn't about walls. A determined captive can kick through plasterboard but he can't bite through steel bars or pry out screws with his finger, though it might be fun to watch him try." Sam lets Todd out of the bin at gunpoint and smirks.
At Kenny's house, Michael tells him to make his arrangements to go to Arizona. He doesn't have the money yet but he's determined to get it. The only thing is someone needs to babysit Jack as Kenny gets everything in order. Cut to Michael's mom's house. She can't believe he's taken a job while Nate is in jail but she relents and takes Jack to look through Michael's old toys (most of which are blown up or taken apart) to find something to play with. When they leave, Michael tells Fiona that he needs her to stay and make sure no one comes after his mom. She was supposed to meet Campbell, but she agrees after a moment of pleading. Though with the look she throws Michael, he may regret this favor.
Back at the commercial building, Sam stares down Todd. He says they want in on Todd's operation, starting with the names of the other involved. Todd's defiant. Michael tells us that "violence perceived is violence achieved" so when Sam takes out a knife and cuts his own thumb, dripping blood onto Todd's face, Todd changes his tune very quickly. Sam calls Michael and tells him about Todd's partner Phillip who hangs out at a bar in South Beach.
Michael calls Kenny and asks him to meet him to help identify Phillip. Sitting in the car, Kenny is very antsy but Michael tells him he's only there for the ID - point out the guy and nothing else. Except when he spots Phillip, Kenny gets out of the car and takes off running after him shouting. Phillip the Fake Doctor naturally starts running and Michael takes off too but he's still not 100% and is lagging behind.
Kenny catches up in an alley and starts beating Phillip down. Michael finally catches up and pulls him off. Kenny can't beat the guy to death and get the money he needs. Cut to the commercial building where Todd and Phillip are arguing in the holding room, Sam listening in on the other side. They're not saying much but they agree that they shouldn't mention "her" name as they're both way more scared of her than anything their mysterious captors can do. When Sam calls Michael and tells him the news, he says it's time to play "Who Talks First." Sam isn't too keen on the idea but I'm very curious.
Todd and Phillip sit ziptied to chairs, each in front of big windows. Phillip asks what Sam wants but all he does is whistle as he preps two blindfolds and a gun. Todd offers Sam $5,000 and Phillip tells him to shut up. Michael informs us that "Who Talks First" originally involved two prisoners and a helicopter, one being shoved out to make the other talk. However, a tall building will work in a pinch. Sam puts two shots through each window and blindfolds Phillip first, then Todd. He tells them that one of them will talk, the other goes out the window.
Sam kicks each chair. They're scared but neither talks. He then kicks Todd out the window. As he goes streaking and yelling towards the ground, Michael adds that killing isn't the point, it's the screaming you need. Todd's chair then come to a halt a couple floors down where Michael waits at an open window to duct tape his mouth. A now very frightened Phillip blurts out that the boss' name is Rachel. She found him and works clinics all over town. Sam says that Phillip will call her and tell her he's found some new talent he'd like her to meet.
While Sam and Michael meet with Kenny to update him, Carla calls and tells Michael there's a car waiting for him in the street and hangs up. Michael walks to the car and it's the same dude who can't figure out the automatic door locks. It's the same chair/blindfold/office situation. Carla tells him they have a new job for him and that he may actually like it. It's finding who tried to kill him. Michael's one condition is getting his brother out of jail, which she'll do after his arraignment on Thursday (not sure how many days away that is). Meanwhile, Fi has bonded with Jack by playing Army Men and identifying the weapons and tactile advantages of the little green guys.
Spy Tip #2,008: "For the truly security conscious, there's no better meeting place than a pool of water. Even if you manage to hide a bug in your swim trunks, chlorinated water conducts electricity well enough to short it out." To this end, Rachel (played by Stacey Haiduk) has Michael and Fi meet her at a swimming pool. Hellooooo Nurse! First episode back and already some Michael eye candy. Oh, Fi looks good too. Under the aliases of "Kate" and "Donnie," they join Rachel in a hot tub with some champagne. The scam is "Kate" and "Donnie" get long term patients while Rachel continues scamming the terminally ill. Klassy. Each steers the appropriate marks to the other when possible.
After sharing a meal, Rachel and Fiona step away to talk some. When Rachel starts talking about how great it is ripping off the parents of dying kids, understandably Fi loses her cool and decks her. Thus begins a bikini chick fight. Unfortunately, as Fi tries to choke her out with her purse strap, Rachel reverse headbutts her and gets away. It's safe to say the original plan is ruined.
Returning to his apartment, Michael is not a happy camper, especially when Sam tell him that his Fed contacts can't find Rachel either. He decides he'll get the money Kenny and Jack need from Carla since she's offered a payoff before. Sam stops him because it's so clearly a bad idea. This starts an argument as he tries to stop Michael from leaving. The argument leads to fisticuffs. Both land some good punches but Sam finally ends things by telling the still hobbled Michael that he can beat him up all he wants, Sam's not letting him leave until he gets his head straight.
Meeting later on, all three with bruised faces, Fi tells them the one bit of useful info she has on Rachel - the house she says she bought is in a certain area. They can't lure her out but Michael has an idea, but he'll need Campbell's ambulance. She's reluctant to ask but she'll do it for Jack. Cut to Sam and Michael doing some gadget splicing. Michael says that using sound to determine an enemy's position is one of the oldest techniques in war which brings us to Spy Tip #308: "If you can get your enemy on the phone, hook up your cell to an amplifier and a computer that can analyze sounds and you've got a powerful weapon if you can use it."
In Campbell's ambulance, he and Fiona wait for Michael's signal. They'll drive up and down the street so between she can pinpoint Rachel's location. While they're waiting, Campbell tells Fi that he knows Michael is really her boyfriend, he's just someone she fools around with and borrows his cart. It's this moment when his identifier becomes "Fiona's Ex-Boyfriend". *cue disappointed trombone*
Sam and Michael are in the commercial building with Todd and Phillip, Sam with a shotgun, Michael a pistol. He calls Rachel and tells her she ticked off "Kate" so there's a new deal - she gives them $250,000 and clears out of town. He also says the ambulance she hears is for Todd and Phillip. Holding the phone up, they yell for help. Michael fires two shots and Sam motions for them to shut it, which they do. Rachel, shaken, considers for a moment but turns down the offer. Michael ends the phone call by telling her they'll be seeing her soon. Fi, with the laptop setup, has found where Rachel is hiding.
Overnight bag in hand, Rachel tosses it in her car and prepares to drive off. Enter "Donnie" and "Kate" who's wielding a shotgun and puts two rounds in the engine block. Back in the house, Rachel is ziptied to one of her own chairs. She tries to take the old deal but Donnie says it expired. Kate's only happy if someone's dead or in jail. As Kate loads rounds into the shotgun, Rachel finally volunteers to got to jail and give them the $500,000 that's on the premises. She makes Donnie dial the police first, then tells them where she hid the money. Donnie says the confession better be convincing because she'll be in trouble the second she gets out of jail. For emphasis, he puts about six shots into the wall around her body. Rachel is sufficiently scared.
Michael delivers Kenny the money that night, telling him to put the extra into a college fund. Rachel's in jail and Todd and Phillip were found tied up behind a police station. As he leaves, Kenny says to thank Fiona giving him a picture Jack drew of she and Michael together.
The next day, Fi and Michael meet at lunch. He's sorry she and Campbell broke up because he wants her to be happy. She changes the subject - based on the chemical analysis of the explosion, whoever set it couldn't leave through the front door. If they left from the balcony, he could check the surveillance of the nearby businesses. He's going to hunt them down for sure, possibly because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." My guess is, even if that's not the case, he'll take great satisfaction in beating the crap out of them.
When Michael gets home, he finds Carla there eating his yogurt (oooo...I like her top). He says he poisoned them just in case she'd ever partake. At first she doesn't think he'd do it, but when he asks if she's sure, she puts it down. Carla asks if there's any progress on the bomber front, he says no as he eats her abandoned yogurt. She knows he's lying but that's part of why they "recruited" him so she can't be too mad. On the way out he asks why she's visiting him herself. "Exceptional times call for exceptional measures," she says. Hmmm...suspicious.
Michael leaves us with this parting morsel:Recovering from a near-death experience is about having purpose, whether it's something to fight or someone to hunt. Methinks whoever he's hunting is in big trouble.
Assorted Bits & Pieces:
- After one and a half stressful seasons, this is the first time we've seen Michael really crack under pressure like that. Being shot at, punched, tortured, all that...like he said at the beginning of the ep, you never get used to being blown up. I can understand that being the proverbial straw. Great acting, as always, by Jeffrey Donovan.
- So, after discovering Carla and her peeps, we have yet another dangerous, unknown player on the scene. I can't even imagine who this would be, though I suspect it's an organization out to foil the Burn Company. Perhaps there's an Anti-Carla out there? Maybe Grace Park or Katee Sackhoff could play her, keep it in the Battlestar Galactica family as it were.
- Kenny was so dang fidgety, he was making me nervous. For a second I even thought he might be trying to con Michael, like he was a plant for...whoever. But then I realized that wouldn't happen, at least not this episode. That would be too much.
- While I don't like seeing Sam and Michael fight, I did like the Sam/Michael fight. It was fun - kind of like a master fighting a student, though their relationship is nothing like that. But you know what I mean.
- Aw, poor Campbell. His relationship with Fi was doomed from the start. At least he got out before being shot at.
- All that stuff with Todd and Phillip in the commercial building was classic.
Your thoughts on the premiere? Any theories on who tried to blow up Michael? Should Campbell just be happy to get out of the relationship in one piece? Have a favorite spy tip?