Written by Ben Watkins (and I'm pretty sure that he's not this Ben Watkins...)
This week's Burn Notice appears to be the first of the season where Matt Nix (the show's creator) hasn't had direct input into writing the script, it's also got a lot to live up to after last week's Sam Axe-centric episode which pretty much rocked all the buttons (except for maybe parts of the Larry/Bruce dinner scenes which weren't as funny as I'm sure they were supposed to be.) So Ben Watkin's script needs to deliver... And it does.
More after the link...
We open almost with the scene that we closed with last week, Michael and Fiona are pulling surveillance on the PO box (or whatever it's called in the US ;) that's apparently linked to Carla. After Fi abuses Michael a little more - I warned you Michael, never cross an Irish lass - an elderly looking female
Michael and Fi follow the lady to a non-descript building with a noticeable lack of noticeable security. Of course, just because they're not dressed as security guards it doesn't mean they're not present and Michael clocks them quickly with the ingenious use of a poor (relatively) innocent pizza delivery man. The scene cuts to the logo before we get to see the guy get threatened with a gun by one of the security men, but it's pretty clear that the pizza guy is going to get into at least a small amount of trouble before he gets away. Michael's been landing a lot of people in sticky situations this season.
After the logo (I love how short the credits are for this show) we cut to Sam and Michael; they're having a conversation about surveillance for the building - at least Michael is trying to, Sam's quite interested in showing off his new watch and bragging about how well things are now going with Veronica. Just wait Sam, I'm sure Michael will bone things up for you soon enough!
Back at his place Michael is approached by an ex-con (wheelman) named Trevor who has a problem; he's gone clean and he wants to stay that way, but an ex-employer named Timo wants him for a job and won't take no for an answer. Michael seems exceedingly unwilling to assist him, but Trevor makes a long, heartfelt speech about promising his son he'll stay on the straight and narrow. Michael listens and then; in a really nice touch the camera focuses on Trevor's face before dropping those classic words across the screen "Trevor, The Client" and Michael accepts.
In the next scene we're introduced to the rest of the crew; there's C.J. who's a hustler, Gilbert Kessler the safe cracker, Kandi the muscle (don't you just hope Fi and her will go one on one?) and Timo. Michael's initial plan is to disrupt the group by putting police pressure onto one member (Gilbert) which should result in the job being called off. Step one is to introduce Fi to Gilbert, because what man in his right mind would say no to being chatted up by a pretty Irish nutjob? Apparently Gilbert would, so Sam comes up with a second plan and picks a fight with Gilbert - one which he has to keep walking back into because the local policemen are looking the other way. So Sam gets a pasting before Fi decides to scream and get the attention of the cops, of course Fi doesn't scream too soon as where's the fun in that?
But it turns out getting Gilbert banged up for violating his parole isn't enough (it never is) and Timo is still going ahead with the job. So Michael decides to use the opening created by the loss of Gilbert to get himself inserted into the group as a new safe cracker. Do you think we're going to be treated to another awful accent flavoured with a terrible cover identity? We can hope so!
After Michael installs a webcam on the roof of a building nearby to Carla's Sam notices a single point in the security routine that Michael can exploit and then he heads out for dinner with Veronica. A dinner that goes a little too well, as when Sam lays the charm on Veronica responds by asking him to marry her. Something he seems a little reluctant to respond to right now...
Michael works on his safe cracking skills a little before meeting up with Timo (Timo's name makes me think of the Timosil song as sung by Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band from Arrested Development) and the gang; sadly he doesn't put on an accent this time, but he does use a rather amusing style of conversation for his cover identity - 'Joseph' (not Joe). Timo wants proof of 'Joseph's' skills but getting him to crack the safe in a small store but Michael pushes the situation further by refusing to do so. Soon enough both 'Joseph' and Trevor are being threatened at gunpoint and Michael proves his skills by cracking the safe (I was kind of hoping he'd say "This safe is for amateurs, I'll crack something that's actually challenging') and is given an address for the meet.
At the meet 'Joseph' is introduced to C.J., given a new phone and is told about the plan. Actually, he's told almost nothing about the plan what-so-ever as Timo is a total secrecy and control freak. Instead 'Joseph' has to try and get whatever information he can by prying for details about the safe, he's told what make it is and when it was installed. Then the meeting is over and Trevor has to stay behind, perhaps for lines in detention "I must not recommend rude safe crackers."
Back at Michael's place Trevor provides the last piece of information that the gang needs to locate the target. Sam agrees to sort out finding the location (Sam's well connected isn't he?) but he's also rather anxious to talk about his dinner-date with Veronica. Michael provides his usual level of advice with a "Say 'Yes'" followed by a "Say 'No'". Sometimes you have to wonder why Sam's still friends with Michael, so far he's done nothing but cause him trouble and even now he's completely unwilling to give his friend any advice. But then again Michael's always been a bit of a jerk and that's kept him alive so far.
The next complication to rise up its head comes from C.J. who's already worked his way inside the organisation like some kind of faceman (actually thinking about it the entire of Timo's gang reminds me of the A-Team somewhat - I guess it's because Burn Notice reminds me of the A-Team in it's style) and this means they can't easily tip off the target (a jewelry store) without Timosil finding out. Michael puts on a brave face, but once Trevor's gone the mask drops and we see just how difficult things are looking (or how fed up Michael is with this job, maybe both).
Next up it's time for one of the Sam/Fi car conversation specials. I love these conversations and this one doesn't disappoint. Sam asks for Fi's advice on Veronica's proposal but at first refuses to give details as it's "grown up stuff you (Fi) wouldn't understand." Then he promptly caves and reveals the truth; it turns out Sam's already technically married (and has been since the 1970s) but didn't get a divorce as he didn't think he was the marrying type... At least until now. So Fi tells him to fess up to Veronica and deal.
Meanwhile the young lad that Sam bribed at the start of the scene (did I mention that? I'm sure I did...) creates the window for Michael to get inside Carla's building, but a phone call from Timosil means he has to abandon the plan and get back to the boathouse.
It turns out that the plan is on and Trevor is freaking out about it. So Michael makes a promise that Trevor will never have to worry about Timosil again; considering Michael's track record this season it seems likely this will happen as the body count has been a lot, lot higher this season (something I've not really talked about because it seems everyone and their grandma wants to talk about how "Michael is getting people killed" and I like to buck trends). Michael leaves a note for the gang and then heads off to do the job.
The fake A-Team are let in by C.J. under the disguise of workmen from Montaro Heating and Air and after getting inside the security gate they surprise the guards with some shiny guns. Then things go a little weird due to some unusual choices in cutting and music. I had to rewind the scene to make sure I hadn't wandered into the wrong show by accident when Timosil just disappeared from view and some kind of cyberpunk theme broke out. This entire scene is filled with strange cutting and editing techniques, I guess with the intent of making it more exciting than it really is; but it doesn't work. Eventually Sam saves us from this by cutting a wire to trip the alarm and the F-team bails out without stealing anything after torching the van to remove evidence.
The F-Team split up and head for their cars, but Timosil's tires have been let down by Sam and he's left stranded near the scene. The rest of the crooks meet up and 'Joseph' lands Timosil in it by informing C.J. and Kandi that he gave the jewels to him. Michael gives the signal and Fi blows up the boat house, making everyone fall over. Kandi is none to impressed with this and her follow up meeting with Timosil ends with her making an explosive point to him. Trevor seems pretty content with it all and decides not to ask too many probing questions before leaving.
So we cut to Michael's apartment with Fi and Michael getting ready to go out for the job on Carla's place. Sam turns up - having acted on Fi's advice - with bags, Veronica didn't react very well to his confession about already being married (I was wrong! It was Fi who ruined things for Sam this time!) Last of all Michael manages to get inside Carla's building only to find out she's already gone - having already spotted him on his first failed attempt and she's left him a gloating photo message, some balloons, champagne and another crossword...
Looks like Carla has another job for him...
The episode was a pretty darn solid one; it had a nice mix of action and smart dialog, while also remaining pacy enough to avoid any dragging sections. There were some very nice touches in the interaction between the trio and it was a lot of fun to watch.
But the section where the heist itself starts was pretty disjointing to watch; you get used to the occasional split-second freeze frame in BN but the editing and effects in that section were way beyond the norm. It started to feel like 24 or Mission Impossible (the film) and the editing cut where Timosil just vanished in a quick fade was completely jarring.
In all I'd give it a solid 3.5
It's also time to review what we know about Carla:
‣ She's an accomplished spy who's clearly well informed about Michael
‣ She consistently stays one or two steps ahead of him and has him under constant surveillance. Surveillance he often fails to notice
‣ She works with a skilled team who are willing to abandon assets if Michael gets too close
‣ She has quite a wry sense of humour and is willing to push, taunt and tease Michael
‣ The job/target that she's got Michael running errands for requires serious security data and professionally made high tech security key
‣ Information on her is very high security, the Pakistani head of security was very reluctant to hand anything over
Now just speculating here, but I wouldn't be surprised if Michael is set up as a scapegoat for the job at the end of this season. He certainly seems to be constantly on the backfoot where Carla is concerned, so far he's only managed two minor victorys against her that she doesn't seem to be aware of (the duplicate keycard and the file on her) .