We're now over halfway through the current run of Burn Notice; there are just three episodes left after this one and then the season goes on hiatus for a while. It's similar to the trick that BSG has pulled with season four and I don't entirely approve, but it does mean that I'll be able to take up reviewing The Shield season seven (alongside Dexter) as and when it happens instead.
In this week's Burn Notice Michael is asked to catch an embezzler who is stealing from a charity belonging to a hip-hop mogul.
More after the link...
We open with the crossword from the end of last week's episode which is being carried by Michael as he goes for a meeting. Again we have some evidence of Carla's wry humour as her designated meeting point is "tidy pelican", essentially the cartoon character who is on at least one of Miami's bins and tells people not to litter. But it turns out that it's not Carla at the meeting, but a man who identifies himself as 'Victor'. Michael immediately pushes Victor, in part to see how far he's willing to go and I suspect in part because the contact phone he's been offered is... Well, a bit effeminate. But Victor pushes back because apparently Carla was the carrot and he's the stick. Victor the Stick it is then!
Once the title screen finishes Michael meets up with Sam who's just bought a pre-owned car because Veronica has taken back the caddy after Fi's wonderful advice drove them apart last week. Michael's concerned about what might happen to his friends and family so he gets Sam to move in with his mother; poor Sam, he really doesn't get a break right now does he? Living with Michael's mother could either turn out to be amazing luxury or an absolute nightmare, knowing Sam's current luck it'll turn out to be the latter.
But lucky for us it means Sharon Gless is going to get a bit more screen time as she's not had much to do so far this season, in fact she was entirely absent last episode. Sam arrives at her house and sees a man with a load of wires in the living room, I immediately think "tv repair man" but Sam immediately thinks "spy" and decides to go in with his gun out. It turns out we're both wrong; the man is Ricky, a friend of Michael's and is helping Madeline install her home theatre system. I guess I was closer than Sam was in my guess, but I'm not the one who's living in Miami and friends with an ex-Spy who has a tendency to get people killed. If I was, I guess I'd open up conversations with a gun as well at times.
Michael then meets up with Madeline, Sam and Ricky outside a bar. Sam and Madeline come up with a convenient excuse to leave involving VRCs - do those things even still exist outside of museums and my sister's house? It turns out that Ricky is definitely no TV repair man, he's now an accountant and very clearly the client in this episode, so just wait for those captions to arrive under his face. Wait for it... Apparently two million has been stolen from a hip-hop mogul's (called Valentine) charity account and Ricky is the one being left holding the bag. Fortunately there is only one other possible suspect - one Eddie Ash - but unfortunately he's Valentine's number two and trust buddy. Ricky needs Eddie's books so he can prove that it's Eddie who's embezzling; I find it a little unlikely that Eddie would keep proof of his thievery in his books, but we haven't met Eddie yet so it's hard to gauge if he would. Ricky offers ten thousand dollars and those magic words are enough to coax out the old "Client" caption (that caption is a sucker for bleeding hearts and money). It looks like the job is on!
Michael meets Fi outside of Valentine's offices and she fills him in on the details. Moments later
Eddie is also with him and turns out to be some bearded goof with overly flashy sunglasses; I guess he'd better enjoy those while he can because Michael's track record this season has left a lot of corpses behind him.
Michael has to go meet the Stick (Victor) down the beach, Stick has a few things to reveal - first that Michael will be involved in a hijacking job for the people who burned him and second that the phone he's been given is not only a "bit" girly but it also allows them to keep a constant track on him with GPS.
So Michael proceeds to take apart the phone but finds a small love note in it for him, well a note that tells him to leave the GPS in anyway. So he decides to use call forwarding instead while Fi fills him in on Valentine's operation and demands a new pair of shoes for payment, knowing Fi a pair of old training shoes are not going to cut it.
Michael calls a bomb scare in the building next to Valentine's in order to get the building cleared out without raising too much suspicion. The bomb squad also provide a handy helping hand for Michael; they jam all electronic signals in the area as a part of procedure and that means all the wireless cameras in Valentine's building are now useless. Michael heads inside and locates the files inside a filing cabinet (just like in the Pakistani embassy a few episodes back, but padlocked this time), but things never run smooth as Eddie turns up and tells the security to get back inside the building pronto.
After making his escape via the sub ceiling Michael meets up with Ricky and reveals that there was nothing incriminating in the files. It seems that Eddie isn't the kind of idiot who keeps his criminal activities on record in his office, it's almost a relief to learn this as only an asinine goober would do that. Instead Eddie is seeking a front for his laundered money, perhaps he could sink it into property development or selling custom wheel rims? So Michael decides to insert himself directly into the equation and convince Eddie to wash his money via Michael, which requires another chat with Barry!
I'm not sure why I like to see Barry on the screen, I guess it's because he's the only recurring character from the first season who's made it into more than one episode. It's nice to see a little permanence in the show beyond Michael, Fi, Sam and his family. It's also great to see how Michael is going to use Barry and land him in more trouble. Something Barry is happy to point out himself. Barry has two offers for Michael; $5K gets him a meeting with Eddie and $3K gets him a meeting if he can promise nothing will happen to the intermediary. Michael being Michael he plumps for the $5K option plan.
It turns out that Sam is having a whale of a time living with Madeline; he's taken to the domesticated life like a duck in a bathtub. But I guess my hope that Sharon would get a little more screen time isn't going to get helped in this scene; she literally walks in, speaks one line and walks out. It was a pretty funny appearance, but I mean 'Come on!' She's a headlining character in this series...
Sam has set up a cover identity for Michael and it's time for him to meet with Eddie and make his pitch. While one can always hope for an amusing accent I'm not sure we're going to get one this week and we don't. But Michael does put on a bit of a persona and voice for the whole thing as 'Jimmy' (McNulty? Ok, ok, I'm sorry!) so I'll live with that. It's just a shame he didn't get himself a fake moustache for the role as well.
Jimmy works Eddie by showing him an empty condo and pitching the whole shebang to him; Eddie is a little cautious and clears off without making an offer. Which is very convenient for Michael because just as Eddie walks out of view Ricky phones, he's concerned about a meeting that Valentine is about to hold. Fi and Michael head off to monitor the situation from outside the build, Fi's first plan is to storm the place shooting like Axel Foley. Perhaps that could be kept as a back up plan? It turns out that Valentine is pretty angry at one Marcus who's attempting to steal a band from his label and for the moment Ricky isn't in the firing line.
I'm just going to take a step out here and talk about Method's performance in this scene, he pretty much nails his performance right on the head here. But it's not surprising that he does, because he's clearly channelling performances from people he's worked with in the past. I have to reference The Wire again at this point because the show has had a massive influence on his acting abilities and it's evident here in this scene. He manages to bring out a mix of Stringer, Avon and Marlo in this and I half expected him to produce a baseball bat De Niro style and club Marcus to death. I wasn't too far off as he chose to bust one of the platinum records over Marcus's nogging instead.
Things escalate, Valentine throws everyone out of the meeting room apart from Ricky and Fi kicks off at this. Taking her shotgun, wrapping it up and heading in while Michael tells her to wait. Valentine gives Ricky two days to produce the cash and Michael manhandles Fi away from the building.
Jimmy's second meeting with Eddie is interrupted by an unwelcome visitor, the Stick has turned up and he lays down the law with the heart phone, it is to stay with Michael at all times - because it brings out his eyes I guess. Stick then pushes things further by spouting off in front of Eddie and making it sound like Jimmy is either in bed with the Feds or at least under surveillance. I'm pretty sure acting like this is going to get Stick killed, Burn Notice only has room for one colossal jerk and that role is already filled by Michael.
Damage limitation is the order of the day now and Michael goes for it in the way he knows best and so 'Jimmy' accuses Eddie of ratting him out to the Feds.
Sam and Madeline step up to the plate and provide slightly obvious surveillance of Eddie; well Sam does, Madeline on the other hand thinks that they're going out looking for a new place for Sam. While Michael gets to meet with Stick and has the plan explained, apparently he's running lookout for Stick while the 'object' is retrieved. Michael is naturally curious about it, so we're treated to a little more spy excitement as he turns the trunk of his car into an x-ray machine.
Eddie calls Jimmy and they meet up again, Eddie's nervous thanks to Sam's photography and Madeline's big dark glasses. He wants Jimmy to move his money off shore to safety, but Jimmy is reluctant and Eddie is forced to coerce Jimmy into helping him. Eddie also reveals that he's planning to make a move on Ricky and Michael quickly reacts by sending Eddie off to get a bottle so he can warn Fi to get over to Ricky's place. Fi initially plans to use some firepower to solve the situation, but Michael doesn't want it to look like Ricky has help so she has to try something else. Fi being Fi she settles for driving wildly, shouting in an atrocious accent and throwing a rock through a window.
But now it's clear that Eddie won't move the money if Ricky is still alive, so Michael and Fi explain to Ricky that they're going to violently kill him off in order to get Eddie to make a move. Jimmy meets with Eddie and sets up the hit, providing the gun, target and reasoning. He then pushes Eddie just enough to provoke a fight and then get Eddie determined to take out Ricky himself. The scenes where Michael allow himself to be beaten up are always amusing and this one is no exception.
The next scene is a Burn Notice classic, we have Sam Axe in full distraction rant mode going toe to toe with Valentine. While Fi hangs around in the background until it's time to produce a gun and take Valentine for a ride. It's a short scene, but a fantastic one and I couldn't help but wish it was longer. Method and Bruce bantering was just excellent. I wonder where they're taking Valentine? That's a hard one to figure out...
Back at Ricky's place Eddie has the gun and it's time for some action with funky spy music playing. Ricky and Eddie get a little bit of interplay as Ricky convinces Eddie to spill the beans like a Bond villain explains his plan and reveals what he did and why before shooting Ricky with blanks. An exceptionally calm Valentine walks in at this point and Eddie realises what he's done and said.
Eddie gets to take a ride on a yacht and doesn't come back, which is pretty much the same as 'going upstairs' and going to Fort Lauderdale in this show. Fi gets the money to cover some new shoes but Michael declines to take the rest of the cash. He's turned into a real bleeding heart this season, well except for all the bodies he leaves behind him...
Last of all it's time for Michael and Stick to pull the job, but Michael has a few extra surprises planned for Stick. Most of them are the explosive kind as we're treated to not just one, but three explosions before Stick and Michael makes their get away with a rather light looking wooden crate. Stick isn't very happy with Michael's performance, it seems Stick prefers to kill people where possible - in fact it seems that Stick is pretty close to bat-shite crazy - but he lets it go and leaves.
Back at Madeline's place Sam has just finished cooking for Michael and Madeline, when he leaves Mady makes it very clear she knew what he was actually doing there and after he's gone she tells Michael that he should keep her in the loop. Hopefully this means she gets a little more screen time instead of being constantly stonewalled by Michael over every single little thing.
Finally we get to see what was inside the crate with Michael's makeshift x-ray. One military sniper rifle. I'm not sure why they needed to steal that specific one; or why they had to steal one at all, but I guess time will tell.
The episode was a pretty good one on the whole, not the best one so far but pretty decent. It had some decent action and an impressive performance from Method Man really kept things spiced up. It also kept a blistering pace and never seemed to lag, events thundered past and most scenes were over in moments. But this pace did make certain things seem forced, the Eddie/Ricky/Valentine scenario wasn't treated with as much detail as most one off plots are and in some ways that was a shame because the best scenes were the ones that revolved around those three.
Stick/Victor isn't a very interesting character in comparison to Carla, I'm hoping he's just around for the odd episode and if I'm honest I'm not sure why they chose to introduce him to the mix instead of having Carla do the job. It's possible that there is method to their madness and we'll find out why soon. But ultimately he just feels like he's there to get 'sent to Fort Lauderdale' with all the other missing people and as such he's a bit redundant.