In this week's Burn Notice Michael is approached by a dead man about killing a nurse. It's the penultimate episode of the current "half-season" and boy is it a doozy.
Read about screwdrivers, home improvement and the undead beyond the link...
This week has Michael and company looking into the details of the sniper (Bill Johnson) they discovered in the previous episode while Michael is also approached by Larry (played brilliantly by Tim Matheson) and asked to perform a hit on a woman. It's worth noting that apparently Larry is considered deceased and this results in one of the best captions this show has ever had with "Larry, Undead Spy" and his term for the target provides another excellent character caption with "Jeanie, Dead-ee".
It turns out Larry isn't dead, but most of the cast wish he was. After just a small amount of time on the screen it's clear why Michael and Sam have such an issue with him. Larry is dangerous in a whole new league, it's clear he's wandered over the line Michael edges near and he's spinning along a wonderful curve of destruction. In short if Michael botches the job by informing the police there will be blood. Buckets of blood. Tim's performance as Larry is just stupendous, he provides such an air of barely concealed menace to all his actions. The scene with the screw driver was just fantastic (though the editors did over expose Michael's reaction when he palmed one of his own 'just in case' - cutting back to his hand more than once is a little OTT).
We get to meet Campbell this week, Fiona's new man friend and it turns out he seems to be nothing more than an ordinary paramedic. But I'll be surprised if he lasts because Michael, Sam and Fi are anything but subtle. The scene with Sam and Campbell in the ambulance was particularly telling, and funny. Sam claiming to be a soil scientist while cocking a gun. My favourite line of the episode also comes from Sam in this scene, when Fi mentions that Larry is good looking Sam quips back "He's alright I guess. He's no Campbell though." A fantastic piece of self aware comedy that skates along the fourth wall without actually breaking it.
I enjoy the little scenes like this were the unreality of Michael's life jars with normal people's. Normally it's just the scenes with Sharon Gless (Madeline) that highlight how unusual Michael's life is. Speaking of which, I was thrilled with the counselling scenes between Madeline and Michael. It was great of the writers to get her a little more involved in the story by having her provide Michael with an idea for a cover identity, something he promptly uses as an item in his required list of "Things he's grateful to his mother for". Needless to say, she's none too impressed with his selection.
We also have another guest star of note in Drew (Larry's client) who is played by Zachary Bryan - one very familiar face as he's from Home Improvement. He gives a solid performance in this, but I'm used to seeing him as a kid/teenager so it was a little odd here. Mostly it's the moment where Larry breaks his neck at the end which I found unsettling.
Ultimately by the end of this episode Michael manages to save Jeanie but (as mentioned) because Drew screws up at the drop off and spooks Larry, Michael is unable to take out Larry. Which gets Drew killed. Larry taunts Michael a little - claiming that he knew Drew was already dead but couldn't take the shot because he cares about his old friend Larry. I suspect it's at least in part because Michael doesn't like to shoot people anymore and in part because the network want to keep Burn Notice lighter and more family friendly.
The episode ends with Michael realising everything he's pulled for Carla and Victor has been support for Bill. A revelation which makes him realise he might be able to find out what the job is. Setting up the final episode nicely, which should be an exciting finish.
Despite the comparatively brief nature of my review this week I enjoyed this episode a lot, Tim Matheson was fantastic as Larry and the show balanced all of it's elements superbly. It holds up alongside the exceptionally Sam Axe-centric episode "Comrades" and as such is one of my favourites so far this season. I look forward to a return appearance from Larry as he's my favourite of all the Burn Notice villains we've seen so far.