Thursday, June 5, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 1, Episode 3

Like the second episode this one too is largely an motw episode, although it does significantly advance Michael's efforts to find out who burned him. As with episode 2, episode 3 also attempts to highlight what a nice guy Michael can be, despite his past.

That was one thing that always struck me as a slightly weak point in the show. To pull off the moves he does in an effort to bring con artists and thugs and the like to justice, Michael and his team, have to outlay a significant amount of money with very little chance of return. Apparently Fiona does jobs on the side, but I don't think she spends her money on Michael's white knight for hire efforts. In episode 2 he took $300 for his efforts, he would have spent two to three times that amount. Initially he did ask for $500, but a filthy look from his mother bargained him down to $300. I assume Oleg (his landlord), who hires him in episode 3, pays him better, but it isn't covered.

Oleg has an employee; Carol, who is scared and being heavier by a local drug lord who she saw up to no good and is planning to testify. So, although it's not totally explained I think Oleg foots the bill. Michael does mutter to Carol at one stage words to that effect.

The meeting with the drug lord highlights something about Michael. He can look very menacing when he wants to, but he generally doesn't. He can however fight and some of the drug lord's underlings find this out to their regret.

We get to see Fiona improvising with Molotov cocktails and Michael turns his mother's garage into a safe house for Carol and her teenage daughter.

It's interaction with said daughter when she runs off to attend a dance at school with a boy she likes who prompts Michael to open up about how he had to leave Fiona in Dublin and never find out what might have been.

In fact the relationship between Michael and Fiona is a secondary theme in this episode. Fiona is officially Michael's ex-girlfriend and business associate as far as he is concerned, but as far as the lady herself is concerned, she wants to be back in a relationship, she even openly wonders if she should help him with his burn notice, because if he can crack that he'll be out of Miami and they'll be off again.

Another theme is Michael's abusive past with his father. Jeffrey Donovan has a small scar beneath one eye. Michael claims his father gave it to him. His father also used to force him to do things like fake seizures in public so he could steal things, it all gave Michael a strong sense of independence and made him a survivor. Where his father is concerned Maddie certainly seems to wear rose coloured glasses, or maybe she just needs to deny the truth to herself. Michael does wind up getting a pretty distinctive and high powered Charger out of it, though. He did need a vehicle, because stealing one all the time was going to become tedious.

There's something this show does that I find quite clever. It has a fairly large cast of characters every episode and, aside from the principals and recurring characters like Oleg and Barry the money launderer, they only appear once and are gone, but we the viewers still need to know who they are. So when they first enter the story a name flashes up on the screen, most of them say something like: Carol, the client or Oleg, the landlord, but occasionally get h a funny one along the lines of: Boris, wannabe Russian warlord, Quentin, small time con artist or Hector, local drug lord.

I believe this episode also marked the first appearance of blueberry yoghurt, which is a staple of Michael and Fiona's diet, although in this it's first appearance Sam is eating it, it's about the only time he ever did. It's also the first time we see Sam use the alias of Charles/Chuck Finley. It was pretty much his go to name. It was just the way he spoke and dressed when using it that changed.

The episode ends with Michael, having blackmailed an Egyptian diplomat/spy, receiving a copy of his notice and coming one step closer to finding out who issued it and why.

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