Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 15

One episode to go and they made us wait until the very end before we got an indication that the final episode is going to go off like a frog in a sock.

Once again Gilroy uses Michael. This time he infiltrates a house and compound being used by a militant group of 'separatists' or as Michael correctly refers to them white supremacists (do these really exist in the US? They're used in fiction a bit), and while Michael fights a couple of these idiots, Gilroy sneaks in and steals a high powered machine gun.

As usual Gilroy is coy about what he wants it for and what he intends to use it on, but it is all connected to the flight from Chile.

A lot of this episode was about Fiona and her past. A contact called Coleman (Australian actor Jonathan La Paglia, could have played Claude, at least his accent would have been dead on) puts Fiona in touch with an Argentinian called Gabriel. It's never really explained what Gabriel does, but he's paranoid and he has a lot of security and wealth. Fiona's interest is driven by the fact that he's kidnapped a scientist who has a family.

In an attempt to catch Fiona out Gabriel mentions some time she says she's spent in Madrid (she hasn't) and asks her about Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is of course in Barcelona, which Fiona knows. I did think at the time it wasn't a hard question, it's fairly common knowledge. He then sends two of his people to her house to check her passport and see if it has a Madrid stamp.

Michael rushes over and doctors her passport to read right. Again I found this odd. Given what Fiona does (gun running, a bit of bombing on the side) I would have thought she would have had more than one passport and not all the information in them would necessarily be legitimate. It is however another chance for Michael to show off his MacGyver like skills.

Gabriel wastes no time in delving into her background and discovers that Fiona Glenanne once worked for the IRA. We the viewers found out that before Michael got burned she was happily set up somewhere else in the world and dropped everything to be with him. Gabriel doesn't seem to know about Michael.

Sam really only exists in this episode to keep an eye on Fiona and impersonate Chuck Finley, a grass obsessed representative of the local home owners association.

Fiona admits that her involvement with the IRA came about because of the accidental killing of her sister by British forces. Gabriel is using the scientist to try and bring about the downfall of an American company called Apex who dumped deadly waste into the water near his hometown and this killed his daughter. Fiona rescues the scientist and Michael has to rescue Gabriel when he tries to kill himself and Fiona won't leave the burning building unless they at least try and save him.

I had the feeling that this season was the introduction of a character called Simon and that was who Gilroy was trying to get off the plane, for a cool $10 million. There's a double-cross on and Simon leaves Gilroy fatally wounded (always knew he wasn't as a good as he pretended to be), had a bomb strapped to him and Simon is after Michael Westen.

The last episode should be a cracker.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 14

In an episode where I thought they may have been ramping up for the season finale (3 episodes to go) that story largely took a backseat to Michael's other 'job'.

It's largely left to Fiona to massage information out of a Polish diplomat to find out what exactly is on that flight from Chile to Poland via Miami that Gilroy wants so much.

Michael instead gives Sam what he most wants in the world; a job where they spend their time looking at and being around beautiful models.

Unsurprisingly Sam lined this one up. The owner of a a rising Miami based fashion house, a former model herself, suspects that one of her employees is ripping her off and wants Sam and Michael to investigate. You'd think with a buff, suited Jeffrey Donovan up against an ageing, gone to seed, partially shaven Bruce Campbell, the attractive, successful business woman would gravitate to the former, but no, while she likes Michael and appreciates his professionalism, it's Sam she's interested in on a personal level.

It looks pretty open and shut. The company's chief financial officer is skimming, that is until Michael confronts him about it at their client's house and she turns up face down, shot to death in her own swimming pool.

As the CFO has an alibi, he was with Michael at the time, it's a fight to clear his name and protect him from the actual killer; the co founder of the company who has gotten into bed with a very nasty and ruthless accomplice.

Michael gets what he can from the real killer by posing as a drug dealer using the company as a front for his exportation of heroin to the European market. Sam goes undercover by pretending to be a CSI. The show had a little fun with that. On at least two occasions Sam dons mirror shades and uses a bad pun centred around the fashion industry to describe the case. CSI Miami could have almost sued them for it.

While this is going on Fiona is trying to get some of Michael's old military shots from Maddie. to help her with the Polish diplomat. Maddie likes Fiona...a lot, but she knows when she's being lied to and it's something Michael has to explain later on.

The fact that Gilroy is after a person, not a thing and a dangerous person at that is probably what sets up the finale, which will play out over the final two episodes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 13

For the third episode in a row the show opens with Gilroy meeting up with Michael. This time it's in a spa at a hotel. Michael doesn't like spas, he finds the water too hot. The embassy job is off. Gilroy wants Michael to get him a bunch of flight plans. Michael maintains that this is more risky than stealing something from a foreign embassy. Considering that he did it by asking Sam to hit up an old SEAL buddy working for the Coast Guard for a favour, that seemed to be a rather inaccurate argument.

I did kind of wonder about Gilroy at this point, though. How good is he really? Michael didn't see him activate the firebomb in the hotel, nor does he really know who was shooting at him at the stadium. He knows it was a sniper at the hotel when Fiona got shot at. He's only going on the assumption that Gilroy actually pulled the earlier jobs with the firebombing assassination of the British scientist and the shooting at the soccer stadium because of what happened to him. He didn't want to steal into the embassy himself and he can't get the flight plans on his own. He may be forced to back down if Michael wants to take him on face to face.

The real story is what happens when Michael gets back to his loft and finds a dead body down stairs and Larry the formerly dead spy upstairs. The dead guy works for a Columbian drug cartel and the six tear drops on his tattoo indicate that he has six kills to his name (Larry thinks that makes him an amateur).

Now why does a Columbian drug cartel killer want Michael Westen dead? That would be because Larry ripped them off to the tune of 2 million dollars and used Michael's name as his alias. Larry is currently using the alias of dead shoe salesman Larry Garber (I did wonder if the surname was a sneaky Alias reference. Actor Victor Garber played super spy Jack Bristow in that show). So to get the cartel off his back Michael has to help Larry get away with a cool 2 million somehow, he'll also need to protect Larry's accomplice, the inept stage magician Jack Fleetwood aka Jablonski.

I liked seeing Carlos Gomez as the angry Columbian cartel character Carlos. It was a change of pace from the other role I remember him in; mild mannered Latino coroner Carlos Sanchez in The Glades.

Most of it is standard Michael Westen. He saves Jack, manages to give Carlos back his cartel's money and leaves Larry trying to explain a very sticky situation to the police.

I think they returned Larry to point out that the more Michael gets involved with Gilroy (and I still don't really know why that is) the more like Larry he becomes. There was a bust up this time with Sam over the flight plans and it nearly broke up the friendship.

In other developments Nate came back from Las Vegas with a wife. He met and married card dealer Ruth within a month. I give the marriage about that long. Maddie cannot stand her, but Nate wants her to move out to Vegas. On the one hand that would get her out of Michael's hair and away from the danger that he brings with him. On the other hand it takes away a place to hide, a mother who he is only now starting to actually know and a good friend for his associates. Maddie refuses to go and Nate and Ruth go back to Vegas without her. As Maddie says her place is there in Miami with Michael, and Sam and Fiona. She didn't actually say the word family, but it's pretty clear that as far as Maddie is concerned Sam and Fiona are very bit as much her family as Michael and Nate are.

Now we just have to wonder why Gilroy wants information about a flight from the Chilean embassy in Miami to Poland. Michael doesn't believe the bio weapon cargo story he was told for a minute.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 12

Still desperate to get an in with Gilroy (not really sure why, unless he wants to kill the guy and offer this up to the CIA as proof that he's still really one of the good guys) Michael meets with him in a French restaurant (there's an amusing exchange with Sam outside in which we find out that the former Navy SEAL definitely does not appreciate French cuisine) and is rail roaded into stealing into an embassy with an accomplice of Gilroy's choosing. A thief who goes by the name of Claude.

On Claude, I initially wondered if his background was English, because he had a sort of British accent, similar to the one Michael affected in an early Season 2 episode, but not quite as obviously fake. It turned out that he was actually Australian, formerly of the Australian Secret Service. If American shows are going to cast a character as Australian I do wish they'd at least find an Australian actor, or at the very least a New Zealander (similar to Manu Bennett playing an Australian agent in Arrow), because for some reason Americans CANNOT replicate an Australian accent. This one sounded sort of East End London, but never really entered Australian waters. Thank goodness the character only lasted for one episode.

While Michael is deciding whether or not to take the job, and being urged not to by Fiona, a flashy car rolls up and out gets Sugar. For those who cannot remember Sugar used to live downstairs from Michael. He was a flashy low life drug dealer and Michael 'convinced' him to move out.

Understandably Michael didn't think he'd ever see Sugar again. This time he wants to hire Michael. A vicious, but successful criminal is using his mentally disabled cousin on a job he's planning. Initially Michael doesn't want to take the job, because working for Gilroy is hard enough without having to babysit Sugar on a job. Fiona pressures him into doing it. Apparently she thinks it's rather cute that Sugar is looking out for his cousin. Sam also becomes rather attached to the young man when he meets him.

Sugar's willingness to get involved gets him shot and Michael is lucky to get out and get the drug dealer into hospital.

His method of dealing with the criminal was one of his usual represent himself as another criminal with connections and a willingness to play dirty, then double-cross them and leave the police to make an easy arrest.

Claude's penchant for free climbing is his undoing when Michael sabotages the climb prior to Claude going up and he breaks his ankle. Gilroy still wants to go ahead with it, just Michael gets his wish of working alone. Gilroy claims Claude died of complications with his broken ankle. This is concerning, that Gilroy will so blithely kill anyone he doesn't need, because Michael will try and double cross him.

It may be a result of watching them back to back the way I am, but the show has become a little formulaic. I think what interested me the first time around wasn't the jobs Michael pulled, but more his interactions with his friends and family.

That's on display again in one of the show's nicer moments. To Michael's concern Maddie gets a good citizenship award from the local police force. She got it for reporting stolen cars, usually ones that Michael himself had stolen! The kicker was that Sam nominated her, and he doesn't even really live in the neighbourhood as such. Understandably Maddie wants to show her son off at the event, Nate's still in Las Vegas trying to get his limo business off the ground. She even buys Michael an awful clip on tie to wear. Initially he says he can't go because of the job he's working on. He does eventually attend complete with the gauche tie. Him showing up was all that was important to Maddie and they leave before she's even given her award, she also tells him that he can ditch the tie, which he gratefully does.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 11

We get to meet Gilroy this episode (the British assassin, who Michael refers to as a psychopath), he appears to have taken over from Strickler as the Big Bad.

He apparently worked for Strickler and Michael's killing of the man hasn't done him a lot of favours. Michael claims that he killed Strickler because he didn't want a middle man. Gilroy reminded me of a rogue James Bond actually, although he does one thing Bond doesn't, he uses other people. To underline how much he knows and how Michael can never know exactly what he's going to do or who to, he has a hidden sniper take a shot at Fiona, who has eyes on the meeting between Michael and Gilroy.

I always saw this sort of thing as a weakness. Unless you have allies like Fiona and Sam, who do what they do for Michael out of friendship/love/loyalty, then you're vulnerable. Gilroy doesn't strike me as the type who has friends, so finding who he's using could give you significant leverage against him and even the fight up to a one on one.

Sam's moving out of Maddie's place to move in with Mrs Reynolds and her daughter Miss Reynolds. Apparently either Sam is a phenomenal lover or Miss Reynolds is very forgiving, because everyone thought his bridges were burned there after Michael sent the Buick to it's death from a rooftop car park.

Maddie tells Sam that someone has arrived for him, an old friend. Sam walks in, sees the guy and slugs him in the face. His name is Mack and they have a history. Sam was close mouthed about what it was, saying it was personal, but even if I hadn't seen the episode before I still would have guessed it had to do with a woman. In this case it was Sam's wife, who also later left Mack. It seemed a little at odds with what Sam told Fiona about his wife, who he never divorced, so I'm wondering if she married Mack and thus committed bigamy, or maybe this is a different wife? I'm not sure if he's been married more than once, although if he has that also seems against odds with the story he told Fiona when Veronica wanted to get married to him.

Those things aside Mack is working in conjunction with the police locating kids, mostly they're the subject of custody disputes and he's now after a nasty piece of work, a Latino predator called Rincon. He can't get close to the guy and he's hoping Sam and his associates can. Exactly how he tracked down Sam is also never explained, it's rather like how people just know where Michael is living when it's convenient for the plot.

To get to Rincon, who has hidden in the barrio, they need the cooperation of a local gang banger, Omar. Omar is a gangster, but he tries to do what he can for the neighbourhood. He's not willing to help 'gringos' like Mack, Sam and Fiona, so Michael dons a bright red suit and adopts his best Clint Eastwood Man Without a Name impersonation to intimidate them into cooperating. They made a joke out of every time he snapped his fingers something exploded.

This brought him into conflict with Vargas (cult hero Danny Trejo playing a latino gangster, colour me surprised there!). Rincon and Vargas were working together and he was protecting Rincon. That was until Michael Westen and Co teamed up with Omar. They took Rincon into custody and chased Vargas out, thus reclaiming their neighbourhood.

Progress was made on the Gilroy front too, with Gilroy observing Michael at work with Omar and deciding that he is the type of person he wants to work with.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 10

There was a 'this is what you missed' voice over this episode as well, so maybe I got it wrong about the break between 8 and 9. 9 just had that feel of coming back after a break at the start.

Michael is dealing with the fall out from Strickler's death (which seems to be being brushed under the carpet) and Diego's, which for once Michael is not suspected of being involved with. They have however put the 'unburn Michael Westen' project on hiatus. Fiona can't work with her arm, so Michael agrees to take on one of her cases involving an insurance scam that has taken the life of the husband of a young lady called Calia.

I still don't really understand Michael's motivation to get back into the CIA. I watched The Avengers the other night and the Black Widow's comments about having 'red on her ledger' made me think of Michael Westen. Michael has a 'hero complex', he's 'white knighting' all over Miami to square things after what he did in the service of his country for the past 20 or so years. If he goes back to the CIA, who have a reputation for being rather unethical, what does he do when he's told to do something against his principles, something that may hurt innocents for the 'greater good'? It's not like he can just say no. Now if he's offered a job he doesn't want he can walk away. He can't do that with the CIA. While Strickler was a detestable human being he wasn't wrong when he told Michael that the CIA wouldn't allow him to work with a former member of an illegal paramilitary unit who runs guns. Nor would they look kindly on his habit of involving a retired out of shape Navy SEAL on jobs.

He gets word about Diego's killer and goes to meet him in a hotel. The desk clerk has been told to expect someone matching Michael's description and hands him an envelope addressed to him. It contains a room number. Just as Michael reaches the room, the door is open and it's firebombed. Sam says that matched what happened to a British scientist some years ago.

Michael is later contacted by someone with an upper class British accent and told to go to the abandoned Mariners stadium. There he has a conversation with the same British accent while shots from a sniper rifle are fired all around him. That tallies up with a shooting in a South American soccer stadium. So Michael is either dealing with a master assassin or someone with the same skills who likes to copy notorious incidents.

On top of this he's infiltrating the insurance scam by pretending to be a teeth sucking, loose cannon redneck driver. The car came in handy here, because it really sold the image he was trying to project.

I noticed the name Tyne Daly in the opening credits and she turned out to be a county records clerk who could give them what they needed to crack the insurance scam. When she proved immune to Sam's charm, they sent Maddie in to make friends with her. Unfortunately she took that too literally and they became BFF's.

Part of the joke there was that Sharon Gless (Maddie) and Tyne Daly worked together and made their names in the cop show Cagney and Lacey, so this was a good chance to see the two together again.

Maddie is forced to betray her new friend and hates Michael for what he has to have her do. He later makes it up by staging a break in, so that no one will ever know Maddie's former friend took the records and she gets to keep her job. They also break the insurance scam wide open and give Calia some money and peace of mind.

The appearance of Tyne Daly and Michael's deadly cat and mouse game with the British assassin aside, this was a fairly standard episode, but it has launched well into the second part of the season.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 9

The voice over by Jeffrey Donovan at the start of episode 9 to bring newcomers or people who can't remember where the show left of kind of indicates that episode 8 was a half season show and there was some sort of break in between the two episodes.

Fiona's still definitely leaving, she's heading back home to Ireland. In fact people's pasts is a recurring theme in the show. Maddie's thinking of selling her house (she figures with Michael getting his old job back and Fiona moving away she doesn't really need it), and that stirs up a few feelings in Michael. He says he hates the house, but he does have memories of it, and they weren't all bad. Plus it's a great place for him to stash people.

Strickler was true to his word (surprise surprise) and has got the CIA looking seriously at reinstating Michael, something that Diego has advised strongly against. Diego really doesn't like Michael and I'm not sure why. He's also very worried that Michael worked for Tom Strickler.

Fiona's attempt to go back home is postponed by the arrival of her brother Sean (played by Gideon Emery, currently Deucalion in Teen Wolf). Fiona's wanted back home and a character by the name of Thomas O'Neill has come to town to kill her (O'Neill was played by Paul 'Harry Dresden' Blackthorne. Blackthorne has been in everything, he's currently playing Quentin Lance in Arrow, but he'll always be wizard for hire Harry Dresden to me).

Unfortunately the arrival of Sean and O'Neill means Michael Westen has to become Michael McBride again complete with dodgy accent. In fact both Gideon Emery and Paul Blackthorne also have to adopt fake Irish accents, and neither actor is Irish, Fiona gets to keep her American accent. Blackthorne's accent was particularly bad, it slipped all over the place. There is what is meant to be an amusing line when Michael says he'll use an American accent to approach O'Neill and Sean says that the accent sounds dodgy.

Michael does save Fiona from O'Neill, although she says that she doesn't want to be his 'client'. Doing it actually means totalling the Buick (I think the relationship between Sam and Miss Reynolds is over) and getting Sean shot. Fiona also gets winged. Maddie's living room resembles a casualty ward with both of them recuperating there, and she also decides not to sell.

Things get rather heated between Strickler and Michael, when he puts O'Neill onto Fiona, because he says Michael can't reenter the CIA with a former IRA bomber and current gun runner as a girlfriend. The meeting winds up with Michael shooting Strickler dead and Diego is also implicated and winds up dead before Michael can reach him.

Michael walks away from Diego's body thinking that the only thing worse than an enemy you can see is one you can't.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 8

In Season 2 of Burn Notice it was highly noticeable that episode 8 was the half season kickstarter. It's not like that in Season 3. It is the halfway point of the season, Season 3 is 16 episodes, just like Season 2 was, but this is far more like a standard episode, and the alteration in the stories focus came about a few episodes ago when Paxson was effectively replaced by Strickler.

So Michael has gone over to the dark side (working for Strickler) and Fiona is not happy about it. She's even less happy when he calmly involves his mother in what he's doing for Strickler. Okay, they had to plant someone at a bingo game and Maddie's less noticeable in that setting than anyone else Michael can call on and it's low risk, but as Fiona points out it flies in the face of Michael's previous policy to try and protect his family from getting into what he does. It may be low risk, but there is still a risk and he's thrown Maddie under the bus to get back into the CIA, which has become an obsession. Considering what they did to him, how quick they were to drop him and the startling lack of interest that they have shown in him I don't know why he's so desperate to get back in. There's also no guarantee that Strickler is telling the truth. This guy lies like the rest of us breathe.

Complicating matters a bit is Barry. Honestly why Paul Tei does not get an opening credit is beyond me. He, like Maddie, is an unofficial member of Team Michael Westen.

His 'little black book' has gone missing. Yes, Barry keeps his clients details in a hand written ledger, which he doesn't even store very securely. He claims that in this digital age it's a selling factor. Computers are too easy to hack and access.

His girlfriend (I'm betting now his ex-girlfriend) was the one who took it and sold it for $100,000. It's worth a whole lot more. The girlfriend, played by Debi Mazar (who I remember as Vincent Chase's foul mouthed press agent in Entourage), is not the brightest crayon in the box, she takes a swing at Fiona with a garden implement and gets punched in the face for her trouble. Then Fiona proves that her car was wired to explode by tripping the device and blowing it up.

They got an address from her and Michael and Sam went to check it out. They met a mobster type and a woman he was abusing at the house, so took them prisoner. They stashed them in a holiday getaway Sam had intended to use for a weekend of loving with Miss Reynolds (Maddie's neighbours daughter, who still lets Sam use the bright red Buick).

They picked the woman out as the weak link and tried to get Fiona to cozy up to her. Through her they got another address where they found her passport, the other guy's passport and someone else, who the 'mobster' claimed would release the information in the ledger to the internet if anything happened to him.

The passport should have tipped them off. The guy was a Serbian interrogator. Why would he want a money launderer's ledger? How would he move it? Michael and Co didn't twig and it took the other guy to let them know that the whole operation was being controlled by a woman. The same one Fiona was getting friendly with.

Sam and Michael raced back and Fiona had already let her out of the cuffs. Michael had to get her out of the way and lock up the other woman without letting her know they were onto her. He had a number of options open, but he elected to hit Fiona in the face. This is a result of working with Strickler and using his methods. Fiona let Michael know in very certain terms that he was on extremely thin ice with her after that.

They let the woman escape and tracked her. Fiona confronted her. It ended in a stalemate, as while Fiona doesn't want to incur collateral damage, her adversary had no qualms about that. She walked away and melted into the crowd, but they got Barry's ledger back.

It had another happy coincidence. Barry holed up at Maddie's just in case and got her a good deal on fixing her roof. Sam's bomb at the end of Season 2 had damaged the roof so that every time it rained (it rains a lot in Florida) it leaked.

Fiona tells Michael that she doesn't like the path he's headed down or what it's doing to him and walks so she doesn't have to witness it. That could be the tip off that this is half season, but it's not as climactic as last season's one. And Michael falls further into Strickler's web.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 7

Strickler is still trying to woo Michael with gifts, this time it's body lotion, complete with an attractive woman to apply it. I doubt even if Fiona hadn't been there Michael would have taken her up on the offer. Of course with Fiona being there, had he accepted the offer, it may have ended up with a double homicide. It was nice to see that nightclub Michael lives next to is still in operation. Haven't seen Oleg since about the second episode of Season 1, though. Apparently, according to the conversation Michael and Fiona have, he's never actually been to the club as a patron.

Michael returns Strickler's gift and tells him that he won't work for him and then goes to Diego (his new CIA contact) and drops Strickler's name on his desk, which means whether he wants to or not, he has to investigate the guy.

Later at Fiona's house they realise its been broken into, and that means entering with guns drawn. The culprit is 13 year old boy. Michael chases him down and is told that he stole the gun to shoot his stepfather. Under proper questioning it comes out that the stepfather is abusive, and the boy felt his mother was preparing to kill the guy, and he's also trying to get custody of the boy and his younger half sister. Exactly why he chose Fiona's house to break into and steal a firearm from is never really explained, but presumably he somehow knew she'd have weapons in the house.

The kid's story pushes pretty much all of Fiona and Michael's hot buttons and they go after this guy with a vengeance, while Maddie puts the wife and her children up at her place.

Michael plays a client who got sold a hot Lotus and now has a hit squad after him. He plays it angry and this gives him a lot of opportunities to hit the abusive stepfather in the stomach repeatedly. He seems to find an excuse to do it nearly every time he meets with the guy.

With Sam and Fiona posing as a hit team, they fake their own deaths and have the businessman running scared. Unfortunately his brother (played by Nicholas Lea, best known as 'Ratboy' from The X-Files) finds him before he can run and that means that Michael, Sam and Fiona have to put a twist on the job and make everyone else think that their target made it all up and is delusional.

They use a fun literary device to set this in place. Michael mentions a job they pulled in Russia involving an alcoholic KGB colonel. They've done this a few times. It indicates that Sam and Michael worked together a lot in the past and Sam seems to have done a lot of covert work that most Navy SEALs don't do. There was a film made called The Fall of Sam Axe, which kind of explains how Sam and Michael hooked up, but it was made largely to introduce some plot elements in Season 5 of the show and doesn't really cover how Sam ended up doing as much covert work as he does.

There's a happy ending with the bad guy's wife getting the $40,000 he paid Sam and Fiona to take care of his problem and the young man has a serious case of hero worship involving Michael, there's a hint he may wind up becoming a version of Michael one day.

Diego refuses to give Michael any assurances about getting his old job back and Michael feels forced to work for Strickler, not a good move at all.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 6

A fruit basket, or in the case of Michael Westen, a yoghurt basket (blueberry of course) arrives on his door step. Both Fiona and Michael assume it's a welcome back gift from the CIA. Fiona is none too happy about this.

The card that came with the basket gives Michael a meeting place. only the man he meets with is not CIA. His name is Tom Strickler, he's described as an agent to the spies and he wants to put Michael on his books. If you look up the word sleaze in the dictionary I could imagine there would be a picture of Strickler next to it. Michael refuses his deal, but does get told that there's a grudge holding Ukrainian from Michael's past who is in town and looking to settle an old score. This is another example of what Management told him life would be like without them.

Interesting aside. The bad guy is called Chechik and the previous episode of the show was directed by a Jeremiah Chechik, they're not the same person, because the Ukrainian's first name is Piotr. (The things you find out when looking up Wiki for information).

Fiona has knowledge of a local gun runner by the name of John Beck who may be able to help. While Michael is trying to negotiate with Beck, it's not going well, Beck has just offered to shoot Michael in the face, Chechik makes his move and sends in an extraction team.

They take both Michael and Beck into their van and head off to a rendezvous point somewhere in the Everglades. Michael escapes and takes Beck with him, and thus sets off a manhunt through the swamps. This is the first time that the show ever exploited the Everglades in an episode and its surprising that it took so long. No alligators show up, but we do get swamps and air boats. Chechik and his men use them and Sam and Fiona come to the rescue in one.

Beck gets shot although not fatally and Michael uses him as bait to draw Chechik and his men after him, where he uses guerrilla warfare tactics to get the upper hand.

Michael managed to leave a clue in the restaurant before he was taken, so that Fiona and Sam could come after him. They find the pilot who brought Chechik into Florida and take him back to Maddie's house to interrogate. They get precisely nowhere and it's actually Maddie that gets the information needed. She does this very cleverly. Just sits down smoking and talking casually about how Sam and Fiona simply kill people off hand if they don't get what they're after. Offers him a smoke, because it's not like he'll live long enough to worry about cancer, and very soon after strolls into the kitchen and provides a location. Maddie has come a long way since Season 1, and we've got an indication of maybe where Michael picked up some of his unique skills.

Once Chechik and his men are subdued, Beck calls some of his own people and there's a definite hint that he's going to follow the example set by Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction of what to do to people who hurt him.

Apparently Chechik had a price on his head, and Strickler offers that to Michael. Michael turns it down, because while he did earn it, taking it makes him owe Strickler for something and that just smacks of how Carla treated him in the previous season. We haven't seen the last of him either. He's not a Big Bad as such, but he could be working for one.

There's also an indication that Sam and Maddie have a bit of an Odd Couple thing happening. Their friendship is totally platonic, but when Maddie thinks Michael is in danger she tells Sam to get him back or remember that he lives in her house and she can kill him in his sleep. Like I said, Michael is his mother's son.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 5

This one was played partly for laughs.

Michael is bailed up by a mathematical savant, who has worked out what he is and will shout it to the world if he doesn't get some sort of assistance.

He turns out to believe in aliens, and has the theory that there are bad aliens who are killing good aliens, and that his boss at the place where he works watering the plants (he's escaped from psych wards multiple times, and in fact spends most of this episode on the run, so can't get a job doing what he does best) is one of the bad aliens.

Sam and Michael work out from new clippings that he collects which bear out his theories that good aliens = covert operatives. It turns out that his boss is working against the state department for money and is causing American operatives to wind up dead.

Michael pulls his fake identity trick to make her believe that he's on her side and working for their superiors to keep the whole thing a secret, then when he gets what he wants locks her in the vault and delivers her to the authorities anonymously.

Sam absolutely nails it as the falsely cheerful team work specialist, whose name is unsurprisingly Charles Finley (I don't think Sam ever used another cover name). I've seen people like this at work places and he was dead on.

Fiona is really the only person who can deal with Spencer (the conspiracy theorist, who amusingly enough was played by an actor named Michael Weston). She treats him rather like a small child, which is how he acts a lot of the time.

Fiona also points out to Michael that his attempts to get his old job back is going beyond trying to clear his name, it has become an obsession. She also fears that if he gets it back that's the end of any chance they have of rekindling their relationship.

Michael does manage to make a new contact in the CIA, and while he doesn't rule out things changing for Michael, he really doesn't think the situation will alter that much. There is however a glimmer of hope.

Paul Tei (Barry the money launderer) is in the show so much this season that he really should get an opening credit, rather than a guest one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 4

He managed to get her partner suspended, but Paxson still won't quit on Michael. She assigns him a 24 X 7 police detail to cramp his style and doesn't seem to really care that it could quite possibly get him and maybe even the police on the detail killed. She also puts a tax auditor onto Sam, who I imagine is probably quite creative with his returns. I don't know why she didn't ask the department of immigration to look into Fiona. I doubt she's a US citizen and her background could mark her as an undesirable immigrant.

In retaliation Michael decides to make her life a little more difficult by following her around on stakeouts. He used a similar tactic with Bly, and she can't operate the way he did in public or private. This is when he gets what seemed to be to me a bizarre idea. He decides to make her a client and take out a criminal who plays on drug dealers that she can't touch. I personally think this would make her worse, not better. Part of her problem with Michael is that he's a vigilante who works outside the law. It doesn't matter to her that he does in his own way clean up the streets of Miami, it bothers her that he's not legally authorised to do so and frequently has to break the law to do it.

Sam has issues with the auditor. When he got the name of Stacey Conolly, he assumed it was going to be a lady he could charm, but Stacy turns out to be a bespectacled by the book MALE auditor who seems determined to make Sam Axe's life a living hell. It later turns out that he's the son of one of Sam's string of female companions and he's harboured a grudge against the Lothario for making himself into a hero and a role model in the kid's eyes and then walking out of their lives. This is his chance for revenge. Sam explains that it was Stacey's mother who threw him out not the other way around. They become friends and Sam's tax issues are done with.

Michael targets Paxson's nemesis (played by regular bit part actor Erik Palladino) and he's a thug and bully who it will be an absolute pleasure to deliver into the hands of the Miami PD. He uses a small time criminal with a gambling problem; Tommy (acted by another very good bit part actor in Nicholas Turturro).

Michael represents himself to Tommy as Milo, a down and out small time thief from New York with his friends, the gum chewing Bianca (Fiona) with the Fran Fine voice, and the menacing sunglass wearing Chuck (Sam), we never heard 'Chuck's' surname, but I'm betting it was Finley. Tommy likes them and uses them as his crew.

It's rather amusing seeing them take down a dry cleaners store for a few thousand dollars and actually direct Tommy in how to do it successfully, but still make it look like it's all his idea. Rather the way 99 often directs Max Smart on missions.

When Tommy gets tasked with being the front man on a meth lab raid Michael comes clean and they work the deal so that his boss Matheson gets caught when the cops turn up and finds himself slammed face down on the hood of a police car being cuffed by Paxson.

Tommy decides to go straight. He takes the cropped greyhound he bought to save it from being put down and goes to St Louis where his mother lives. He thinks he may start a kennel.

Surprisingly Paxson is grateful to Michael (I really thought it could have gone the other way). She agrees to stop hassling him, but does warn him to keep his nose as clean as he can. I doubt we've seen the last of her.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 3

And Detective Paxson continues to be a pain in the arse.

She interrupts Michael's very rare down time, but getting Nate to knock on the door, and once he answers it she and her off sider barge on him and start hassling Michael.

She's shown that she will bother his family by bringing Nate in. Fortunately Nate is experienced at not giving a straight answer to questions from the police, and so won't 'flip' on his brother. Maddie doesn't have the experience, but she's one 'tough old broad' and would never rat on either of her boys. Fiona and Sam, being an ex terrorist and Navy SEAL respectively also aren't about to be cracked by some uptight detective. However others friends and family might.

I don't think Michael has family outside of his mother and Nate, but people like Seymour the arms dealer and Barry the money launderer could be easy targets. Barry's already been heavied into wearing a wire once by Bly. So they have to give Paxson a headache of her own, like setting up a fake financial partnership with someone at the Mayor's office.

Enter Barry. While Sam and Fiona are doing that with Barry, at Maddie's house, apparently Sam is living there full time now, Maddie is getting to know Barry and Michael's waiting to see what happens, in walks Brennen.

Brennen was the unscrupulous black marketeer who strapped a bomb to Michael's ex-fiance in the last season. He's still unpleasant and this time he's got Nate in his pocket. The younger Westen had started a limousine business, he's just got a mysterious new investor, which is Brennen. The deal is that Michael does what he wants and Nate lives, if he doesn't Brennen will have his hired gun kill Nate slowly and painfully.

Barry comes in handy again, the entire time Michael is dancing on the end of Brennen's string he's got Barry with Fiona and Sam investigating his life via his financial records.

Barry impersonates a British banker (despite him saying he doesn't do a good British accent, it's better than Michael's Irish one and he went undercover with that) and makes Brennen believe Michael has managed to siphon in excess of 200,000 British pounds out of an account. That still doesn't get the gun removed from Nate's temple, and he's already been shot in the arm. What does is when Michael gambles on Brennen's daughter's name and where she goes to school.

That threat freaks Brennen out. He lets Nate and Michael go. He also tells Michael that if anything happens to his daughter he will end him. Michael sold that well, Brennen did initially say that isn't Michael and it isn't, but where his family is concerned he can get very nasty.

There were two nice little post scripts to this episode. One is Maddie's growing friendship with Barry. The two of them did become very close over the course of the show's run.

The other was Paxson turning up again at Michael's loft, sans her partner, who had gotten suspended when he attempted to investigate the deputy Mayor over a financial partnership she appeared to have with Michael. Score another point for Barry. Paxson claims she's only getting started, but Michael is under her skin in a big way and she still has no idea what she's getting herself into.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 2

Now that they've established the situation Michael finds himself in, and it is if anything even worse than before, it's time to add the overarching season plot into the mix and set up this season's Big Bad.

Fiona has brought her latest bounty (she's apparently still bringing in the odd bail jumper to justice on the side, to go with her illegal arms dealing and helping Michael out) to the loft and is trying to convince Michael that it's not a bad way to pick up extra money. On the way out they encounter Detective Paxson (Moon Bloodgood, now starring in Falling Skies). Without Management to cover up the trail of wreckage that Michael Westen and Co leave behind them, he has come under the radar of the Miami PD and Detective Paxson has made it her personal crusade to take the former spy off the streets. I was a bit disappointed with the choice of her as Big Bad. She claims to be our boy's worst nightmare, but given that he's gone head to head with the likes of Bly, Carla and Victor and come out on top she can't be any more than an annoyance. She has however an extremely dedicated annoyance.

One storyline has Michael trying and succeeding for the most part to stay one step ahead and at the same time piss off Paxson. That involved using a water saw to break into his own storage unit and remove all the C4 that he has in there. Fiona points out that if he had actually used the C4 he wouldn't have had to do that in the first place.

The other storyline involves Fiona and a client she has in her bounty hunter business. It also involves a father who seems reluctant to return his son to the mother and that always interests Fiona and makes her reach for the guns.

As it turns out the father has every intention of returning his son to his wife, but can't because the child has been kidnapped and the abductor (a seriously nasty piece of work) is trying to get some diamonds out of the father, who works for a diamond company.

The trick is to find the child, and that's where Sam playing crooked cop Detective Finley (never heard his first name, but I bet it was Charles or Chuck) and he and Michael pull a con to make the kidnapper let them know where the boy is stashed. That was actually rather clever and it was pulled as a reverse interrogation.

Sam is still driving around in the Buick and I think Maddie's neighbour's daughter is the new love of his life, apparently she rebuilt the Buick's engine herself. I've never really got the impression that Sam is a car nut in that way, but it looks like he is. The Buick is very nice, but the colour and style really make it stand out, so it's not ideal for covert surveillance. I really hope they don't trash it.

Not only do Michael and his team return the child to his parents and hear the kidnappers turn on and shoot each other, but they also reunite the parents. It's very much a happy ever after ending.

Now Michael has to find a way to get Paxson off his back. It's really as much for her own safety as anything. She's simply not equipped to go up against or get involved with the some of the other people who will be after and/or dealing with the former spy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 3, Episode 1

Episode 1 of Burn Notice's 3rd season continues the tradition started at the end of Season 1 by picking up where the final episode of the previous season ended (they didn't do this the entire way through the show's run, though).

Michael swims the five miles back to Miami Beach, losing his shoes, socks and shirt in the process and winds up on the beach, exhausted. He's almost immediately spotted by police who give chase. I'm not exactly sure why or why Michael ran. It's not normal for someone to land on the beach wearing a singlet and suit slacks, but it's also not illegal. He does make it worse by running and appropriating a tourist t-shirt and pair of cheap sunglasses though. I still think it was overkill to have a bunch of armed cops and squad cars apprehend him, however.

There is an indication when he breaks into a hotel utility closet and uses the switchboard to make a call to Fiona that Management have withdrawn their protection and they tipped off the police that he was involved in the incident at the marina, which wound up with 2 dead people (Carla and Victor) and a large disturbance.

Whatever the reason Michael finds himself in the local city prison wearing a stylish orange jumpsuit. Sam visits and says that he's doing the best to get him out, including using his own contacts in law enforcement, but the lack of id (the CIA got rid of all that when they burned him) isn't helping matters. Management have sent his sunglasses back (he left them in the helicopter when he jumped out) and a card wishing him good luck. He's definitely going to need it.

Bail comes in the form of Harlan, a former Special Forces friend of Michael's from his days in the middle east. Michael is quite rightly suspicious of this guy, but he does let his guard down remarkably quickly, which is a common criticism of mine with the show. The character of Michael is far too trusting a lot of the time, especially considering his background in covert operations, where lying has been elevated to an art form.

In addition to helping Harlan out with a case he's taken on involving a young Mexican girl who has a cartel attempting to take over her family's land, he's also got to deal with a pissed off Maddie. The bomb that Sam improvised gutted the front half of her house. Interestingly enough the rooms there are gutted, yet the facade doesn't look to have been damaged at all, including the plants, some of which should have been burned by the explosion. Sam's spending a lot of time at Maddie's helping her fix the damage and romancing the 39 year old daughter of her neighbour, who lets him drive around in the shiny red Buick.

I felt this episode was a perfect chance to bring back Lucy and get her to check out Harlan's story, but China Chow may have been busy, Barry the money launderer does appear so that he can created a believable background for Michael to get an in with Rufino, the bad guy. Michael portrays himself as a snivelling functionary for another organisation and to prove his cover even allows Rufino's vicious 2IC Falcone (played by professional villain Jeff Kober, I can't ever remember seeing him play a good guy) to dislocate his shoulder.

As I suspected once they get Rufino, Harlan turns and kills the guy. He also tried to kill Michael. He apparently holds a grudge from the Special Forces days when he was largely used as the fetch and carry guy. Michael gets the better of him and leaves him for his enemies.

I liked the brief case that they inserted knives into. That was very reminiscent of the one carried by James Bond in From Russia with Love, although that one also had rods of ammunition, belts of gold sovereigns and a bomb that went off if anyone tried to open it without the correct combination.

Harlan is just the first of many that will come for Michael Westen now that Management no longer have his back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 16

Whatever other issues I have with Burn Notice, and they really are few and far between, they pull out all stops with their season finales.

Unlike last season this was largely done in the one episode and there's so much going on that you find yourself wondering how they fit it all into 40 - 45 minutes of TV.

It turns out that both Carla and Victor have something in common with Michael. They both claim to be burned agents. We get very little detail about Carla, but Victor is more forthcoming.

This may be attributed to him being tied to a chair while Fiona is armed with a shotgun packing bean bag rounds (they won't kill, but they hurt like hell) when they ask him questions.

Victor claims that Carla killed his family to get him to work for her organisation. It's never given a name it's just referred to as Management. He could of course be lying, but no one thinks he is. It fits with Carla. This of course makes Michael worry for Maddie. Victor effectively becomes his client and they determine to go after Carla and Management. Victor has a dossier on Carla, but they'll have to go through her people to get to it.

Sam had instructions to take Maddie to Orlando and keep her safe there. I was hoping Sam could get her to go for it. Would have been great fun to see her and Sam avoiding Carla's people at Disneyworld. She refuses to leave, especially because Michael is in danger. Maddie's a walking contradiction. She does everything to keep fit, including popping her many pills, yet she smokes like a chimney. Even when Sam comes to pick her up, she's exercising to a workout video with lit cigarette firmly between lips.

Sam employs some of Michael's ingenuity and uses a set of Christmas lights as an incendiary device that temporarily disables the hit squad Carla sent after Maddie. This lets them take the neighbours highly visible bright red Buick. Maddie refuses to go outside of Miami and tells Sam to go help Michael, she figures that if they can find her amongst all the other peroxide blonde retirees in Miami then they're welcome to try, and she has a point. Maddie would be able to hide in plain sight better than anyone else on Team Michael Westen.

While I'm on the subject of visible cars Michael should really ditch the Charger. I know the idea is that it's identified with him, but that's part of it's problem. It stands out. It's as much part of him now as the Winchester's Impala or General Lee with the Duke boys. Fiona's penchant for high performance sports cars is also highly visible, but she switches them around pretty regularly.

He unveiled a new skill during a chase. While Victor was driving he was able to shoot at a pursuer, but ricochet the bullets off the ground so that they came up through the floorboards at the other driver, now that takes talent.

We also see a major difference between Michael and Victor. It's a possible weakness, although I'm sure Michael sees it as a strength. Michael doesn't like killing people and will do what he can to avoid that. Victor doesn't enjoy it, but he sees it as a natural consequence of him staying alive, largely he stays alive so he can take revenge on Carla and whoever she works for.

Carla does manage to shoot Victor and thinks she has Michael trapped, even if he won't do what she says she can blow up the boat he's on. As he points out she'll have fun trying to explain that to whoever she answers to, but her rejoinder is at least she'll still be alive. Those turned out to famous last words because just after she said them Fiona shot her. Someone got their wish.

Realising that they were all done for if he didn't act, Michael was forced to kill Victor (at his own request. I kind of felt sorry for the guy, too) and told Fiona and Sam to get the hell out. He boarded the helicopter containing Management.

Management turned out to be some unnamed old guy in a nice suit, who claimed that if he wanted them to back off they would, but he'd regret it. They had been keeping all the enemies he built up over the years away from him and his life, if they didn't provide that protection his life was going to get very interesting. I can see that makes some sort of sense, but Larry's still alive and he would have stepped on a lot more toes than Michael ever did, admittedly he's a stone killer and usually leaves a trail of dead bodies behind.

Michael says he'll take his chances, jumps out the helicopter and starts swimming for Miami.

There is not a snowflake's chance in hell Management are going to leave Michael alone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 15

Story lines start to collide as they pull it all together for the Season 2 finale.

Spooked by Victor, who is very accurately described by Sam as being just like Michael, but with rabies, Michael brings his mother to stay in the loft for her own safety. She's none too happy about this and shows her displeasure by smoking non stop and pretty much ensuring that everyone else stays out of the loft as much as possible just to get some fresh air.

Just after Maddie arrives there is an unexpected knock at the door and everyone goes for their weapons. Fiona is unsurprisingly armed, Sam was also and that did surprise as he doesn't always pack unless he's expecting a nasty surprise, Michael grabs his gun out of the refrigerator, yes he does seem to keep one in there along with the yoghurt and the beer. Maddie snatches up a kitchen knife. I found that rather amusing, but it shows how Michael's mother as adapting to the life her son brings with her.

There's an attractive lady at the door (Dina Meyer, best known as the love interest that wasn't Denise Richards in Starship Troopers), and she claims to be Michael's ex fiancé. Michael uses the loft as s safe haven, which is why he moved Maddie there after Victor reappeared on the scene. For a safe haven it's not very safe. The bomber had no trouble wiring the door to explode, Carla and assorted other bad guys and girls break in on a regular basis and he's been tracked down there by everyone from petty criminals to pissed off Haitian fathers and now an ex fiancé. Admittedly the ex fiancé is a criminal, but still, it doesn't seem to be very hard to find. Fiona's observation from the previous episode that he could do worse than moving into an air conditioned shipping container may not have been bad advice. He could at least arrange to have that moved if it was discovered.

Samantha, the ex, stole a piece of military hardware that is wanted by a black marketeer (Jay Karnes. You may not know the name, but you'll have seen the actor. He plays sleaze and bad very well) who is holding Samantha's son Charlie as a hostage (Charlie must be the show's default kid name. Nate's son was named that as well and for a good part of this episode Samantha lets Michael believe her son could be his). He's not, but as she tells him, he could have been.

Michael and Co retrieve the child and then he and Samantha stiff the dealer, and return the hardware in a reverse heist. That's quite well done and fits with both Samantha's past and utilises Michael's skills.

Michael knows that Victor is the fly in Carla's ointment, but for some reason doesn't want to give him up. He later takes him hostage and the show ends with an unconscious and battered Victor being pushed by Michael out of the Dade County municipal offices in a wheel chair.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 14

Nice shot of sunny South Beach as Michael and Fiona make their way to a meet with a staff member of the Cayman Island's bank where the bomber's money was placed. Fiona quite rightly points out that it is highly likely this is some sort of trap and Michael shouldn't really meet with this guy. Michael shoots back that he was advised not to meet with her and look how that turned out. In her defence Fiona says that she did have a fistful of C4 when they met. At some point they do show Fiona and Michael's first meet and that isn't how I remember it playing out at all. However I'l see when I get to that episode.

The guy is an assassin, he rather foolishly uses knives rather than a gun, he does managed to slash Michael's arm, but Michael unfortunately in fighting for his life pushes the guy to his death out of the parking garage where they meet.

Back at home Michael and Sam encounter a Haitian (Clarence Willams III, who I best remember as Prince's father in Purple Rain), who has heard about Michael and wants him to track down the killer of his daughter, so that he can face justice back in Haiti.

Initially Michael refuses, but under pressure from Sam particularly relents and goes after the Haitian killer. He uses Fiona, pretending to be French to get information about the guy, which enables him to work his magic of making the man think he's his ally. This once again reinforces my growing belief that where possible they shouldn't do accents. Gabrielle Anwar does a great job of modifying her natural British accent to sound fairly generically American, but she can't do French. It comes off sounding like an American trying to imitate a French accent and wouldn't fool an actual French speaker as Jean Pierre Duman being Haitian would be.

I did however like the way they lured him into a hotel room, Fiona drugs him, then Michael comes down from the floor above via a rope ladder, carries him out and up, then takes off with his hired goons being none the wiser to what happened when they manage to break down the door of the hotel room.

His story ends with him being carted off to Haiti by Clarence Williams III. Meanwhile Sam has used Michael's old FBI tail to go after Duman's father, who was the real king pin behind a lot of his son's crimes. The FBI guys were sort of comic relief in Season 1. They are here too, but they turn out to be decent guys overall.

There's a subplot about the car stereo in Maddie's car (she never actually drives it anywhere) begin stolen and the car not going because Michael's father wired the ignition into the stereo. Both Sam and Michael offer to help her out with catching the thieves (local juvenile delinquents) and with the rewiring, She refuses on the grounds that she can do stuff herself. She does too. She rewires the car successfully, although we never actually see her driving it, and manages to get the kids apprehended when she sees them coming out of someone else's house and calls the police. So yay for Maddie. She also cripples Sam when he accompanies her to a stretching class.

Meanwhile Michael is trying to find out who set the assassin from the bank onto him and surprise, surprise it turns out to be Victor. There's layers upon layers of complexity here now.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 13

Season 1 gets very directly referenced and there's a guest shot by Mark Shepherd. What more could anyone want?

Using Barry the money launderer Michael is trying to work out where the money that the bomber got came from. While having lunch with Barry, Michael becomes very aware that Barry is wearing a wire. He would have made an awful spy.

On the other end of that wire is Jason Bly. He's managed to climb out from under the mountain of red tape that Michael nearly buried him under and wants to continue with his one man mission to destroy Michael Westen's life. He probably makes his fatal mistake when he tears Michael's favourite chair apart in his efforts to do that. I did actually wonder why Michael didn't simply tell Carla that Bly was hindering his efforts to track down the bomber. I think she and her employers may have removed the annoyance that is Bly.

Michael takes on a job helping a friend of his mother's get rid of a stalker she met on an online dating service. Early on he and Sam realise that this guy isn't at all what he seemed, he's gone to some pretty extraordinary lengths to hide himself from anyone who may go looking for him.

That's when Michael receives a call from the woman in question telling him that the guy has been hanging around outside her work and she works at a small private bank.

I found it rather amusing that Michael was ding a security job for a woman who worked at a bank, as Bly tried to force Michael into a security guard role at a bank. He also turns up at the bank in his efforts to get under Michael's skin and that's about when Prescott turns up as a robber.

Prescott is the stalker, he's also played by Mark Shepherd. Mark Shepherd does a lot of genre work, he's been in everything from Battlestar Galactica to Dr Who. I best remember him as Badger from Firefly. He's a very good villain and quite believable as a callous bank robber.

The idea of someone with very specialised skills winding up as a hostage in a bank robbery is an old one, and generally surfaces at least once in a show like Burn Notice. It was surprising that it took them until 3 quarters of the way through the second season to do it.

Bly decides to try and be a hero and gets shot for his trouble. Only Michael posing as a doctor and pointing out the consequences of killing a hostage, saves his life. Michael then proceeds to sabotage the robbers, contact Sam and Fiona and have them cause problems outside. Sam finds their getaway boat and has the driver convince them at gunpoint that Sam is someone not to mess with. Fiona plants explosives on their truck and blows it up just as Prescott is getting ready to make his getaway.

Most of the action takes place in the bank and it's highly entertaining.

There's a nice bit of interplay between Sam and Fiona, with Fiona wondering why she wasn't called first (Michael called Sam while he was on a date with an attractive, available and wealthy divorcee). Michael tells her that he did call her first, but she didn't answer, so he rang Sam.

Saving Bly's life gets him off his back and also gets him to help Michael out with the bank account in the Caymans. However either he or someone else (possibly Barry) tripped off whoever does own it that Michael was looking into it. Not good news at all.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 12

I was pleased to see another guest shot by Silas Weir Mitchell as arms dealer Seymour. I love him in Grimm and Seymour and Monroe could just about be brothers separated at birth with the way he acts. Michael and Fiona turn up uninvited to one of Seymour's endless pool parties, they wanted to get information on the bomber, but it was also a great excuse for the producers to put Gabrielle Anwar in a bathing suit.

Fiona takes out Seymour's bodyguard Jackass (I think that may actually be his name. Seymour never calls him anything else) and Michael turns Seymour's gun on him. He agrees to help them out with some intel, but only if Michael agrees to let him come on a stakeout and teach him some of his self defence moves.

For some reason Michael suddenly realised that he needed a stream of income (no idea how he's made money until now, considering that he rarely accepts payment for what he's done and all his assets were frozen) and took a job as a security consultant for an art gallery that the owner had concerns about.

As soon as I saw Joel Gretsch was playing the art dealer I knew he'd be dodgy. Just something about the way he played it. I don't know I assumed that as the only other thing I can remember seeing the actor in was V, and he was one of the good guys in that.

Michael quickly works out it's an inside job and nabs the receptionist trying to steal data. This then completely changes the case. The girl is only doing it because she believes her employer murdered her father; a renowned artist, to get hold of a valuable painting. At Sam's urging Michael takes her on as a client and gets himself, Sam and Fiona in a caper involving the art dealer and a contract killer. He has to take the contract killer out of the picture long enough to convince the dealer that someone is trying to kill him. He winds up giving the painting to the girl and presumably doesn't get paid for the other job.

In the second story where, with Seymour's 'help', he's trying to catch the bomber, he does so. He really gets very little information, the bomber was paid by wire and the money was sent to an offshore account about which the bomber only knows the account number. Seymour wanted to torture him using a blow torch, although I think that was mostly for show and I kept flashing on Monroe trying to look tough. In the end they wound up shipping him with one of Seymour's regular shipments to Surinam. To be honest the bomber was rather disappointing and easily taken and get information from. I was surprised that Fiona didn't want to participate in some torture, she was nearly killed by one of his traps after all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 11

Michael's still trying to track down the mad bomber at Carla's behest and closing in, I did wonder why she couldn't use her own resources to find him and whether Michael should just let whoever it was go after her. It would remove a thorn from his side. Hey, he'd never find out who burned him and get revenge, but after what Carla has put him through, is it really worth it? There was a running gag that every time Carla wants to speak to him she has a bag put over his head and takes him to wherever she is. It was established in Season 1 that Michael dislikes this sort of treatment. It happened when he was dealing with the Syrian secret police in an episode.

Sam, meanwhile prevails upon Michael to help a buddy of his out with something and it will also get them really good seats to a Miami Dolphins (NFL) game. From the name Michael Irvin in the credits I worked out that Michael was definitely taking the job. Michael Irvin was a former NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys, although he's originally from Florida and played for the University of Miami in his college days, so a nice bit of hometown casting there. He plays a coach for the Dolphins and a young star player is in danger from a gang banger who he took with a baseball bat.

When Fiona meets the boy and his sister and finds out that the gang banger threatened the teenage sister, her killer instinct kicks in, and she insists that they take the job.

What they do is not dissimilar to how Michael broke into the Cuban gang that was terrorising the neighbourhood in Season 1 and also how he set up a drug dealer who was threatening a witness to a crime in Season 1. The three of them; Michael, Sam and Fiona, suit up and start heavying the gang, whose main business is stealing cars for a local crime kingpin. They also set the gang up so that their boss is going to take the leader out for good.

I did learn how to make an ordinary car almost bulletproof using phone books, special glass and foam in the tires. I don't know if any of Michael's urban guerrilla warfare tips work, but they do sound plausible.

Maddie, who is becoming a bit of a halfway house for Michael's clients, lets the kids stay at her place and the boy eats her out of house and home, but she kind of likes having a teenager around the place again. We get another peek into how messed up Michael's childhood was. She shows her guests a Christmas picture, and Michael is sporting a decent bruise on his face. The girl remarks how she wishes she'd had a family like that. Maddie says that they were never a family like that, she points out the bruise on Michael's face and says his father gave him that because he stepped in to stop Nate from being pushed around. The only way the picture got taken was Maddie threatened to put the entire Christmas dinner in the garbage disposal.

Now that Campbell is out of the picture, Fiona puts operation 'get Michael' back into place. They reminisce about how they met, and I discovered that Jeffrey Donovan's Irish accent is only slightly better than his inner London one. How he remained undercover as an Irishman called Michael McBride and managed to convince local Fiona Glenanne of this I will never understand. There was a development in their relationship as while doing some investigation into the bomber Fiona walked into a booby trapped house, which caught on fire while she was still in it. Michael was frantic in trying to contact her and while she had gotten out and even Michael had to know that until she did, he  definitely didn't want to lose her. They wound up in bed together again. They've done this before and Michael does care for her, but just because they sleep together he doesn't see that as meaning they're in a relationship. In fact last time he broke it off just after sleeping together. In part he doesn't want to be tied down and there's another part of him that says a relationship between them can never work and would be dangerous for Fiona while he is still what he is.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Burn Notice, Season 2, Episode 10

The cliffhanger was wrapped up so quickly that I'm not even sure why they did it in the first place. We knew Michael was going to survive, not just because he's the hero of the show, but because he dived over the balcony just before the explosion wired to the door went off.

Sam's the one who picks him and gets him out of harm's way. In fact a recurring theme in the episode is the loyalty of Sam Axe to his best friend Michael Westen. It hits home in this one how time and time again Sam inconveniences himself and even puts his life on the line for Michael. In this episode he even takes a few punches from Michael himself to make the former spy wake up to himself.

Carla's not at all happy about how things have panned out. She and her people didn't try to kill Michael and they didn't kill their own sharp shooter. It's highly likely that someone she's working for is playing her for their own ends, but this isn't looked at as a possibility. Michael may think it from some things he says, but he doesn't outright suggest it to Carla.

Despite being a target and being tasked with the job of tracking down whoever attempted to kill him, Michael still takes on a job for a random stranger. He meets the guy trying to kill himself by getting in the way of a bus.

A quick conversation establishes that the new client has a sick son and has been scammed out of money he could have used for the child's treatment. Something about that triggers Michael and he offers to help the man.

I wasn't aware that medical scams were a big business in Miami or anywhere in the US, but this episode seems to suggest that they are.

Michael uses Fiona and Sam to flush one of the scammers into the open and then takes the man prisoner, he tracks down the other member of the gang and takes him hostage as well. Sam plays the bad cop and uses an old CIA interrogation technique which involves making one hostage think you've killed the other to get them to talk. They give up the leader of the scam; a woman called Rachel.

Given Fiona's background you wouldn't think she'd have a strong maternal streak, but she does and it comes to the fore after she's played a game of soldiers with the sick little boy.

It unfortunately nearly jeopardises the whole thing when Rachel gloats how easy it is to play on the emotions of parents with desperately ill children and take them for everything. Fiona goes in fists swinging. She came off second best, which I felt was a little unrealistic. Fiona has plenty of combat training and we've seen her take down men much bigger and stronger than her, she can even hold her own sparring with Michael. Rachel, on the other hand, while showing off an impressively fit body, should have been easy pickings for Fiona, yet she had more dirty tricks and actually left Fiona on the ground when she was done.

The gang did eventually track her down and convince her that it was in her best interests to give herself up to the police. Again I felt it was interesting how they played the dynamic, despite Fiona clearly being emotional and therefore thought of as weak by Rachel they still said she ran the show and Donny (the name Michael used in his role as the muscle) did what she said, yet he thought better and kept her grounded.

Campbell finally realised that Fiona may have called him her boyfriend, but she was really still interested in Michael and would go every time he called. He was just convenient whenever she needed someone who had access to an ambulance, so that relationship came to an end and I really think it was best for both parties.