Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Burn Notice, Season 5, Episode 2

As expected worlds collide in the second episode of Season 5 of Burn Notice.

Again I have no recollection of this episode, given the shocking way network TV (and by this stage I was watching Burn Notice on network TV, as the pay TV network had caught up) treat viewers down here, I may have either missed a few at the start of the season or they were just never shown, or if they were, they were buried at some time when only insomniacs are watching.

Max gives Michael his new assignment, babysitting a British scientist, who uses his trips overseas as excuses to drink and womanise. Although I knew it wouldn't turn out this way I kept thinking of an episode of Get Smart. Agent 96 had to babysit a British scientist, and it turned out that the person he thought was the scientist, was in fact the British agent, and the person he thought was the agent was the scientist. It was a ruse and all done because the looks were reversed, the scientist was a young good looking guy and the agent was an old awkward looking guy. In his Flashman books George MacDonald Fraser says more than once the reason that people believe Flashman is a hero (he is actually one of the world's biggest cowards) is because he looks like what people expect a hero to look like. Anyway the scientist looked and acted like a nerdy, British, socially awkward (extremely sleazy though) science geek. The problem with his drinking and womanising is that he's very likely to say something he shouldn't to the wrong person.

While Michael's doing his paying job, Jesse has a white knight gig, it does in fact pay because it involves his security job. He's dressing very snappy these days (although I've never liked purple as a shirt colour and Jesse just doesn't look right in a tie) and driving a flash car. Michael openly wonders how much the lease payments are costing him, but I figure it's probably a company ride.

A young Japanese lady is looking for her younger sister, who appears to have been abducted on arrival in Miami. She's not the only young female Japanese national it's happened to, either. Initially Michael doesn't want to get involved, because he has another job these days, but is rail roaded and shamed by Jesse, Fi and Sam into it. I can kind of see Michael's point. He's done a lot of white knighting and he never got paid for about 90% of it, surely he's balanced the ledger. It's related to Jesse's job, Sam is largely retired and does this sort of thing for fun, and whenever Fi wants money she picks up a bounty hunting gig or runs some guns.

Being that this involved Japanese girls we got the chance to bring the Yakuza into the game. The target was a heavily tattooed Yakuza member, missing part of one index finger, also a classic tell that the person is involved with the Yakuza. Interestingly Fi called him Japanese Mafia and Sam first mentioned the Yakuza (I'd never heard of the Yakuza until it became a plot point in an episode of Remington Steele, it tied in with the title character's obsession with old movies, as that was the title of a 1974 film starring Robert Mitchum), but I guess it fits, because that's largely what they are.

They manage to wound the guy and take him hostage. Thing is he's a hardcase who won't respond to Michael and that's no good to them. Enter Madeline Westen. She agrees to pretend to be a nurse and see if kindness can do what the threat of torture can't. To sell the conceit that she's some nurse they grabbed off the street to treat their wounded gang member Michael has to act rough with her. Maddie says she can take it, which she can, but seeing Michael channel his abusive alcoholic father shakes her more than she wants to admit.

Two things about this kind of bothered me. Not Michael shouting and at one stage hitting his mother, I didn't like that, but it made sense within the context of the show and did what they wanted it to do and Maddie agreed to it all, although I think the whole thing damaged both mother and son even further. One was how quickly the Yakuza came around and started offering to escape with Maddie and even gave her the vital information. He did say that Michael and his accomplices would kill her, which if they were really what they were pretending to be is true, but wouldn't his team do the same thing to her once they had him back? The other was Fiona's reaction to Michael's hard man act and his mother's response to it. I always thought she knew that Frank Westen was an abusive arsehole, but she clearly didn't. Maybe it's because we the viewers are privy to more information than the individual characters are because we actually get to go into Michael's head.

Because Fiona is kind of superfluous with the Yakuza thing, Michael asks her to keep an eye on his scientist. She plays a wild child. Oddly enough he saw her as British and while she altered her accent slightly, I didn't see it as British, it was closer to what she uses when she's pretending to be a 'lady who lunches'. After taking a wild drive down the road where Fiona had her eyes closed and was going at over 140 mph, the scientist realises that he needs to mend his ways and he doesn't really want to live on the wild side as much as he thought he did.

Max congratulates Michael on a job well done, but does give him a verbal slap for involving his friends on the mission without authorisation. This is going to be a problem as long as Michael is working for the CIA. They're a package deal. You get Michael, you get his friends, and he won't stop doing his charity gigs on the side, either. Push is going to come to shove at some point.

Jesse gives Michael some money for his help on the job, Michael as usual tries to refuse it and then when he can't give it to Maddie, but she gives it back to him and tells him to use it on fixing up his Dad's car.

He's also moving out of the loft by the looks of it and into a nice beachfront apartment with Fiona, so that's getting serious, and to prove it he even looks at putting in a shelf for her snow globe collection.

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