Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Burn Notice, Season 5, Episodes 6 & 7

Due to various circumstances I wound up watching these 2 back to back without a chance to review them separately so you get two. They're only peripherally related, so I'll do them as separate episodes.

Episode 6: Michael has to stall Pearce while he tries to find out who is impersonating him in the bodega, because if she or anyone else from the CIA see that footage, he is history.

We also find out why she's so focused on finding Max's killer, and it stems from an incident in her past where her fiancé was killed while on a mission that she was overseeing. Whether or not the Agency knew about the relationship I find it odd that after suffering a setback like that both personally and professionally that she's still allowed to handle the sort of cases that she does.

She has a mission for Michael. A group of Serbian terrorists have gotten hold of a WMD and if Michael can't find a way of getting it back quick, not only are they going to lose it, they'll also wind up exposing a deep cover agent and it will be Pearce's fiance all over again. 

Michael's plan is to use Carmelo (Miami's second largest heroin dealer) to do their job for them. The problem is that Carmelo and Michael Westen are not unknown to one another. They've crossed paths before, and the heroin dealer has threatened to kill Michael if he ever sees him again. Enter Sam Axe, or as he will be known in this episode Chuck Finley. Carmelo doesn't know Sam.

The fly in that ointment is the desk jockeys overseeing the mission and signing off on an expensive piece of surveillance equipment - a pair of glasses that double as a bug (shades of James Bond there) - Sam has met them before. 

This is where a one off telemovie starring Bruce Campbell (The Fall of Sam Axe) comes into play. It's set before Michael was burned and is largely how Sam wound up being discharged from the SEALs. Bruce Campbell is believable as an ex-SEAL, but though he does a good job of trying to hide his age and physical shape, he isn't believable as an active one. In the movie he runs up against two CIA agents, they're desk jockeys, and the movie was largely made to cash in on Bruce Campbell's popularity and to introduce some plot elements for Season 5. You don't need to see it, though. It's enough to know that Sam and these guys have encountered each other before and they don't like one another. Having seen the film adds a little more spice to it.

These two guys are almost prepared to see the mission fail to stick it to Sam. Fortunately Michael and Pearce won't let that happen and Sam's good enough at thinking on his feet to see it through and not get anyone (mostly himself) killed. The set up of the Serbian terrorist was brilliant and even featured Michael's favourite blueberry yoghurt. Sam knew Michael would have some on hand, so just said that the terrorist's hotel room would have it in evidence and Jesse and Michael were able to plant it. The yoghurt is a recurring theme, an earlier job saw Michael's payment in part consist of a lifetimes's supply of free yoghurt, as the grateful client owned a yoghurt bar.

Fiona and Maddie work as a 'mother and daughter' team to con an unsuspecting government employee into letting them use her facial recognition software to find out who was playing at being Michael. The guy is younger, and can pass for Michael on grainy black and white security camera footage, but wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny and they get him easily enough. The trick will be to then actually talk to him and find out why he did it and who for.

That's pretty much where that episode wraps up.

Episode 7 opens with Sam and Fiona continuing their search for Michael's impersonator. As they watch it looks like a group of heavily armed people are going to kill the guy. Sam gets into the house, gets the guy and his dog Mr Pickles out of the house and into Fiona's Hyundai and Sam takes off in the guy's truck, to lead the bad guys away and then continue his own escape.

Sam then tries to do a favour for his 'lady' (and given how much help she gives them, they owe her a few) by taking a job to try and talk to the ex-husband of a friend who hasn't returned his son to the boy's mother after an access visit. The talk turns into an armed affair, with the father clearly knowing a lot about guns, having a healthy distrust of authority and being very paranoid.

Fiona babysits the faux Michael, Jacob Stark, while they try and work out what he's into and if he's actually telling the truth and just took the job because he was out of work and it seemed like easy money advertised over the internet.

The kid's father; John, is part of an extremist para military group, and he takes his son to their compound. Sam does some surveillance and finds out that the show is run by some character on a power trip who calls himself Zecheriah and is described by Sam as the E.N.I.C (Extremist Nutbag in Charge). That is actually true. This makes him easy to fool, which is what they do to get the boy (who also suffers from extreme asthma) out, although it also makes him unpredictable and dangerous.

That part of the show was all very standard, although the action scenes were very well done and there was an excellent joke about Bruce Campbell's chin. Fiona is usually the one who comes up with those zingers. Although I know the Jesse Fiona thing was supposed to have been buried last season, it seems to be raising it's head again. The two work together a lot and their relationship does go beyond platonic. It's also worth noting that Fiona does still have issues with what sort of a person Michael is and just how far he's willing to go for the Agency. They had words about the situation he put Sam into in the previous episode.

In an interesting twist Michael actually pretends to be Jacob and goes to the boat he's directed to by his mysterious employer (who he never met or even really spoke to. It was all handled over the net or via text message). Unsurprisingly the boat has a bomb on board. Michael rigs the boat to sail out without a pilot and dives out the window, it blows up. Now Michael can look into this person and nail them to the wall for both trying to frame him and for killing Max.

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