Burn Notice: “Breaking Point”
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Burn Notice: “Breaking Point”

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Burn Notice

“Breaking Point”

Season 5, Episode 14

Whenever Michael and the gang take on a “this time it’s personal” gig, my heart sinks a little. It usually means Jeffrey Donovan is going to be in humorless, self-righteous mode as Michael, which is not my favored flavor of Burn Notice. As I mentioned last week, the show is usually at its best when it’s able to balance a breezy, comedic tone with all the explosions and double-crosses. It’s not that Matt Nix and the rest of the creative team should never reach for more serious, emotional moments, but in general, Burn Notice works best when its dials are set closer to “Glib” than “Earnest.”

So when tonight’s major plot became clear—that Michael’s best friend from childhood, Andre has been shot and killed, and that Andre’s brother Ricky wants Michael to help him find the killer—I cringed a little. Part of the problem is that Andre is so near and dear to Michael’s heart that we maybe heard his name once in passing three or four seasons ago. But that’s just a TV trope we have to deal with; even Tony Soprano had a childhood best friend and cousin we never heard of until the fifth season. No, what really bugged me about this storyline is that the show has just established a worthy adversary for Michael in Anson, and already, he’s relegated to the sidelines while our heroes take on another case of the week.

As it turns out, however, “Breaking Point” wasn’t nearly the worst case scenario I’d braced myself for. Yes, Michael did have his “grim avenger” moments, but he also broke out another ridiculous new voice for his arms dealer character, so it all balanced out. (I’m not sure how to describe this particular accent—somewhere between “car dealership radio ad” and “corrupt congressman introducing toxic new legislation.”) It turns out Andre was killed because he found out gangster Dion Carver (which I first heard as “Tim McCarver,” which certainly would have put an entirely different spin on the episode) had whacked and robbed the leader of his gang. Michael and Jesse set up a fake arms deal in order to flush out the cash Dion stole, a scheme that provides the only excuse needed for the pyrotechnics of the week.

This episode also introduced Charles Finley, Environmental Lawyer, as Sam tricked cause-conscious college students into occupying Anson’s condo and figuring out which unit he lived in. This subplot kept Anson in the story, but just barely. It’s frustrating, because Michael finally has an enemy who is immune to his powers of persuasion and seemingly three steps ahead of him at every turn, and he’s already been shifted to the back burner. Burn Notice could have its own Ben Linus here, but I fear Anson is destined to make brief appearances at the beginning and end of each episode until the season finale, which would be a waste of his supervillain potential. As always, I invite Burn Notice to prove me wrong.

Stray observations:

  • Directed by Renny Harlin! Oh, how the mighty have fallen since the heights of Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight. I wonder if he knew Larry David was staying in his New York apartment while he was shooting this episode.
  • After planting a bug on Anson’s car while he’s parked at a red light, Fiona has no choice but to let an 18-wheeler pass over her. Since she’s only three centimeters thick, it’s not much of a risk.
  • Does it bother Michael that Jesse’s street voice is more convincing than any character he’s ever come up with? I bet it does.