So now we’re moving into master-plot mode, locked so tightly on next week’s finale that even the client-of-the-week story dovetails with Michael’s ongoing efforts to find out who burned him (via his unwilling conscription into Carla’s covert army of ex-spies). We even got a clever little “story so far” at the top of the episode, delivered straight into the camera (although again, it was really for Carla’s benefit). And we saw the continuation of Michael’s “Quién Es Más Macho?” game with Carla’s former lackey Victor, who hovered around the edges of “Sins Of Omission” to the extent that he briefly became a factor in the case Michael was working.
If this were a different kind of show, I could almost imagine an entire episode built around Victor’s point-of-view during the events of “Sins Of Omission.” That would be kind of cool; if only Victor weren’t such a creep. Sam describes Victor as a wack-job version of Michael, and what makes Michael so much fun to watch every week is that he maintains such an even keel. Burn Notice loves to delineate Michael’s superiority in all things by setting him against adversaries who underestimate him. Victor sees Michael as a nothing: a one-time subordinate who’s probably on the outs because he was incompetent or corrupt or both, and whose unflappable composure marks him as placid. But we know otherwise. We know Michael’s an iceman.
And Michael’s challenge this week is that he's up against another iceman—if maybe not quite icy enough. While dealing with Victor, Michael’s also working to set up a man named Brennen, who’s in possession of a piece of stolen military technology that Michael wants to return to its rightful owner. Eschewing a cover, Michael and Fiona present themselves to Brennen exactly as they are, as ex-spooks who have the security know-how to facilitate Brennen’s black-market sale of the tech. Only Brennen’s not buying it. He’s not impressed by the way Michael and Fiona make their introductions as “mysterious, dangerous types who can break into my apartment.” Brennen’s the kind of guy who wires a bomb into an arm-cast on a pre-teen hostage, to assure his own escape. He’s the kind of guy who does the opposite of what his would-be protectors recommend, because he’s sure they're gaming him (which they are). Michael manages to stay one step ahead of Brennen throughout “Sins Of Omission,” but often it's through pure luck and/or last-minute saves. This guy's a worthy opponent. (And it helps a bunch that he's played by The Shield’s Jay Karnes, who recently had a kick-ass story arc on Sons Of Anarchy too, again playing a weaselly guy to perfection. Somebody get this dude a lead in a series, quick.)
Michael was pushed into this challenge by Sam—though not the Sam we know so well. This "Sam" is Samantha (played by Dina Meyer), a master-thief who used to be Michael’s fiancé, a decade ago. (When Sam Axe worries about the name confusion, Madeline, who’s crashing with Michael, asks, “Have you ever been secretly engaged to my son? No? Then I think we’ll be able to tell you apart.”) Samantha briefly implies that her 9-year-old son Charlie might be Michael’s, then admits that the math doesn’t quite add up. Still, Michael is driven to help her out for old times’ sake—even though it drives Fiona up the wall with jealousy.
Frankly I wasn’t quite buying Green Fiona, perhaps because I wasn’t feeling much chemistry between Michael and Samantha—not even when she strips to her underwear to put on a HAZMAT suit. But the love triangle does pay off in a nice back-to-normal scene between Michael and Fiona, where he talks about why he prefers her to Samantha. And though he doesn’t connect the dots completely, Michael’s declaration does clarify one thing that Fi brings to a relationship that his other lovers haven’t: a moral center.
The emphasis on character interaction and finale-prep in “Sins Of Omission” largely robbed us of neato spy tricks, though the episode rallied towards the end. We got to see Michael knock Victor out with a Taser disguised as a disposable camera (then sneak him out of a government building by wrapping gauze around a limb and shoving him into a wheelchair). We got to see the two Sams pull the old Trojan Horse trick—though they were thwarted by Brennen’s decision not to hold his meeting in the place where they were hiding. And we got a nifty reverse-heist involving stolen handprints and a big explosion designed to overwhelm the sensors in a maximum security area.
But you know what I liked best about the sneak-thief sequence? Michael acting like a big goober to the security guy at the front desk. If there’s one trick Michael has mastered, it’s how to look like someone who poses absolutely no threat. That’s the art of being an iceman.
-“Call me Chuck. It’ll be less confusing.”
-I can’t see Dina Meyer without thinking of “Dizzy” in Starship Troopers. When I mentioned this to my wife—a big Paul Verhoeven fan—she said she had no memory of the actress or the character. Just goes to show what men notice versus what women notice. (If you’ve seen the movie and you recall Dizzy, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
-“Testing guys, spies. Spies, testing guys.”
-Is it just me or did the score seem more ‘80s-ish than usual tonight? Like Thief meets Lethal Weapon.
-There are also seemed to be excessive use of ADR this week, especially towards the end. Very few of Jeffrey Donovan’s line-readings sounded live.
-Next week’s the season finale. The season started strong and has stayed fairly consistent, though the back half has had more shrug-off-able episodes than the front half. But I’m primed for a big finish.