Burn Notice: "Square One"
C+

Burn Notice: "Square One"

C+

Burn Notice

"Square One"

Season 5, Episode 5

A guy takes a couple weeks off the Burn Notice beat and ol’ Michael Westen goes and gets himself in hot water again. It’s like I can’t take my eye off him for a second.  (But special thanks to Phil Nugent for keeping tabs on him while I was on safari.)  As we’re reminded in a rare “Previously on Burn Notice” segment, Michael’s CIA contact Max has been killed, leaving Grant Show unemployed again and Michael as the potential prime suspect, thanks to a frame job perpetrated by an enemy to be named later.

Forgetting that the cover-up is always worse than the crime, especially when you didn’t commit the crime in the first place, Michael sets about destroying evidence linking him to the murder scene. His brand new contact in the CIA is Agent Pearce (Community’s Professor Slater), a self-proclaimed pit bull who seems like she ought to be smart enough to realize there’s no job security in being Michael’s latest CIA contact.  Pearce is determined to solve Max’s murder—determined enough that, despite her initial suspicions about Michael’s possible involvement, she sanctions his off-the-books investigatory efforts. Thanks to Jesse, said efforts lead to a burner cell phone purchased at that convenience store from The Wire where such things are found, along with a collection of surveillance tapes.  But more about that later.

As so often happens on Burn Notice, the urgency of this matter takes a back seat to the case of the week.  I sometimes get the feeling they pick these plots out of a Chinese food menu, with a little from Column A (client wants revenge on bad guy who beat up his loved one) and a little from Column B (bad guy is a con artist who gets conned by Michael and company). That’s basically how I felt about “Square One” in which Special Forces officer Ethan (Matt Lauria) enlists the crew to help him take down Ramsey, a Medicare fraud scammer who put his sister in the hospital. There wasn’t much here we haven’t seen a half-dozen times before on this show, although the budding Batman/Robin dynamic between Michael and Ethan could conceivable count as a fresh ingredient. Still, I found it hard to buy Friday Night Lights’ Johnny Wholesome as a guy so fueled by vengeance he’d try to take out his sister’s batterer from a sniper nest above a crowded Miami street.

The episode does pick up steam towards the end, and while I didn’t quite believe that Ethan could so easily talk Ramsey into torching his own house, it still made for a satisfying comeuppance. This big reveal came courtesy of Maddie, assigned to watch the surveillance tapes (and bribed with a carton of cigarettes).  It certainly looks like the customer buying the burner at the convenience store is one Michael Westen.  Evil twin or evil robot duplicate? I’m almost hoping for the latter, because this show could use a good ol’ fashioned jolt of lunacy sooner rather than later.

Stray observations:

  • Please don’t ever compare yourself to a pit bull again, Agent Pearce. It makes me think of Sarah Palin, and that’s not helping anybody.
  • I’ve enjoyed the running gag of Michael’s spartan warehouse being gradually transformed into Fiona’s Good Housekeeping spread, but they kind of hung a lampshade on it this week, first with Jesse’s reaction and then with Sam’s.
  • The only characters on this show with a shorter shelf life than Michael’s new handlers are Sam’s new sugar mamas.  This isn’t going to end well.

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