Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Burn Notice: “Better Halves”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Better Halves”

Whenever Burn Notice decides it’s time to delve into the dysfunctional dynamics of the Michael/Fiona relationship, it’s usually a good opportunity to make a trip to the fridge or check the score of the ballgame. There’s an awful lot of that going on tonight, thanks to a CIA case that has the duo posing as Mr. and Mrs. Jensen, a happily married couple vacationing at a Venezuelan resort. Their mission involves extracting an asset code-named Germ Warfare, a biological weapons expert planning to sell a deadly new neurotoxin to the highest bidder. But this storyline is really an excuse to indulge in a little couples therapy for Michael and Fi, who see a warped reflection of their relationship in their target and his trophy wife.

Michael sells the trip to Fiona as a “working vacation,” but of course, once they get there, he’s all about the work, oblivious to Fi’s pleas for a little quality time together. This is awfully well-trod ground for Burn Notice and not usually one of the show’s strengths, although “Better Halves” did pull off a couple of fresh spins on the material—literally so, in the case of the tango Michael and Fi perform in order to eavesdrop on potential targets on the dance floor. (This scene might also be responsible for the most laughable “When you’re a spy” narration yet, as Michael explains that dancing near people and pretending to accidentally bump into them can be an effective surveillance technique. Thanks, Sherlock!) Their tango is reprised later in the episode, this time with guns, when Michael and Fiona shoot their way out of an ambush. It’s a nicely choreographed bit, and the way they look so much more at ease with each other than they did during the actual dancing is worth a thousand whiny Fionalogues.

Meanwhile back on the mainland, Sam and Jesse are trying to track down Tavian, the man who framed Michael. The trail leads to a shady banker named Stigler, “the ATM to the Eastern bloc,” who has been loaning money to Tavian. It turns out Stigler was pals with Lucien, the Romanian dude Tavian offed a couple episodes back, so he cooperates with setting up a trap for Max’s killer. Stigler takes a bullet for his trouble, but as it turns out, Tavian is all for having a meeting with Michael to answer all his questions. Of course, this is a meeting that can’t actually happen this week; it must be saved for the summer finale.

Back at the very Miami-looking resort in Caracas, Michael gets to try out a few moves borrowed from the David Cronenberg movie Eastern Promises, taking on his target’s bodyguard in a sauna. (It’s not exactly like the movie, as wet towels are substituted for knives, and we are spared the sight of Jeffrey Donovan’s junk.) The mission ends successfully, but there are no congratulations waiting for Michael when he gets home to find Agent Pearce in his apartment. She’s found some security footage from the day Max was killed, and the jig is finally up for Michael.

Let’s hope this means the stage is set for a rocking mid-season finale, because after these last couple of lackluster episodes, we’ve earned it.

Stray observations:

  • Nice to see Charisma Carpenter again, playing the trophy wife Nicki. Although I must say, during the bikini scene at the pool, I kept getting distracted by her enormous, uh, charisma.
  • “If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead already.” Shouldn’t this line have been retired about the time Magnum P.I. went off the air?
  • Is everyone expecting Max to turn up alive next week?