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

Burn Notice: "Hot Property"

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: "Hot Property"

This week on Burn Notice, a little bit of everything: returning guest stars, a case of the week that's not what it seems (several times over), plenty of useful tips for your own everyday black ops, and the usual incremental advancement of the overall arc of the series, such as it is. This show is always at its best when all the ingredients are present in the proper proportion, and "Hot Property" got the recipe just about right (although a dash more of Sam wouldn't have hurt).

On the NOC list front, we got a pre-credit sequence in the classic spy show tradition, as Michael sneaks into a "fusion center"—it sounds like a Japanese restaurant in a mall food court, but it's actually a central repository for state and federal intel inside a police station—and waltzes out with all the emails sent by list-holder Justin Walsh in the past year. (Hot Tip #1: Cheap sunglasses can be used to pick locks if you prepare them in advance.) Walsh plans to auction off the list to the highest bidder, which means Michael and the gang must somehow get their hands on $5 million in cash.  Enter our first returning guest star, Richard Kind as Jesse's former handler, Marv, who responds to a blackmail threat, then reluctantly agrees to supply the cash (for display purposes only) courtesy of the U.S. Treasury.

That's all well and good, but the real fun is to be found in this week's standalone case, which at first seems all too routine.  New client Stewart hires Fiona to rescue his sister, who has fallen for a shady Venezuelan diplomat. The sister is allegedly being held at the diplomat's standard-issue impregnable supervillain compound, but once the team gets a look inside the heavily-guarded fortress, they suspect something more valuable is hidden behind its walls.

Confirmation arrives in the form of Callie Thorne's Natalie Rice, the thief who stole money-launderer Barry's ledger last season. It turns out Stewart is just a patsy (who is disposed of in off-handedly brutal fashion) and that Natalie is actually trying to retrieve a chemical weapon she'd unknowingly stolen for the Venezuelans. The team is forced to work with an old enemy, which is always a good time, in order to get the weapon safely out of the compound.

Burn Notice is at its most satisfying when Michael and the gang aren't ten times smarter than everyone they're dealing with, and they're forced to raise their game to the level of the competition. Here they come up with a clever plan to fake a natural gas leak in order to flush out the weapon (Hot Tip #2: Pump tetrahydrothiophene into the air supply:  It's used to odorize natural gas, but it's basically harmless), but the bad guy doesn't fall for it, and they have to resort to Plan B, a smash-and-grab heist. Once they do have the weapon, Natalie double-crosses them—she's been planning to sell it a second time all along—and the team must improvise yet again.  Realizing she's planted a bug, Michael and Sam pretend they've slipped her a decoy and that they've still got the real bomb.

That's three or four twists and turns in a single hour, which is as it should be when top-level con artists go head-to-head. There's even a little closure, if anyone was waiting for it, as Maddie hosts a sit-down between Michael and Jesse and gets them to clear the air. (So much for those hints of Jesse going off the reservation, I guess.) If I have any complaint at all about "Hot Property," it's that the throwdown between Fiona and Natalie was all too brief. (I'm sorry, did I type that out loud? What can I say? I've always had a thing for Callie Thorne.)


Stray observations:

  • What do you guys prefer to work with: thermal lance or water saw?
  • I forgot to mention Hot Tip #3: Filling a siren with spray insulation.
  • No new episode next week, so I should probably wish you a Happy Thanksgiving now. See y'all back here in two weeks.