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

Burn Notice: “Official Business”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Official Business”

Whenever Michael Westen and company start to seem too hyper-competent, it’s always nice to get a visit from bumbling CIA agents Bailey and Manaro. You might remember them as the two idiots who nearly got Sam killed in the TV movie The Fall Of Sam Axe, or from their subsequent appearance in the fifth-season episode “Enemy Of My Enemy.” They’re back again, this time with an offer Fiona can’t refuse: Under the terms of her prison-release agreement, she is a CIA asset who can be called upon at any time—a revelation that Michael takes about as well as you’d expect.

The caper involves Durov, a dealer in black-market weapons technology, and his girlfriend Angela (va-va-voom telenovela star Angelica Celaya), another CIA asset. According to Angela, Durov is in possession of some weapons tech he’s planning to peddle to terrorists, so it’s up to Fiona, posing as Angela’s friend from her modeling days, to break into Durov’s office safe and retrieve the flash drive containing the intelligence. Not trusting Agents Goofus and Doofus, Michael rides along in the surveillance van in case the plan (inevitably) goes to hell.

While this is going on, Sam and Jesse are following up on the slim lead obtained last week from the sniper-rifle sales rep. Knowing only that the purchaser of the gun that killed Nate works for a military-supply and training company called the Pryon Group, Sam and Jesse pose as buyers for a private military outfit in hopes of sniffing out the identity of the assailant. They zero in on a weak link in the organization—a weaselly yes man with an eye for Sam’s Rolex and the lifestyle it suggests. (Of course, all of the eye-catching accoutrements sported by Sam and Jesse were supplied by Sam’s sugar mama, Elsa.)

Both plotlines are reasonably engaging Burn Notice capers, if not exactly barn-burners. Fiona’s need to smuggle in a specialized drill in order to crack Durov’s safe leads to a fun sequence in which she disables Durov’s car by shoving a scarf in the tailpipe, then has to hope that Michael and company can get to the nearest service station and pose as mechanics before the car arrives. And in this week’s twist I should have seen coming, it turns out that Durov isn’t planning to sell the weapons tech to terrorists after all. Rather it’s Angela, who has manipulated our favorite incompetent CIA agents to put her in position to steal the intelligence with Fiona’s unwitting help. Granted, none of this qualifies as reinventing the wheel, but on the Burn Notice scale, it’s entertaining enough—and spicier than usual, thanks to the recurring intimations of a ménage à trois Fiona and Angela use to keep Durov distracted.

Likewise, the Sam-and-Jesse mission is the sort of confidence game we’ve seen them run a dozen times, but the execution is smooth and satisfying. The result is a bit underwhelming, however, as the only information they are able to obtain is that the shooter goes by the initials “T.G.” Initially this seemed like the setup for a “Who is T.G.?” episode next week, but in a hasty tag scene, Michael gets Pryon Group chief Vale to spout the name “Tyler Gray” just before someone shoots him through a restaurant window. So that’s the setup for next week’s midseason finale, which will hopefully close the case on Nate’s murder, allowing us to never speak of him again.

Stray observations:

  • I was going to make some comment about the likelihood of the CIA keeping a couple of bunglers like Bailey and Manaro on the payroll… but given some of the news stories I’ve read about the Agency over the years, it’s probably not that unlikely at all.
  • Sam’s keen attention to detail: “Unless we happen to run into someone wearing a name tag that says, ‘Hi! I’m the guy that killed Nate,’ this tour is going to be a waste of time.”
  • Nice bluff by Fiona, using the “cut the yellow wire” business to get Angela to reveal herself as the actual target.