Burn Notice season 1 episode 2 review

The pilot out of the way, it's down to busines for Burn Notice, as the show's second episode already sees it in fine form...

1.2 Identity

After the excitement of Michael Weston’s unexpected homecoming in the Burn Notice pilot episode, it’s time for him to spend some time making it up to his mum, and stopping Fi and Sam from killing each other. Ah, the glamorous life of a spy.

Michael’s settling down quite nicely in his hometown of Miami, although he is having to spend more time with Mummy Weston than he would like. It’s time well spent though – whoever is watching him work is also watching, and listening, to Madeline. After making short work of a listening device planted in Mrs Michael’s socket, it takes Maddy even less time to pinpoint which empty house they’re hiding in.

She’s spot on, but as the bug was still on, whoever’s on the other end is well aware that Michael is on his way, giving them time to destroy all the equipment and beat a hasty retreat.

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Back at Mummy Weston’s, it seems said matriarch knows more about Michael’s observers than he thought, but in true mum fashion she refuses to entertain even the notion of discussing the G-man visit she received a few weeks previously. Unless, of course, he goes to see her friend Laura, who was recently beaten up and robbed after falling for a prize scam. If Michael helps Laura out, Maddy will be in a much chattier mood. A million dollars worth of CIA training, three black belts and he still can’t wriggle out of a mummy-manipulation. Bless.

Desperate for the answers Madeline is guarding so closely, Michael does as he’s told and pays Laura a visit. A retiree who responded to a prize letter, she received a visit from three ‘representatives’ who stole her bank details, beat her up and then stole all her money. Not one to turn down a worthy cause, Michael enlists the help of retiree-botherer Big Sam, in exchange for a few nights on his couch. It seems the retirees are a little too bothered at the moment. And as if that wasn’t bad enough for a loner ex-spy, they return to his loft to find Fiona – sans Oirish brogue – has let herself in. One look at Sam and the hair and fingernails go flying, and it’s all Michael can do to save the big man’s hide. Quick tip – never deprive Fiona of guns. She really doesn’t like it.

Despite, or perhaps because of Sam’s presence, Fiona invites herself on to the team, and operation Please Madeline is a go. After tracking the slap happy con trio to a large yacht, Michael poses as a friend of a friend of Quentin, the leader of the trio, and approaches him at a club. When the friendly banter doesn’t work, Michael resorts to threatening him at gunpoint, before making a flashy and convincing I’m-running-from-the-cops style exit.

During their next encounter, Mike lays out a too good to be true business deal while Fi and Sam search and bug the yacht. They’re so busy bickering over who’s the better operative that they don’t notice Mike’s frantic text messages warning them that two thirds of the trio, known as the dumb kids, are making their way to the boat. Busted by the kids, they pull the old ‘he told me it was his boat’ routine; Fi enjoys the performance just a tad too much, but they’re convincing enough for the kids to fall for it.

As you probably know, spies are impatient types, and Mike is unwilling to wait until the job is over to interrogate Maddy, so he asks Fiona to do it for him – a move Mummy Weston clearly anticipated, having already called Fi and invited her to dinner. After what is essentially Mike’s worst nightmare, Maddy finally gives up some of that G-man intel. Thereto fish for background info on our spy, they hadn’t reckoned on Mrs Mike lying through her teeth, painting a picture of a mother-son relationship that clearly never existed. As government fact finding missions go, it was a total bust.

Before they can discuss any of Maddy’s bare-faced lies, Mike gets a call from an irate Quentin. The misinformation planted on the boat by Sam to frame the dumb kids has been found just a tad earlier than planned, and now Quentin wants them dead.

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After Fiona ‘accidentally’ blows up his car, the paranoid con artist is right where Michael wants him. He offers to hire a hit man to take care of the dumb kids, and Quentin readily agrees to wire money to an offshore account. With the trap set, Sam and Fi scare the bejesus out of the kids by posing as Dets. Cagney and Lacey and threatening them with 5-10 in a federal prison, before watching them sail off into the sunset. Kids taken care of, it’s time for Quentin’s comeuppance, with a little help from the FBI.

Convinced he is the one being followed, the paranoid con artist happily hands over all his banking information to Mike. One quick trip to the bank later, and there are some very happy retirees in the greater Miami area. The same can’t be said for Quentin, who now has a federal sized problem thanks to Mike’s creative sense of humour. Amazing what you can do with a name and a printer…

While Identity may not be as action packed as the pilot episode, there’s still plenty to entertain. Mike’s relationship with Maddy, while complicated, is also hilarious, and it’s fantastic to see Sharon Gless back on our screens. Sam and Fi’s relationship is an interesting one as well – clearly only putting up with each other for Mike’s sake, the pair are unlikely to be swapping BBF necklaces anytime soon.

In the long term, the happy ever after endings and neat wrap ups might get a little wearing, but for now it’s incredibly satisfying watching Michael and his team take down the bad guy in inimitable style. Charming, twinkly and possibly the best propaganda the CIA could possibly have asked for, Burn Notice is well on its way to being a classic, and with Michael Weston being as resourceful as he is, it should have no trouble staying the course.

Check out our review of episode 1 here.