Burn Notice season 1 episode 3 review

Back for more sun soaked, justice-serving action, Michael and co barter, bribe and generally con their way through another Miami adventure…

3. Old Friends

This week’s job comes from an unlikely source. Michael’s landlord, club owner Oleg, asks him to look into who is threatening his best waitress, Cara. She hasn’t been to work for days, and Oleg is losing money. If Michael can solve the problem and get Cara back at the club, he can live rent free for the next few months. Michael knows a good deal when he’s offered one, and never one to turn down a damsel in distress, he’s drinking recycled coffee in Cara’s hallway by late afternoon.

Being the only witness to the savage beating of a pizza delivery guy who rear ended the wrong Lexus, Cara is the victim of some serious witness intimidation – rats nailed to her door, and creepy guys following her and her teenage daughter – making her afraid to leave the house at all.

With the help of Sam’s cop buddies, Mike discovers that Cara’s intimidator is a Columbian drug dealer – aren’t they always? – by the name of Desantos. Tracking him to a restaurant, Mike’s plan to calmly reason with the Columbian goes just a tad awry, when Desantos reveals that a death squad is winging its way to Cara’s house. Fi, in charge of babysitting the mother/daughter targets, defends her territory by combining her love of things that explode with Cara’s extensive liquor cabinet; the result being a little taste of Fallujah in a quiet Miami suburb.

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Assassination averted, Mike makes the decision to stash the wanted pair in a safe house, hastily thrown together in his mum’s garage. Sticking rigidly to type, the Cara’s teenage daughter whines and moans about having to stay there, and cries of ‘it’s not fair’ echo around the room as Michael locks them down for the night.

The next morning, the ex-spy arranges some face time with the Columbian’s lawyer – by wrecking his very expensive tyres. Trying to get Desantos to back off by intimidating the lawyer doesn’t work quite the way Michael hoped – when he returns for their second kerbside meeting, there’s a hit man waiting for him in the lawyer’s place. Mike being Mike, be disarms the hit man, who reveals that the Columbian drug cartel has decided to simply kill everyone involved, except, of course, Desantos.

It’s time to make Cara and her daughter disappear, so Mike and Fi set about putting the cartel off the scent. It all goes according to plan until, shockingly, the moody teenager sneaks out of Michael’s carefully prepared safe house so she can go to the spring formal. Kids. This is exactly what the cartel was waiting for, and Michael only just beats the death squad to the school. Dispatching their would be dispatchers with a well placed shop class, Michael then has to listen to more whining as the reality of the situation finally filters through the fog of her teenage self-involvement.

As the cartel now knows that Cara didn’t leave town, Mike has to be extra creative to keep her alive. Thanks to a well placed minicam, a voice recorder and Big Sam’s talent for manipulation, he puts together a passable surveillance video clearly ‘showing’ Desantos offering to testify against the cartel. Dutifully delivered to the FBI by Sam, the video all but signs Desantos’ death warrant.

Justice served, Michael can get back to the more pressing problem of his unemployment. After twisting the arm of an old friend, he gets his hands on the Homeland Security directive that kicked off the whole burn notice extravaganza. It’s not much, but it’s definitely a start…

Another slick, glossy episode from the ever reliable Burn Notice, Fight Or Flight gives us a little more insight into the seemingly unflappable Michael Westen, as well as some more superb DIY spook stuff. The things this man can do with a mobile phone are frankly frightening – thank god CIA operatives aren’t this resourceful in the real world.

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One thing the super ex-spy can’t handle though is Fiona. Despite all her warrior woman posturing, her constant talk of apartment keys, dinner and what Michael’s going to do with his life make her sound far more like a long suffering wife than a newfound colleague, although, watching the tough guy squirm is highly entertaining.

Once again, Jeffrey Donovan turns in a charming, confident performance. There’s a fine line between confident and smug, and Donovan does a superb job keeping Michael on the right side of that line.

While not the world’s most ground-breaking show, Burn Notice is definitely the most creative and entertaining. Warm, funny and laidback, it’s the televisual equivalent of a long weekend in the sun. Definitely one for basking in.

Check out our review of episode 2 here.