7. Broken Rules
Burned spy Michael Westen’s new G-man surveillance is proving increasingly troublesome. Essentially there to gently persuade Mike to let go of his old life, he’s been busy setting up Fi thanks to a little arms dealing she’s been doing on the side, ratting out Big Sam to his sugar mama, and generally threatening everyone Mike knows – which wouldn’t be so bad, it’s just that he’s incredibly smug. Priority one for Mike becomes getting rid of Agent Bly, but in order to do that, he needs serious cash.
Step forward local bodega owner Ernie – he’s having trouble with a gang extorting protection money from all the neighbourhood businesses. Ernie heard on the grapevine that Mike was an effective criminal deterrent and is willing to give the ex-spy his life savings – ten grand up front, and 10 after.
Being that this is one of those standing up for the little guy kind of jobs he loves, Mike, of course, agrees to help out, and the trio set about undermining the gang, run unusually enough, by a woman.
The gang uses the usual tactics of violence and intimidation to collect its protection money, so Westen decides to give them a taste of their own medicine. Posing as a psychotic thief, complete with baseball bat and a rather fetching collection of loud shirts, he screams, threatens and smashes his way to an audience with Concha, the gang leader.
She informs him that, rather than just killing him, she wants Mike’s psycho persona to work for her, making collections in the neighbourhood he’s trying to save. After a particularly hilarious psychotic display, Concha decides that Mike’s talents would be put to better use elsewhere, and she has just the job.
Apparently, the trio’s current client, Ernie, is a thorn in Concha’s side.She’s trying to force the locals out in order to buy up all the real estate, and Ernie is the cornerstone of the resistance. Mike’s next job is to kill him. Ernie is instructed to leave town as soon as possible, and when Mike and the gang’s number two arrive at the bodega to find it closed, they hatch a plan to get rid of Concha, and get the gang out of the neighbourhood. Amazing what a tiny amount of misinformation and an enormous gun can achieve.
Armed with a Fi-built flash bomb, originally ‘intended’ for Ernie and his family, the gang’s lieutenant pays Concha a visit, before sneaking away. Mike watches as a Westen-sanctioned explosion rips apart the gang leader, and her house. Gang problem solved. Michael return’s Ernie’s ten grand, less expenses, of course. The large sum was only ever on loan, in Michael’s mind, and having served its purpose, the money goes back to its rightful owner.
The cash was part of the plan to get rid of the ever-popular Agent Bly. Having gone an incredibly long way to set the guy up, Mike finally springs the trap. At a meeting to discuss Mike’s new life as a bank security guard, Bly gets a nasty surprise. According to the ‘surveillance’ folder in Mike’s possession, he and Agent Bly are not only close friends, but ‘business’ associates, as evidenced by the $100,000 deposited into an account in Bly’s name by Michael, as well as the shell companies registered in both their names. All Bly has to do to keep his job is provide Mike with his burn notice file. Suddenly, not so smug.
Back at Michael’s loft, he and Fi have a spy’s version of ‘the big talk’, which mostly involves Fi kicking his ass, but they definitely make some progress. And wouldn’t you know it, Homeland Security’s finest comes through, and delivers Mike’s burn notice dossier. If it’s this easy to blackmail a government agent, it’s a wonder they ever burn anybody. Now that Michael has what he came for, let’s hope it’s not a case of careful what you wish for…
Another enjoyable romp through the criminal underworld of Miami, Broken Rules finally takes the ex-spy out of his comfort zone. Clearly more comfortable in an expensive suit and quaffing champagne, than screaming like a mad man and smashing up stores, it was refreshing to see Westen in psycho-mode during the job. Whether because of his discomfort or whether it’s in the script, the psychotic episodes are less insane criminal and more hilarious skit, particularly when he mugs Fiona.
Said gun fanatic, who has spent the last few weeks making Mike as uncomfortable as possible whenever they’re alone, also finally got what she wanted, but it’s unlikely the post coital glow will last long. With the burn notice now in play, Mike will be even less inclined to consider settling down.
Whilst she’s an interesting character for the most part, Fi’s tendency to whine and moan about a relationship that really only exists in her head these days is incredibly grating, and practically the only low point of the show. The sooner the issues between the two are resolved, the better. Her friendship with Sam, however, is coming on in leaps and bounds – their surveillance/relationship workshops are almost sweet.
Still the most fun to be had on TV, Broken Rules continues the series’ long trend of smart, funny, action packed quality – long may it continue!
Check out our review of episode 6 here.