Burn Notice season 1 episode 8 review

Ex-spy Michael Westen finds Florida's undercover operatives, among the theme parks and tourists, incredibly useful in the latest Burn Notice.

8. Wanted Man

Being the equal opportunity crime fighting show that it is, this episode’s caper comes courtesy of Fiona. Doing a little bounty hunting on the side, she takes pity on a schmuck who says he was framed for the theft of a $2 million brooch from a local hotel, and decides to help him prove his innocence. Being that Michael is more interested in his burn notice dossier than talking about their recent indiscretion, he’s more than happy to use the job, and the schmuck, as a way to keep Fiona busy. And the eight grand will come in handy.

The schmuck, Thomas, ended up on Fiona’s radar after running out on his own trial to go back to the scene of the robbery and conduct his own investigation. It seems he was set up by the hotel’s owner, Lawrence, who surprise, surprise, is having some major cash flow problems. A large insurance payout would go a long way to solving his problems, and Thomas was a handy fall guy.

With the police and other, larger bounty hunters on his tail, they stash the schmuck at Fi’s, a decision Michael quickly regrets. Unknowingly, in the middle of Mike and Fi’s power struggle, Thomas gets cosy barbequing, and taking part in scantily clad baseball lessons. Mike might not want to talk to Fiona himself, but he doesn’t want anyone else talking to her either, apparently. When the other, larger bounty hunter tracks the schmuck down, Mike assumes moving Thomas to his loft will put an end to Fiona’s machinations. How wrong he is.

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In the meantime, the trio track the brooch to Lawrence’s house – the fool not only tried to sell it using his own name, but he’s keeping it on his property. Mike sets up a meeting, using a spruced up and on the wagon Sam as a go between. The plan – to have the cops descend when Westen views the brooch – goes awry when the hotel owner refuses to let him see it. Plan B, to make Lawrence so paranoid about being robbed he wants to offload the brooch as soon as possible, works a little too well.

Our crime fighting trio execute a full on psy-ops campaign, which results in Lawrence discovering that Mike is not ‘Mr Smith’ as he has claimed, and the burned spy only just manages to escape.

Time for Plan C : use the paranoia to force Lawrence to stash the brooch elsewhere, which works like a charm.

Using the not-inconsiderable talents of Barry the Money Launderer, the trio make an educated guess as to which bank Lawrence will move the brooch to, and arrange a police ambush by calling in, and making a convincing case for a bank robbery, just as the smug thief arrives. Caught with the brooch, Lawrence is hauled off to jail, and the schmuck is free to go. Justice served, ex-girlfriend somewhat placated, it’s been a good week.

The successful end to the case is not the only good news. After handing over some sensitive information to the Libyan secret police in exchange for a favour, Michael finally gets the attention he’s been craving. The author of the dossier is not particularly happy with our spy – it’s amazing how much trouble a well-placed fruit basket can cause…

Two thirds of the way through series one, and Burn Notice finally hits its first sour note. The power play between Mike and Fiona sits uncomfortably with the rest of the show. It’s not that Fiona doesn’t have a point; it’s just that she won’t shut up about it. Yes, relationships have to develop, but her ever-growing neediness is in strange contrast to her otherwise kick ass tendencies.

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It’s a sad fact that a kick ass woman on TV must at some point be made feminine enough to be relatable, but it’s far easier to relate to Fiona’s violent tendencies than her whiney ones, and is therefore almost insulting. Westen’s seeming indecision about the relationship is almost as irritating. This is a storyline that needs putting to bed as soon as possible, particularly if, as in Wanted Man, it’s to the detriment of the show.

Having said that, there was still plenty of fun to be had in the episode. Finally proving that even the great Michael Westen can get caught, it was high time we saw the spy in a situation that he couldn’t completely control first time out.  As always the DIY spook stuff is hugely entertaining, and it’s fab to see the big man getting some more screen time – long may it continue.

While not a classic Westen outing, Wanted Man gave us everything that makes the show brilliant – plenty of action, humour and gadgets. If you ignore Fiona, you’ll have a great time.  

Check out our review of episode 7 here.