Burn Notice season 1 episode 9 review

The streets of Miami can be a dangerous place, but thanks to Michael Westen no damsel ever need be in distress again. It’s handy knowing an ex-spy...

9. Hard Bargain

Thanks to Big Sam’s considerable talent for exaggeration, his lady friends, and everyone they know, are under the impression that he’s some kind of superhero/Robin Hood type, and consider him the go to guy when they have a situation. Which is exactly how ex-spy Michael Weston ends up involved in a kidnap plot. At the wheel of a brand new Cadillac, Sam couldn’t really say no when his latest lady friend and provider of said vehicle, asks him for a favour…

It seems Nick, a resident on a very exclusive Miami island, has a problem. It’s not that Dawn, his fiancée, has been kidnapped, or that a multi-million dollar ransom has been demanded; it’s that he doesn’t have any money. He might well be a resident on a private island, but that’s only because he stays there a few times a year. He’s a professional house-sitter, something he neglected to mention to his intended. With only a few hours left until Dawn dies, Mike reluctantly takes the job, if only to stop the guy crying.

Phase one of the plan is to teach a panic prone civilian to foil a kidnapping. Nick starts off well, handling a phone call to demand proof of life without completely falling apart, but gives the game away when picking up said proof at a local mall, and suddenly, our superhero/Robin Hood types have a hostage of their own – Lucio. With a little coaxing from an electrifying Fi, and an incredibly convincing FBI-style Confidential Informant file, their hostage has no choice but to help save Nick’s intended.

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With the addition of Lucio to the team, our trio now have a direct line to the kidnapper and plan to convince the guy that there are more lucrative targets out there, by presenting him with one – a dolled up Fiona. With Big Sam playing the role of disgruntled employee, supplying all the necessary info, the scenario works just a little too well. Suddenly poor Dawn has only 12 hours to live – Lucio’s boss is impatient to move on to Fi, and Nick’s intended is in the way. To stave off the inevitable, Mike poses as a hostage negotiator hired by Nick’s family to sort the whole mess out.

He manages to buy Dawn an extra 48 hours, during which time Big Sam talks Lucio’s boss into showing him their lair. Thanks to a handy GPS device secreted in Sam’s shoe, Dawn is located with plenty of time to spare. Except she’s not – so eager is Lucio to move on Fi that he’s cut Dawn’s deadline to two hours.

While Sam and Fi break Dawn out with the help of some home-made explosives, Mike distracts the kidnapper with talk of bonds and financial issues, before calling the deal off. When the gang shows up to kill Dawn, they are greeted by the now obligatory uniformed welcoming party. Justice is served once again.

It’s not too happy an ending for Mike, though. Having been contacted by a government bureaucrat offering to review Mike’s current status, the usually infallible ex-spy lets his guard down when confronted by a bespectacled, balding desk-jockey. So desperate is he to be a government tool once again, Westen invites the suit into his home, and ends up on the business end of a garrotte. Turns out even the most capable agents have a problem seeing past their prejudices. Mike narrowly escapes, with the aid of a well-placed firearm and lives to right another wrong, albeit with a slightly deeper voice. Whoever’s after Michael is going to have to work just a tad bit harder next time…

Having become one of the most reliable shows on the box, for entertainment value alone, Hard Bargain continues that trend, but also shows us just a little more of Michael. With the quest to find out why he was burned hotting up, it’s time for us to see a less invincible Michael only just getting out of his latest NSA scrape, and the show is all the better for it.

The kidnapping case, with its sobbing surfer dude, nasty Columbian kidnappers, and cocky characters for Mike to play was the definition of Burn Notice fun, but thankfully, the writing team are aware than fun alone won’t cut it. Hard Bargain is episode 9 of a 12 episode run, and some movement on Westen’s job situation is way past due. The death of the bespectacled spook will hopefully pave the way for more NSA -style shenanigans in the next couple of episodes, as the author of the burn notice gets closer.

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As always, it’s great to see the man Campbell getting stuck in, and although the show is definitely missing Maddy, the chemistry between the ensemble is obvious, which just adds to the entertainment. Fun, fluffy TV might be slightly out of fashion at the moment, but when the fluff is this good you have to wonder why…

Check out our review of episode 8 here.