This week's Burn Notice sees Michael make an irreversible choice - but more importantly, it's a caper that entertains and educates simultaneously - just what we've come to expect from the show.
Michael finally has his top-secret clearance back, but isn't happy about what it will be used for. Fiona points out an important fact: even if Michael does what Anson wants, the bad guy isn't just going to turn over his evidence against her and go away quietly. She's determined to do something to change the game - even if it means nearly getting run over to plant a tracker on his car. She and Sam set off to see where he goes (notice the "White Collars" dog grooming van in the parking garage? Ha).
This involves "Chuck Finley" recruiting a bunch of environmentally-minded college students to act as surveillance operatives under "computing the ration of power suckage to tenants" in Anson's condo complex. No one knows how to give a spiel like Bruce Campbell. Yet while Sam and Fiona do their best, Michael ends up through with erasing Anson from CIA computers - and I'm sure that huge act of betrayal is going to come back to bite him in the future.
Michael has other things to worry about: his childhood best friend Andre has been killed. Andre's brother Ricky (Ben Watkins, who if you didn't know is also a Burn Notice writer and producer) wants Michael's help in catching the responsible party. This doesn't go well: their first step results in a shootout with one of Andre's friends. She names the shooter as Dion Carver, a gangster who killed Andre to keep from being identified as the guy who robbed and killed the leader of his own gang. Our heroes set out to achieve Andre's goal of taking down Dion.
That plan involves luring him in with a lucrative arms deal (and Coby Bell does a fantastic job as Jesse plays hotshot gangster to close the sale). I love this plot because it involves an excuse to use a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher on a truck, and the folks at Burn Notice are the best there is at staging a good explosion. When the plan doesn't go as expected, Ricky decides he'll build a bomb (courtesy of the Internet) and blow the entire meeting up. Michael uses Ricky's misguided anger to his advantage, tricking Dion into setting off the bomb himself and having Jesse convince Dion's crew that he's turned on them. Once Ricky takes a few shots at Dion, the guy is scared into making a full confession for Andre's murder.
"Breaking Point" is a solid Burn Notice episode because it's an example of a winning equation: it combines an entertaining plot with considerable character time. The revenge arc is pretty straightforward, but it's still interesting to watch in execution. There are some really fun characters created by the team this week. Ben Watkins returns and turns in another good performance as Ricky, and in dealing with him, Michael is again able to pass on the wisdom of the past four and a half seasons to someone else - we can see how he has grown from the spy that we first met.
It's a testament to the writers that the episode isn't really about Michael doing the evil deed we didn't want to see him do. Yes, that's a big deal and it will obviously be important later on. But we get an episode that doesn't give short shrift to its own story and to the people in Michael's life. A lot of shows have introduced someone from a hero's past merely for melodrama and not much else. Not so with Burn Notice. Ricky makes a significant contribution to the events of the episode, and through him, we're able to see Michael a little bit better. Every season, we get to know Michael Westen just a little bit more. And that is something that never gets old.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.