After a surprisingly run-of-the-mill episode, Burn Notice comes back this week with one that involves the return of yet another memorable villain.
Before I talk about "Enemy of My Enemy," a few quick words about last week's "Square One," which I missed reviewing since I was hip-deep in the insanity that is San Diego Comic-Con. I caught the episode over the weekend, and I was surprised that it was fairly rote. Although it boasts a cool guest appearance from the always welcome Matt Lauria (The Chicago Code), there's nothing in "Square One" that pops like earlier episodes such as "Bloodlines." Still, it's an entertaining hour, and even average Burn Notice is still better than most of TV.
Now, on to this week's episode. Michael has to figure out who's pretending to be him, while keeping CIA watchdog Pearce (Lauren Stamile) off his back. Pearce - who uses the interesting phrase "uglier than a dumpster fire" while yelling on the phone - has other business to attend to, though. There's a Predator drone missing and an asset at risk, and Michael offers to help her solve the situation. His idea is to set old 'friend' and drug dealer Carmelo Dante against the Serbian suspects. Todd Stashwick - who first played Dante way back in the first-season finale "Loose Ends, Part 2" and also appeared in the "Vacation" episode of Matt Nix's The Good Guys) makes one creepy villain. I'm just saying.
While Sam purposefully runs afoul of Dante, Jesse tips off the Serbians, and from there it's all downhill. Dante captures a Serbian and interrogates him, blowing Sam's cover and forcing Michael to ask the CIA for help. This wouldn't be so bad if the CIA head honcho, who looks like he's about fourteen, didn't really hate Sam due to a past conflict. Out of options, Michael reveals himself to Dante and offers to make him either the hero - or the scapegoat - for the Predator theft. Sam survives the day, Dante surrenders and the drone is returned. All's well that ends well, even over the objections of the CIA's prepubescent bureaucrat.
Meanwhile, Fiona and Maddie charm a county clerk while looking for the guy pretending to be Michael. The man's name is Jacob Starky, and the closing minutes of the episode set Michael on his trail. Who's Fake Michael meeting? Well, we'll have to wait until next week to find out. After all, we still have plenty of episodes left, we can't give anything away too soon...
"Enemy of My Enemy" is more entertaining than "Square One," principally because it has some wonderfully quirky performances. As Sam goes undercover, Bruce Campbell once again disappears into another unique persona. He's proven over the show's four seasons that he's fantastically versatile, and he's so much fun to watch while he's adopting the next identity. As Dante, Stashwick is amusingly crazed; there's no doubt that Dante is missing several marbles, but he doesn't overact either. The two of them together is a fun combination that creates most of the enjoyment in the episode. (There's even a great in-joke about Bruce Campbell's infamous chin in there.)
Season five of Burn Notice appears to be heading for that midseason point where things tend to slow down as a show must stretch its major plots and character arcs out to the end of the season. The recent installments aren't quite as exciting as the early ones, but that's not so much a flaw as standard operating procedure for most programs. What Burn Notice has going for it is that its writers are smart; where other shows might border on boring during the middle of their seasons, we're treated to episodes that are, if not groundbreaking, still fun to watch. Can you really argue with a show that gives us explosions, snipers and great one-liners? I don't think so.