Things are full speed ahead in this week's Burn Notice. There's a case that shows us great acting and plenty of explosions, plus there's a substantive lead in the hunt for Max's killer. What more could we ask for as we approach midseason?
Thanks to Fiona's ex-boyfriend, Team Westen is now armed with the identity of the bomb-maker. His name is Lucien (Patrick Bauchau), and he happens to be an elderly war criminal in hiding. He might look innocuous (he's even got a cane!) but he is one wily piece of work. He's not inclined to be of any use until they threaten to deport his daughter - then he gives up the identity of the man who hired him. After said guy betrays him in a hail of bullets, Lucien tells Michael to repay the favor by putting one into his now former friend. Somehow, I don't think that'll be difficult.
While Michael and Sam handle Lucien, Fiona helps Jesse with one of his private security gigs. Sadie (Darby Stanchfield) and her husband James (The Cape and 24's James Frain) are curious as to how their alarm keeps going off, and Jesse and Fiona soon find the reason why: James' ex-business partner Dan is back and he's not a happy camper, having escaped from a foreign prison by faking his own death to find that James stole the anti-viral drug he invented and Sadie. Yeah, that would make me cranky, too. Fiona is sympathetic to Dan's story, and convinces Jesse to turn against his client.
It's a setup rife for mayhem, and the episode gives us plenty of it. Michael earns himself an acting award pretending to be the disgruntled son of a dead woman, ending his spiel by setting off a series of explosions in the company's parking garage. This, of course, allows Jesse to come to James' rescue. Coby Bell gets the "A" story this week, and he handles it effortlessly, chewing scenery, playing the tough guy where needed, and being totally unruffled through it all - but that's to be expected from someone who's had plenty of lead TV series experience (six seasons of Third Watch and four, soon to be five, of The Game).
One of the great things about Burn Notice is that the ensemble really is a team; any of the characters can be the lead on any given week, and the others take active supporting roles. No matter what the size of their part, nobody phones anything in.
There's lots of property destruction, most of it staged by Michael, but all of it fun to watch. (As a magician with a particular fondness for escape tricks, I got a certain amount of glee out of the "smuggle Michael into the corporate HQ in a glass box" bit.) The final bit involves an armored truck, which sees our team build their own flaming roadblock.
Fittingly, the episode's conclusion doesn't involve some huge setpiece - but the necessary confrontation between James and Dan, with Sadie in earshot. Like last week, Burn Notice doesn't lose sight of the fact that while big endings might be fun, the story is really about the characters. Dan needs to tell James how he really feels, and he does. It's not the most flashy ending, but it's a great one because it's the appropriate one, not the one just playing for eyeballs.
This is the kind of midseason episode that I truly enjoy. It keeps things moving forward, rather than just teasing ad infinitum. It uses the space between season premiere and (mid)season finale to find standalone stories to tell that showcase its characters. You can see the four-plus seasons of experience of the cast, crew and writers in each frame. No matter which way I look at this - as a fan or as a production member - it's a keeper.