The last few episodes of Burn Notice have been intriguing stand-alone stories, but this week it's time to get back to the show's mythology - and it does a solid job of juggling multiple plotlines.
Maddie is having a hard time getting over the death of Benny, and we can't really blame her considering she was in front of his house when the bomb that killed him went off. As if that's not enough, Michael tells her about Anson filling in for her therapist, which gets him slapped and kicked out of her house. That's not a good start to the day for Michael, who has another meeting with Anson, while Fiona and Jesse sit on a nearby rooftop with a sniper rifle that Fiona really wants to use.
Anson's next errand is for Michael's team to "fly to the Caribbean and blackmail a banker" so he can get his money out of a flagged bank account. He swears Michael will be "done by the end of the month," but since when do we believe any bad guy's promises? Except perhaps when we recall that there are only two more episodes left in season five.
It's up to Fiona and Jesse to do the deed, which involves crossing paths with a "sleazy banker" named George Anders (Simon Kassianides from the latest Bond film Quantum of Solace and the Nikita episode "Knightfall"). He's a coward, so at gunpoint they suggest he get the money and then they'll help him fake his death. Watching them do so is pretty interesting, whether it's taking a blood sample, shooting up George's car, or Jesse casually lighting it on fire on their way out. It's another example of Burn Notice teaching us things that we don't need to know.
Meanwhile, Sam reunites with Beatriz (Ilza Rosario), whom he first met in the flick The Fall of Sam Axe. Someone's trying to kill her, so of course, it's up to Sam to keep her out of the crosshairs of the Russians in the person of a sniper named Oscar and his handler Ivan (Mark Ivanir, who also appeared in Nikita, in the episode "Alexandra"). Saving Beatriz means asking Anson to use his profiling skills - and putting up with him along the way. Kudos to Jere Burns for making himself as abrasive as possible without me wanting to hurl my remote at my TV. He's come a really long way since his sitcom days (anyone else remember this show?).
More importantly, he establishes Anson as more than a "talking head." Especially on a spy show, it's all too easy to play a guy who shows up, says menacing things and allegedly pulls all the strings but never actually does anything. If this is the man who's really behind the curtain (which I'm not entirely sold on since we have at least one more season of the show to go), I want to believe that he's capable of being that guy. In this episode, seeing Anson in the field, we get an idea of how he thinks and how he might have climbed to the top. Are we really surprised that Anson then implicated Sam as a Russian spy?
We also get a little more on the show's most enigmatic relationship: the one between Michael and his father Frank. To hear Anson say that Michael's father wanted to apologize for his actions - and realize that Anson killed him - adds so much to the bits and pieces we've heard about that relationship over the past five seasons. Before tonight, it might have been easy to paint Frank Westen as another generic abusive father and spouse, but planting the idea that he was recalcitrant at some point in his life, even if was near the end, adds a little more grey to the picture.
"Depth Perception" pulls together three distinct plots - the personal (Michael's fraying relationship with his mother), the case of the week (Fiona and Jesse in the Cayman Islands), and the overarching mythology (through the Anson and Michael and Sam and Beatriz story) without the episode becoming cluttered. It gives something to do to each of the main characters and principal guest stars.
And as with many of the best Burn Notice episodes, we see a solution that comes not from Michael's professional expertise, but from his life experience. One of the things I love about the show is that as the character has grown, we've seen that reflected in each following season.
Now the question is: how will things all get wrapped up in the next two episodes, and how will those two episodes pave the way for season six? Michael Westen doesn't know what to do, and we don't know what he might do, but being in the dark can also be the most fun.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.