Burn Notice delivers another serviceable tale of espionage with "Split Decision," but it's not nearly the show's best effort. The always-dependable Bruce Campbell carries an episode that wouldn't be nearly as good without the series' perfect cast.
Michael has a lunch meeting with Card (John C. McGinley) to discuss Fiona. "The CIA would like her to prove she's a friend of the Agency," he's told. Namely, they want Fiona's arms supplier, Greyson. With the help of Maddie, Fiona sets up a meeting between Greyson and Michael. However, Michael is caught up with his task of the week, which puts Fiona's freedom in jeopardy.
Just before leaving for the meeting, Card reveals to Fiona that she has him to thank for the fact that both she and Michael are alive at the moment. Greyson is suspicious from the start, so Michael sells him a story about being betrayed by Fiona and hands him over to the CIA.
Meanwhile, the team is trying to help Rebecca (Kristanna Loken) find her missing brother Trent, who's in hiding from some "very dangerous people" after tipping off the cops that a local bar was a front for a crime syndicate. The target is Wes (Rick D. Wasserman), who took over the business from his father and is now obsessed with making Trent pay.
Michael convinces Wes that he's a prison friend of his father's, and gets in with the offer of exposing the "real" informant. The two break into a police warehouse to steal a file that Sam has planted there, and only escape because Sam and Rebecca give them a car chase as a distraction, before making a narrow escape via speedboat courtesy of Jesse.
Unfortunately for Michael, his fake file makes Wes think that his wife is the real traitor, putting an innocent woman in harm's way. Thankfully, Wes decides merely to evict her from his house, rather than shoot her, saving her life and keeping Michael from something else to have on his already troubled conscience.
"Split Decision" is a decent stand-alone episode, but there's nothing here that is particularly memorable. It's hard to be invested in the case of the week because of a lack of interest in the Rebecca character and, by extension, her brother. Loken doesn't fill the female role in the ensemble nearly as well as Gabrielle Anwar and that shows; she was not an effective villain at the end of last season and she's better but still not great as a hero.
It's therefore difficult to maintain interest in the plot when one does not sufficiently care about the characters who are at the center of it. (It reminds me of Leverage, where Jeri Ryan filled in for an absent Gina Bellman with slightly better results.) Loken's scenes are bolstered by the presence of Bruce Campbell, who can always be counted on to elevate material.
When it comes to the other half of the episode, it's nice to see the Fiona-in-prison arc continue to move along, although the Card character grates on the nerves; the fact that it's likely intentional doesn't make him any more palatable. Hopefully, with Rebecca giving Michael vital intelligence on Anson, the show will step closer to getting Fiona liberated and therefore restoring the show to its full strength. Until then, Burn Notice will continue to be good, but could be even better.
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(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.