Back in foreign territory, Sam thinks that Strong's plan has some pretty serious flaws in it, but his warnings fall on predictably deaf ears. Burke meets with Serrano and reveals that he doesn't want the other man's money - he's only interested in him, and information he has that's valuable to the people Burke works for. Listening in, Strong is baffled, because he thought Burke was his own boss.
He's further wound up when a random helicopter flies in, spotting the CIA's team as it does. When the pilot tells Burke about the operatives, Burke turns on Michael. To sell Michael's story that the snipers aren't on his side, Sam is forced to shoot at Michael. Michael then shoves Serrano in front of the window so that he can pretend to call the snipers off, which Strong reluctantly does. He watches helplessly as Burke, Michael and Serrano board the chopper, leaving behind a truck that promptly explodes.
And Maddie sticks it to Al, having recovered his client list and a whole lot more from his safe after blowing a hole in his place. She's smiling the entire time.
On the chopper, Michael demands to know who Burke's boss is, and what's really going on. Burke says that "all will be revealed in time," because that's what bad guys say in situations like this.
There are a few things about "Down Range" that don't ring true on various levels. It's pretty easy to see the plot twist in the fourth act coming if you're paying attention through the episode, not to mention the tropes that surround it - yet again, the CIA doesn't listen to Team Westen and gets egg on their face because of it. Burke having a boss is also not a shocker, because Burn Notice veterans know that the bad guys in this show always have organizations - the guy you meet in the season opener is almost certainly not the one pulling the strings. And so it is again.
Then there's the whole subplot, which while seeing Sharon Gless putting someone in their place is always entertaining, feels like old material. We've been over all the various trouble Nate got himself into, and this isn't the first time someone in the Westen family has had to deal with it. The whole thing comes across as more of a way to give Fiona and Madeline something to do, rather than something that actually adds to the episode.
Another minor tic: USA putting the preview of next week's Burn Notice not at the end of the hour, but in the middle of Graceland. It's obviously a move to coerce Burn Notice fans into watching Graceland, and it's not great. Yes, it's just a preview, but there are fans who love those little sneak peeks, and they shouldn't have to sit through part of another show to see them.
Having said that, there are glimmers here of what makes this show great, namely in the person of Bruce Campbell. Sam Axe might be primarily known for his comic relief, but Campbell reminds us again that Sam is a lot more than that. He plays everything so well. It's when Sam, Jesse and Michael are working together again, and we can enjoy the great chemistry between Campbell, Coby Bell and Jeffrey Donovan, that "Down Range" is at its best. Let's hope that the rest of the plotting reaches that same level of quality next week.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.