In season one, Michael affects a "psycho" persona by destroying two mobsters with a baseball bat, and later by wedging a dumpster against the door of their car, boring through the roof with a power drill, pouring turpentine into the car, threatening to set them on fire, and then jumping up and down on top of the car, screaming, "This neighborhood is mine!" as the roof caves in on the terrified criminals. Incredibly, he tops this in season two while posing as a recovering alcoholic newly empowered by religion; crashing an SUV into his employer's car, he thunders a truly frightening speech at them about judgment for their sins (before leaving a "confession" of said sins on the windshield for the police to find).
Early in season one, after finding out that the trigger spring has been removed from his gun, Michael promptly improvises a new one. Out of a hairpin.
A couple from the first season finale:
The club scene with Carmello, the heroin dealer ("second biggest" in Miami). After planting explosives all over, threatening to blow up the place, and drinking Carmello's expensive champagne, Michael gets up to leave. Carmello asks, "Who are you?" Michael stops, glances back, and says very calmly: "I'm Michael Westen. I used to be a spy." Total HELL YEAH moment.
Later, Michael's trying to get his mom and brother out of the city, and Shadowy Bad Guys are tracking them with a bugged cell phone. Michael stops the car in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, gets out with a gun, points it at his own head (while simultaneously having a crapload of thugs also pointing guns at him), and says into the bugged phone that he knows the Shadowy Bad Guys want him for a specific purpose, and if they don't talk to him right the hell now he's going to kill himself. A couple seconds later, the phone rings, and he answers it with a casual, flippant "Yello?"
Fiona, too, is Made Of Awesome: there's her leap off the bridge at the end of the first half of the finale. Also the scene in the warehouse later, when Michael tosses her a gun, she makes a running catch, and starts shooting without missing a beat.
Sam's scenes under torture in the season one finale. Every time they hit him, he keeps giving them pointers on what they're doing wrong and mouthing off. His plan is to piss them off further, knowing that a quick death by shooting is better than a slow death by other methods. He even gets a coded message to Michael and Fiona in his proof-of-life picture . . . telling them NOT to rescue him.
Notable too, the whole reason he wants to get killed is not because he wants a quick death, but to prevent Michael and Fi from trying to rescue him (and getting killed in the process). He knows that his captors are very dangerous and willing to kill without hesitation, as well as being very well-prepared. The moment works on many levels since it was established previously that Sam had lost his squad in a similar situation and held a lot of guilt over it.
In the Season 2 premiere, "Breaking and Entering," Michael's Plan B, complete with a sudden burst of heavy rock as he pulls out a gigantic shotgun from the bag and just begins blasting up the the room.
In "Turn and Burn" Michael walks into a situation where his client, a hostess and undercover DEA agent who is being stalked by a cartel soldier is beating her and holding both Michael and the client at gunpoint, thinking from some phone records that they're sleeping together. The soldier is in a savage rage and close to shooting both of them. With a few sentences and playing his role even harder, Mike ends the conversation with the cartel soldier frantically apologizing to his "girlfriend" and arranging for a face-to-face meeting with the cartel boss himself.
That time in season 2 that Fiona tasers a Russian mobster holding on to her leg - fully knowing that it means she will be shocked as well.
The whole con on that Russian mobster is awesome as well: when Sam realises after the first interrogation that the man, Ivan, is 'gulag tough' and the plan won't work, Michael masquerades as another Russian mobster being held captive (aided by Nate playing a guard) and successfully convinces him the man's boss and whole crew will be taken down, escapes with him, gets entrusted with the girls the mobster was holding while Ivan rushes to report to his boss to warn him. As the narration notes, getting someone to turn on their own people while making them think it is an act of loyalty, is a pretty badass move for a spy to pull off.
"Rough Seas". Michael's transformation from his nerdy chemist cover to stoic death-dealer is unparalleled.
In the middle of the episode, there was also a great scene where Michael, still undercover as a nerd who's serving as a man-on-the-inside for a gang of pirates, sets up a boat heist for them, with team ally Virgil serving as the boat captain. When he finds out at the last minute that the gang plans to kill Virgil, he improvises a plan with just a few seconds of planning: He first demands a gun ("there might be people shooting, I wanna be able to shoot back!"), then gets to Virgil before they can, fake-panics and fires near (but not at) Virgil. Virgil, given no other warning except "Go with this," executes his part and fakes being shot without a hitch.
In the second season episode "Do No Harm", Sam fights with Michael to keep him from going to Carla for money to save the little kid. By "fights", I mean that Sam blocks Michael's door and gets in a fist-fight with him to keep him from going to Carla.
"Bad Breaks" is pretty much a whirlpool of awesome for everyone. The woman Sam's courting seems largely unfazed by his side job, Bly's return, Michael using the baddie's tools against them, Sam's bluff, Michael's quiet little speech, and Fi blowing up the truck and then sipping coffee.
"Lesser Evil", the S2 finale. Michael and Victor working together, Fi sniping Carla, Sam and Madeline blowing up Madeline's house by MacGyvering Christmas tree lights to make their escape, Madeline sending Sam back to save Michael, and Michael basically going "screw you" by jumping out of the chopper into the sea miles from Miami.
Management: You want out? There's the door! But you have no idea the kind of hell waiting if we stop protecting you! [Beat, as Michael leans forward as if to close the door.] —> Michael: ...I'll take my chances. [ He jumps out of the helicopter.]
Sam and Michael's reverse-interrogation of a diamond smuggler who's kidnapped a little boy in 3x02, "Questions and Answers". Sam plays a corrupt cop who enlists the kidnapper to "help him interrogate" a druggie who supposedly has information about a plan to double-cross the kidnapper. Michael is the druggie. The actual interrogation is one big masterful game of Xanatos Speed Chess between Michael and Sam pretty much making the entire thing up on the spot, culminating in Michael "escaping" to save the boy and Sam tricking the kidnappers into shooting each other.
That episode also had a Crowning Moment for the client (the boy's father, whom the kidnappers were trying to leverage into giving them info to pull off a heist): The father has to set up a meeting with the kidnapper so that Sam and Mike can ID the guy. One glance in the wrong direction, and the kidnapper might realize he's being watched. The father—a civilian with NO training in withstanding forceful methods—takes a beating without slipping up; the only person he looks at is the kidnapper, and the determined look on his face as he looks in the kidnapper in the eye and tells him he's told no one is downright inspiring. Some Papa Wolf methods are subtler than others.
That episode also had an amazing moment at the finale, after Westen and co. had successfully framed the head kidnapper's underlings as backstabbers. The head guy confronted his henchmen and ended up in a Mexican Standoff with them. Sam, watching from nearby, drops a match into the powderkeg by firing his own gun into the ground, and is instantly greeted with the pleasant sound of nearby gunfire.
Madeline's "interrogation" of the pilot in "The Hunter". Guy withstands all of Sam's experience and Fiona's threats, but facing a very angry mom who never, ever raises her voice and offers him a cigarette? Madeline walks back with the information they need.
Indeed. Madeline Westen proved where her son's awesome-genes came from in that scene. As Michael said in a season 2 ep, "Violence perceived is violence achieved."
Then there's Michael managing to get the drop on a squad of 6 armed Ukrainian commandos in a swamp. Did we mention he's alone and he's working with only some fishing line, gunpowder, one block of C4, and a bunch of trees?
Even Michael's unwilling criminal partner gets one, trumping Chechik's KGB Colonel with his KGB General.
Third season episode, "Shot in the Dark". First, Michael manages to convince a car thief that one of the previous owners is trying to kill both of them. Next, he talks the thief into hiring a couple of mercenaries, helpfully played by Sam and Fiona. Then, they wear and set off a bunch of exploding blood packs to make the thief think the non-existent killers just offed all three of them - and he's next. Finally, when the thief and his gangster brother return to the scene of the "crime", Michael is there pretending to be a priest, worried sick about the now-hysterical thief's mental breakdown. Cue the thief bolting out of the mission accusing random people (Sam and Fi incognito, of course) of being the killers he hired.
"He winked at me!"
In "Long Way Back", the S3 half-finale, there's Michael's distraction of O'Neill by driving the Buick off a roof; Michael shooting Strickler twice in what seems like the blink of an eye; and Sam and Michael's Roaring Rampage of Revenge to get Fiona back.
Hell, Michael's last words to Strickler is one of this troper's favorite lines in the entire series.
"Luis": (snaps fingers, wall blows open to reveal a drug van) That one.
Really, Mike's entire cover ID during that episode. A soft-spoken, remorseless, disturbingly-well-connected man in a black suit, red shirt, who has the ability to summon pain, fire, and explosions with a snap of his fingers, and is constantly talking about fire, pain, and suffering to the guilty? Pretty much everyone around him is just a step away from wetting themselves.
And in "Devil You Know", the S3 finale, we have Michael escaping from the city-wide manhunt; Fiona and Sam defusing a bomb together; Michael saving Management's ass; and Madeline bitchslapping an FBI agent.
In "Past and Future Tense", Team Westen is taking on a Russian wetwork team. Cue showdown:
Russian: He's Michael Westen! There are only four of us!
Michael was something of a legend pre-burning, so much so that foreign intel agencies figured he didn't exist, that he was either a code name used by a group, or something along the lines of the boogeyman. Whenever this is brought up (and subsequently shot down) is generally a CMOA.
One of the best moments is when Mike calls out the Spetsnaz team with one of their team, who happens to be bound and explosives-laden.
In "Where There's Smoke", Michael and Jesse are too busy arguing to leave the scene of a bank they just tried to break into. Cue Madeline, their diversion, strolling up beside their car and knocking on the window, then lighting a cigarette and demonstrating the fake tears she used to get past the bank guards.
At the end of "Blind Spot", Sam casually tells the mark, Charles, that he's been drugging him and stringing him along to get his money. Then he tells him that he's told the mark's money manager-who the mark recently pissed off and threatened to blackmail-where Charles is. Then he kicks Charles out of the limo they're in, leaving him stranded in the middle of Miami with no money, no one to turn to, and someone gunning for him.
Jesse's Eleventh Hour Ranger moment in "Guilty as Charged", shooting Michael through the shoulder to save his life.
And in the following episode, "Eyes Open", his Cutting the Knot moment when he blows up a Mad Bomber who was about to try and go out in a blaze of glory, to save the cops who he would've killed along with himself. Then he does an Unflinching Walk.
Jesse:Sometimes you got to put the rabid dog down.
The B-story scene in "Brotherly Love" where Team Westen gets to show off their skills and teamwork. Sam as the Obfuscating Idiot, Fi making things go boom, Michael with the hand work, and Jesse with the planning and support. Finishes off with a slow walk of all four of them looking badass. Oh yeah.
The following episode, "Dead or Alive" had a less awesome than the above but still super cool example of the badass and dramatic committment of the team to fooling a mark, where Michael, pretending to be a coke dealer looking to cut a deal with a dirty cop, really lets himself chew the scenery when the partner-killing cop tries to back out.
Michael: You never heard of me because I've never been caught. I've never been caught because I'm careful. That means if a junkie loser comes to me with a deal, I'm smart enough to kill him before he starts jawing off. Just like when a dirty cop comes to me with a deal, that dirty cop doesn't get to walk away! ("Tosses lighter into a ring of gasoline, surrounding the pair within a wall of fire")
Michael: This is just so we can have a private conversation. I call this the ring of trust! And you can trust that you won't leave this ring without us having a deal!
Really, the only downside to this and other incredibly cool scenes the team put on during the course of a job, is that, as Michael states later in the episode, the stunts sometimes work a little too well on the mark, rendering them paranoid or awestruck depending on circumstance. Still, you don't want to pass up the opportunity to show off your awseome acting chops while on the job!
It's really hard to choose just one moment from the two-part season four finale, but mentions must go to:
Sam getting not one, but TWO Big Damn Heroes moments. First, when he has a sniper sight on Larry, allowing Michael to get away and daring Larry to make a move. Second, when he brings the cavalry (at least a battalion of armed forced guys) to the abandoned hotel where Fi and Michael are about to make a suicide attempt at an escape, Jesse is badly injured, and Maddie is being held hostage by Vaughn. He then punches out Vaughn, which someone has needed to do all season.
Maddie blackmailing Congressman Cowley again and then later, spitting in Vaughn's face.
Can't forget her attempt to sacrifice herself so her son won't come save her, lying about her condition
Fiona's suicide run to be with Michael when she thinks they're both going to be killed by Vaughn's men.
Jesse, on a leg that was impaled by a rebar, pulling a Last Stand with Michael and Fiona.
For this troper, the most awesome part of the episode is when the hotel's phone rings. There stands Michael, Jesse and Fi trapped with about three guns between them. Outside stands an army of special forces with millions of dollars of equipment backing them up. Jesse's slowly bleeding out, and Vaughn is calling to let them know exactly how screwed they are. Michael's answer? "Bay View Hotel, how may I direct your call?"
Michael and Fi thought they had to blow themselves up to take out Vaughn.
Fiona: When the time comes, we'll go together.
An Offscreen Moment of Awesome for a villain in 4x03, "Made Man." Team Westen needs to bring down a mob boss named Tony, so they convince the boss they've got an army to back him up, so he goes after his rival Gio. They ambush the rival's car, and Tony gets out and confronts Gio and three of his bodyguards. Midway through the confrontation, the "army" packs up and drives off, leaving Tony standing there alone facing down four men with guns and strong opinions. The scene ends with Tony raising his weapon and opening fire in a blaze of enraged defiance. And at the end of the episode, it is said that Tony was arrested for killing Gio, meaning that he survived a gunfight with four armed opponents by himself with no vehicle, backup, or cover.
Natalie the thief finally getting caught.
Fiona: Clean yourself up. You look like hell.
Maddie's entire bravura performance in "Bloodlines". Not only does she successfully convince the Yakuza hostage that she's a fellow victim and nurse, she does so while being smacked around by Michael in full Frank-Westen impression and successfully stages an "escape" to get the Yakuza to lead Team Westen to his hideout. Maddie is starting to put everyone else to shame with her dedication to the job.
At the end, she even manages to get him to tell her the address of the warehouse and the password to enter, and then Mike gives her a gun to cover him with after she reveals that she was tricking him. Her smile as she says "I think I can handle that." is the icing on the cake.
In the Season 5 episode "No Good Deed", Michael is trying to escape from the cops, who are searching the building he's in one room at a time. He says, "When your back's against the wall and time is running out, there's nothing like seeing an old friend." Cue the arrival of the beautiful black 1973 Dodge Charger that Michael, Fiona, and Mike's brother Nate have been restoring since the beginning of the season. Its enough to give you goose bumps...
Michael and Maddie pulling a con on a bank robber in "Army of One" - while Michael does his double agent thing convincing Holcomb, the leader, that he's their tech guy and there's a rogue Special Forces guy on the loose trying to kill them, Maddie starts out as a hostage but works with Michael to get all of the hostages to safety. Plus, she saves Michael's ass by bashing a guy's skull in who's about to shoot Michael.
Fiona finally, finally (apparently) killing Larry at the end of "Dead to Rights" only giving him enough time to comprehend how screwed he was. And then, Anson making his grand debut by successfully blackmailing Michael.
In the season six opener, Anson sends a schizophrenic former soldier to Maddie Westen's house in an attempt to get Michael off his back. Team Westen sends Jesse and the Miami PD rescue her, but the soldier kills the cop who shows up before Jesse gets there. Jesse gets ambushed, disarmed, and held at gunpoint within minutes...only to be saved by Maddie, who shoots the soldier with a shotgun. Through the attic floor.
At the end of the episode, Fiona is about the cross the Despair Event Horizon, after Jason Bly (an old "friend" of Michael's from earlier seasons) shows her pictures of a burnt truck and a coroner's report, and tells her Michael was killed when the truck's gas tank exploded. He urges her to give up Michael, saying that he's dead and there's no point to protecting him anymore... and then Fi pauses, looks carefully at the photos, and with a big smile tells Bly that he's lying, Michael is alive and set the truck on fire in a different way to form a roadblock.
Bly: How can you tell?
Fiona: Because I know explosions. And I know Michael.
The prison fight. Fiona Glenanne is nobody's bitch.
Heck, you know it's going to be awesome when it starts with Fi running out of a cloud of smoke in slo-mo and sliding across the floor on her knees to get in a low blow with improvised weapons. The fact that it was Gabrielle Anwar doing it in full view and not a stunt double makes it even better since it adds a more visceral feel to the fight due to the lack of quick cuts.
Michael retrieving the "package" for Ayn is equal parts awesome and completely terrifying. Do not mess with Michael Westin's family.
Nate Westen and his Dynamic Entry when apprehending Anson. "Hey asshole, Michael Westen says hello!"
Michael and Fiona gathering intelligence on a mark while ballroom dancing in 5:11 was pretty awesome...
Team Westen's rescue of a reformedDirty Cop in the 2012 fall premere. Mike, over radio, demands the thugs assaulting the officer back off. He then identifies himself. "My name is *hits detonator, making a nearby car explode* and I'm with the department of *hits detonator, making another car explode*" Then the whole of Team Westen lays down fire on the thugs to pin them down while the police race to the scene.
One for the "bad" guys: Olivia Riley, Intelligence Expert, comes out of nowhere, blows into the situation, and Out-Gambits Team Westen at every turn, very nearly managing to bring them down - something no other antagonist, not even Anson, has been able to do.
Michael Westen leads a motorcycle chase from the CIA on foot IN A HOSPITAL!
Jesse resisting interrogation by Riley, though it's also a bit of a Tear Jerker. She uses information on his past to try and turn him - information he hasn't even revealed to Team Westen. He remains adamant, even calling the others his family, despite the very obvious temptation to break his morals. Often times in these sorts of situations, Team Westen knows what the captive is risking... but here is a moment of What You Are in the Dark where only Jesse and Riley will know what he gave up to protect his family.
Fiona and Mike's Back-to-Back Badasses moment in "Better Halves," which also serves as a counterpoint to their dance scene earlier in the episode where they were managing to perform a full recon of an entire room while in the middle of a tango.
Maddie in 7x03 "Down Range", when Nate's bookie tries to get $80,000 from her. With help from Fiona, she steals the bookie's safe, creates "The Charlie Westen College Fund" with bookie's money, and then blackmails him into leaving her alone by holding his ledger as collateral. She even tops it off with an awesome Ironic Echo.
I own you.
Even though he's revealed to be a Dirty Coward in the end, James's operative Ben has one utterly darkly awesome moment. In "Bitter Pill," the team captures the terrorist who poisoned a diplomat, and are trying to get him to give up the antidote. Ben reveals that he has no interest in playing nice by injecting the man with his own poison to motivate him. Sure it's disturbing just how quickly he's willing to stoop to such a thing. But it's also ridiculously Bad Ass.
"This one's for my boys."
Michael and the team working together to secure their futures. After all the arguing and disagreements, they put aside their differences to make things right and take down James successfully.