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Headscratchers: Burn Notice
  • Can just any CIA handler legally actually allow an operative to kill an "innocent" just to maintain their cover and continue the operation (as Michael does to his good friend in Season 7)? A hit off the books that's covered up from the Congressional review boards are one thing, and I'm really not exactly sure but I assumed that people undercover aren't allowed to break the law and be immune to the same legal system which would try their targets. But Michael's target wasn't some nobody selected to test his loyalty to his cover, but someone well known in the intelligence world with lots of connections.
    • Michael's target apparently sold information to both sides, as Strong notes. Technically, it's probably still the murder of a civilian, which would be a major no-no if it ever got out ("out" meaning to the public or possibly even to someone in the CIA who still has a conscience (which is practically no one who has any power within it) as people undercover are still bound by law. Part of Strong encouraging Michael to actually go through with the hit shows how desperate he is to take James down. It is still illegal, but they're past caring, which is part of what drives Michael to almost switch sides.

  • After Mike kills Strickler, Diego calls horrified and surprised that Mike was working with him. Why would he be? An entire plot point a few episodes earlier was Mike asking Diego to check him out for him to see if he could get things done. What did Diego expect Mike would do after?
    • Because the people Strickler was in bed with probably came out of the woodwork after Mike killed him. Diego knew Strickler was connected but not how much, and when he saw the shitstorm kicked off by his death he panicked.
    • The reason why Mike was asking about Strickler was quite obviously because of how much Strickler could do to help him get un-burned. That's all Mike really cares about, and Diego knows it. Mike killing Strickler is the absolute last thing anyone, even Mike, expected to have to do at that point.

  • Michael killing Tom Card has to be one of the worst idiot ball moments in the show. So Mike gets the drop on Tom but seems set on not killing him. When Tom pulls a gun, not even pointing it at anyone yet, he could have shot him. When Tom points his gun at Nate's killer, Mike could have shot him. When Tom kills him, Mike could have shot him. At all these points Mike would be justified in killing him. But he waits until Tom has holstered his gun to finally kill him?
    • It's definitely a bit of an idiot ball moment, but Mike clearly still had lingering respect for Card, He seemed pretty much paralyzed by indecision for several moments there. Bit of Fridge Logic; Mike was absolutely on the edge until Card started fast-talking him. It wasn't until he grinned at Mike and said "I'm so proud of you, son" that Mike snapped and blew him away. The idea of the word "son" as a trigger isn't inconceivable with someone who has Mike's level of unresolved issues with his father.
    • Also, he was still somewhat in a "I don't believe Card could do that" stage - he was still hoping that there was some sort of explanation. But not only was "I'm so proud of you, son" trigger Mike's issues, it was also the line Grey (Nate's killer) said Card would tell him. That confirmed it for him.
    • I'm not sure if it's as much of an Idiot Ball moment as it seems. Card's the closest thing Michael has ever had to a positive father figure, and Michael seemed hesitant to drop the hammer on him until he used that same line Michael had heard Card say to Grey. "I'm so proud of you, son," broke any barrier that was in the way.

  • Why does Madeline seem to hate Michael so much? As physically abusive as Frank was Madeline seems to love twisting the knife for Mike. First she blames Mike for leaving when he did, then she starts claiming similarities between Mike and his dad, all while taking the role of the brave mother who did what she had to for herself. How does anyone let her have the title of team mom when she is the most manipulative person there? And yet Mike never once lashes out at her for it directly.
    • This is a pretty common "tv thing", I find.note  Characters say things and do things in tv shows for the sake of "humor" or "drama" that in the real world would be completely intolerable. For instance I once had a college professor whose Berserk Button was the tv show Friends because, in his words, "That's not how real 'friends' would ever treat each other!" He hated that show because in his opinion 99% of the "jokes" would probably cost you your friends in real life. And yet, Friends ran for 10 seasons, was nominated for 63 Emmys, and is one of the most popular and beloved sitcoms of all time. People love those kinds of jokes and characters despite how insufferable they would be in real life. Why? Hard to say. Maybe we secretly wish we could say these things in real life were we not bound by good taste. Or maybe we just admire the sheer audacity of the tv characters.
    • And then on top of that he just never seems to get to the point of really calling her out on that except via indirect passive-aggressive sniping via therapist-third-party. What's worse is when Fiona gets her oar in and tries to push them to talk to each other.
    • It's actually a somewhat common reaction amongst long-term abuse victims to blame either themselves or someone other than themselves or the abuser. The only way it could be excused to any degree is when you realize that all of these people have serious issues. Note how Nate had a similar reaction in faulting Michael for leaving.

  • Michael's vague and, at times, very selective personal ethics and the contradiction between them and his desired occupation. Alright, so when we are first introduced to Michael, he's a valued hotshot spy, doing all that entails for the U.S. government covertly, such as wiring money to prop up a brutal African warlord just to protect some U.S. oil fields. Not exactly high heroics there. When compromised, he takes two goons into the bathroom and calmly and efficiently shoots them dead. Which makes sense, of course, considering they will not hesitate to execute them and he needs to escape. But then later as the series progresses, he shows this sometimes bizarre unwillingness to kill under any circumstances. Usually, that choice makes a lot of tactical sense for the current job and direct violence is really not an efficient choice, but every now and then it verges into Idiot Ball territory, especially when sometimes it seems like Michael doesn't even shoot to kill in self-defense against trained cold-blooded Mooks, as if that were somehow wrong. He kills Strickler certainly, since its the only way to save Fiona in time, but with his activities, you would really expect that to happen a bit more often. He seems to take some kind of self-righteous offense when side characters like older spies or even Jesse kill, as if they are somehow in the wrong, though, mercifully, he's thanked Fiona the multiple times she has killed for him (she seems to have the highest body count of the four in-show). Later, though, with the CIA, his aim seems to have improved, albeit barely, when he executes a few guards to infiltrate a compound. Also bothersome is the show's, at times, annoying reliance on Big Damn Villains to get Michael out of sticky situations without somehow compromising these principles, such as Larry killing Brennen, but such instances really should beg the question, "So what would Michael have done if the villain HADN'T been there do that for him?" Sometimes the only answer is pretty much the same since it was the only real way out. I understand he has come to decide to fight hard against the degradation of his own morality via Larry's influence or the Evil Counterpart of Simon, but his overarching goal the whole time during the first several seasons has been to get back to his old job working as a spy for the U.S. government—even though, realistically, if he returned to that job he would no longer get to take only the "ethical" jobs anymore—there would be more wetwork ops, more dealings with people who kill, destroy and torture, defrauding and exploitative economic shenanigans and, of course, supporting a government that kills in the hundreds of thousands. Yeah... You know the stuff that governments do in order to stay in power. But yet he seems to have complete Moral Myopia on the subject, despite Fiona's, an acknowledged anti-government radical's, repeated attempts to say What the Hell, Hero? to him for it. And this combined with the fact that Michael appears unable to explain exactly *why* he has to do it so much—at first it seems like that he is just in it for the money and having an outlet to use his skills while not becoming a criminal for it (and he accepts jobs with a lot more selfish cynicism back then), but then later vague hints of some super-patriotic desire to be a "good guy" to fight for...something crop up. Later those two seem to be dropped completely and Madeline offers maybe "it's just how he fits into the world" and it seems like he doesn't even really know for sure, other than appreciating the operational support and assets available to a professional spy rather than scraping by being a hero for hire. I think Nate probably hits closest to the mark when he compares it to an addiction—Michael is addicted to the work. A very personal, even self-centered motivation that explains Michael's choices at least. Really a case of Just Bugs Me.
    • It can be partially explained by not wanting to have murders pinned on him - even if he did it in self-defense, the investigators would be very interested in why did he get shot at in the first place.
    • Even weirder is when Strickler offers (or at least appears willing) to get Michael's burn notice lifted. He objects to the story that he was running guns into Chechnya (or maybe South America). Errmm, he wasn't expecting you to do it, he just wanted you to say that's what you were up to. Michael has posed as any number of "Bad Guys" as his cover. Once it was clear that the price would also be that Fiona would be deported, it was understandable that Michael objected. But to object to gun-running as a cover story?
      • I suppose the problem in Michael's head would be that to all intents and purposes as far as anyone else was concerned, it would not be a cover story, but the offical record of what he was doing? He's a weird one; such a boyscout of a spy, to the point that eventually the 'killing causes problems' and 'keeping low profile' and other justifications just stop working.
    • Part of it may be that he's an irrational person just like anyone else. But part of it may simply be a very subtle character development. He only thinks he wants the CIA life (he left it to avoid abuse, after all) - but he doesn't really want it. It doesn't offer him escape any more from the anger, from the abuse, from the confusing morals of a broken house. Over the seasons, he's developed/refound his humanity and his connection to people. He's come to realize that the black and white, ends justifies the means mentality he and Larry enjoyed was false. His no-killing may be a result of that. And yes, it may also be a character flaw in some situations! It's been stated by Word of God that Michael tends to consider his own personal honor and reputation very highly - he may feel with his new found humanity that avoiding killing people helps make him better/feel better.
    • This is actually expanded on in Season 7. The reason Michael tries to limit collateral damage and unnecessary killing is due to a mission having Gone Horribly Right, where under Larry's influence, he willingly bombed a factory full of innocent people in order to kill a single target. The resulting My God, What Have I Done? and Heroic BSOD convinced him that he could never do something like that again or he'll become just like Larry.
    • Could also be a case of "I was just following orders". When MICHAEL decides to kill someone, that's on him. But if the gov't put out the kill order or puts him in a situation where he needs to kill, he's just doing his job.
    • As the original Headscratcher on this above, I have to say having seen later episodes it seems like the writers have been trying extra hard to both fix this as well as steadily bloody Michael's hands in more and more compromising ways. For example, when he is reinstated into the CIA, he and the gang start actually shooting back at the bad guy's guards again. Not just shooting at them, rather, but shooting them so they fall down and stay there. And, shockingly, nobody seems distressed about it. After being manipulated, used and ultimately, betrayed, for an entire season, Michael, in a shocking but completely emotionally understandable moment compared to the rest of the series, shoots Tom Card dead in cold blood and spends an entire season paying for it. And then, truly surprisingly, Michael compromises and kills a genuinely good friend of his because the Organization he is working deep cover within deems him a threat to them and his CIA handler expressly allows the murder.
    • The Watsonian reason has already been explained. The Doylist reason? The kills in the pilot episode can be written off to Early-Installment Weirdness, as having Michael find non-lethal ways to neutralize the villain of the week would be a lot more interesting than simply shooting them. They could have Fiona do that.

  • Fiona's supposedly Irish accent in the first episode. Dear God, Burn Notice people, have you ever actually heard an Irish person speak? Because they do NOT sound like that.
    • It's not much better when some old friends and enemies from Ireland appear and she reverts for part of the episode in Season 3. Though Fi herself often grates over certain things. Her insistence on Michael never doing business with anyone even slightly shady and throwing a tantrum when he does just seems bizarre given her own profession. We are told she was not one of the loony IRA fighters just there for the destruction and so would not blow up a school for instance, but she was a bomb maker and we have seen constantly that she prefers to lead with violence but is prevented by the others and also on several occasions that she likes to make her explosions unnecessarily large, to the point she is chided for putting innocent people at serious risk. Given that behavior, and whatever one thinks about the cause of the IRA, it seems highly unlikely her bombing signature has changed so much that she did not go in for innocent endangering overkill back then too. Even ignoring that her condemnation of Michael for having worked with or being willing to work with shady people (despite him being shown to be practically a boy scout of a spy) just doesn't seem credible given we know she works part time as a gun runner and weapons dealer. Is she selling these things only to good people who will do good with them? Not likely (and how would she check up on it anyway?), and unlike Michael she isn't doing it for her country anymore as she is, as far as I recall, not actively aiding the old IRA elements still actively fighting, but doing it for money. This troper is not one who despises every aspect of Fiona, but I just do not get the level of disappointment at Michael she shows over that sort of stuff. Some, sure. But her words on such occasions sometimes seem written as though she is squeaky clean, something I doubt her character was ever meant to be or is.
    • It is likely the writers attempts to avoid making Mike out to be a Gary Stu. The whole plot revolves around him already and he's basically a boy scout. So they have to make everyone get mad at him for stupid things, even thought it just makes the audience sympathize for Mike who is in an abusive relationship with pretty much everyone but Sam.
      • .In general it just seems like the writers never really think through what being an IRA terrorist entails.
      • Agreed. Their thinking probably went as far as "We need a trigger-happy/explosive-loving/badass female character. I got it! IRA agent!" and no further. Making Fiona ex-Mossad would've made a bit more sense IMO, but maybe Fiona's actress was even worse at faking an Israeli accent.
      • However, just like Michael and Sam, she was fighting for something she believed in. Whether or not we necessarily agree with her, from her perspective, she's justified and right - whether it's making bombs or what have you. Being evil or doing bad things don't necessarily mean you automatically come with an evil laugh and thinking you're an evil person; Michael himself has pointed out that people like to believe that they're right and justified and will do even terrible things in that belief. People will believe they're good guys or at least, not evil.
      • It's not that she believes bombing things for Ireland (or revenge) is right that bugs me. From her point of view she was fighting the good fight. But she still really loves blowing things up. She may be justified from her POV about the fight she's was engaged in, but then and since she seems to enjoy destruction partly for its own sake, which is a tad worrying now she isn't fighting the good fight anymore. It would be fine if someone pointed out the above troper's words to Fiona herself so the potential unsettling nature of her attitude and work is addressed (haven't seen S4 yet, so they might well ahve done so). I suppose to her credit she perhaps has since learned better from the nasty IRA elements and doesn't want Michael to think fighting the good fight is worth dealing with that sort - she enjoys destruction, but at least she doesn't enjoy killing.
      • Word of God also kinda talks about this in that Fi would rather be wrong and stand by her friends than right and betray them.
      • To be fair, it is certainly possible to make explosions look big, yet still be controlled. Think about how demolition crews take down tall buildings. It seems reasonable that her character specializes in this. She did manage to blow up a suburban neighborhood house, without damaging any surrounding houses.
      • And now in 5x12, "Dead to Rights", Fi is framed for the destruction of the British Embassy. She did plant a bomb, but it was just supposed to kill Larry. As the blackmailer pointed out, former IRA gunrunner + British embassy destruction on US soil = terrorism charges.

  • In the Season 4 ep "Neighborhood Watch," is it just me or did Maddie come off as a bit of a Jerk Ass for siding with the doctor who had so much Honor Before Reason that he came almost came across as a Karma Houdini for not getting shot? Yeah mom, its very important to stand up to bullies yourself, but your Aesop falls a bit short when you remember that said bullies were casual murderers and your friend could have done slightly less than jack and crap in the situation without Michael doing 99.99999% of the work. And the part about the bullies coming back next time even worse than before is somewhat unlikely since Michael's plan would have involved said bully being chased down by a very angry cartel with no possible connection to said doctor, so what the hell, Maddie?
    • Also aggravating about this instance: Maddie was the one who insisted Michael get involved, and then objected to his plan. Fi and Jesse's attitudes were similarly irritating: not that they got him involved, but the simultaneous insistence that he solve it his way and refusal to let him do so grated. Especially given how he'd proven over and over that his approach works—shouldn't that be worth a little faith?
    • Maddie's been pissing off a lot of people this season, then. Great character, poor motivations and understanding: In 'Hot Property', she decides to put our favorite burned spies together for a forced sitdown, largely unaware of the circumstances. Normally, this makes sense because of her role as Team Mom, but telling them to deal with it? Oh, let's see....Michael nearly got killed by a very good-if not very close to his heart-shot, Michael saying so himself in this same episode.. Jesse's entire life was ruined, and you just have to look to Season 1 to see how bad its been for him. They were on a track of forgiveness as is until she butted in to expedite the process. 'Get Over It' Maddie? This isn't something you just get over with immediately. Your intentions are good, but there's bad blood here, and rightfully so. She really doesn't have much over them or to cause them harm if they both lied about their apologies there, and they were both thinking that.
      • Except they -weren't- getting over it. They were simply ignoring it and, essentially, agreed not to screw each other over while they were both fighting the same bad guys. Now, yes, you're right in that she has nothing over either one of them... other than she is the Team Mom (and they are a Nakama). THAT is what she has over them. They respect her and care for her. That much should have been clear from the many scenes she had with Jesse that are often, thematically, identical with ones she has with Michael or Nate. She brings up that they are a family. As for why Jesse would feel this way, he says it himself. He's a counter-intelligence agent. He's trained to be suspicious of everyone and not make any personal connections. Team Weston was perhaps one of the few emotional connections (personal or professional) he's had in a long time. And remember Michael's various narrations; ultimately, Jesse is a spy which means he's probably had a similar rough background as Michael did. He lost his mother in what is implied to be something of a painful manner. The scene was also as much about Michael and Jesse realizing that - surprize! - they're NOT spies any more (at least not in any formal capacity) and that they can and should realize that the world doesn't have to be about cold blooded isolation.
      • Plus, Maddie is the mom figure to everyone on the team, including Jessie. The way I saw it was that she was basically sitting her kids down and telling them to get along.

  • Why nobody recognize Michael and company? I mean, he never truly exchange his look and he had rub elbows with almost every single power, both Legal and underground in Miami. I mean, how can Michael can get with so much when he only do a different clothe/personality for every mission.
    • Miami has a population of over 2.5 million people. That's how nobody recognizes him. Also, the people he deals with aren't really the types to socialize with each other.
      • It does stretch credibility somewhat that the team's chisselled, handsome mugs never get recognized (or that their cool car never does, but artistic licence is at play there), but I suppose it would tie into the show's running theme that low level gangs and crooks are composed of small minded idiots who are no match physically or intellectually with trained professionals, and simply lack the connections and ability to spread the word about the mysterious badasses who took them down in days, or failed to do so among the criminal underworld. Where someone is supposed to be reasonably intelligent and careful, they at least seem able to figure out when the team is faking certain parts of their cover I Ds (such as in Made Man).
      • Part of it may be the suggestion that most criminals have no incentive to spread the word. Drug lord A has no reason to warn drug lord B that Mystery Man X took him down. Doing so just means A appears weak and vulnerable to B. And likewise, if A sees X attacking B, then it's in A's best interests for B to be taken down as well. Similarly, what reason does a counterfeiter or loan shark have to tell a bank robber or gang banger that X happened to them? Very little other than that they're down and out on resources at the moment. In short, the same attributes that make Michael himself easy to disappear and operate are the same things that make the the criminal underworld hard to target (decentralized independently operating cells of people playing a constant game of secrecy and information hording).
      • That being said, repeated episodes have shown that sufficiently connected people (such as that crook lawyer whose daughter was kidnapped) are able to track down the team pretty easily, and just as we are shown that random people have heard about their activities through past jobs to contact various members of the team (or people who know people on the team), it is absurd more criminals cannot do so as well, especially given the other post on here about the team blowing their covers unnecessarily sometimes.
      • In a few cases it's hinted at that word of Team Weston has been spreading through prisons fairly well and as most of their missions either end in the bad guys killing each other or police cars pulling up along some serious charges with a lot of easily obtainable evidence (planted or not) it kinda makes sense, and seeing as no one outside the intelligence community has photographs or documentation on team Weston the stories are likely about "This one well built brown haired dude, his girlfriend, their buddy with the chin and a bald brown guy." it makes sense they aren't recognized by their faces and the previously mentioned prison stories probably won't get out too well to the high rolling criminals that could use it.

  • Speaking of Fi being pissed at Michael for the wrong reasons, is it me or does her anger at him trying to hide the truth from Jesse seem ridiculous? First, she helped Michael steal the file that got Jesse burned, and only felt bad about it when he showed up later. Second, it's not like Michael intended for it to happen, he felt bad about it. Third, it's extremely clear that Jesse intends to kill whoever stole that file. I can understand that she likes the fact Jesse also prefers a direct approach, but having her seem to care more about not deceiving Jesse than Michael's life irks the Hell out of me. Its getting to the point where I can't even understand why they work together, seeing as how she objects to pretty much everything he does.
    • It seems more the principles rather than anything else. Michael is deceiving someone and pretending to be their friend to save himself. He's using Jesse to get what he needs. He's using Fi to protect himself and prevent Jesse from uncovering the truth. He's also assuming that Jesse and him can not work things out and that, by extension, he and Jesse will have some sort of shootout/showdown where one or the other will get killed. And Michael seems to be purposely keeping a barrier between him and Jesse whereas Sam and Fi and Maddie have accepted him as a friend and ally. For Jesse's part, while he may be a hothead, he's also been shown to be a reasonable guy prone to impulse rather than a truly hot headed agent. It's these things that Fi is worried about as they are exactly the sort of things that Simon, Gilroy, and others have done to them - heck, it's what got Michael into the We Help the Helpless situation to begin with. Fi is worried that Michael is screwing over friends/treating people like assets and becoming cold and distant rather than the specifics.
      • Turns out that Michael was at least somewhat justified in his worries (who knows what he would have done if he didn't have a crush on Fi). Granted, it was almost certainly exacerbated by his finding out by himself, but his reaction is a bit on the extreme side and he is most certainly not interested in chit-chatting right now. Also, added hilarity in that he claims that he should have expected Michael to lie to him because he was a spy, but he was shocked to find out that the former terrorist who is currently running guns and has shown herself to be at least the equal to almost any spy in everything but hand to hand combat and patience (arguably a little better than Jessie himself in the latter) would lie to him.
      • In Fi's case, it's more that Jessie -liked- Fi and she had shown some connection to him as well. It's not that he couldn't believe that someone with her past could lie but rather, that someone with the sort of camraderie that they shared would lie to him. To him, it's like your best friend hiding the fact that they slept with your spouse - it's the who, not the what.

  • In the latest episode (Hard Time), (spoilers ahead) Simon attacks Michael, to get away from the security camera, and give him some the relevant info, but in the process, cuts a gash in Michael's chest. The next scene shows him in the loft being stitched up by Fiona. What bugs me is why didn't they stitch him up on site, or get him to proper medical facilities? Did they want him to risk an infection so close to his heart?
    • Well, they'd probably want to avoid an actual hospital in order to minimize any paper trail, but I guess its possible that Michael insisted on treating the wound himself (like he's no doubt done many times before, in his old and new lives) in order to pass on the info he got ASAP. Maybe he just borrowed an adhesive gauze pad to put on it until he got home and we only saw Fi stitch it after he removed it (there probably should have been a lot more blood if he had left it open for the trip home).
    • This troper wouldn't trust those guys to clip my toenails. Probably end up with gps transmitters implanted under my skin. Michael would be a fool to let them anywhere near him when he's in such a vulnerable state.
      • And they probably didn't offer. They seem like the sort that wouldn't extend a hand unless someone asked for a hand, assuming either the person could take care of themselves, to maintain an image, or to avoid getting too chummy with an asset.

  • Season 4 summer finale, "Guilty as Charged". They went through the whole thing with the submarine to get Sam and Fi in a position where they could help out in a worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario (and then some) happens. Why do they just stand there the whole time playing Greek Chorus!?
    • Sam was the only one with a sniper rifle. I guess he was unwilling to do what Jessie eventually did and shoot through Michael's shoulder.
      • Also the show has established that there really isn't anything such as a flesh wound. Sam knew that Michael had a good chance of dying (or severe injury) from a bullet to the shoulder. Jesse wasn't shooting to kill, but he also was okay with the possibility that Michael might get injured as collateral damage.

  • In Breach of Faith, how do Jesse and Fiona bind and gag Tom with tape and shove him in their trunk when they're standing five feet away from dozens of cops?
    • I think that scene only works if you assume they lured him into an alley and then duct taped him and shoved him in the trunk. Then drove right back to where they were standing before. Kinda silly but...less silly than duct-taping and locking a guy in a trunk five feet away from the cops.

  • In a city w/ an EXCESS of drug dealers,arms dealers and money launderers,an intelligence agent that is willing to kill has a hard time earning or getting money? Really?
    • Willing to kill =/= willing to be a hired assassin.

  • The compiled NOC list. In "Brotherly Love" we learn that an auction is being held to sell sensitive data. We're told that this is a HUGE deal. The buy-in is very pricey, and every precaution is being taken. Except, apparently, to password protect the data. The pen drive fits into any USB port, and the data is readily accessible. BUT WAIT! We learn that the data IS encrypted. It's HEAVILY encrypted ... against making copies. Wait, what? I'm no expert, but it seems to me that any data that can be VIEWED can be COPIED. Even if you don't know how to pull the data from a ram dump, there's nothing stopping them from taking pictures of the screen or just plain writing the information down into a notebook. This is a sloppy hand wave for plot convenience, and is not backed up by any semblance of logic.
    • And how do you suppose one could prevent someone from copying information like that? If you make the information unreadable, you'd also be making it unreadable for yourself as well. And as much as one can encrypt something, ultimately, there's still a key and still a method of extracting information from it. No method is 100% secure against leaked information. It would just have taken Team Westen a little bit longer to get the information.
      • Without getting too computer-nerdy here: there are plenty of encryption algorithms available that would have made the data impossible to access illegitimately without the proper encryption key. Granted, it's feasible that they could just get that, but generally encrypting data against copying isn't something that happens for security reasons; If your files need to be encrypted, you use an encryption program to lock them whenever they're not being used. What the OP is saying here is that generally encryption on files is done so that opening them requires a password or "key" to decrypt them.
    • Also, having possession of something is incredibly valuable. If you have physical access to a computer (or data drive or whatever), then it's less about if you can crack it and more about when. And you're right, why can't someone just take a photo? That's why most security places try very very very hard to only let enough people view information in order to operate. And why people with physical access are so heavily vetted.

  • The team regularly makes their own bean-bag rounds. Why? In Florida all you need is a military ID (should be easy enough to fake) for all sorts of fun less-lethal stuff last I checked.
    • It's cheaper and, more importantly, harder to track. Team Westen can't clean up every crime scene and the police could probably identify the manufacturer and the shop that sold them. Now the police has Michael on video buying things he shouldn't, proving that he used a fake ID and that he has something to do with whatever hapened on the scene. Not a smart move. And since this Miami is not CSI!Miami the police can't prove anything from his homemade stuff. (Yet. I still hope that detective who wanted to arrest Michael shows up again.)

  • Isn't Fiona sort of an offensive national stereotype? Not just a ex-terrorist but a very chaotic, violence loving one too. Plus she's a redhead. It wouldn't be so bad if she was played by an actual Irish actress but Gabrielle Anwar is English.
    • Except she's almost always portrayed positively or neutrally. She makes mistakes (like when she accidentally misjudged the size of an explosive charge that one time) but very rarely is she shown as unambiguously a bad person. Hell, Michael has more What the Hell, Hero? moments than she does, and he's the main protagonist!
    • Well I agree she isn't portrayed as evil but she has a lot of stereotypical cultural/ethnic traits that are played entirely straight. Which along with both her creators and actor being non-Irish arguably pushes her into Modern Minstrelsy territory.
      • Okay, fair enough. But I stand by the statement that her admittedly stereotypical character was intended as just a bit of harmless fun. Sort of the Irish version of Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" video.

  • In the prequel movie when Sam is seen in his whites he has the Surface Warfare pin instead of the Special Warfare pin which he should have as a SEAL.
    • And he is repeatedly referred to as a "soldier". Maybe SEAL s are different, but in my experience that's an excellent way to PO any Navy man.
      • If I recall correctly, the most of the people referring to him as a "soldier" were foreigners who probably weren't familiar with U.S. military customs. How familiar are you with the exact military terms and formalities of other nations? The average civilian sees a foreigner in camouflage uniform with a gun, they think "soldier".

  • In "Seek and Destroy" there's a scene where Michael has to sneak through an art gallery by exploiting the blind spots of the security cameras. My question though is why didn't Michael wear a mask while doing this? That way he's protected in case he accidentally gets caught on the security cameras anyway.
    • It's possible he was thinking that if he didn't have a mask, then if he's caught, he could attempt to justify his presence with a dumb tourist (or whatever) cover. Whereas if he has a mask, then all he could really say is he's a really bad thief.
    • He actually mentions this in the pilot.
    Michael: I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in someplace. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You want to look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge, or a yogurt. If you get caught, you just look confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt - nothing could be more innocent.

  • Is it me, or has Michael never, ever, ever laughed? Not counting the times he's had to fake laugh as part of a cover ID that is. How do you hang around a guy like Sam all day and never laugh?
    • It seems that all these years in covert ops has left his mind extremely compartmentalized, and we never see Michael outside of "work mode." Any downtime he has, if he has any at all, is off camera.
    • Maybe not laugh, but occasionally when outwitting someone in a particularly cool way (such as his motorcycle slide under the truck), he'll smirk.

  • I admit that it took him a while to grow on me, but why isn't Jesse a part of this team against the last member of the list? I like Jesse, and I like the idea that he was a good spy which strong abilities that both complimented and stilted Michael for great conflict. Him getting Put on a Bus doesn't sound good to me.
    • Jesse is counter-intelligence. This means when he went back to his job, his primary focus would not include acting against hostile agencies. That said, they at least make a point to say that he has a (new) job in Miami which presumably means they can bring him in as needed. And since the last mission was after he'd already left a government position, his security clearance may have lapsed (or it may never have been high enough to begin with).

  • On the last page of chapter 3 of New Day (seen here), the Charger is driving off, completely undamaged. Is this the same Charger we saw get blown up at the end of season 4? The one that's still not repaired at the beginning of season 5?

  • I find it strange that the moment that Michael Westen was black listed that every contact and resource he had available as a spy instantly became invalid. I thought that burn notices worked under the premise that a spy/soldier/agent is unreliable and that requires for the people on the other side to believe that he actually is unreliable. Shouldn't Michael's contacts be able to use their own judgment to trust if the burn notice is legitimately based on Michael being chaotic or bad at his job? Does a black list on "every government agency known to Man" require by law that no one use Michael's services?
    • Burn notices generally state the reason why a spy was burned. In Michael's case, the official reason he was burned was because they framed him for selling secrets and committing multiple acts of terrorism. Whether all his contacts believed the official story or not, they can't be seen associating with him. It would be like if you were friends with Timothy Mc Veigh right before he was arrested for the Oklahoma City Bombing. After the bombing you wouldn't want to even think about associating with him again, even if you thought he was framed. If you did it could easily cost you your career, your family, or even your life. For what it's worth though, not all of Michael's contacts abandoned him. Lucy for one gave him all kinds of help in the first season. His old handler (whose name I forget) was skittish at first but Michael managed to change his mind. And he told Michael that a lot of people in the intel community were skeptical about the "official" story of Michael's burn notice.

  • Just out of curiosity why is a black-listing of a spy called a burn notice? The notice part seems self-explanatory enough given that you are giving a spy a notice that he/she is fired, but in what sense has a spy been "burned" now that he is out of a job? The only explanation I can think of is that if they find out they are burned in the middle of a mission then they are in a vulnerable position in which they can be burned more literally by their enemies, but even then I am sure that not all burn notices take place in hostile territory like that.
    • Possibly the burn part refers to the saying "burned that bridge" in that they are destroying nearly all an asset's relationships with any would be allies and friends.
    • According to The Other Wiki, a burn notice "is essentially a directive for the recipient to disregard or "burn" all information derived from that individual or group."
      • So does that mean a literal burning where every data file and paper documents related to a spy's legal identity and bank assets are destroyed as if the spy in question never existed? Or is just that no one is under the direction of the burn notice to acknowledge such information?
      • Basically it just means the person being burned is untrustworthy and you shouldn't put any stock in what he/she has told you. They probably wouldn't throw it out but they wouldn't want to use it for anything.

  • Do burn notices function on an international basis? Say for example that an agency in Russia didn't trust Michael Westen but agencies in other countries like America or Britain still did trust him, would Michael simply not be able to work in Russia again or would he not be able to work anywhere else as well?
    • You can't exactly burn a spy who doesn't work for you. Russia probably already didn't trust Michael because he spent so much time fucking with them back in the old days. I guess they could circulate a statement through the intelligence community calling Michael untrustworthy, but I'm not sure how much good it would do. In fact being burned by the CIA opened up a lot of potential opportunities for Michael to work for other nations. The only reason he didn't take them is because he is, essentially, an American patriot who wants to go back to doing what he was doing before, helping to keep America safe. If Michael was the sort of amoral jerkass who would take any job if the price is right (rather like Larry) he probably would try to hook up with some terrorist state or something.
    • Generally, one would assume that a burn notice would get sent out to allied nations. Hostile nations probably wouldn't care, though depending on the nature of the burn notice, they might still avoid contact for one reason or another. Neutral nations probably act the same; they may or may not depending on the nature of the burn notice.
    • You can really only get burned by your employer, but a bad job in an allied country could convince your own country to burn you to save face. An opposed country would probably still be wary, because an un-trustworthy spy is a dangerous thing.

  • How exactly was Brennen planning to make money by killing everyone on the list? A hired assassination works by a client contacting the assassin with a target, you can't just kill everyone on the list and then look for someone to pay you for it. Who would pay a hitman for a murder that he has already committed on his own? It seems that the only person who really stood to gain anything financially was Dead Larry who was presumably hired by Brennen to do the killing.
    • Every spy in the World has enemies, even well-connected ones like Management and his organization (probably even more so since they get their hands dirty in a lot of operations). Information like that could be sold for top dollar for other agencies or terrorist organizations that have a bone to pick with the names on the list, that would be about the only value that it would have and would require research on Brennen's part to figure out who wanted it.
    • Alternatively, Brennan kills a few key members and takes over. He threatens the remainder that he knows all about the organization so behave.

  • Is Management a part of the CIA? I have watched seasons one and two all the way through, but not all of seasons 3 and 4, and the season 5 opening seemed to imply that they were a separate organization since Michael's old handler in the CIA helps him dismantle their organization, which would be strange if they were in fact a part of the CIA. Did I miss something important from 3 and 4 that elaborate on this? I am just asking this because of the nature of their burn notice on Michael, why would the CIA burn Michael if he already worked for them?
    • I figured he may have been CIA officially, but had his own 'organization' off the books. Victor described how these things supposedly start back in Season 2, with an off the books op that is meant to be a one time thing turning into more as there is power to be had, and I always assumed Management and those like him retain their official places within government and that they were, mostly, rooted out by competing 'loyal' CIA operatives. I could have missed something in fairness.
    • That seems like the proper interpretation to me. Management and Co. were an off-the-book operation that went rogue. Whether they maintained any sort of connection to the CIA or not is unclear but presumably they at least had an agent in the CIA in order to issue burn notices.
    • It's very likely that Management's situation was similar to Anson's, since they were both accomplices. Even though Anson was the mastermind of the shadow organization, he still kept his "official" job as a government psychiatrist. Management probably did have an "official" government position as well.
    • It's clarified in season 5 though not explicitly pointed out. As it turns out, Anson maintains an official job with the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). Which makes sense for him since the DIA basically manages the intelligence of the military, giving him access to... everyone he might be interested in (and being at a very high federal level, he could dip down to more specific agencies as needed).

  • The latest episode features a EMIC (Extremist Militant Inciting Crazy) that is a balding, fat man who claims to be a leader and a soldier, but never served. And yet, Michael and his team were afraid because the place was apparently locked down tight with weapons and 'professionals.' One would figure that someone who is that big-and doesn't realize that being that large and out-of-shape makes accuracy and strength really suspect-that he's not that big of a threat. And since leaders serve their units by example, I wasn't expecting much effectiveness.
    • Appearance isn't everything, a guy doesn't have to have served in the military to have experience with military weaponry and tactics. As Michael himself has put it some times your mind is the most important thing not the body. The point about him not maintaining his health to better fit the role of leader and soldier still stands though, commanding officers lead by example. If you are tough in mind and body then it is easier for you to shape your troops into being as such, plus as a matter of dignity military commanders look their best. What kind of leader doesn't have a damn uniform?
      • One who's in charge of a civilian militia organization rather than a regular army? And just because he appears to be overweight doesn't necessarily mean he's out of shape. Skinny =/= fit and plenty of skinny people are weaker than kittens. He could have used a shave, though.
      • Also, remember that this is an established militia. It may very well be that early on, he did deeds that commanded respect and fear. When he got more nutty, chances are he started hurting his men. Later additions followed out of fear. Eventually, everyone starts being paranoid about everyone else because they're all so afraid that everyone else might tell the leader they're not playing nice. After all, the father was beaten because he wouldn't leave his son alone (who was having medical issues); he's making everyone put him ahead of everything else so it doesn't matter what he looks like as long as he can simply get them in the habit of following him without question. Also, he's big on oration; part of his power is his charisma (such as it is) and ideas more than anything else. Lastly, the CIA story tells the other part of the answer; they're experienced but they're still amateurs which means they're unpredictable. Mike can guess better with professionals since they do things in the same way. Amateurs are chaotic and more dangerous because a EMIC is much more likely to simply start shooting whether or not he really needs to do so to accomplish his mission.
    • Also, it could have been a subtle jab by the writers criticizing the hypocrisy of extremist militias, who claim that they are patriots yet wouldn't bat an eye at resorting to terrorism to get what they want. Having a psuedo-military organization with very militaristic ideals being led by a man with no military experience is a perfect example of that.

  • In the latest episode why doesn't Michael save the father along with the son? The man may have had a broken leg but Michael has experience with extracting his comrades out of a hostile situation even when they are injured as can be seen in the season 4 finale when he helped Jesse to survive with his leg injury. It just seems that the leader of that extremist group wasn't treating the man very nicely and was bound to seriously injure or kill him sooner or later, the long term survival of the father should have involved him going with Michael if he didn't I quote, "Want his son to be fatherless."
    • I think he was handcuffed to the bed frame.
    • The father volunteered to be left behind. In his own words, Mike needed someone to cover his escape. It's assumed, or at least hoped, that he would leave later on his own.
    • Mike unlocked the handcuffs. Sam also mentioned that the ATF was on the way (though he didn't know that). But it's possible he simply felt he needed to redeem himself before he could face the mother again even if he wasn't sure exactly what that meant.

  • As of season 5, why are Fi and particularly Michael's mom seeming so disappointed and angry that Michael is putting his friends lives in serious danger? I'm thinking of how they reacted after Sam went in under cover with Carmello (who himself has only 20 guys and yet is supposedly the second biggest heroin importer in Miami - yeah right), seeming really disappointed he would do that. What gives? Michael's asked his friends to do such things before, it was a matter of serious national security which Sam for one would agree was worth the risk, and more importantly, Michael has on countless occasions put himself in insane amounts of danger to help out his friends and family with things that are otherwise unconnected with him, so it is not as though it is a one way street.
    • The impression I got is that they felt he was unnecessarily risking Sam's life. After all, Carmello was a dangerous psycho who would kill anyone who looked at him cock-eyed (though I agree they didn't do a very good job of establishing him as a dangerous person). I guess they would have preferred Michael figure out some way to get the weapon back that didn't involve Sam walking unarmed into the midst of a gang of murderous drug dealers.
    • In addition, the why Mike got Sam involved was different than most cases. Usually, the team agrees to help a client or Mike approaches Sam, Fi, Jessie or Maddie about an option. In the former case, it's implied they've agreed and in the latter, there's the option to refuse. However, in the Carmello situation, Mike told Pearce that the plan was for Sam to go undercover without asking Sam if he was even okay with it or if he wanted to help (this was, after all, not a client situation where life or person is at risk - it was purely a military operation to retrieve a drone); you can see Sam is taken by surprise by Mike's assumption that he would help out in this capacity. Nevermind that Sam would have probably agreed regardless... it's that Mike didn't even ask.

  • Fiona, I want to like you sweetie, but if you're gonna be Tsundere please don't do it about your guilt over getting a gun runner dismembered by his Cartel clients. Not only was that guy selling guns to people who dismember others as a matter of course, and not only did you volunteer to put yourself in a position where you'd have to interact with someone you know likes to put you in positions that strain your already lax morality in order to help clear the love of your life of a murder rap (and from risking his job and freedom breaking into Homeland Security instead), but being pissy that Michael didn't know what your relationship to the guy who manipulated you into that situation in the first place was is very annoying when you spent the entire episode refusing to tell anyone anything about it, even when they asked. Including Michael. And the reason Michael couldn't be there with you was because he was on a mission of national security alongside the person who is both his best shot at getting his life back to normal and investigating the murder that Michael was framed for.

  • How is it that Michael grew up in that same house in Miami, took a career in covert ops, and does not speak a word of Spanish? I'd understand if he was just not fluent, but he doesn't seem to know even the basics. Being in south FL for that long will immerse you just enough to learn even that much.
    • Lack of need perhaps. This troper technically spoke Chinese as a first language but due to lack of use (start at about age 6) forgot the language entirely and speaks with a Boston accent.
    • None of Michael's covert ops assignments were based in a Spanish-speaking country, so why would he bother learning Spanish? Just because he grew up in Miami doesn't mean he knows any Spanish. I'm from Florida myself. I even took Spanish for three years in high school and one more in college. But I can't speak it worth a damn. If I had a job that required me to know more Spanish, I might brush up on it. But I don't, so I haven't.
      • Heck, I'm a life long Floridian and can barely speak some utility Spanish (Like Hola, and No Hablas Ingles).
    • Rule of Funny? Admit it. A Miami native who doesn't speak a word of Spanish is kinda hilarious.
      • OK, something of an addendum to this, why did it take Fiona three years to realize that Michael is that bad at Spanish? This little hangup didn't show up until season 3. It would seem like, if Michael is "can't translate 'Tu eres'" bad at the language, this little linguistic roadblock should have showed up much sooner.
    • Most of the people in Miami who speak Spanish also speak English. He only runs into problems not knowing it once or twice. It's a nod to the fact that, while he is a Miami native, the area was never home to him before. And now, of course, in Season 7 he speaks Spanish passably after doing an op in the Dominican Republic.

  • In the latest episode, Mike and Sam go to talk to a bombmaker who lives "a few hours up the road." As it turns out, he's in Tallahassee. Anyone who even glances at a map will see that Tally and Miami are not "just a few hours up the road." This would be accepted, if Mike didn't spend part of the episode jumping back and forth between the cities in between rounds of interrogation to help Fiona and Jesse with their job. Come on, execs!
    • Well it is "a few" if you interpret that to mean "potentially less than 24 hours away, traffic permitting". But yeah, severe Geography Fail on the part of the writers.

  • Season 5 opening, Michael states that he was burned 4 years ago. Throughout the entire first 4 seasons very vague references are made to how much time has passed and now all of a sudden they decide to make a definite statement. The episodes never seem to showcase very significant time skips, Michael has certainly had a lot of clients but they never seem to take much more than a few days at a time to complete. Also what would the people who burned Michael be doing just letting him waste away in Miami for 3 or 4 years, how is that a useful application of his skills and showing that they want him to be a part of their organization? It just doesn't seem plausible to me that 4 years have really passed.
    • Burning him was just a way to get him out in the cold and desperate for work, but it backfired when Mike got wise to their plans.
    • Also remember that between S4 and S5 he was with the CIA actively hunting down the organization. This would certainly eat up a large chunk of time.
    • Further the organization that burned Michael wanted him desperate before they recruited him, so it's likely the first season was more spaced-out than it seems.

  • In one episode, Michael asks Maddy to befriend a woman who has access to medical records vital to the success of his current operation and then to blackmail the woman into giving them to Maddy. So that the woman won't lose her job when the missing files are discovered, Michael breaks into the building holding the files so that it will be assumed that the missing files were taken during the break-in. Why didn't Michael just steal the files in the first place?
    • More risk of getting caught, I suppose. If Michael breaks in and steals the records that means the cops will be called in to investigate. And as good as Michael is, he's only human. There's always a chance he could leave incriminating evidence behind. Better to charm the office lady into winking and giving them the records. Even if someone did catch on, the only head that would roll would be the office lady's. Unfortunate, but that's CIA policy for you, apparently. Breaking in later to save the woman's job was an extra risk Michael didn't want to take, but he did it anyway because it made his mom feel better.
    • Breaking in also creates a situation where someone -knows- you were there and there is the guarantee that people will investigate. By effectively asking someone to do it, there's no evidence other than someone's word that you were there. And by avoiding an investigation, you avoid drawing attention to the fact that you have information.
    • Being able to break in isn't the same as being able to find the files. Multiple patients, multiple incidents, multiple files. The tack of paperwork Sam left in the dude's car was about five inches thick. Mike was able to break in and steal random files, like he did at the Pakistani consulate, but not those particular files.

  • Where does Jesse get all these wonderful contacts? It hasn't even been a year at his new job!
    • He was counter-intelligence. Perhaps he has enough dirt on a few people that he threatened to give him work or else he ruin their career, blackmail can be a huge motivator to make someone give you a job/do what you want.
    • Before Season 5 we were never given a definite statement on how long it has been since Michael was burned and it finally establishes that 4 years have passed. For all we know between Season 4 and 5 Michael may have been spending a great deal of time hunting the Organization that burned him, maybe even a year, giving plenty of time for Jesse to become established in his new job.
      • 5's finale establishes the end was ~8 months prior and New Day says Jesse spent most of the time between seasons in the hospital. Contacts from his old counter intelligence job is plausible though.
      • Jesse's new job is corporate security so it's also possible that his contacts are not really 'his' persay but something he does through his company since, depending on the episode, his job is the client story. He could roll it under an expense report same way he hires Team Weston for freelance work on the job as well. Basically, Jesse probably just Batman's it.
      • In S5 Necessary Evil, Pearce mentions that the agency actually asks for Sam and Jesse to be a part of the operation with Michael being the point man. So it's possible that while Sam and Jesse are no longer officially (or even unofficially) a part of the intelligence community, they're still given some level of access and priviledges for being in good standing and allowed to 'freelance' for the CIA.

  • Why does the group make a point of blowing their covers at the end of an op? At least one cover was reused to good effect.
    • That always bothered me too. There have been many situations in the past where Michael will reveal that he had been working against them the entire time just as the bad guys are being busted. There is absolutely no need to do this on Michael's part, his job is done and as far as the bad guy is concerned he was loyal to their cause to the end, and may very well compromise him later on if these guys ever get out of jail. If there was an actual need to reveal himself as a spy such as the bad guy of the week being close to killing someone then I could understand but revealing his cover just to gloat is not only dangerous but petty.
      • Sometimes Michael's reveal can be a Crowing Moment of Awesome (remember when he convinced Alex Krychec that Ted was crazy). But I do agree that sometimes it is just pointless.
      • At least for S5, it's possible that since Michael is part of the CIA again (sorta), he's less worried since any attempt to track him down will result in the CIA protecting him. Still kinda pointless for some of the more useful covers, but as long as he remains a mysterious man, he's probably fine with it.
      • Michael made mention in one of the earlier episodes that maintaining every single detail of multiple covers is difficult, but how important it was that should you run into an old contact (Like Fiona's brother in this instance) that not a single thing be changed about your cover from the moment you and the contact had last parted ways. Now, it's been implied multiple times that Michael is a genius, but I don't think it's ever been implied that he has an eidetic memory, so maybe he occasionally blows covers so that he doesn't have to remember the details of every single one of them?

  • Why do so many tropers seem to think that Larry is dead? I mean, sure, in the real world, he'd be dead. But this is TV, not reality, and not only could Larry easily survive something like that, having done so in the past is basically the defining anecdote of his backstory. It's why they call him "Dead Larry"! Add in the newspaper headline that says they only pulled two bodies out of the building (which obviously belonged to the two security guards), and the writers could hardly have made his survival more blatant if they'd had him pop back up immediately after the closing credits.
    • Michael is a professional spy it does seem jarring that he would take things at face value that Larry died just because Fiona thought she killed him, Fiona has been wrong in the past, especially since he seems very Genre Savvy in about everything else. I hope that this comes back to bite him in the ass just so Michael will learn from his mistake.
    • Larry was standing right next to a block of C4 that he didn't see until half a second before it exploded. No matter how loose with realism the show is, it would seriously strain credibility if he turned out to be alive.
      • Exactly. Bulletproof glass or no, that much RDX at that range would have reduced Larry to a fine mist.

  • How do Michael and co. make a living? I've never seen them charge anyone for their services (even when their clients offer to pay), and even though the equipment they use is McGyvered hardware store stuff it still has to make a pretty dent in their pockets.
    • Fiona is an arms dealer (and sometime bounty hunter), Sam is supported by his Navy pension and a series of sugar mamas, and Jesse works for a private security firm. I don't know how Michael makes a living, but he has done his landlord a couple of favors that allow him to live rent-free. Presumably, he also gets some sort of off-the-books stipend from the CIA now that he's back "inside."
    • Admittedly I've only seen up through season three, but I can't remember a single time Michael outright refused a reward. Cut back on the reward, yes (e.g. only taking a couple thou instead of the client's life savings), but never refuse altogether.
    • Who says they don't make money? They just don't gouge their clients for their services. Honestly, considering how far they go for their clients they would be fully justified in charging a hell of a lot more than they do.
    • Maybe they got money by collecting the dollar value on Miami's most wanted criminals?

  • Why why why why why why why why WHY didn't Michael tell Pearce about Anson right off the freaking bat? Seriously, he could have just made her promise to completely hear him out, explain he was in the embassy under coercion, get some kind of protection for Fi and blow the whistle! Lying about it only dug them all in deeper!
    • Briefly mentioned in that before Anson had to reveal himself, he was literally just some random DIA therapist. That'd be like claiming your local supermarket cashier is a cartel drug dealer.

  • Strange that nobody noticed it before, but does Mike's loft even have a bathroom?!
    • It's possible it's on the far wall under the interior overhanging workbench thingie (the stair case). That wall has no windows and we almost never see it up close.

  • When Mike is in a hostage situation that doesn't have a hostage, like with Simon and the hotel, why doesn't he just shoot the guy when he has the advantage? If its a bomb with a trigger, he has to activate it and that's pretty hard when you're bleeding out and off your guard. If you're dealing with the person directly who made the ultimatum, they can't really do it when they've been incapacitated.
    • I'm pretty sure Simon's bomb was timed. In other cases it's a deadman trigger that goes off if the hostage-taker lets go of the trigger.
      • It was. Simon's bomb had both a timer and a remote trigger, so Michael had to work with him. If Michael shoots him, the timer will still set the bomb off as Michael searches every hotel in Miami. If Michael misbehaves, he can trigger the bomb by hand.

  • For being such a Crazy-Prepared Chess Master Anson's plan has one glaring flaw. He built the organization that burned Michael and wanted to run his own off the books op, and he planned to bring Michael in whether he wanted in or not. he says that several of Michael's operations have actually benefited his plan. So for someone who accounts every detail, doesn't take risks and wanted Michael alive; why did he time Michael's Burn Notice such that it nearly got him killed?
    • 4 possibilities for this one: 1) Anson was so confident of Michael and his skills that he didn't think he would die from some low-level mooks. 2) The exchange going badly was meant to tire Michael out so that it would be easier for them to ship him off to any location that they desired without his resistance. 3) Some lower level intelligence officer decided to burn Michael of their own volition on a schedule separate from Anson's schedule because of some grudge they had against him. 4) Perhaps the deal that Michael's current employer was trying to make wasn't part of Anson's national security interests and decided to have it terminated.
      • That second one seems the most likely, as he would have probably just been arrested and thrown in some CIA hellhole prison had he been in DC when the notice came down.

  • So how exactly did Fiona get those Sanskrit tattoos, anyway? (They're Anwar's—the show zoomed in on two of the tattoos, never explained them, and haven't really talked about them since.)
    • In a tattoo parlour? It might be like how some people have Chinese or Japanese characters for tattoos.

  • Fiona's in a maximum-security prison. Even if she was proven innocent for the bombing, and somehow managed to be pardoned for Larry's death, wouldn't they still have enough evidence of destroyed property in the last several seasons to put her away for a long time?
    • Not a lot of evidence, perhaps, especially given that much of the booms were tied up with Michael. Using that against her would open the defense that by proxy of working with Michael (something no one is disputing), her actions were condoned.

  • In the episode Shock Wave, as sad as Nate's death was, it was also pretty unbelievable, and I'm not talking in terms of who I thought was going to die. You see Pearce, Jesse, and the rest of the CIA team looking around the buildings above them actively for a shooter, yet there's a direct, ground level bullet hole right where Nate was standing seconds before. Nate and Anson were standing side by side, so the fact that it killed Anson instantly and left Nate alive long enough for a few words to pass between them implies that the shooter wasn't aiming for Nate or that they have terrible aim. I'm not a gun nut, but the blast caused by the bullet hole sounded and appeared to be made from a shotgun or something similiar; a sniper bullet would have probably not made that large of a hole.
    • My Dad and I were watching the show and he said the same thing, he pointed out to me that the trajectory of the bullet was way too low to have been a shot from an elevated position. Though the penetration of the bullet points more to a sniper bullet, perhaps of a .50 caliber quality, because it shot through a solid surface and proceeded to go through two human torsos without losing any stopping power. Though it seems strange that if it really did occur from ground level that the shooter would have been noticed. They should have ignored the wall that the bullet went through if they were going to imply a sniper shot.
    • Why was he even brought along for a critical mission against a guy that rigged an entire chemical plant to blow up Michael's friends the last time he was cornered? Sam being left behind sucked, but it made some sense, but there was really any need for Nate's driving skills or local knowledge from what I saw.
      • You know that in the end this is all just a dramatic convention, they are trying to up the stakes for Michael by killing off someone he cares about.
    • The sniper could have made the shot with a .50 cal out of a vehicle window and then had it drive off. An antimateriel rifle (basically a really big, high-caliber sniper rifle designed to blast through vehicles and fortifications) could have reasonably done that much damage in the hands of a skilled marksman. Also, we don't know exactly what kind of ammunition was used - explosive rounds (like the kind Anson was fond of stashing) would have made for more collateral damage.
    • A later episode establishes the caliber at (I forget what they measured it at exactly) about 1 inch in diameter with the hole in the sign being 4 inches. IE A bigass bullet (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.950_JDJ for reference). And yes, the hole really would be that big in the sign because part of the destructive force is not the bullet but the shockwave and sheer force. This is why space dust is so deadly. This is also why Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space.
    • An even later episode has the shooter give more details on the shot. Top of a car, 20 blocks away, and some other stuff. In short, a really really long shot. Rightfully, he's kind of proud that he even made the shot, center of mass, since given the distance and environment, the bullet would be majority affected by... everything. Using NYC as a reference, 20 blocks is 1 mile which would make it in the top ten of longest sniper kills. So wind, gravity, the rotation and curvature of the earth would all affect the trajectory to the point where the shooter was probably aiming a few hundred feet ABOVE Anson to even have a chance of hitting.
    • To the above stated Questions that went unanswered. Yes Nate was collateral damage while the real target was Anson and it is part of what pisses off Maddie and Mike off about Card and the Grey (the shooter) later on when they find out, I believe that the bullet was stated to be a supersonic armor piercing round, and Nate was not essential to the mission, he kinda insisted on being brought along and due to Team Weston being split by a job at the time he was the best they had on short notice, which was also why Michael even told him to leave to begin with, he had screwed up some stuff and Michael was against him being there in the first place both due to the danger and the importance of catching Anson.

  • Was Nate's death really necessary for Michael to realize that being too obsessed with being the good guy and capturing or killing the bad guy can get your loved ones hurt? I mean Michael has had this type of thing happen with his mother and brother being put in harm's way multiple times, and recently Sam was almost killed because of his obsession. I think Michael realizes the severity of the danger that comes with his job by now. What makes it even more sad is that Anson was probably going to get gunned down and killed by that sniper regardless of Nate's involvement.
    • Doubtful. If Nate hadn't been there the situation might never have presented itself.
    • One of the main themes of the show is that everyone is vulnerable. There is not a single character on the show without weakness, including our hero, who pointed out way back in the Season 1 finale that even spec-ops guys aren't bulletproof and just as vulnerable as anyone else. The really sad thing is that Nate was collateral, and Mike has also talked a lot about how random chance can kill or save someone. The person shooting Anson went with a big gun just in case he was wearing a vest, and it overpenetrated. The sniper probably just thought Nate was a random mook.
      • Actually he went with a higher caliber round because at the distance he was shooting from he was concerned about missing due to windage. Still it was ultimately a mistake.
    • And that very fact has been pointed out by multiple people to Michael's face. Yes, Card ordered the shot and Grey pulled the trigger, but Michael was still partially responsible because he put Nate there.
      • Yes it has been pointed out to him multiple times. Every single time without fail though he's managed to come out of everything okay. Perhaps a few new scars to brag about but everybody always walks away and USUALLY Mike takes the worst of it. It's hard not to get cocky when the universe has been as good to you as it's been to Mr. Weston.

  • How well do the team know Carlito, of Carlito's (if that is who owns the place?), and has this ever been addressed in the show? The team meet and plan there all the time and have been left messages and approached there a lot as well, whoever runs the place should run an induction for the waiting staff on how to behave should something go down or they overhear something unusual from that particular group of good customers. Certainly the owner simply has to be aware in at least general terms what these people do for a living, right? Did they ever ask the team for a favour? I wonder if the relationship might be like the Bucket in Ankh-Morpork, except for the fact the presence of the team attracts trouble.
    • This has bothered me too, on occasion. Sam in particular has a loud voice that carries and the team is not always particularly discreet when discussing covert affairs in front of waitstaff, ect.
    • Put it this way. When you had lunch, do you remember the details of the conversation the people next to you were talking about? Probably not. It's one of those things your brain just filters out and so the gang is probably betting that for most people, they simply don't care enough remember. Hiding in plain sight, as it were.
    • It's probably assumed that they trust Carlito's staff enough to talk openly around them, or at least pay them off enough not to care.

  • Has the show ever given any details about what Michael was up to undercover in Ireland with Fi and co? One presumes that whatever it was did not end up with a lot of her friends and comrades in the IRA captured or killed, or else Fi would likely not have remained close with him even if she no longer fights for that cause any longer, and we know his cover was about to be blown and the mission ended prematurely, but what were the parameters of his activities there in the first place? Tracking their explosives and weapons supplies perhaps? Aiding them? (If so, unlikely the show would go into detail)
    • There's a comic dealing with precisely that subject on the Burn Notice website. Haven't read it, don't plan to, but if that interests you, the comic is probably where you should go.
    • According to The Other Wiki when Fiona and Mike met each other Fi was robbing banks for the IRA. Presumably Mike's job was to infiltrate her team to find out if they were a serious threat or likely to become one, or if they could be used to take down someone higher up the ladder in the IRA. This would necessarily have included, yes, helping them commit crimes (though stopping short of murder...probably). Also according to The Other Wiki, Michael left when his cover was blown (obviously only blown to Fiona since her brother was still unaware of Michael's real identity years later) so it seems that, if Michael ever was given orders to take down Fiona's team, he probably didn't have enough time to execute it before he skipped town.

  • So can anyone answer me why Michael is in so much legal trouble in the opening of Season 7? That bureaucrat that forces Michael to accept the deal to infiltrate a terrorist organization in exchange for his freedom is entirely dismissive of all of Michael's accomplishments and his claims of foul play going on in the CIA. Does the CIA realize how incompetent they look in this situation compared to Michael? The Burned Spies organization existed under the CIA's nose for years, with Tom Card being one of their top conspirators behind Anson, and yet one man who was thrown off the grid with no official support took down that conspiracy by himself. Are they ignoring Tom Card's misdeeds because of how incompetent it would make them look, how dumb they must feel realizing that such a massive conspiracy was happening under their noses the entire time? Are they really pinning all the blame on Michael to hide their own incompetence? That's bullshit.
    • Killing Tom Card was a vigilante act; he did it under no one's orders. The guy had it coming, but that doesn't necessarily justify Mike's actions in their eyes. And yes, he indeed did make them all look like stupid assholes by repeated ferreting out corruption in their ranks by himself and with no resources. Some of the people whose careers he ruined probably had plenty of friends in these agencies. Now, of course, they'd like to sweep it under the rug, and they certainly don't like Michael very much. But they don't, strictly speaking, ignore his accomplishments. If they did, they would have just thrown him in prison or killed him and forgot him. But they recognize that he is a brilliant spy, miles above any of the rest of them, and they need his skills to accomplish certain things, so they offer him a deal.
    • Also, from their perspective, despite Tom Card's crimes, Michael turned on and subsequently killed his own handler. That looks bad no matter how you spin it. There's also the fact that He Knows Too Much.
    • No matter what Michael has accomplished, the CIA has one crucial advantage - Michael's rep is still crap, as whether or not he took down the burned spies organization, he's been involved in the deaths of several US government personnel (Card, Bly, Anson, Cowan back in Season 1, amongst others) and as such they can pretty much toss him in a hole and forget about him. No matter how stupid they would look if word got out about the organization (which it probably wouldn't, Michael is still a patriot after everything is said and done, as he states he joined to serve his country) they can just dump Team Westen in a dark cell and leave them there forever. Strong seemed to be working up how much trouble Michael was in to get him to cooperate easier, as saying "you'll work with us because you're the only living CIA asset who can tie his shoelaces without accidentally garroting himself or fifty civilians" doesn't sound as persuasive as "we own you and you'll do what we say or you and everyone you care about will spend the rest of your lives in prison because you killed our people, never mind that they were corrupt."

  • Fiona got a new boyfriend in Season 7! That isn't Michael! Yay! All that relationship building paid off!... Ahem. Much as I'd love to complain how it doesn't make much sense for her to completely brush off Michael (the man who has repeatedly sacrificed himself for her and saved her life countless times) for a new beau, that isn't what makes my head itch. What really gets me scratching is why Fiona and her new boyfriend aren't anywhere else in the world. Specifically, Fiona spent most of Season 6 trying to make sure Michael knew to quit the spy game after dealing with Nate's killers, and pressured him into running off with her, to do what they're doing in Miami... On their own, off the grid. Instead, she's still living in Miami, evidently doing the same old jobs and hanging with the same people. She even still takes it upon herself to take care of Michael's mother when trouble comes up. Why? It's been months since the Season 6-7 timeskip, which implies she's fine with staying where she was now... But she wasn't while she was with Michael, even if he quit the spy game? What?
    • Why wouldn't she stay in Miami? Her friends Sam and Jesse and family Maddie are in Miami. She can't go back to her family in Ireland because there are terrorists on the lookout for her there. She knew Michael was definitely not in Miami so there's no chance to awkwardly bump into your ex at the grocery store. She has a criminal record that probably makes it hard to leave the country, probably on the FBI watch list too. And if she does leave the country, it means she'd been on the run forever.

  • James Kendrick's Start of Darkness. Uh, James? You know you're not in Nazi Germany, right? You don't have to blindly follow orders that will force you to commit a war crime. And you certainly don't have to snap and kill your entire team! Is there more to the story we haven't heard yet? Did Kendrick already have a reputation for instability or something?
    • James killed his squad exactly because of their blind adherence to orders. In James' mind, he had no other choice if he wanted to protect the village. And yes, there's a lot of evidence to show that James is utterly ruthless, and just enough hints to suggest he's not entirely sane.
    • The thing about Black Ops like the one James killed his squad over is that they are inherently illegal, off the book kind of deals. As such, the punishments for insubordination on these kind of missions would, logically, be equally off the books, and equally illegal. James was willing to face those consequences; the rest of his squad was not. It's likely that his slaughtering his squad was as much about punishing them for blindly following orders as it was for protecting the village.
      • The operation they seemed to be on was probably a hit, which (as murder tends to be) is deeply illegal. Part of James's somewhat over-the-top objection to said orders seemed to be that he was working with a squad full of people just like Larry, who believed that the ends justified the means and that collateral didn't matter.

  • If Michael ever left Miami, (when his burn notice was still in effect and/or before he was working with the CIA who flagged his traveling), how exactly would his departure be noticed? As a spy, he knows how to stay off-the-radar, or he could even be hiding with his friends or family as they're traveling out-of-town.(via a car, of course as one of the few stealthy ways to achieve this). Giving it this much thought, I'm interested in it now
    • Even though Michael is good, he is not perfect. There have been plenty of cases of people being able to successfully spy on Michael without him being aware of it. Plus, despite the fact that he has on occasion been able to leave Miami unnoticed, his main motivation is to clear his name. Leaving Miami would only hurt his case.
      • Agreed that leaving Miami would hurt his case to clear his name. So,of course he stayed. Those cases where he was spyed on, the most relevant example was the ending of an episode in Season 1.( I think it's in the recap, I'll check later)was when the Burned Spies organization left the photos of him on all his clientiele cases 'welcoming him to Miami' and they were watching him.
    • In addition to the above about Michael's skills it's not entirely clear when or if he had permission to leave Miami. He wasn't exactly on speaking terms with the people who burned him. During the first few seasons the FBI was constantly tailing Michael and Sam was informing the FBI on his whereabouts and general activities. Sure they might have lost track for a while and Sam could cover for him in a pinch for a few days but if they lost track for more than a few days they'd know something was up. If Michael had been willing to just walk away then maybe he could have taken everybody important and vanished but he wanted back in and that means that every time he struck out to find out about his Burn Notice it would if not completely blow his cover at least let them know what city he was working out of. I also suspect that while they told him to stay in Miami when the burned him what they meant more accurately was stay away from DC or where ever HQ was because they didn't want him starting at the top of the chain. Clearly throughout the series he leaves Miami several times both with and without permission without so much as a warning about not doing that in the future.

  • Okay. Season 3 episode 3. Brennan wants Mike to wear a wire. Mike goes and calls Sam on his cell. Does he not remember EVERYTHING HE SAYS IS RECORDED? Way to give away your plan to Brennan, buddy.
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