Recap / Burn Notice S 1 E 12 Loose Ends
As with the previous episode
, the first half of this two-part extravaganza, the season arc plays a larger role in this episode than is usual.
Client of the Week
The episode opens with Michael and Nate driving to Fiona's rescue in Nate's truck. Michael tries to convince Nate to drop him off and leave; these are heroin smugglers who kidnapped Sam and have Fi trapped. Michael believes it would be too dangerous for Nate to stay, but Nate feels it's too dangerous for Michael to be alone.
Fiona is hidden somewhere in a large shipping yard, but she left a flag for Michael; a piece of bright cloth hanging from a window. The brothers Westen can't get into the warehouse without being spotted by the men hunting Fiona, so they don't bother trying. They avoid the subtle approach altogether. Michael drives Nate's truck through the wall of the warehouse Fiona is hiding in. Michael tosses her a gun, and she provides cover fire while they get out of the truck.
Fiona and Michael adjourn to a machine shop to prepare an escape while Nate covers the entrance. They take advantage of flammable substances and a crate full of ball bearings to put together a nasty explosive device. They put it in the back of Nate's truck and send it rolling slowly toward the team hunting them. They investigate, and scatter as soon as they spy the bomb. While they're investigating, Michael pries the bars off a window and the trio make their escape.
Burn Notice Arc
They arrive at house in a different car. Nate walks quickly inside, upset at the extreme nature of events. Fi quizzes Michael on what happened with Cowan, whose blood is still liberally spattered over Michael's shirt and suit jacket. Michael explains that Cowan is dead, murdered by they
, and that he didn't get much information. That the people Cowan worked for have plans for Michael.
Inside, they see that Nate's place is a very expensive home on the water, clearly undergoing renovation. Nate explains that it's a foreclosure; apparently they ran out of money during the remodel. He can usually get three months stay at a location such as this. Michael asks him to pick up their mother and bring her there, but cautions Nate that the people who shot Cowan will probably be watching her. Nate assures him that he knows how to lose a tail. Michael then asks Fiona what happened with Sam.
Sam is in the interior of an ocean-going vessel of some kind, a cargo ship, being beaten by very large men. They want to know who he's working for, how much they know, how they learned it, et cetera. Sam tries to stave them off with lies and insults. His captor, former Green Beret, isn't fooled by Sam's tricks and guesses Sam was former special forces, too. He says they're going to kill everyone, including Gillian (the client who got Team Westen involved in this case) and leaves Sam to be tortured some more.
Back at the house, Michael and Fiona are preparing for action, checking on a weapons cache Fiona brought in. Michael's phone rings; it's the man who has Sam. Michael acknowledges that Sam is his employee and claims to be a competitor in the heroin business. He claims that he sent Sam to investigate the competition, to see if Miami was a viable market for his product. He wants Sam back and he wants him alive. He demands proof of life. Sam's captor, Harrick, takes a picture of Sam and emails it to Michael.
Sam takes advantage of this to send Michael a message. He poses for the photo. Michael recognizes the pose for a message and he and Fiona break into Sam's storage locker. There Michael finds what he's looking for, the picture Sam took the pose from. It was an operation he worked on, a hostage rescue that went bad and ended with several people, including the hostage, dead. Sam's telling them not to come.
Back at the house, Nate has gotten Madeleine safely out of her house. He stole a car and spent hours driving in circles, but he got her there without being followed. Madeleine is understandably curious, and Michael explains: he's being hunted, he doesn't know by who, and he doesn't know why.
Michael and Fiona head into Miami to see how serious those spooks are. He gets on a payphone and calls his old handler, reasoning that if they're not listening on that line, they don't deserve to catch Michael. They watch from a nearby roof as a team makes an expert approach and secures the payphone. Then they see the other
team coming for their current location. Michael and Fi run from the multiple cars hunting them.
Back at the house, Michael negotiates with Harrick for Sam's return. Harrick wants both Michael and "the girl" (Fiona) present, as he hopes to kill them both. Michael buys himself time by claiming that she took off. Michael knows that Harrick intends to kill them; his next step is learning who Harrick is. It's a small world when you're importing heroin at that level; Michael starts making calls.
Harrick walks into Sam's cell and tells him his boss is coming for him. Sam asks to be killed. Harrick knows it's a ploy to keep Michael and Fiona away and doesn't agree.
Michael's phone call was to Money Launderer Barry. Michael wants to be put in touch with a heroin dealer. Not the biggest one, though, as Harrick is probably working with them; Michael wants number two. Barry doesn't want to; heroin dealers are crazy and far outside his comfort zone. Michael makes it clear that it isn't a request; either Barry is his friend, or his enemy. Barry gives him a name: Carmelo, at a club called Deedo's.
Just then Barry's phone rings. It's for Michael. Something about his burn notice. A mysterious woman says they need to talk. Michael cuts her off and tosses the phone in the ocean. Michael and Barry part as friends.
Back at the house, Michael and Fiona are preparing a selection of C4 explosives with radio detonators. Michael tells his mother that she and Nate are going to have to leave town. She protests, but Michael convinces her by telling her he can't do what he needs to do if he's worried she might get hurt.
At Carmelo's club, Fiona plants an explosive under the bar and Michael, pretending to be drunk, stumbles into the VIP lounge. He stuns the guards, pulls a gun, hands Carmelo some C4 and pulls out a remote detonator. Michael asks Carmelo for information about Harrick's importing business. In return for the information, Michael will take down Harrick's business and Carmelo will never see Michael again. As Harrick is working with Carmelo's competitors, this is good business. The alternative is that Michael will rain down hell on Carmelo, which is something he's good at. He asks for an answer by the next day and leaves.
Early the next morning, Michael gets his information from Carmelo. He gives Michael Harrick's name and location.
Sam and Fiona scout Harrick's boat and determine a course of action. Michael sets his meeting with Harrick for the same day. He also demands to speak with Sam before the meeting happens. Sam refused to play ball, and Harrick threatens him with worse than what he's been through so far if he doesn't. Sam keeps talking, doing his best to enrage Harrick in hopes that he'll kill him. It very nearly works.
At the house, Michael and Fiona prepare for their incursion. They put together a sticky bomb for Michael to take with him underwater.
Michael then prepares to send his family out of danger. As they're leaving town in the charger, a mysterious black car shows up in the rearview; Madeleine called home to check the messages and now they're being followed. Michael pulls over and gets out; Nate and Madeleine leave.
Michael uses what was his mother's phone to get in touch with those in charge of his pursuers, as the phone is tapped. He tells them he wants to talk and puts a gun to his head. He gets called back immediately and tells them that he'll turn himself in, but he needs twelve hours to handle something first (rescuing Sam). If they refuse, he'll kill himself, but he's counting on them wanting him alive. The woman on the other end of the line agrees, and the spooks leave.
Michael and Fiona take Sam's Cadillac to deal with Harrick, no longer being concerned with being followed by spooks. Michael and Fiona trade goodbyes and head out to save Sam.
At the boat, Harrick sends several of his men out to the meeting with Michael. Fiona sets up with a rifle on the roof of a nearby building and sights in on Harrick's barge. Michael, in scuba gear climbs into the canal upstream of the barge. He plants the sticky bomb on the gangway onto the barge and climbs onto the bow with a grapple line. After tripping out of his water gear and sneaks into the barge.
Harrick confirms his men are at the meet and calls Michael. He's surprised when Michael's phone begins ringing in the hallway. The ensuing fight is a brutal contest of dirty tricks between Michael and Harrick. Michael prevails, with a little help from Sam and shoots Harrick in the gut with his own gun. After the gunshot, Fiona uses her rifle to prevent the other men on the boat from charging the hold.
Michael looses Sam from his restraints and the two flee the boat. AS they make their escape, Fiona dials her cell phone, triggering the sticky bomb. The smugglers are trapped on the boat, and Michael and Sam make their get-away.
As they drive away, the Cadillac's On-Star is remotely triggered and directions sent to the car. One way or another, Michael's going to get answers about his burn notice. He drops Sam off and makes his trip. The directions take him down to the Florida Keys, and his final destination is in the middle of a causeway, behind a semi. Michael drives into the back of the truck, and the episode ends.
- A-Team Firing: The gunfight at the warehouse. Justified on Nate's part in that he's firing a handgun at a group of bad guys maybe fifty feet away and mostly just trying to force them to keep their heads down and stay away from the warehouse. Justified for the bad guys because... Nate's shooting at them? And they're only former special forces.
- Abandoned Area: The house Nate takes Team Westen to. Justified, as at the time the housing bubble had burst and there were many abandoned homes throughout the US, even very nice ones.
- Adrenaline Time: Michael stops Nate's truck after crashing into the warehouse and tosses Fi a gun; she catches it on the run, makes it to the hole Michael made, and provides cover fire. It goes from normal, to slow, back to normal.
- Answer Cut: Michael asks what happened with Sam. Cut to Sam being tortured.
- Blatant Lies: Sam's stories get more and more outlandish. This is deliberate, as he's trying to get his captors to kill him.
- Later, Michael says he'll drive his mother and brother a ways out of town and then... find them another car.
- Car Meets House: Warehouse, actually. Michael and Nate didn't have time to get in subtly, so they drove Nate's truck through a wall. The dramatic use of the trope, justified, as well as the lack of damage to the truck; warehouses don't usually have to be insulated or air conditioned or anything, and the lot they're on has fences and barbed wire for security, so the warehouse is mostly there to keep sun, rain, and birds off your stuff. In other words, they drove through an eighth of an inch of paneling and, aiming under a window, deliberately avoided any support structure.
- Chekhov's Gun: Michael and Fi take the Caddy to rescue Sam so that its On Star can be used to get Michael where he needs to be to close the episode.
- Cliffhanger: The season ends with Michael driving into the back of an empty semi.
Narrator!Michael: When you work in intelligence you get used to the idea that some information is worth risking everything for. You sign up for the lifestyle, or the chance to serve your country, or the millions of frequent flyer miles. But, finally, it all comes down to putting your ass on the line to learn something. [door closes]
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Sam's stay with the smugglers.
- Combat Pragmatist: The fight between Michael and Harrick is a no-holds barred beatdown tradeoff. The slam each other into hard surfaces, slam surfaces into each other, go for sensitive spots, and keep going for guns. It's painful to watch.
- Dead Man Switch: How Michael gets his face to face with Carmelo. He plants explosives throughout the club and even hands one to him, then pulls out a remote detonator on a dead-man trigger.
- Deadpan Snarker: The persona Sam adopts while being tortured. He compliments and critiques their technique. He makes jokes. He makes up outlandish stories. He does everything he can to piss them off and make them kill him.
- Also Madeleine, when she walks in on Michael, Fi, and Nate preparing explosives in the kitchen.
Michael: Mom, there's some serious business going on in here.
Maddy: I'm not stupid, Michael; I can see that.
- Driving into a Truck: Played with. The spy certainly isn't escaping danger by driving into that truck.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Boy, Harrick has quite the villainous rasp going.
- Faux Affably Evil: Carmelo. He calls Michael "My friend" and says "Champagne. Would you like some?" but his tone makes it absolutely clear that the only reason Michael isn't dead yet is that it would be too expensive for Carmelo.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Madeleine's smoking, once again. Nate complains that once she lights up in the foreclosure that they'll never be able to get the smell out.
- From Camouflage to Criminal: The bad guys are former special forces members turned criminals. This would be the first of a number of times where the Villain of the Week would be ex-military, and this type of character would almost always be more of a challenge to Team Westen.
- Grudging "Thank You": Michael to Nate for refusing to let go up against heroin smugglers alone to rescue Fiona.
- Gun Nut: Fiona continues to earn the title.
Michael: If we need more firepower than this, we're doing something very wrong.
Fi: Or something very right.
- Heroic Sacrifice + Thanatos Gambit: What Sam spends the episode attempting. If he can get the men holding him to kill him, then they can't use him to lure in Michael and Fiona. In other words, he's doing everything he can to prevent a rescue attempt.
- Hidden Supplies: This episode provides the page quote.
Narrator!Michael:Spies hide guns like squirrels hide acorns. You never know when you'll need a weapon or where you'll be when you need it.
- Hostage Situation: Michael takes himself hostage. It works.
- I Know You Know I Know: Sam and his captors, former special forces all, are working from the same playbook and have to get clever with each other.
- Idiot Ball: Madeleine uses the cell phone Michael gave her. He explained it was for emergencies only. She used it to check her messages. It was necessary to get the spooks back on Michael's tail, though, but only at a time convenient to the plot.
- I'll Kill You!: Carmelo isn't as subtle as Michael.
- Implied Death Threat: When Michael asks Barry to hook him up with a heroin dealer and Barry says no.
Michael: This is not a favor.
Barry: No, it's not. Favors don't get you killed. I give you a name, it gets back, we're in a "Barry facedown in the river situation".
Michael: I'm not asking, Barry. We're friends or we're enemies here.
- Innocent Bystander: On the run from the teams summoned by his call to his handler, Michael jumps the hood of a car, then snatches the woman's keys from the ignition and tosses them. It stops his pursuit, but also leaves that woman stuck in an alley.
- Large Ham: Bruce Campbell, responding to the explosion behind him as he and Donovan run away from the barge. They immortalized it in the opening credits; it's awesome.
- MacGyvering: Michael and Fi take advantage of a convenient machine shop (probably why Fi chose to hide in that building in the first place) to put together a makeshift claymore.
- Later, they prepare a sticky bomb with a mop and tile adhesive.
- Mama Bear: Nate uses his mother as an excuse for not leaving Michael to face heroin smugglers alone to rescue Fi.
Nate: Look, something happens to you and mom is on my ass forever.
- Manipulative Bastard: Michael really does want his mother out of town for her own safety, but he really turns the screws to get it to happen.
Michael: I know you're not afraid, but I am.
- Master of Unlocking: Without Sam, Michael and Fi can't pick the lock on Sam's storage locker, so they have to freeze the lock and smash it with a hammer.
- Oh, Crap!: When Sam thinks his efforts have failed, and Michael and Fi are going to get killed trying to save him. The look on his face is heartbreaking.
- When Barry's phone rings and a stranger asks for Michael.
- Opening Shout-Out: "I'm Michael Westen. I used to be a spy."
- Product Placement: This excellent season finale was paid for by On Star, who made their own appearance at the very end. Fans didn't mind.
- Properly Paranoid: Both Michael and Nate in dealing with the spooks hunting Michael. Nate picked up his mother and, rather than risking a bug or tracker in his car, stole a new car, drove around Little Haiti for an hour, down to Virginia Key and back...
- When Michael gets a call on Barry's phone during their meeting, he spends the entirety of the brief conversation looking in all directions, trying to spot an observer. After he hangs up, he immediately destroys the phone by throwing it off the dock into the ocean.
- Public Secret Message: Sam's proof of life photo. He poses in the same way he did for another photo in another op, years back; Michael searches through Sam's storage locker to find the other half of the message.
- Refuge in Audacity: After attacking his guards, pulling a gun, handing him some explosives, and pulling out a remote detonator, Michael helps himself to some of Carmelo's champagne and offers him a deal.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Nate's truck. It might not even have been stolen this time.
- Schmuck Bait: Michael sends Nate's truck rolling slowly backward toward the bad guys. A fast car makes you scatter. A slow car makes you investigate. And discover a bomb packed with ball bearings.
Narrator!Michael: A good trap doesn't scare people — it makes them curious.
- The people hunting Michael send a crack team to catch him at the phone he called his handler from; they show up out of nowhere and lock the area down. Not that crack, though, if they're staring at a payphone, right? Nope, they're the distraction while the other crack team comes in behind Mike and Fi.
- Technology Marches On: Harrick has to go get a camera and email the picture to Michael? What, he didn't have a camera phone? Possibly justified, as most of these men would have been using burner phones.
- There Was a Door: But Mike and Nate couldn't use it. See Car Meets House above.
- Unflinching Walk: Michael and Sam, getting away from Harrick's boat and the sticky bomb Michael planted. Subverted, however, in that Sam's face is priceless and he pinwheels his arms like mad, and both men are running. Michael's face is iron determination, though. In the commentary, Bruce Campbell is regretful over the difference between them, but is okay with it.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Fiona shows genuine concern over Sam's welfare and doesn't hesitate to help Michael get him back.
- The Watson: Madeleine's role in this episode is to let Michael explain for the audience what's going on with the burn notice spooks hunting him. Mostly, that means explaining that he doesn't know what's going on and is in a lot of trouble.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Where did Fiona go after the barge? It was just Michael and Sam in the Caddy, but Michael and Fi only took the one car, right?
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Fi, again, suggests just storming Harrick's barge. Like right away. As soon as they find it.
- You Monster!: Everyone on the show treats Carmelo as such. Barry wants nothing to do with heroin importers, and Michael treats the confrontation as so dangerous that the only way to handle it is by lacing a nightclub with enough explosives to demolish the building and kill everyone inside.