Recap / Burn Notice S 1 E 6 Unpaid Debts

Client of the Week

Sam's former SEAL buddy, Virgil, has been hired to repo a boat owned by some Jamaicans. The Jamaicans are smugglers who beat Virgil up; he needs Team Westen to go in and repo the boat for him. He can't do it by himself, and he can't help because they'd recognize him and see the team coming from a mile away.

With a little unintentional support from the police, Michael and Fiona get the boat away from the Jamaicans. The first thing Michael does is search it, successfully, for a GPS tracker. Michael makes the delivery, but it turns out the guys repoing the boat are dirty cops, who intended to kill Virgil. Michael makes the get-away, but then they have to solve the problem.

It turns out the boat is loaded with ten million dollars in cash. The dirty cops and the Jamaicans both have a great deal of incentive to get that money back, and to kill Team Westen. Sam and Virgil dump the boat, and end up having to run from the Jamaicans, who have tracked it down, while Michael talks with the cops. The cops agree that, in return for the money, they'll help Team Westen with the Jamaicans.

Michael then meets with the Jamaicans to set up very much the same deal. Virgil, meanwhile, goes on a date with Madeline and gets captured by the Jamaicans.

The next day, the three groups meet on an abandoned overpass. Establishing another staple of the series, Sam backs Michael up with a sniper rifle while he and Fiona stand in between the Jamaicans and cops. The cops and Jamaicans begin to argue, Sam shoots the lead Jamaican, and Michael lights the money on fire as they flee.

Team Westen splits the small amount of cash they kept, perhaps as much as $100,000 each, and Virgil agrees to leave town.

Burn Notice Arc

There's a new federal agent in town making Michael's life difficult. A three man team broke into Michael's loft and didn't care that he knew. Then Michael got a call from his mother, men have broken in there as well, and they're threatening to hurt her. Michael arrives and has a brief discussion with a man who describes himself as "higher up the food chain." His purpose is to punish Michael and convince him to stop making trouble.

Of course, Michael isn't going to stop. He steps up his own efforts so as to keep them occupied and learn more about them so he can learn more about his burn notice. He ties up his phone line for a few hours, keeping the team listening to it occupied as well. The agent responds by cutting Michael's phone and taking his car. Michael similarly defeats an optical bug at his place, leaving Fi to track the team that are supposed to be listening to it.

Michael breaks into the agent's hotel room and plants a powerful electromagnet in the base of a lamp to destroy his computer. All Michael wants is to make the guy angry. He succeeds. Fiona continues to track him. As the episode ends, Michael confronts the agent one more time, trying to anger him, and Fiona picks his pocket, learning his name and agency affiliation. He's Agent Jason Bly with the CSS, and he alluded to a dossier that can explain why Michael got burned.

Tropes include:

  • Affably Evil: The Jamaican agrees to a meeting with Michael and demands, for the sake of courtesy, that he allow him to buy Michael a drink.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Large bundles of cash. It's dense, and therefore heavy, and "Nobody ever thinks to pack it something with a god damn handle!" It also makes for a very tempting target.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The cops are threatening to frame Virgil's daughter and tell Michael that "Pretty girls don't last long in prison. The other girls tend to ugly 'em up real quick."
  • Blatant Lies
    • Bly cuts open a chair in Madeline's home. Because "you can't be too careful."
    • Virgil claims to be doing a favor for a friend. Michael makes it clear that lie's not going to fly after he lists the numerous details making it clear they're dirty cops.
  • Brain Bleach: Michael reaches for it as soon as he learns Virgil didn't spend the night in the guest room.
  • Break-In Threat: Michael's new government watcher, Jason Bly, broke in with a three man team and wasn't subtle about it. Then they did the same with Michael's mother, only she was home at the time. Michael returns the favor.
  • Cool Boat: The Donzi Michael "repos". It's worth a couple hundred grand and is an ideal smuggling boat.
  • Dead Man Switch: Michael holds a propane torch over the pile of money, doused in gasoline so no one can dare kill him.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: How the cops were planning to steal the money. The Jamaicans would only have dealt with Virgil, and the cops were planning on killing him.
  • Dirty Cop: The men who hired Virgil to repo the Jamaicans' boat. They're just in it for the money, are threatening Virgil's daughter, and intended to kill Virgil when he got the boat.
  • Friendly Sniper: Possibly the first time in the series. Sam backs up Michael's play with a sniper rifle.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Michael and Fi defeat the optical bug with a "personal massager".
  • Heroism Incentive: Michael needs to scrounge up some cash to pay for the damage to his mother's home.
  • I Owe You My Life: Sam trusts Virgil like a brother because of this.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Team Westen lights the money on fire.
  • It's Personal
    • Michael gets a little hot under the collar after Mason and his friends try to kill him. Seeing a barrel of chemicals intended to incinerate your body can do that.
    • Michael also deliberately seeks to infuriate the new agent. If you can't make him a friend, next best thing is an enemy.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: A pile of money. Angry Jamaicans on one side, dirty cops on the other.
  • MacGyvering
    • Sam has to try finding what's stashed in the boat using a hatchet and a vice grip.
    • Michael and Fi search for a bug using an oscilloscope with an improvised antenna
  • Made of Temptation: Ten million dollars is awfully tempting, especially when you're planning on burning it. They end up taking enough for themselves and Virgil's daughter.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Michael learns the Jamaicans have Virgil.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Bad guys, as always, love to tuck handguns in their trousers.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Madeline and Virgil.
  • Plot Hole: Okay, the Jamaicans had a second tracker on the boat, fine. But why did it take them so long to track down the boat.
  • Punny Name: Mike's cover ID, Homer, devoted employee of Virgil.
  • Retired Badass: Virgil, former SEAL. Of course, he's fifty years old and on blood thinners, so a team of young Jamaicans with a baseball bat were able to take him out. He shows he still has some chops at the night club with Madeline.
  • Schmuck Bait
    • When a line has been tapped, anyone listening to the tap has to actually sit and listen so long as you're talking. Michael ties up the line for hours calling random people (like consulates) and saying cryptic things (typically from magazine ads like "Wednesday, 20%") before putting it down in front of a television and wandering off.
    • Also, Michael's entire plan for dealing with Bly is to get him angry enough that Michael can get information out of him.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Virgil, like Sam, is a former SEAL (with former top secret clearance) and buddies who can help him out.
  • Smug Snake: Someone higher up the food chain shows up and starts making Michael's life difficult.
  • Too Much Information
    • Michael doesn't want to hear about Sam's sex life.
    • Michael is not happy to learn about his mother's liaison with Virgil.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Virgil assures Madeline that she doesn't want to know about Michael's past. Half of it is so boring, you'd tear your hair out, and the rest so scary it would just fall out.