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Recap: Burn Notice S 1 E 9 Hard Bargain

Client of the Week

While Michael is dealing with his burn notice, he gets a call from Sam, who hangs up before Michael can decline. Sam's girlfriend hooked him up with a client. When they arrive, they're surprised to learn that the problem is more serious than an expensive kitten up a tree. His fiancee has been kidnapped, and the ransom is five million dollars. Unfortunately, Nick, the client, isn't as rich as he appears; he's just a house sitter.

Michael walks Nick through the phone call with the kidnappers. Nick tells them he's getting the money together, then demands proof of life in the form of a video. The kidnappers agree and give Nick a time and a place to get the video. Nick's job is to pick up the package and walk away while Team Westen provides backup and tries to spot the kidnappers. Sam stays in the car while Michael and Fiona survey the drop site (a mall). They spot the kidnapper at the same time, unfortunately, as Nick spots them and accidentally points them out. Michael and Fiona run down the kidnapper and taze him unconscious.

The video proves Nick's fiancee is alive. Michael tells Nick the plan isn't pooched. They would have preferred to tail the kidnapper back to the fiancee, but now they can use him more directly.

Back at Michael's loft, Team Westen has a simple set-up to coerce Velasquez, the man they captured, to help them. After Fiona spends some time putting him in a receptive state (torture isn't helpful for getting information, but it does induce cooperation), they surprise him with a tickle into looking other than tortured so he looks like he's friendly with Sam. That and some photoshop work on Sam's part makes it look like Velasquez is working with the FBI. Knowing that if his partners get their hands on that file, he's dead, Velasquez agrees to help. To explain his prolonged absence, Fiona breaks his foot.

The kidnappers keep their organization compartmentalized. The boss, Reyes handles everything separately. Velasquez is the point man, Reyes the boss, while someone else watches the package. The new plan is for Velasquez to give Reyes a new target. Fiona pretends to be the next victim while Sam is her venal bodyguard. They borrow a penthouse and a car from Nick's supply of house-sitting clients to sell the image. The plan is for Sam to demand to see where they keep the hostages, for security reasons, and Reyes bring Sam to Dawn, then Team Westen frees her.

Michael stalls for more time, telling Velasquez to tell Reyes that Nick hired a negotiator who wants to meet face to face, that 12 hours isn't long enough to pick up the money. The next day, Michael meets with Reyes, first by phone, then face to face. Michael spends time negotiating with Reyes, buttering him up, being a jackass, asking for more time.

Sam goes to his own meeting with Reyes, carrying a bug planted in the sole of his shoe. Sam makes a lot of demands so that Reyes will justify taking Sam to the location where Dawn is being held. Unfortunately, Reyes has gotten tired of holding Dawn for a $5million payout, wanting to do the fake job with Fi for 20. The deadline for Team Westen has been dropped from two days to two hours.

Michael goes in to negotiate with and stall Reyes while Fiona go to rescue Dawn. Michael continues stalling for time with Reyes. Fiona and Sam blast through the door at the prison Sam scouted, blinding her captors and disarming them, then rescuing Dawn. They call Michael and tell him the job is done. He fakes a longer phone call, then informs Reyes that the deal can't be completed. Reyes tells him to go.

Reyes goes to the docks where Dawn is held with gun drawn, ready to execute her for Nick's failure to pay. Instead, he finds his team tied up just as he hears the sirens blaring in the distance. He's immediately apprehended by the police.

Back at the house Nick is sitting, Team Westen drops off Dawn, who immediately punches Nick, twice, Fiona having informed her that Nick isn't who he claimed to be. Then she leaves with Team Westen.

Burn Notice Arc

The episode opens with Michael and Fiona walking along the beach; she complains that he needs to spend more time relaxing. They're observing the bureaucrat sent to review Michael's status as a burned spy, Perry Clark. Michael is, of course, untrusting, and has the man ambushed by police at their first meet. A foreign agent might run, so might an armed assassin; a bureaucrat's going to act... like a bureaucrat. With the police involved, Michael and Fiona leave for the time being. Michael sets up a second meeting.

They meet at the Carlito, where Clark makes it clear he understands Michael's concerns while finding them baroque and unnecessary. However, Clark has passed Michael's test, but Clark has concerns of his own. Michael's case has issues relating to national security, which means their discussion has to take place in private. Clark suggests his office in Fort Lauderdale, but Michael immediately shoots that down, suggesting his loft instead. Michael's day job is forcing him to stay in town for the next few days.

Clark shows up at Michael's loft a few days later, ready to review his burn notice. Clark asks for Michael's side of the story. Then he asks for some coffee. With Michael's back turned, Clark pulls out a garrote. Michael barely gets a hand in place, but his immediate responses are stymied by what it turns out is a very capable assassin. Michael takes advantage of home-court advantage to smash open a cupboard and grab a hidden gun, fatally shooting his assailant. "Clark" runs out of the room while Michael gasps on the floor.

The next morning, Sam tells Michael that his assassin has no ID, his fingerprints didn't show up in any database. Michael's no closer to resolving his burn notice.

Tropes include:

  • And Some Other Stuff: Westen's flash grenades are a little unspecific in the recipe; the thermite is accurate enough.
  • Bald of Evil: The kidnapper Team Westen... convinces to help them.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: As a field agent, Michael has a low opinion of bureaucrats, which allows "Clark" to get close.
  • Blatant Lies: Michael's claim to have gotten Fi a birthday present really could have used some work.
  • Break the Haughty: How Michael feels about almost getting killed. He got too eager, let his guard down. He feels ashamed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The handguns at Nick's client's place, where Fiona tries to keep him calm while Michael meets with Reyes. It shows up at the end, as Michael's birthday gift to her.
  • Cool Car: Sam's first sweet, sweet ride shows up. A Cadillac, a gift from Veronica.
  • Corpsing: According to the commentary, Bruce Campbell's photoshop line was ad-libbed, and nearly ruined the entire day of filming because everyone on set couldn't stop laughing. The show cuts away right before the laughs come in.
    • Then Reyes picks Michael up in a sweet yellow Lamborghini.
  • Desk Jockey: Perry Clark. It's a cover.
  • False Reassurance: When Nick asks if everything's going to be okay. Michael is vague and evasive, but reassuring.
  • Frame-Up: How Team Westen convinces Velasquez (the kidnapper they kidnap) to help them.
  • Gangsta Style: Sam, for giggles, aims two pistols this way. The bad guys were disarmed at that point.
  • Gun Nut: One of Nick's clients has a collection of sidearms.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The kidnapper speaks perfect English, except for the odd insult.
  • Grin of Audacity: As he walks away from his final meeting with Reyes, Michael (uncharacteristically) breaks his cover as he walks away grinning (where Reyes can't see).
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted. Michael lifts weights while talking with Perry.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Coroner Pearlmutter shows up as an assassin!bureaucrat!
  • Home Field Advantage: Clark suggests that maybe that's what Michael is hoping for, suggesting a meeting in his loft. Michael says no, it's just his day job getting in the way. However, it turns out at the end that it is for the advantage.
  • I Have Your Wife: The client of the week.
  • Idle Rich: What the villains think Nick is.
  • Improv: Michael's dialogue about bearer bonds was more or less made up by Donovan on the spot.
    Michael: Unlike stocks, bonds are financial instruments.note 
  • Indy Ploy: Michael has to come up with a rescue plan in two hours instead of forty-eight.
  • Keep the Reward: Of course, the reward is in surf boards.
  • The Load: Nick, all you had to do was walk in, get the envelope, and walk out without looking at your handlers. Oh, you looked. Good job, Nick.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Reyes, according to the commentary.
  • Meaningful Name: The villain of the week is named Reyes. It means 'king'.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Perry Clark. He only looks like a harmless Desk Jockey. He almost gets the drop on Michael.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Fiona suggests some lingerie as a gift for her birthday; Michael replies that he's only ever seen her wear men's shirts to bed.
  • Once an Episode: Michael MacGyvering something from a cell phone so he can follow Sam to Dawn's location.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: Nick Lam
  • Police Are Useless: If Nick goes to the cops, the kidnappers have threatened to kill his fiancee.
  • Properly Paranoid: Michael, of course. Just because it looks like you're getting what you want doesn't mean you actually are. Turns out, he was right; he just wasn't paranoid enough. Fortunately, he was almost paranoid enough.
    Narrator!Michael: Work around spies for a while and you learn to be careful when it looks like you're getting what you want. That's when you tend to let your guard down, get careless.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In the final meeting with Reyes, Michael grabs his cell phone and throws it off the balcony. Reyes is pissed. Michael says, "I'm here to negotiate, get that gun out of my face and let's do that."
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Michael's only seen Fi wear men's shirts to bed. She suggests some with big buttonsnote  as a birthday present.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: When Reyes asks how he knows Michael's not a cop, Michael asks if his sniper can read the label in his suit; most cops don't wear Armani.
  • A Simple Plan: See The Load. It's justified; Nick is in way over his head.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Michael has this opinion about all bureaucrats.
    'Narrator!Michael: Bureaucrats live for respect. East of the Balkans, that means a bribe. In the West, it's more about showing you know they're in charge.
  • Stunt Double: The commentary spends some time pointing out in one scene the switch back and forth between Jeffrey Donovan and his stunt double. Donovan, as is sometimes the case, preferred to work without a stunt double whenever possible and during the chase scene at the mall he slipped on a sandy sidewalk and sprained his ankle. Any time Michael is moving in the alleyway it's shot from behind using his double. If you can see his face, it's Donovan and he's standing still.
  • Surfer Dude: The client of the week. Lampshaded by his subtitle. He has an awesome surf board collection.
    Dude with a problem
  • Talk to the Fist: Dawn's reunion with Nick. He's talking, glad she's safe. She punches him because he lied to her. Then she punches him again and reiterates that she's angry.
  • Technology Marches On: Michael asks Nick for the yellow pages so he can look something up. Nick replies, "Bro, I've got a computer!"
  • Throw It In: Sam's "photoshop" line was improvised. They cut away immediately, because everyone on set lost it.
  • Totally Radical: Nick, the client. He punctuates every sentence with "dude".
  • Unstoppable Rage: Nick's fiancee, on finding out that Nick isn't the Uncle Pennybags he made himself out to be.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Of course Fi would.

Burn Notice S 1 E 8 Wanted ManRecap/Burn NoticeBurn Notice S 1 E 10 False Flag

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