Recap / Burn Notice S 3 E 1 Friends And Family

So we pick up with Michael swimming back to Miami. Once he arrives he ends up having to submit to being arrested. It seems like Management called ahead to report a dangerous and armed man is about to wash up on Miami Beach.

Michael muses on how operatives often end up spending time in prisons. Sam comes to visit and reveals that Michael is now showing up in the system as a person of interest.

However help comes in the form of an old buddy named Harlan who served with Mike. He gets him out and then asks for his help with a job catching a corrupt crime lord named Rufino Cortez who is stealing land from Venezuelan farmers including the father of Marta, Harlan's girlfriend.

They plan on kidnapping Cortez so he can be shipped back to Venezuela to face justice. Unfortunately Harlan botches the first attempt and Cortez sends his head of security Falcone to the second one. Finally Mike is able to abduct Cortez during the third meeting with the help of Sam, Fi and Harlan.

Unfortunately when Mike and Harlan get Cortez to the docks Harlan shoots Cortez and attacks Mike. Mike tries to persuade Harlan not to betray him as he cuts through the ropes but Harlan refuses so Mike escapes and subdues him. Mike leaves Harlan and Cortez's body for the team of commandos who were going to abduct Michael.

Mike, Sam and Fi take stock of the fact Mike is clearly in more danger and Mike resolves to get back in.


  • Batman Gambit: Harlan arranged for Michael to get out of jail so he could use him for his little scheme.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Michael escapes Harlan's plot, but the experience leaves him aware of just how much danger he's in now.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The second knife Michael conceals in his belt. It lets him cut himself free when Harlan ties him up.
  • Combat Pragmatist: As Michael remarks in his narration while fighting Harlan, who's blathering about them having it out mano a mano, "Spies aren't trained to fight fair. Spies are trained to win." Michael evades Harlan's pursuit, lures him to a hiding place with bloodstains, and then gives him a Tap on the Head with a chunk of broken concrete from behind.
  • Continuity Nod: A couple references to Sam blowing up part of Madeline's house.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Deconstructed with Harlan. Above all else, he wants wants Michael's respect. Feeling he never got it, he tries to set him up.
  • False Friend: Harlan
  • Foreshadowing: While visiting Michael in jail, Sam shows a greeting card he found at the loft. That will be important much later.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Seems like a standard adventure with an old friend of Michael and Sam's, but then Harlan reveals he's got other plans and takes Mike hostage.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Harlan is left to the fate he intended for Michael.
  • Irony: Madeline expresses concern that Michael's going to get Harlan killed. Technically, that's exactly what happens.
  • Last-Second Chance: While cutting himself free, Michael sincerely appeals to Harlan and asks if he wants to be the kind of person who'd betray a friend for blood money. When Harlan says yes, Michael breaks free and attacks him.
  • Previously On: The previously segment is quite long for Burn Notice and explains the events of the latter half of season two.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Madeline proceeds to bother Michael about the job and Harlan, Sam announces he's getting a beer and clears out.
  • The Reveal: Harlan was working with Cortez's partners all along. They were worried about the authorities possibly getting Cortez and putting him on trial, which could cause trouble for them, so they went to Harlan to kill him first.
  • The Resenter: Harlan was not happy about doing the grunt work on old missions.
  • Trail of Blood: As a result of the double-edged knife Michael uses to cut himself free. Harlan uses it to track him. Michael uses it to bait Harlan into an ambush.
  • True Companions: Discussed by Madeline at the end of the episode. She notes Michael, Fi, and Sam need to stick together now more than ever.
  • Un-person: Now averted. The Organization had previously used its influence to keep Michael off the grid. It isolated him and left him at their mercy, but also protected him from old enemies. That's off the table now, so Michael is suddenly back in computer databases and traceable by people like Harlan.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Marta and Team Westen to Harlan.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Madeline can see that Harlan wants to prove something to Michael, but she thinks that means Michael will get him into trouble instead of the other way around.