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Recap / Burn Notice S 1 E 4 Old Friends

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Client of the Week

Michael's brother Nate shows up with a job. An old classmate's daughter has gone missing, and Nate took money to go find her. Michael, not realizing how serious the situation was, goes to give the money back, only to reluctantly take the job and track her down. She and her father argued about her boyfriend, a modeling scout.

It turns out that he's not really a modeling scout, except insofar as the guys he works for do some modeling on the side. They're pimps, and it's his job to find fresh meat for their business. When they learn that Jenna's on the fast track to prostitution, they rush in to save her. When it turns out that she's going to be shipped overseas to be repeatedly raped as a Sex Slave in Dubai, they go into overdrive.


Their first rescue attempt fails when Michael gets held up by the Czech assassin in town and so they switch to plan B. They kidnap one of the two men heading the prostitution ring and use that as leverage. They force the ring to close down and the men running it to hand over all their assets, except those they made legitimately from modeling, to the girls. Also, to explain exactly what they were planning to do to the girl.

They hand her over to a grateful father.


Burn Notice Arc

Michael and Sam are sitting in a bar, reviewing sports trivia so Michael can better blend with the locals, when Michael notices a Czech assassin. Michael plays drunk and picks a fight so he can get close enough to disable the assassin and get out of the bar. Back at the loft, he sets up a booby trap. He keeps Sam in the dark about this so he doesn't have to lie to the feds.

Fiona tracks the Czech to a hotel, and Michael investigates. His first attempt is derailed when he runs into the assassin and gets into a fight against two knives, and retreats. He returns later and searches the assassin's room for information. He finds a book, a fast food bag, and not much else. Fiona's inquiries turn up little, except that the assassin has particular food requirements.

At the end of the episode, Michael reveals he's determined the assassin has a nut allergy by sprinkling crushed peanut on his hotdog. A brief interrogation ensues as Michael withholds the epinephrin that will save the assassin from anaphylaxis. Virtually no information is uncovered, just that Michael is out and he has a lot of enemies. Michael calls Sam and tells him to give his FBI buddies a call; maybe this will make them back off.


Whoever burned Michael has sent him a bouquet of flowers and a balloon. Meanwhile, the assassin "killed himself" in his cell. Some guys came by and took him away, apparently they left him with his shoelaces.

Tropes include:

  • Asshole Victim: In order to close on the Czech assassin in the cold open, Michael pretends to be drunk and picks a fight with a guy who was harassing a waitress, calling her a bitch when she wouldn't kiss him. We don't mind that he gets hurt.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Michael feels protective of Nate. From Nate's perspective this is unfortunate, as this means he's protecting Nate from himself.
  • Blatant Lies: Michael keeps Sam in the dark about the Czech so that Sam doesn't have to lie to the feds.
    • Jenna's boyfriend immediately claims not to know her.
    • And when Nate says he paid back the guys he owes. Michael sees through it immediately.
  • Booby Trap: Michael sets up a trap after the Czech assassin shows up.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The booby trap. It surprises Sam after the cold open, and forces Michael to drive across town to rescue Nate halfway through the episode.
    • Nate mentions that he has a friend who can get him a gun. In the next scene, he uses it to chase off the Czech assassin.
    • In one scene we see Michael "working on Nate's truck", all he does is remove the license plate. A few scenes later, he's driving it to kidnap the Wilhelm brother. He removed the license plate so people couldn't identify the truck.
  • Combat Medic: After chasing off an assassin, Nate does a little surgery to dig a bullet out of Michael's back. Without anesthetic.
  • Consummate Liar: After Nate nearly botches an investigation by being too aggressive with a bartender, Michael steps in and makes up a lie about the guy they're looking for having purchased a Mercedes and Nate writing his info down wrong. He also implies Nate was hitting on the bartender (a guy). Nate doesn't even hesitate before picking up the lie and running with it, adding a great deal of excellent detail, without batting an eye over being called gay. It seems the whole Westen family is incredibly adept at extemporaneous fictionnote .
  • Cutting the Knot: As usual, Fiona suggests a direct approach.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Michael lies to Sam about the Czech assassin. Sam deliberately throws his car keys too short, then tells Michael to pick up a toothbrush, because Michael's is "a little rough".
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When Michael's sneaking into the assassin's hotel room, he strips to his boxers and puts on a robe. Fiona can't help but cop a feel.
  • Drinking Game: Michael and Sam are playing one at the beginning. If Michael gets a bit of sports trivia right, Sam drinks. If not, Michael drinks.
  • Dysfunctional Family: To learn truly great martial arts, you need a terrible home life. Michael says this just before getting jumped by his brother. It was a friendly fight, honest.
  • Fire-Forged Friends
    • Fiona and Sam begin to segué from Headbutting Heroes to Vitriolic Best Buds when Sam salvages a broken operation by walking in front of a moving car.
    • Michael and Nate patch up some of their differences when Nate saves Michael from an assassin and digs a bullet out of his back.
    • Sam and Michael demonstrate they have a deeper history when Sam makes it clear how hurt he is that Michael's keeping him in the dark.
  • The Gambling Addict: Nate. Fully enabled by his mother, of course.
  • Heroic Vow: Michael promises to get Jenna away from the Wilhelm brothers.
    Nate: How exactly are you going to keep that promise?
    Michael: I have no idea.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The Wilhelm brothers must charge a lot of money to drop tens of thousands of dollars on the charity circuit and keep armed guards on the girls around the clock.
  • Insistent Terminology: Carl Wilhelm objects to being called a pimp.
    Michael: You say "tomato", I say "pimp".
  • It's Personal: Apparently, Michael isn't ready to forgive Nate for taking out 10 credit cards in Michael's name and hitting him in the head with a phone book. And losing Michael's car in a card came.
    Nate: Well I needed the money and you weren't helping me out. Besides, nothing ventured nothing gained.
    Michael: It was a rental car you ventured!
  • Knife Nut: When Michael runs into him at the hotel, the Czech assassin pulls out a knife. Then he pulls out a second knife.
  • Meddling Parents: Maddie's more than happy to manipulate Michael to get him in the same room as and talk to his brother.
  • Moral Event Horizon: It was bad enough that the prostitution ring was tricking innocent girls into thinking they'd be models, but then we learn that some of them get shipped to Dubai to be raped by people who like girls with "a little fight" in them.
  • Nice Hat: Fiona likes to wear really big, floppy hats on stakeouts so that she can hide her face easily.
  • Nosy Neighbor: How Maddie gets rid of the guys beating up Nate looking for their money. She breaks some dishes and the neighbor comes over, scaring off the thugs.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: How Madeline gets Michael to come over and talk to his brother. She hints that she's going to put her hand in a garbage disposal to try and fix it.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • When Sam sees the mostly finished booby trap.
    • When Michael learns Nate's breaking into his place, looking for his share of the money.
    • When Michael shows up and the Czech assassin is waiting for him.
    • When Nate hears the gunfire and sees the assassin shooting at Michael, and again when Michael gets hit by a ricochet.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Michael often keeps a gun in his waistband. This time its holstered in his classy pajamas. Yeah, clothes designed to be incredibly loose are exactly where you want to shove a gun.
  • Papa Wolf: The first of many, the client of the week, when he learns his daughter is in danger of being sold into slavery overseas, immediately grabs a baseball bat and prepares to go to war.
    • When Team Westen's first rescue attempt doesn't work, Bill goes after his daughter and gets beaten up.
  • Pillow Pistol: Michael does have enemies.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Jenna's suitcase.
  • Playing Drunk: How Michael gets close enough to the Czech assassin to disable him at the bar in the cold open.
  • Plot Allergy: How Michael eventually deals with his assassin problem. He's got a nut allergy and goes into anaphylactic shock.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Michael goes to return the money Nate got from the client, first because Nate's not really qualified to handle the job and second because Michael doesn't know how serious the job is.
    Nate: Who gives money back? Hey!
    • And when they dismantle the prostitution ring, they make sure the pimps' money goes to the girls.
      Carl: I want my brother back. How much.
      Michael: We don't want your money. Which isn't to say we want you to have it.
  • Sex Slave: What would have happened to Jenna if Michael hadn't saved her. What, presumably, did happen to other girls.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Nate's gambling problem is never really demonstrated. It makes his later reformation more believable, however.
  • Sticky Fingers: Nate casually picks up a receipt book at the bar, looking to steal the tips. Michael just as casually snags it and drops it on a passing waitress's tray.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Why Nate was so eager to take on this job, and hide how much he was being paid from his brother.


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