Burn Notice (3.1): Double the jeopardy, double the fun


It’s been a long nine months for UK Burn Notice fans. While we’ve been waiting impatiently for a Freeview channel to show Season 3, our American compadres have not only enjoyed Season 4, but also the spin-off TV movie The Fall of Sam Axe. I tell you, I was *this* close to caving in and buying the DVDs when the news came in that 5* was at last going to allow us to start catching up with our favourite ex-spy, his kickass girlfriend and his best friend Sam.

When we left Burn Notice at the end of Season 2, Carla was dead and Michael, having finally met with Management (in a helicopter over the ocean) and explained that he wanted to be left alone, had leapt from said chopper into the Atlantic Ocean below.

Where do you go from there? Back to business as usual but with added jeopardy. Michael is no longer invisible – he’s on the radar of the police and foreign intelligence agencies. Having swum five miles back to shore, he’s immediately spotted by the police and has to dive for cover in a stolen pink T-shirt into a nearby hotel. One quick untraceable call to Fi alerts him to how much trouble he’s in and leads him to turn himself in rather then risk a citywide man hunt.

Cue a nice bit of female gazing as Jeffrey Donovan works out in his cell while waiting for someone to get him released. (It’s not the first time he’s been seen in an orange jumpsuit, but it’s the first time I’ve wanted to get him out of it. His turn in Law and Order was most unsettling.)

That somebody is “old buddy” Harlan. Of course, he hasn’t worked his magic for nothing. There’s a job… helping Harlan’s Venezuelan girlfriend Marta. Her father has lost his land to criminal Rufino Cortez, Harlan needs Michael’s help to extradite Cortez.

As the job progresses, it’s clear why Michael wasn’t exactly welcoming Harlan back into his life with open arms. Harlan may be ex-Special Forces, but he’s not nearly as sharp as Michael. As Madelaine says, “He’s nice, but he’s not exactly a rocket scientist.”

I also suspect that he wouldn’t let Cortez’s ‘gatekeeper’ Falcone dislocate his shoulder just to get a meeting with El Jefe. Which, of course, Michael does. Although it takes another stand-off with Falcone to actually get the face-to-face meeting, wasting Fi’s carefully placed explosives at the railway yard. This also creates the added difficulty of trying to ambush a moving target, as the meeting is going to be in an armoured car. It does give Fi an excuse to hotwire and steal a garbage truck however. Not to mention ploughing it into an SUV.

A few well-placed bullets later, our friends have finally abducted Cortez. But don’t grab your mojito just yet – Harlan isn’t actually interested in extraditing El Jefe – it’s all a plan to let the Venezuelans pick up Michael. All of which leads to a conversation reminiscent of the Doctor. Michael: “You’re sure this is who you want to be? A mercenary who traded his friend for blood money.” Harlan: [punches him in the face] “Yeah, I’m sure.”. Michael: “That’s all I needed to know.” Cue a cunning escape, big fight and a sticky end for Harlan.

As the sun shines down on a happy ending for Marta (getting her land back) and Sam worries about how’s he going to protect his best friend, who effectively has a target on his back, Michael declares that he’s going to find a way back into his old job. I guess by the end of the series we’ll know how successful he is.

This is why I’ve missed Burn Notice:

  • Fi can make a statement like, “Michael, I’m glad you’re alive, try to keep it that way” sound caring and threatening in almost equal measures.
  • As Sam complains that rebuilding Madelaine’s sun room is going to be a lot harder than blowing it up, Fi is less than sympathetic: “If you blow something up correctly you have nothing left to fix.”
  • Barry the money launderer explaining the difference between him and Rufino: “I’m more of your friendly, neighbourhood hide-your-cash-from-the-taxman kind of guy. Rufino is a rob-and-kill-for-hire-and-call-it-an-investment kind of guy.”
  • Sam still charming the birds from the trees, and the classic cars from the ladies.
  • Michael complaining about his cover name  and Sam’s riposte: “Hey you want to pick the names, you gotta go to the meeting. And listen to Barry talk about his skin care regime.”
  • “Like a wedding, an armed extraction needs a lot of planning if you want it go well. And, like a wedding it’s not the sort of thing you want do twice…” I’m never going to be able to go to a wedding again without imagining Mike, Sam and Fi hiding behind the flower arrangements, armed to the teeth.

Welcome back Burn Notice – please don’t stay away so long next time…

Posted by Jo the Hat.

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