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Burn Notice: “Best Laid Plans”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Best Laid Plans”
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The back half of this season is starting to feel like one long delaying tactic, but as long as Burn Notice turns out episodes as entertaining as “Best Laid Plans,” that’s not such a bad thing. After Michael shot Card in the head, it looked like the show was heading on a star trek into darkness, but tonight brought the sort of lighthearted caper Burn Notice does best, with a little grim-n-gritty around the edges.

Patton Oswalt is still around as Calvin Schmidt, which helps keep things from getting too self-serious. Schmidt is supposed to arrange new identities for Michael and the gang, but the price has gone up, so the team has to sneak into his warehouse and come out with an alarm-disabling gizmo worth a million dollars. Schmidt doesn’t do sneaky very well, however, and our heroes escape in a hail of bullets, most of which hit the device, rendering it useless.

Michael and company do some cosmetic repairs on the device, making it look good enough to sell, but of course, things don’t go quite that smoothly. Schmidt’s client, Thorne, demands a test of the machine, which requires Sam to take on the identity of Dr. Charles Finley, the alarm-detection expert. (The device, by the way, is really goofy-looking in a retro sort of way. It looks like something that would have been passed off as hi-tech on an old Six Million Dollar Man episode.) The machine passes the first test thanks to some timely intervention by Michael and Fiona, but Thorne isn’t satisfied yet, and Sam and Schmidt are forced to go along with the big heist.

The resolution to this caper isn’t the most elegant one in Burn Notice history, but it does provide a satisfying comeuppance for Thorne. I enjoyed the byplay between Michael and Jesse, posing as employees of the company Thorne was planning to rob. It’s been a while since this show has let Jeffrey Donovan play a scene for comedy, and it looked like he was as relieved to be doing it as I was to be watching it. Plus, the scene supplied us with one of the most useful pieces of spycraft in a while: lifting false identities from reserved parking spots.

“Best Laid Plans” also brought the return of everyone’s favorite money launderer, Barry. No season is complete without him, although we didn’t get to see him interacting with the gang at all—only with Maddie, who lures him to a meeting at his doctor’s office with a phone call informing him that he has a fungus in a sensitive area. See, she’s not such a bad spy after all. Or maybe she is, as she lets it slip to Olivia Riley that Michael and friends haven’t skipped town yet. Having signed an agreement to cooperate with the CIA, and having violated it now several times, it appears Maddie must now go on the run with the rest of the cast. Considering that I thought she was skipping town a couple of episodes ago, this isn’t my favorite development. Then again, I’m not convinced these people are ever going to end up leaving town at all. (Judging from the previews, there are more delays in the offing next week.)

The episode may not have advanced the arc of the season much, but Burn Notice has never really been adept at that sort of thing anyway. It’s better at putting its characters in untenable positions and letting them use their wits to figure a way out, which is something this episode did well enough. It’s not must-see TV by any means, but it’s a pleasant enough way to spend an hour on a Thursday night.


Stray observations:

  • Patton Oswalt running in slow motion: comedy gold.
  • “I’m helping you by calling you a douchebag!”
  • Is anyone surprised to learn that Barry has a manscapist? I am not. But I don’t really want to think about it much.