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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Burn Notice: “Depth Perception”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Depth Perception”
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Ever since Burn Notice returned last month, I’ve been complaining that the show doesn’t seem to know how to showcase its latest special guest villain, Anson (Jere Burns). So I have to tip my hat to “Depth Perception,” as the powers that be finally figured out a smart way to integrate him into the action. It’s always fun when the hero is forced to team up with his arch-enemy, and we can thank Sam Axe for deciding that’s exactly what had to happen this week.

Sam’s reporter friend Beatriz (Ilza Rosario), last seen in the Fall Of Sam Axe prequel movie a while back, shows up in Miami with one of those typical Burn Notice sob stories about how a Russian spy is trying to kill her. Sam, of course, volunteers to help. Come to think of it, when is the last time any of these people got paid for one of their side missions? Didn’t they used to do this dangerous shit for money? Now it’s always, “Oh, remember me? I’m your third cousin on your mother’s side. Twenty-five Colombian drug lords are trying to set me on fire. Can you please help me?” I mean, just how is Sam Axe paying his bar tab these days?

But I digress. Anyway, Sam figures they could use some help identifying the Russian agent from someone specially trained in psychologically profiling spies. And he knows just the guy: Anson. Naturally, Michael isn’t thrilled with this plan, but I think it’s a fine idea, and that’s what really matters. What ensues is a sort of low-rent Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter duet between Michael and Anson as they join forces to track down Oscar, the Russian spy. Accompanying Michael into the field, Anson puts his keen powers of observation to work, and actually supplies some insight along the way. For instance, those innocent people Michael bamboozles with his charm and mesmerizing accents into giving up sensitive information—what happens to them once he has what he wants? Will the nice blonde receptionist be fired for letting burned CIA agent Michael Westen into a Russian intelligence office? You have to admit, sociopathic as he may be, the guy has a point.

The backup storyline this week, involving Fiona and Jesse traveling to the Cayman Islands in order to blackmail a sleazy banker into freeing up the money from Anson’s flagged account, was nothing special. The bit where they picked up a few bags of the banker’s blood type and soaked his car seats with the contents in order to fake his death was a nice touch, but mostly what I took away from these scenes was how much more chemistry Gabrielle Anwar has with Coby Bell than with Jeffrey Donovan. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe there’s a whole army of Fiona/Jesse shippers out there, I don’t know. Just throwing it out there.

In the end, Anson actually is helpful in using his psychological know-how to stop Oscar before he blows Sam away. But he does have one more surprise for Michael, who has already suffered the indignity of a face-slap from Maddie following the revelation that the man who had once filled in as her shrink was also responsible for killing her boyfriend (who was spying on her for Anson in the first place). It turns out that Anson not only knew Michael’s father, who he befriended in hopes of gathering information on Michael, but that he killed said father once he became suspicious about Anson’s motives. Frankly, this is probably one big revelation too many, and I’m not even sure how it fits into the show’s time-frame—I don’t really remember how long Michael’s father is supposed to have been dead, or if we even have that information—but it certainly builds up the stakes for whatever showdown is waiting in the next couple of episodes. Here’s hoping for a big payoff.

Stray observations:

  • I actually had to rewind the last scene, in which Anson provides the reveal about Michael’s father, because I was so distracted by Jere Burns’ crazy eyebrows and forehead. What is going on there? Is he a Klingon or something?
  • I should have know there was a big revelation coming this week, because we got one of the ever-rare “Previously on Burn Notice” segments.
  • In his spare time, Anson also managed to find a way to frame Sam as a possible Russian spy. You know, maybe Fi should have shot him in the head at the beginning of the episode when she had the chance. Just saying.