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Burn Notice: "Friendly Fire"

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Michael's cover identities always seem ridiculous to me, at least at the start. There's something so consciously obvious about them, like he's almost daring the mark to call him out—and that's intentional, I think. Donovan sells each new lie less on authenticity than on sheer force of will. Because he seems so odd as a redneck thug or a security guard with a drinking problem, when he doesn't break character, you can't help but buy into it. Because how could someone be so ridiculous and not be real?


Plus, there's the convenient way that so many of Michael's fake IDs appear just a little dumber than the people they're meant to fool. "Friendly Fire" goes in a different direction—in order to convince a local gang-leader to help him, Michael becomes "Louis," a man in a black suit and red shirt and tie who's not really the Devil, but could very well be the next best thing. Westen rasps his voice out even more thoroughly than usual, he does that "either I'm trying to figure out something or I'm just so much smarter than you I'm bored" look, and he keeps snapping his fingers before things explode. It's over-the-top, and laughable, but because he never lets on that its a joke, it's effective. And, much like the rest of the episode, a fair bit of fun.

We all knew Sam had a past—everyone does, and it's a good bet that any friends of Michael's have extra special back stories. This week, we learn about Sam's old friend/enemy Mack, a guy who pissed Sam off so thoroughly that Sam hits him. Twice. Mack needs help. A child kidnapper, having faked his own death in Houston, is now hiding in Miami under the protection of another bad guy (Danny Trejo!), and Mack wants Sam and friends to help him take the bastard down. It's a noble enough cause that Sam can't refuse him, and that's where "Louis" comes in. The only real way to track the kidnapper is through a local crime lord, and since those guys usually don't respond well to polite requests, Michael decides to bust out the pseudo-Satan routine.

We also get some movement on the Gilroy plot. Michael meets him, plays up his reputation as a bad guy, and by the end of the episode, the two are on their way to becoming business partners. I'm still not overly enamored with this storyline. There's nothing all that compelling going on. Gilroy is sufficiently threatening, sure, but the model we're following, with Michael having to trick his way into a closer relationship with someone he can't trust, is something the series has already done. So far, there's no new angle here. We did get a nice scene with Michael and Fiona hooking up, but mostly, this just seems like by-the-numbers writing.

Thankfully, the main plot was stronger. Rincon had a surprising number of useful skills for a child-kidnapper, and the reveal that Mack hooked up with Sam's ex-wife years after their divorce, could've been better handled. (I didn't mind that Maddy got the answer out, I was just hoping for something more distinctive.) Mostly, though, it was an excuse to see Michael at his comic-book villain scariest. One of the big appeals of the show is how good Michael is at his job. (If he wasn't, the voice-overs would be boring as hell.) Excellence with a little bit of style thrown in is all I really need.


Stray Observations:

  • When Sam and Fiona try and chase Rincon down, the locals mistake them for cops. To convince them otherwise, Fiona steals a car. Now that's improvisation in the field.
  • I'm siding with Fiona on this one: why not just shoot Gilroy and get it over with? He'll have to be put down eventually.

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