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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Burn Notice: “Necessary Evil”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Necessary Evil”
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Tonight’s episode makes it clear that my suggestions are not being taken seriously down at Burn Notice headquarters. All my whining last week about how the show wasn’t making enough use of new supervillain Anson was for naught, as this week’s episode was almost completely Anson-free. Aside from an audio-only appearance in the closing minute or two of “Necessary Evil,” Jere Burns had the week off, and we were treated instead to a rote playlist of Burn Notice golden oldies. All the overplayed hits, from “Kidnapped Family Member” to “Betrayal by Loved One” to “Lunatic Warlord with Giant Weapon,” can be found here in one convenient collection.

Michael’s mission this week, which he chooses to accept, is to find out whether a weapons engineer named Resnik has gone rogue. The CIA has reason to believe that Resnik is building a new and super-dangerous kind of missile inside an abandoned chemical plant at the behest of a Liberian warlord named Kamba. Since Michael has operated in West Africa before and might be recognized, he won’t be getting a chance to try out a funny new voice this week. Instead, he’ll be running the operation, with Sam and Jesse as his inside men.


As regular viewers of this show might have guessed, Resnik is only doing Kamba’s bidding because the warlord is holding his daughter hostage. Michael and the team must figure out how to get both Resnik and his daughter to safety without setting a madman loose with a dangerous weapon. Meanwhile, Fi is busy spying on Maddie’s gentleman caller, Benny. In an opening sequence that was at least twice as convoluted as it had to be, Michael and Fiona had planted a trace on Anson’s phone by dressing as window washers and breaking into a defense contractor’s communications center. That’s how they learned Anson has been calling Benny, which in turn led them to suspect Maddie’s boyfriend is spying on her.

Kamba is my least favorite kind of Burn Notice villain—the violent guy with the hair-trigger temper who nonetheless keeps letting our heroes talk him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. This brings me back to my original complaint about Anson being underused, because he’s exactly the opposite of all that. There’s no way he’d fall for tricks like “the chip is the wrong size” or “you have to move the fence back 20 feet” or “hey, I think one of your men must have turned against you, because there’s no way that I, who you just met yesterday, could possibly be responsible for all these crazy mishaps.” But of course, Kamba falls for every one of these and is easily defeated in the end.

The B-plot is slightly more interesting, although it certainly must have been devastating for all you Maddie-Benny shippers out there. Unwilling to believe Michael’s warnings that her boyfriend may be spying on her, Maddie takes it upon herself to search Benny’s house, where she finds surveillance photos of Michael and the gang. She plants a bug in his phone, and later, she and Michael listen outside as Benny gets a call and a package, from Anson. There is, of course, a bomb in the box, which at least spares Maddie the awkwardness of breaking up with Benny. But the predictability of that reveal just confirms that “Necessary Evil” is nothing but a filler episode from beginning to end.

Stray observations:

  • One thing you definitely want your rescuers to tell you is that, in order for their plan to work, you’re going to have to stick your hand into the flame from a Bunsen burner.
  • Even when taking down lunatic warlords, Sam Axe can’t seem to get in the good graces of the CIA.
  • No episode next week due to Thanksgiving. I will thus be spared the indignity of trying to write one of these reviews while filled with turkey and pie.

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