Friday, July 11, 2008

Burn Notice - S2E1 recap

So this is my stab at a Burn Notice recap. For those of you (like me) who never watched any of this before, here is a summary of the entire first season. Before we get into it, a couple of business items. This show is generally about a spy, Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan (cute but skinny and seems as though he’s had too much Botox), who as he was on the verge of getting out of the spy business was purposely outed by (a/k/a the burn notice) some agency and now instead of retiring gracefully into regular life is being hunted down by cops/government/other spies/whatever. Michael wants to find out who burned him and, along the way, seems to solve cases of the week with his buddy/possible double-agent “Sam,” charmingly played by Bruce Campbell. Gabrielle Anwar (“Fiona” or “Fi”) plays the love interest: I’m not sure how old she is exactly [Ed.: Um, crap - about exactly one month younger than me ... shit.], but I’m certain that it’s old enough to be wearing slightly bigger clothes; also, she desperately needs a haircut and a hot oil treatment. There’s a lot of rapid editing and freeze-framing and random shots of Florida scenery that I found annoying in a pointless filler kind of way. And, finally, as Michael closes in on the possible agency that burned him, a mystery woman starts contacting him and calling the shots … the mystery woman is played by Tricia Helfer and I’m just going to refer to her as “Six” because I love BSG.

At the end of last season, Michael drives into a cargo container that is supposed to take him to meet the people who burned him. Now he loads his gun (not a euphemism) while he waits in the container, getting nervous as he hears gunfire and explosions outside. His phone rings: it’s Six, calling herself “Carla” and telling Michael to come on out. When he emerges, there’s a small plane burning, a dead pilot on the ground and one live guy trying to crawl away. Six wants this live guy brought back to Miami. Michael says, “I do this, then we meet.” She agrees; he loads the guy (“Jimmy”) into the trunk of his car and drives off just ahead of the cops who are concerned about the recent explosions.

Michael lets Jimmy out of the trunk and Jimmy explains that he was hired by Six to steal some computer files from a “security firm” (or shady bunch of mercenaries) but got cold feet and tried to bail. So Six kidnapped Jimmy’s wife and kids to get him to fulfill his part of the deal. Michael says he’ll help because it’ll get him closer to Six and the people she works with. They go to Michael’s apartment/hideout where Bruce Campbell is hanging out, drinking beer and being sarcastic. Soon, Fi shows up and Michael’s mom (Sharon Gless – was she Cagney or Lacey?) calls to check in on him, having recently learned that her oldest son is a spy. Let me just say right now that these two women in Michael’s life are extremely grating and annoying –just assume that is the case whenever I mention them.

Jimmy takes Michael to the security firm where Michael poses as a client looking to protect his mining interests in South Africa. He’s working some sort of British-y or Australian-y or South African-y accent that seems to shift a bit. He meets with the head of the firm, a scary man called Ryder Stahl; Ryder is suspicious of Michael’s intentions because his own surveillance has located Fi and Bruce Campbell doing surveillance from a nearby parking garage. Michael has to go with some of Ryder’s men to the garage and engages his team in some pseudo-gunplay to save his cover. The ruse works and Ryder takes Michael on as a client.

Later, when Michael visits his mom he finds a cell phone in the car. Six is on the other end of the phone and she urges Michael to hurry things up with the heist on Ryder’s company. She puts Jimmy’s daughter on the line as incentive. So undercover Michael goes back to Ryder’s company and finagles a tour of the offices so that he can reconstruct the floor plan and security layout when he gets back to his apartment. Fi shows up and wants to talk about their relationship but Michael recruits her for the heist instead. Michael calls Six to tell her that the plan is shaping up but he wants some of the guns that were used at the beginning of the episode to blow up the little plane and murder the pilot. Also, he tells her that he wants Jimmy’s family delivered when and where he says after the job is done. She agrees pleasantly.

Michael and Jimmy infiltrate the offices above Ryder’s company on some bogus construction excuse and, with Michael’s in-depth voice-over, cut through the floor into the security firm below. Blah blah blah – they MacGyver their way through the offices and hack into the computer banks while Bruce Campbell and Fi yammer at each other on their stakeout – blah blah blah. While Michael and Jimmy are downloading the files, Ryder shows up at his firm and an alarm goes off just as the download is complete. So Michael shoots the hell out of the computers before he and Jimmy rappel down the building to Bruce Campbell and Fi’s car. Ryder sees them go.

Back at Michael’s apartment, Jimmy worries about Ryder coming after him. Michael is hoping this happens and asks Bruce Campbell to get them a boat so they can fake Jimmy’s death. Fi calls to say that someone left some big guns in her car and Michael is pleased about that too. After some boring stuff with Michael’s mother, they go to a marina and Fi rigs the boat to explode. Jimmy calls Ryder and says he wants to meet him as Michael coaches from the sidelines (Jimmy is not good at spy stuff). When Ryder and his mercenaries show up and approach the decoy boat, Fi sneaks the guns into Ryder’s truck – ooh, clever! They’re going to frame Ryder for the explosions and murder from before! The ATF shows up as Ryder walks to the decoy boat and Michael blows it to teeny pieces. ATF collects Ryder and his men while a hidden Michael and Jimmy watch, giggling; ATF also collects those hot guns.

Michael has arranged for Jimmy to meet his family in Argentina; Jimmy is grateful and gives Michael his Saab convertible (Burn Notice brought to you by Saab). Later, Michael and Fi look at the data they stole from Ryder for Six – but can’t figure out why she wants it. They finally talk about their relationship and Fi breaks up with him. You know, it would be more compelling if these two had any chemistry whatsoever.

After the X-Files movie trailer, there is Six in all her glory: doing a crossword puzzle in a cafĂ© and flirting with an oblivious Bruce Campbell. She waves to Bruce as she gets in a cab. Michael’s phone rings: it’s her and he gets a little snippy with her because she was supposed to meet with him after the heist. “But we did meet,” she says, “Tell [Bruce Campbell] thanks for the help with the crossword.” Michael dashes for the street but she’s already gone – ‘til next week!

This was okay. I’ll probably watch it at least once more but I’m not convinced I’ll recap it again. It’s fine, compared to what else is on now, but it isn’t earth-shaking television.

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