Episode Title: "Past & Future Tense"
Writer: Jason Tracey
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Previously on "Burn Notice":
Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) and Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) tracked down a killer named Kendra (Navi Rawat) who had eliminated Jesse’s lone contact within the conspiracy. After converting an abandoned house into a third-world prison, they began the slow process of trying to break Kendra’s resolve and get her to tell them what she knew about the conspiracy.
Following a failed initial attempt to get her to talk, Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) pretended to be Jesse’s boss from hell, demanding results from Jesse or else. Believing that Jesse would free her for a substantial bribe, Kendra gave him access to her bank accounts. A friend of Michael’s then used her bank records to fool Kendra into thinking that her employers had robbed her blind. Furious, she told Jesse everything that she knew: she was sent to kill four expendable operatives who failed to steal a safety deposit box during a botched bank robbery last month.
Leaving Kendra to be arrested by the FBI, the crew realized that they need to find out which bank was hit before going any further in their investigation.
Michael and Jesse approach Jesse’s old boss Marv (Richard Kind) for assistance in identifying which bank was targeted by the conspiracy. However he refuses to jeopardize his career by aiding two burned spies. While there, Michael and Fiona ( Gabrielle Anwar) notice a Russian Black Opps team moving into the hotel. Michael’s crew tracks and captures one of the Russian team members to learn who is target is: a retired spy named Paul Anderson (Burt Reynolds)
Michael and Sam track Paul to a local bar, just before the Russians arrive to kidnap him. The trio take out the Russian team in impressive fashion without alerting the other bar patrons and escape back to Michael’s place. Paul then explains that he accidentally exposed his presence in Miami by posting something on the internet. He also relates his involvement in some Black Opps that took place in Russia and mentions the links to a local Congressman, Bill Cowley (Johan Doman).
Michael tries to get the Russians to back off based on his near legendary status in Russia as a CIA superagent, but their leader is unmoved and vows to continue the mission. Michael’s mother Madeline (Sharon Gless) helps them get Congressman Cowley to meet Michael and Paul at his home, but he refuses to help Paul get protection from the U.S. government. In a rage, Paul punches out Cowley just as the Russians track them down and surround the house. Using the opportunity to force Cowley’s help, Michael gets everyone out of the house and seals the Russians inside, forcing their surrender.
Once again, the Russian Black Opps leader refuses to stop coming after Michael or Paul, which goads Paul into killing him. Left with no other options, Michael essentially blackmails Cowley into giving Paul protection by threatening to stay and associate himself with Cowley when the police arrive. Later, Michael and Paul share a somber farewell, as Paul leaves Miami and his old life behind for good.
Meanwhile, Fiona and Jesse played Marv and tricked him into coming to Fiona’s hotel room. Once there, they were able to get secure his reluctant assistance at a final meeting between Fiona and Marv. Marv not only gives her the info they requested about the bank, but also the first piece of evidence that could prove that Jesse didn’t betray his country. Unfortunately, the trail would lead directly to Michael, which forces Fiona to instantly destroy the evidence. She later confronts Michael about the growing lies kept at Jesse’s expense and warns him that it could all still blow up in his face.
Another solid, if not spectacular episode of "Burn Notice."
I remain impressed by how each episode manages to move the conspiracy storyline forward a little bit, while also advancing the ticking clock of Jesse’s discovery that Michael burned him. Potentially, that could happen as soon as the mid-season finale, but it may be dragged out a little longer. We’ve gotten so used to seeing Jesse as a member of Michael’s team, that I wonder what it would be like to see a prolonged arc with Jesse as their enemy.
Fiona also seems to be, almost attracted to Jesse. Or at the very least, extremely close to him. There was a moment when it seemed like Fiona might have given the evidence to Jesse after a few seconds of moral dilemma, which seemed to go in Michael’s favor when she ripped it up. But the way she lit into him later was very revealing in its own right. Fiona obviously regrets what she did and she’s moving further away from Michael, emotionally.
But the main focus of this episode was Burt Reynolds’ Paul, who is essentially an older version of Michael. There were definitely some fun moments between the two, especially in the initial bar scene as well as the high speed car chase. The use of the Russian satellite to track Michael’s car was a brilliant touch and added some nice drama to a time honored TV trope.
Unfortunately, the episode wasn’t quite as much fun as it could have been. Reynolds can be extremely hilarious, but he seemed off of his game here. Although, I did like his old school way of dealing with problems: punching out the Congressman and shooting the Russians.
Another thing: why does everyone know who Michael is? The Russians know, Marv knows and even the Congressman knew who he was ahead of time. I thought he was supposed to have been a SECRET agent. If you’re going to be a spy, it can’t be beneficial for that many people to know your real name and where you operate. That’s kind of a big thing.
But even on an off-night, "Burn Notice" is still the best summer show on TV. Take that to the proverbial bank.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.