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BURN NOTICE 5.07 ‘Besieged’

Michael and his team attempt to save a young boy from his unstable father and a heavily armed militia.

Episode Title: "Besieged"

Writer: Craig O'Neill

Director: Stephen Surjik

Previously on "Burn Notice":

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) was on the verge of getting reinstated to full time CIA status, when his CIA contact Max (Grant Show) was brutally murdered. Worse, the killer set up Michael to take the blame for the crime, forcing him to cover the killer's tracks in order to protect himself. While investigating Max's death alongside his new contact, Agent Kim Pearce (Lauren Stamile); Michael tracked down a cell phone call that may have been made by the killer.

Michael's girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) and his ally, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) got their hands on the security footage of the store that the phone was purchased at before Michael's mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless) began reviewing the tapes. However, she soon found that the presumed killer looked very similar to Michael himself. Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) and Michael later tracked down his apparent doppelganger, Jacob and they witnessed him buy a hand gun from a street dealer.

Story:

Fiona and Sam stakeout Jacob's home, but they are alarmed when several armed gang members arrive at the home apparently out to kill Jacob. Forced to break their cover, Sam runs into the house and convinces Jacob to run out the back towards Fiona while Sam uses Jacob's truck to make it look like he staged a sloppy escape. The team soon finds that Jacob is no killer, he's just a dupe who barely understands the trouble he's in or who he's really working for. Against Michael's wishes, Fiona stashes him at their loft. Meanwhile, Sam has a new case for Michael: to help a young woman named Denise get her son, Tommy back from her estranged husband, John.

To complicate things, John is unstable from his military experience in the Middle East and thus, he is extremely paranoid. Michael tries the direct approach and talks to John about their shared military background to start gaining his trust. However, Sam accidentally triggers a motion alarm outside, sending John into a crazed rage. He holds Sam and Michael at gun point before he drives off with Tommy. They track him down to a compound run by a dangerous and highly armed militia group. Once again, Michael tries the direct approach of contacting John and requesting to meet him outside to hand over Tommy's inhaler.

During the so-called hand off, Michael meets the militia leader, Zachariah; who acts like he is a messianic warrior even though he never served in the armed forces. As Michael requests access to Tommy and antagonizes Zachariah, Sam sneaks around and disables the militia's fuel tank for their generator. Across town, Jesse sneaks into Jacob's apartment to retrieve his phone, and he is angered when Fiona failed to warn him about a fourth gang member waiting for Jacob in the house. Back to Michael, his new plan is to sneak Fiona into the compound when a fuel tank is trucked in to replace the old one.

Unfortunately, the militia seems to be instantly aware of their plans, forcing Fiona to drop off the truck early. In the ensuing firefight, Michael destroys the second fuel tank to give Fiona cover to escape. They soon realize that the militia is monitoring cell phone frequencies. To lure them out, Michael and Jesse fake a conversation about the staging ground for their next attack. With almost the entirety of the militia heading towards the decoy location, Michael and his team infiltrate the compound. They find Tommy unconscious and his father badly beaten by his fellow militiamen for refusing to leave with them.

Finally realizing that Tommy is in danger with him, John sends his son with Michael and stays behind to cover their retreat from the vengeful Zachariah. Later, the team reunites Tommy with his mom and they learn that John checked himself into a hospital some time afterwards. Turning their attention back to Jacob, they manage to contact his shadowy boss to arrange a meeting between them at the docks. Michael goes to the meeting as Jacob and he finds a note from the boss asking him to meet him at another location. Checking the boat, Michael finds that it is loaded with C4 set to go off when the boat reaches a certain depth.

Michael takes a picture of the bomb to help track down its origin before sending the ship out of the dock and detonating it before it can hurt anyone.

Breakdown:

This week's "Burn Notice" was almost exclusively devoted to its "A-Team of the week" story, but pitting the team against a heavily armed militia was a nice change of pace from the con men and drug dealers that Michael and his crew normally take on. Zachariah was a particularly interesting adversary, but not because he was a threat in of himself. Instead his menace comes from the fact that these experienced military men bought into his B.S. and they didn't seem to care who they were fighting. I'd like to see Michael take on the militia again just to watch Zachariah go down for good.

The action sequences were well staged, especially Fiona's escape from the bottom of the truck and the firefight that took broke out immediately afterwards. The one let down was that we never see what could have been John's last stand against the militia or how he ultimately got out alive. There wasn't much closure to hearing about what happened as opposed to actually showing us the events. Maybe it was a budget issue, but it was still a noticeable hole in the episode.

At some point Sam's offscreen girlfriend is going to have to appear as well. She's been used too many times as a plot device to get the story going to be unseen forever. I would have suggested that she become the team's new benefactor, but looking back on what "Human Target" did last season with a similar story; that probably wouldn't work out.

Jacob was somewhat amusing as Michael's buffoonish double, but he was also somewhat disappointing in person. On the security tapes,  Michael's double supposedly had Michael's walk down to the smallest stance; which suggested that he had reviewed footage of Michael to copy that. However in this episode, Jacob seemed surprised that Michael looks so much like him. I'll admit that it was really funny when Jacob called his boss and delivered a horrible reading of the script that Fiona had written for him. But Jacob can't be a f***ing idiot and still be able to pull off that impression that we saw in the security tapes. Either Jacob is a very convincing liar and this is a feint or the writer wasn't consistent with the previous two episodes.

The episode also dropped the ball on a good character moment with Jesse. He was legitimately startled when he found the fourth gang banger in Jacob's house when Fiona had only warned him about three. And Jesse only gets one angry outburst to mention it and then it never came up again. That seems like something that he wouldn't let go of so easily. Even just a few more lines of dialog later in the show could have sold that as a possible rift between Jesse and Fiona before hitting the reset button.

There was also some subtext this week that Michael is being domesticated and almost emasculated by Fiona's alterations to his loft; from the potpourri to the Bed, Bath and Beyond style shelves. It worked as a joke with Jesse, but is this really how the writers want to portray Michael and Fiona living together? That doesn't seem right for either of them.

This was a solid, if unspectacular episode. The CIA story arc brings a lot to this show and when those elements are largely absent (as they were this week), "Burn Notice" just isn't as good as it can be.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.