Episode Title: "Eye For an Eye"
Writer: Michael Horowitz
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Previously on "Burn Notice":
In his quest to avenge the murder of his CIA contact Max (Grant Show), Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) found the man who was used to impersonate him as a prelude to framing Michael for Max's death. Posing as his double, Michael found a unique bomb on a boat that was designed to go off when the vessel reached a certain depth. Before intentionally detonating the device, Michael took pictures to help identify who made the bomb. Unfortunately, since the device was made with stolen Russian materials, it came up as a dead end.
At least that was the case until Michael's girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) contacted her former lover, Armand (Gavin Rossdale) and agreed to an exchange of favors. Fiona and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) stole a truck full of advanced ammo from a heavily guarded munitions company and Armand returned with information that could lead Michael and his partners straight to the bomber. But Armand couldn't resist letting Fiona know that her actions caused someone to be killed when the ammo truck went missing. Later, while dinning with Michael's mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless), Fiona and Michael were both noticeably distant towards each other.
The information provided by Armand leads Michael and Sam directly to Lucien Dobos (Patrick Bauchau), a war criminal hiding under an assumed name. They visit his clock shop pretending to be customers, but Lucien sees through their deception and he attempts to trick them into stepping on to a floor wired to electrocute them. They catch up with Lucien and spirit him away fairly easily. But in interrogation, Lucien feigns cooperation and gives them several false leads, much to their frustration. Meanwhile, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) recruits Fiona for a side job as a security consultant for James Forte (James Frain) and his wife, Sadie (Darby Stanchfield).
Fiona takes an immediate dislike to James, but Jesse insists that he has done a lot of good for the world as the head of the pharmaceutical company, HLX. At the Fortes' home, Sadie is convinced that someone is breaking into their home but not stealing anything. As a precaution, Jesse and Fiona move the Fortes to the guest house for the night and they detect an intruder in the main house several hours later. To their surprise, the intruder is Dan, the former business partner of James who was lost to a prison in Chile after James set him up. Dan explains that he not only lost his company, he lost his wife to James.
At Fiona's insistence, Jesse distracts James while she escorts Dan off the property to confirm his story. Satisfied that he's telling the truth, Fiona proposes that she and Jesse should find the proof that Dan needs by bringing James down from the inside. Meanwhile, Sam and Michael deduce from Lucien's belongings that he has a daughter in the country who is there illegally. He offers to tell them everything if they promise to leave them alone. Lucien then tells Sam to visit a local diner and ask to speak to the man who supposedly set up the bomb deal. But when Sam asks to meet the man, he is told that the man quit the week before.
Michael moonlights on Jesse and Fiona's case as a stalker out to bring down James for the death of his mother. However, Michael's first attempt to actually steal the files that Dan needs fails when James' security team proves to be a little too competent. But Jesse uses this as an excuse to push James' paranoia even further and suggest that the sensitive files should be moved by his security detail. Ahead of the planned route, Michael's team stages an accident and forces the security caravan to stop. Jesse then plays up the paranoia again by suggesting that he and James travel separately from the convoy to elude a second attack.
However, Jesse simply drives James to a secure location where Michael and Dan await them. Surprised to see his former partner, James offers to make an arrangement with him and he disparages his wife, Sadie… within earshot of Sadie herself, who leaves with Fiona. Later, James faces criminal charges and Dan is brought back into his company as he attempts to rebuild his relationship with his ex-wife. Meanwhile, Michael and Sam come under an attack by an unknown gunman while continuing Lucien's interrogation. They quickly realize that the name Lucien sent them to investigate was a signal that he was in danger.
But the shooter doesn't seem to be particularly concerned about Lucien's safety, particularly after he shoots him more than once. With his dying breaths, Lucien tells Michael where he can find the man that he's looking for in order to kill him as well.
As a general rule, I try not to hold an actor's previous roles against them. But every time I saw James Frain in this episode, I kept thinking of this:
Chess, the archenemy of The Cape from NBC's fantastically horrible superhero series. No one came off well in that show and Frain hammed it up so much that he was almost sold as meat to a local diner.
Getting a guest spot on "Burn Notice" was a good chance for Frain to redeem himself for that bad turn, but James Forte was strictly a by-the-numbers villain who didn't have any interesting personality quirks. A lot of that blame has to go the writer for not giving Frain a fully formed character to work with. And yet, Frain can't be let off the hook for another disappointing performance. It's almost hard to remember how good he was on "True Blood" last year.
Whereas Forte was essentially a stock villain, Lucien Dobos was very compelling. Much like his character in "Carnivale," Patrick Bauchau deftly played someone who easily spat out lies that seemed believable in the moment. As an older and slightly decrepit man, Lucien was more of a cerebral villain than "Burn Notice" usually gets. He controlled the interviews with Michael so well that I was ready to believe that Lucian's reaction to the newspaper article by his daughter was just another feint to send Michael and Sam on a wild goose chase.
Bauchau's presence alone elevated the B-plot of this episode until it overshadowed the main plot. It's a shame that Lucian died so quickly, he had the makings of a good villain.
While James Forte wasn't that impressive as a villain, the con to take him down was one of the more inventive scenarios this season. It was especially refreshing to watch the operation repeatedly go wrong because of Forte's surprisingly effective security. This was Jesse's episode to step up into the spotlight and it offered a potential recurring theme. If the team starts taking down potential clients from Jesse's day job as a security consultant, then there should be an appropriate level of blowback heading his way. After all, Jesse is doing everything now under his real name instead of an alias like Sam and sometimes Michael.
Although I like drama as much as anyone here, the tension between Michael and Fiona over their relationship seems really forced. I could buy Fiona being upset by Michael's seemingly unending excuses to do spy work instead of spending time with Fiona and being a good "boyfriend." But making Fiona into a constantly pouting character isn't helping.
The promos for next week's episode imply that Michael's search for Max's killer finally ends there. If so, that would be a good way to kick the intensity of "Burn Notice" way up before the midseason finale.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.