BURN NOTICE 5.14 ‘”Breaking Point’

Michael tries to avenge the death of a friend while Sam and Fiona attempt to track down Anson.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Breaking Point"

Writers: Ben Watkins & Rashad Raisani

Director: Renny Harlin

Previously on "Burn Notice":

Years ago, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) was burned by a clandestine organization run by a man named Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns). After getting back in with the CIA, Michael helped systematically eliminate the organization that framed him and those responsible… except for Anson himself. Now Anson has managed to frame Michael's girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) for the murder of two security officers at the British consulate building. And in return for not turning over his evidence to the cops, Anson blackmailed Michael to recover a virulent computer virus to erase all traces of his existence from the CIA's computers.

Although Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) learned that the police didn't currently suspect Fiona of the crime, Anson insisted that his evidence would lead them to her immediately. To make matters worse, Michael finally regained his security clearance after repairing his reputation… only to be forced to betray his country for the sake of his girlfriend. As Michael himself said, a spy's worst nightmare is becoming someone else's asset. But for now, Michael has no other choice.

Story:

As Michael contemplates his new security clearance card, Fiona talks him into tricking Anson into a meeting so that she will get the chance to plant a tracking device on his car. However, the meeting is so brief that Fiona has to run after Anson's car and approach it from under a truck to successfully plant the device. When Michael gets home, his mother, Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless) gives him the news that his childhood friend, Andre was shot and killed in an apparent gang incident. Michael meets with Andre's brother, Ricky Watkins (Ben Watkins) who insists that Andre was out of the gang life and trying to rebuild his life.

Noting some suspicious calls to Andre's cell phone on the last day of his life, Michael agrees to investigate it. Meanwhile, Sam and Fiona discover the apartment complex where Anson is staying. But with so many units inside, they can't be sure which one is his. Back with Michael, Jesse traces Andre's phone calls to an address and they attempt to approach it as electrical workers. After shots ring out, they catch and subdue Dolly (Indigo), a woman who had been close to Andre. Ricky initially accuses her of being involved in Andre's death, but she eventually tells him that Andre was killed by Dion Carter, a gang leader whom Andre believed killed the previous leader and stole a great deal of money for himself in the process.

Michael assures Ricky that they will take down Dion for Andre's murder as they stash Dolly at Madeline's house. Realizing that the best way to destroy Dion would be to expose his theft of the money, Jesse and Michael have Ricky introduce them to him as high class gun runners offering top of the line weapons for just the right price. Elsewhere, Sam and Fiona device a scheme to trick local environmentally conscious college students into canvassing Anson's apartment complex for them; using a "class action lawsuit" as their flimsy pretense. Back to Michael, Fiona gives him the bad news that her contacts can't get a hold of the weapons they need to appease Dion.

Instead, Michael opts to break into the weapons cache of another arms dealer (an associate of Fiona's) and demonstrate the wares to Dion even as one of the real dealer's men pulls up at the security gate. Dion is finally sold on the deal when Michael lets him blow up the man's car with a bazooka. At first, Dion tries to put off the deal so that he can find and silence Dolly. But when Dolly slips away from Madeline's house in search of a hit, Dion's men spot her and fatally wound her. Fiona and Ricky catch up to her moments before she dies, but without her as a witness, no one can link Dion to the murder of Andre or the gang leader.

Michael tries to send Ricky out of town under an assumed name — to protect him from Dion once the gang leader realizes that the weapons deal won't go through. However, Ricky has other ideas and Fiona catches him after he's planted a bomb rigged to go off during a meeting with Dion and the other gang leaders. Fiona actually has to pull a gun on Ricky to bring him to Michael. Ricky argues that the gang members deserve to die, Dion most of all. But Michael gets him to reveal the location of the bomb and agree to let Fiona modify it so it won't be fatal.

At a critical meeting with all of the gang leaders, Dion introduces Michael and Jesse as their new weapons suppliers. Michael gets Dion to step outside as he says that the weapons are currently being watched by the ATF. When Dion dials a number to confirm Michael's information, the bomb goes off beneath the meeting. No one is seriously injured, but Jesse convinces the gang leaders that Dion intended for them to die so he could take complete control of the gang. Realizing that Michael set him up, Dion is then accosted by Ricky who demands that Dion turn himself in… or face his old gang.

Later, Ricky meets Michael before Andre's funeral and we learn that Dion got solitary for life in exchange for flipping on his gang. Shortly thereafter, Michael meets with Anson while Sam and Fiona search Anson's apartment and come up with nothing… except an antenna uses for global communication. Later, Michael goes into the CIA office and reluctantly uploads the virus to erase all traces of Anson.

Breakdown:

It's a good sign that the writers of "Burn Notice" are trying to come up with different reasons for Michael's "A-Team of the week" missions, but there was something about "Breaking Point" that just didn't feel genuine. The conceit of this episode is that Andre was a close friend to Michael and he would do anything to avenge him… except the connection between them is never believable.

For a story like this to work, we would have had to have met Andre at least once or twice before. At the very least, Andre could have been mentioned in dialog at least an episode or two ago. But it played out as if Andre was tacked on to Michael's backstory in an attempt to shoehorn some emotional resonance into the story. I also had a hard time buying Ben Watkins as the grieving brother of Andre. Ricky's anger came off as if it was staged as opposed to a real emotional response. In fact, it seemed so fake that I was expecting a swerve about his role in Andre's murder.

Dolly's character was problematic as well. We only meet her in two scenes, including her clumsy death near the middle of the episode. The complication from her death was well played, but her explanation that she needed a hit was a pretty flimsy way to off her. Whoever shot her didn't even stick around to make sure she was dead. Clearly that's the kind of thoroughness that Dion expects in his organization!

There were still some kickass moments scattered about in the episode. Fiona's attempt to plant a device on Anson's car in the middle of traffic was an early highlight; especially when she had to roll out from under a moving truck. The bazooka demonstration was also a great explosion. But for the most part, only Fiona and Sam seemed to get to do any of the fun stuff as they tailed Anson to his apartment complex. Just the panic alone on Sam's face during Fiona's reckless driving would have been enough Bruce Campbell for the week. But we also got Chuck Finley: environmental lawyer! And the way Chuck shut down the kid who wanted to be paid for canvasing was classic Sam Axe.

For someone who purports to be one of the main villains of the series, Anson hasn't really made a big impression yet. He's like a less interesting version of Vaughn and Management blended together into a single character. There's still a chance that Anson can impress us with his evil plans to use Michael as his pawn. But with so few episodes left in the season, it had better happen soon.

Crazy theory time: What if Anson is simply another front man for a bigger villain waiting in the wings? A lot of Anson's flaws as a villain could be overlooked if he wasn't supposed to be Michael's main nemesis.

Share your theories about Anson and the rest of the fifth season of "Burn Notice" in the comment section below!

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.