BURN NOTICE 6.05 ‘Split Decision’

Fiona is forced to betray an old ally as Michael is torn between two simultaneous missions to free her.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Split Decision"

Writers: Ryan Johnson & Peter Lalayanis

Director: Scott Peters

Story:

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) meets his former CIA training officer, Tom Card (John C. McGinley) at a restaurant to get an update on his plan to get Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) out of jail. The good news is that Card can make Fiona a CIA asset if she gives up her weapons dealer, Greyson Miller (Wayne LeGette). Michael doesn't like it and he's convinced that Fiona won't either, but in the absence of a better choice, he accepts the terms. Outside of his home, Michael finds Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) avoiding Rebecca Anderson (Kristanna Loken), who is inside fuming over their inability to find her brother, Trent and protect him from Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns).

Rebecca eventually explains that Trent is on the run from some very dangerous people whom Anson has threatened to tell where Trent is hiding, but Michael insists that dealing with that threat at its source will neutralize Anson's leverage over her. So, Rebecca takes Michael out to see the club where Trent used to work and she points out the owner, Wes. Trent discovered that the club was a front for organized criminal activities and he helped put Wes' father, Hank behind bars. She relates that Wes has put a price on her brother's head and Michael tells her that he needs a way to get into Wes' inner circle. Eventually, team Westen decides to convince Wes that someone else ratted his dad out to the cops.

To get info on Wes' late father, Nate Westen (Seth Peterson) and Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) drive out to Tallahassee and look up a former prisoner who shared a cell with Hank. The information turns out to be fairly slight, but it's enough for Michael to make an introduction to Wes after taking on the persona of a recently released prisoner. At first, Wes is dismissive of Michael's claims to have a message from Hank. But Michael uses the chilly reception he gets from Wes' wife to seem more legitimate. Once he has Wes' full attention, Michael says he knows of a file in a police building that will prove someone other than Trent sent Hank away.

In a meeting with Rebecca and Sam, Michael tells them what he needs in the file and to make sure it doesn't directly implicate anyone in order to get Wes to tear apart his own organization in the hunt for a traitor. At Wes' lavish home, Michael sees that Wes has laid out an elaborate web of evidence in his hunt for Trent. Michael says that everything Wes has is true, except for Trent's involvement. He also shares the police building plans with Wes and demonstrates how they will steal the file. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Sam manage to sneak the doctored file into evidence. In prison, Card pushes Fiona to take the deal and she ultimately does.

Fiona calls Greyson and attempts to set up an arms deal with one of the CIA's operatives, but he insists upon meeting with either her or Michael. And since the government won't release her, it has to be Michael. At the police warehouse, Wes and Michael break in fairly easily and locate the file before Michael has to knock out a guard who came too close to finding them. But when cop cars swarm towards the building, Michael and Wes are forced to flee to the roof and barricade the door. Michael frantically calls Sam and Rebecca to lead the police away while he Wes attempt to escape from the roof. At the same time, Michael receives a call from Card who tells him to drop everything and meet with Greyson or else Fiona will rot in jail.

Sam and Rebecca steal a car and lead the cops on a wild chase before Michael and Wes make it back to the ground. In the car, Card calls again to get Michael to the meeting, but Wes rips the phone out of his hands and tells him to focus on the job at hand. Sam and Rebecca ultimately give the cops the slip by driving the car into the water and catching a speed boat with Jesse. At Wes' home, Michael tries to slink away until he realizes that Wes believes that the new evidence implicates his wife for the betrayal. Michael fans those flames of suspicion and convinces Wes to throw his wife out of his life rather than have her killed.

Heartbroken and yet grateful, Wes promises to do Michael a favor in the future. After he leaves, Michael calls Card and gets a location from him to meet with Greyson. When Fiona says something flippant to Card, he erupts at her and reveals that he pulled Michael out of Ireland and away from her in order to save his life. This new info leaves Fiona speechless. At the meeting, Greyson and his associates greet Michael with suspicion until he says that Fiona skipped the country with a new British lover and left Michael the guns as a way of compensating him. As soon as the deal is made, the CIA moves in and arrests Greyson, who vows revenge upon Michael. 

Later, Card tells Michael that Fiona is officially a CIA asset, but finding Anson is still her get out of jail free card. Towards that end, Rebecca says that she knows where Anson will be in the near future. In return, she gets a promise that Anson will get what is coming to him.

Breakdown:

One of the more enjoyable aspects of "Burn Notice" season 6 has been the way that Michael's team has inadvertently expanded during Fiona's absence. Both Nate and Rebecca have been fun additions so far, but I expect that will change after next week's episode. 

Technically, this was the first full episode that Rebecca was even on Michael's side… and she was basically the client too. The heist and escape sequences were entertaining, but even after six seasons, "Burn Notice" seems to be predicated upon the existence of extremely gullible criminals. Wes certainly wasn't the first person to fall for Michael's cover stories, but he may be one of the few high level criminals to ever accompany him on an actual break-in! Given Wes' desire to avenge himself upon the person who wronged his father, that could easily be overlooked. However, Michael broke character a few times in front of Wes and he was never even called out on it. 

There was something intriguing about Wes' promise to aid Michael in the future. That will probably come up again later this season, but I don't know if Trent himself will ever show up. Rebecca's brother was just as much of a MacGuffin as that faked file that Michael and Wes stole. Framing Wes' wife for Trent's betrayal was a nice touch, but the ensuing verbal confrontation between Wes and his wife didn't seem to have the intensity needed to really sell that scene.

The one really terrific human moment came when Card revealed that he cares a lot more for Michael than he tends to let on. Fiona seems to have had a held a grudge against Card for so long that she hadn't even considered that there was a legitimate reason for pulling Michael away from her in Ireland. And from her mute reaction, Fiona apparently believed Card's story and realized that she had misjudged him.

Michael's betrayal of Greyson.was amusing, but there needs to be some kind of harsh consequence for that down the line. Greyson was one of the few characters outside of Michael's inner circle who knew who he was and how he operates. If anyone ever comes back for revenge against Michael and Fiona in the future, it would probably be him.

That brings us to next week's episode; which USA is hyping up by promising a major character death. Obviously, Michael and Fiona are safe and I doubt that Sam or Jesse would get killed off. That really only leaves Nate and Rebecca as the potential causalities. And of the two, only Nate would have any real dramatic impact. We've only seen Rebecca three times so far; which isn't enough time to really get to know her. But if the "Burn Notice" writers really want to twist the knife, then maybe they should both be killed off.

Then again, I suppose there's an outside chance that Pierce or Card will be the casualties. But I doubt it. Their stories still seem to have some life left to them. Once Rebecca has saved her brother and trapped Anson, what does she have to live for? And without his family, Nate doesn't seem to have much going for him either. Nate seems like a good guy, but if he thinks that he can just step into Michael's world and emerge unscathed then he really hasn't been paying attention to the reality of his brother's life.

It's a dangerous line of work and not everyone makes it out alive.