Friday, August 22, 2008

Burn Notice, "Rough Seas": Come, friends, who plough the sea

Spoilers for last night's "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I buy some golf balls...

"Burn Notice" always throws in a good mix of comedy with the spy stuff, but "Rough Seas" was an especially funny episode. We got Michael's disdain for Virgil being around his mom (and Virgil squeezing into his underwear; the second joke this season about middle-aged men with beer guts trying to wear Michael's skinny clothes), Virgil and Michael intimidating the golf/drug store owner, Michael playing at being an asthmatic dweeb, and Michael's deadpan reactions to the spaciness of Seymour the gun dealer (played by Silas Weir Mitchell, aka Haywire from "Prison Break"). I often smile throughout an episode of this show, but "Rough Seas" was one that made me laugh out loud a bunch of times.

I also think they've gotten better this year at the balance between the episodic stories and the ongoing arc. Until late in the first season, the trail to who burned Michael was so cold that the story barely figured into many episodes, and so if the case of the week wasn't that interesting, the episode was a whole would be a dud. Here, we're shifting back and forth so frequently between the two storylines -- and, on occasion, seeing them intersect like they did last week -- that the dull patches don't come up much anymore.

(A rare slow moment in this one: the car chase right before the credits. Nine times out of ten, Michael's narration over a cliched action scene will give it new life -- like his explanation about shooting the gas tank near the episode's end -- but it takes a lot more work to make a car chase interesting these days, and I imagine the "Burn Notice" people don't have that kind of time or money.)

I was glad to see Michael come up with a solution that didn't involve having one bad guy kill another, because they'd been playing that note too much lately, and I continue to enjoy the post-break-up interaction between Michael and Fi far more than when they were together.

One question: can someone who pays closer attention recall roughly how many times we've seen Michael actually accept payment for his services? Seems like he's been doing a lot of pro bono this year, and all those chemicals and other toys he uses, while they may be cheaper than big weapons, still cost a certain amount of coin. So does all that yogurt, for that matter.

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

David Coleman said...

Wasn't it Virgil and Michael intimidating the golf store owner?

I really liked the episode as a whole, and Michael's interactions with Seymour were priceless. I have to wonder if Fi set him up with Seymour to punish him in a different way.

The only thing that bothered me about this episode was the woman running the clinic. She was not a very good actress on a show that usually has pretty good bit characters.

Dan said...

I'm hoping they do explain why he's not accepting money. Especially since the intro explains his bank accounts are frozen.

And is Silas Weir Mitchell better known as Haywire or Donny on My Name Is Earl?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wasn't it Virgil and Michael intimidating the golf store owner?

You are correct, sir. Yes! Fixed.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And is Silas Weir Mitchell better known as Haywire or Donny on My Name Is Earl?

Six of one. I'd argue Haywire is the more memorable character, and I say that as someone who still watches Earl and gave up on Prison Break a long time ago.

Grunt said...

I didn't love this episode, although I agree the relationship with Fi has gotten much better now that she's decided she doesn't want him.

And I'm getting particularly annoyed at Michael not accepting payment for services, especially since it seems that they can afford a ton of equipment (or, you know, spend the money to blow up a truck) but Michael can't get a new fridge if the old one ends up on a boat.

Take the cut of the gun-running Michael!

Mo Ryan said...

agreed that the lack of income thing seems weird. I mean, why not accept a few bucks here and there? I can see not taking money from the woman helping the kids, but seems that there are plenty of other clients who are fully capable of throwing a few dollars Michael's way. And it'd seem he'd need some dough.

I hope they bring back Haywire. He was a suitably offbeat character, maybe they'll make him a somewhat recurring role, a la Michael's finance guy.

Devin McCullen said...

Chuck Finley? Really??

R.A. Porter said...

I also thought this was one of the funniest episodes in a long while and really enjoyed the B-story. The fact that it was played for big laughs for most of the episode helped a lot.

Two proposition bets:
1. Was nerdy Jackson, Michael's character last night, an homage to Michael Shanks?
2. Again with Shanks, who does NOT think he is Fi's "paramedic"?

And of course, "If the devil had a name it would be Chuck Finley!"

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic episode, I thought. Dweeby Michael was a great new twist and had me laughing out loud several times -- and then cheering (silently) when he finally broke character to be badass again. Though I did kind of wish he'd broken out Homer too, for a bit, with Virgil's return. That's probably been my other favorite of his personae.

Also liked the little bits of continuity, with a Virgil ep dealing with boats again.

Anonymous said...

This is a very good show. I like it more each week. Great chemistry among all of the principals. And the guest characters always lend a lot to the proceedings. My only complaint...there aren't more episodes in a season.

Anonymous said...

Seriously! I understand that the cable networks have limited budgets and like to order short seasons to get a better return, but this season feels like it just started yesterday.

If the goal of any show is to get to syndication, and if NBCU owns the show (which i think is the case?), wouldn't it be in there best financial interest to have full seasons once it becomes clear that people are watching? Which they are...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fox (the studio) owns the show, actually.

And this is simply USA doing what USA usually does with its more successful shows. It's not that the season is shorter, but that they're splitting it up into two pieces: one to air in summer, and another to air in mid-winter (both timed to lulls in the broadcast network season). There will be more episodes of season two sometime in early '09, and then the show will be back again next summer.

Karen said...

This episode was dee-LISH (although I agree with david coleman that the woman who played the client Marcela was dreadful; she seemed to be on loan from a 7th Heavenepisode).

Loved "Chuck Finley" (!), loved dweeb Michael (especially the slope-shouldered running he did at one point), loved the Michael/Fi interplay, loved Seymour...it was really all pretty damn good.

And I'm embarrassed to admit that I only just realized that Sharon Gless was a truly INSPIRED choice to play Jeffrey Donovan's mother, because the smile they each have when they're being "charming" is well-nigh identical. Nicely done.

Mo Ryan said...

There won't be much of a lull this mid-season, though, doncha think? It's going to be more jampacked than this fall, I am guessing.

RA Porter, your Shanks mentions made me think --

what if Fi's mystery date is Victor???

Or am I overthinking this. From what I recall, Sam and Fi don't know what Victor looks like, right?

I would bet money he's cozying up to her in order to get leverage over Michael. Or I could be dead wrong. But I wonder....

R.A. Porter said...

@mo, in my Burn Notice recap I'm actually offering to take bets on that. I've been thinking Victor and Fi were going to hook up from the start of the season. Either for Victor cozying up and getting info or Fi looking to twist a knife in Michael.

Anonymous said...

In the last episode (with Cheese), Michael did ask his old friend to cover expenses. He might not be earning an income, but based on that episode, it's not like he's operating at a loss either. Maybe he's just figuring on breaking even until he can get back into the spy game.

Anonymous said...

Who dresses Fiona? For most of the episode she seemed to be wearing a long T-shirt with a leather fanny-pack. Then a wifebeater with suspenders. Costume choices that emphasize Anwar's sickly physique should be avoided.

Mo Ryan said...

RA, great minds think alike :) I'll check out your recap.

For Victor, cozying up to Fi is a win-win-win:

-He gets leverage over Michael
-He possibly gets info about Michael's habits and jobs, etc.
-They both are a little bit nutty and plus, he'd likely think she's hot. So it works on that level.

Carmichael Harold said...

Am I alone in seeing a "Usual Suspects" parody in Michael (Jackson = Virgil Kint; Chuck Finley = Keyser Soze)? The whole "if the devil had a name" speech and him tossing away his asthma inhaler (Kint taking out the lighter and straightening his walk) seemed very Usual Suspects-like to me.

I am the only one? Ok, nevermind.

dez said...

There will be more episodes of season two sometime in early '09, and then the show will be back again next summer.

I thought it was coming back mid-September after the U.S. Open? Or do you mean those eps will be the end of the summer run, and the rest will be shown in '09?

Anwar does not have a "sickly physique," IMO. And she is totally dating Victor--just not sure right now if she realizes who he is.

Kate said...

Carmichael--I said "Keyser Soze" out loud at the end of the episode when Michael physically turned from dorky asthmatic to kick butt former spy.

And the best part about the devil line was how he said the name--"CHUCK -whisper- finley"

Mo Ryan said...

Dez, two more eps (I believe) after the US Open, then seven more in January. Then it'll return next summer, no doubt.

amasea said...

Anwar is tiny, and has maybe 2 percent bodyfat, all in her T&A. I'd think she was sickly, too, except that my stepmom's built the same way. I still don't understand the physical attraction to someone who looks like that, but it is possible that Anwar came by that physique honestly, rather than thanks to an eating disorder.

amasea said...

Anwar is tiny, and has maybe 2 percent bodyfat, all in her T&A. I'd think she was sickly, too, except that my stepmom's built the same way. I still don't understand the physical attraction to someone who looks like that, but it is possible that Anwar came by that physique honestly, rather than thanks to an eating disorder.

amasea said...

apologies for the double post; I don't know how that one happened!

dez said...

Thanks for the info, Mo! I imagine we'll get some sort of mid-season cliffhanger, too--perhaps a reveal that Fi is dating Victor! All conjecture on my part, btw--I have no concrete idea what's coming up on the series.

Toni said...

My favorite part of this ep was when Michael notices his refrigerator on the yacht. My husband paused the Tivo so we could laugh, as we did a few times during this one.

I'm not buying that Fiona is over Michael, and loved both the way he complimented her and her surprised reaction as they entered the gun dealer's home (another great side character, imo).

Finally, Sam just keeps getting better and better, and I hope they keep bringing Virgil back; he seems to bring out extra reasons for the writers to kick up the funny.