Friday, February 20, 2009

Burn Notice, "Truth and Reconciliation": The Haitian

"Burn Notice" spoilers coming up just as soon as I get a ride to my partner stretching class...

It would be hard for "Burn Notice" to top last week's bank heist episode, which was kind of a pure distillation of all the things that make the show so much fun. But "Truth and Reconciliation" still felt like a let-down, and I'm struggling to put my finger on the reason why.

I made a note to myself halfway through the episode that it didn't feel like we'd learned that much in the way of spycraft from Michael in this one, though we did find out in the later minutes that "Killers are, by and large, whining losers." But even the gag about Fi overdosing the bad guy with cold medicine wasn't really that surprising to anyone who's taken even slightly too much NyQuil. (Cue Denis Leary's NyQuil routine.)

What I really think the issue was, though, is that this one felt pretty glum. We open with Michael killing the knife-wielding assassin(*), then move on to him dealing with a particularly tragic client and an evil but not particularly interesting target. I'm not saying the show shouldn't go to dark places -- I really liked the first episode of this batch where Michael was wandering around with broken ribs and yelling at people -- but it has to be compellingly dark, and this wasn't quite that.

(*) Is this the first time we've seen Michael actively kill someone on-screen, as opposed to arranging for one bad guy to murder another? Now, this was in self-defense, but it's always interesting to me to watch shows about people in deadly professions that try to keep blood off their hero's hands. (See also "The A-Team," where Hannibal and company fired approximately 8 million warning shots and never actually hit anyone over five seasons.)

There were some entertaining things on the margins, like Sam's charm offensive with the FBI guys from season one, or Madeline's successful attempt to fix the car and prove that she can be self-reliant. For that matter, I was glad to see Victor back, and now apparently blessed with parkour skills. But the bulk of the episode dragged, and I hope we get a bounce back next week.

What did everybody else think?

20 comments:

Russell said...

what about when he shot the assassin in the first season who acted as a bureaucrat and tried to choke him out? I mean he didn't die on screen, but he did die.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Don't recall that off-hand, but I'm not surprised that they've shown it before. It's just been a while.

Jordan said...

I actually thought it was Madeline's plot that fell flat. While this one came up a little short, it's still more enjoyable than most everything else on tv.

I thought Sam with the fish was great (bring it with you, maybe they can cook it for you).

I liked Michael's reaction when he saw the would be assassin was falling back "no no no no no [falls] no no no."

Anonymous said...

I thought it fell flat because the main case didn't really connect to anything else. Just like Chuck is better when the Buy More is incorporated into the main mission, I think Burn Notice works better when Michael's case comes to him as a favor to Fi or Madeline or Sam, or that Michael needs the money, or just something larger than himself. That, and as you said, there wasn't much super cool spy stuff (knock a guy out and throw him into a truck).

Anonymous said...

Your A-Team comparison is absolutely spot on.

Ryan said...

I think what felt off to me was that the whole "Michael goes undercover as a helping hand" portion got him nothing, functionally or tactically. They could just have easily gone from Fionna undercover --> knockout/kidnap. Or am I missing something?

henry said...

I felt the same way about the episode. It seemed like I had great feelings about the bank heist episode that this one just couldn't measure up.

floretbroccoli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.A.Peel said...

It felt very choppy to me. The storylines didn't flow that well.

But there were good moments: Michale's verbal signal to Sam to fire into the window when Linc showed up. Michael and Fi both saying they needed the other alive.

And Donovan looked even more handsome than usual for some reason.

I didn't recognize the guy at the end. Can someone remind me where we saw him before?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I didn't recognize the guy at the end. Can someone remind me where we saw him before?

He is -- or, at least, was -- working for Carla, and in the summer episodes made Michael help him steal the sniper rifle.

pdf said...

I agree; this episode didn't work for me at all (the first time this show has really disappointed me). I think it was the combination of darkness of tone (from the assassin's on-screen death to the case Michael was helping solve) and the total disconnect from the Carla narrative. I was very let down, and that's actually sort of two in a row, because even though the overall plot of last week's was very good, I am one of those rare people who finds Mark Sheppard incredibly annoying. I hope they pick the Carla thread back up next week.

Country Music Loving Lady said...

Re: Nyquil, didn't he say "allergy medicine"? And I was like "Where can I get some of this allergy medicine?" But if it was Nyquil, I couldn't agree more. I swear they make it taste so nauseating so that teens don't drink it to get high, but there's nothing worse than even slightly too much Nyquil.

I was thinking the exact same thing when the fake banker went over the railing. "Isn't this the first time Michael's actually killed anyone?" I mean, how bad of shots can they all possibly be? Have they ever once actually hit anyone?

Now I'm wondering what a "partner stretching class" is.

M.A.Peel said...

he made Michael help him steal the sniper rifle.

Ah, yes. Thanks.

Chris Lawrence said...

In addition to the bureaucrat dude, Michael also killed the two thugs (offscreen, but you heard the gunshots) in Africa to get away in the pilot episode.

As for the revelation that Victor hired the assassins, it looks like Carla has a mole in her organization. Why Victor would go to the trouble of getting the Draganov and then blow up Bill Johnson (the assassin who was supposed to use it) is a bit of a mystery; maybe whoever was supposed to be assassinated bribed Victor to switch teams or something.

Hatfield said...

Late to the party, and that's a shame, because I feel quite different from the consensus here. Whereas last week's episode, cool as it was, had multiple moments where I didn't buy it at all, this one kept a consistent tone and seemed much more real. Yeah, the bad guys weren't terribly compelling, but I appreciated that the dad at least wasn't so incompetent that Michael could just lie to his face. Total waste of Clarence Williams III, though. And I loved that they tossed Dumond off a balcony through the roof of a truck!

Victor, however, is more problematic, if only because, as Alan said, he suddenly became the guy from the beginning of Casino Royale. And I know not everyone does this, but I know who all the actors are, and seeing Michael Shanks' name show up in the opening credits made me wait for him and more or less figure out that he was gonna be the bad guy. Can't they do what House did when Amber came back and stick it at the end? Cool twist though, it'll be good to see more of him these last couple of episodes.

William Kaminsky said...

Well, maybe it's wasn't one of those subtle & clever spycraft tips, but where's the love for Mike, Sam, and Fi's oh-so-satisfying method of extracting Jean-Pierre Dumonde/Luc Renard from the hotel?! That was kick-ass comeuppance for an evil, whiny loser.

And while on this note of Monsieur Dumonde/Renard, is it so hard to find actual Haitian (or at least Francophone) actors, ones that won't mispronounce their own characters' names?! My girlfriend and I watch Burn Notice, and she normally likes it a lot. But she's Haitian and couldn't stop rolling her eyes at all the "Haitian" characters with the exception of Papa Dumonde, who she thought looked and sounded quite Haitian. For example, no Francophone would pronounce the final d of Renard, like the actor playing Luc character always did. Similarly, initial H of Haiti is silent. It's pretty much Ay-tee... unlike the High-tee pronunciation of the actor playing the dad who Michael's helping. On the other hand, kudos on his outfit of a white tank-top tee under a loose white shirt. That's very Haitian (well, okay, it's kinda pan-Caribbean). Also, kudos to Gabrielle Anwar. My girlfriend thought Ms. Anwar's French was pretty darn good. (IMDB says Ms. Anwar was born in England to a father born in New Delhi and a mom born in England. Thus, I don't think she comes by credible French natively. Perhaps it's just professionalism... else maybe it's good French instruction from her schooling in England.)

I didn't mean to get off on a pedantic rant. I mean, I don't go off on, say, the probably unconvincing-to-native-Russians Russian accents that have appeared on Burn Notice. But come on? They film Burn Notice in Miami, right? (Certainly, IMDB certainly lists Miami as the only filming location: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0810788/locations) It's not hard to find Haitians looking to break into show biz in Miami!

Kenrick said...

A small touch I liked was when Michael was escaping and to get passed an armed guard he holds up his hand like "whoa whoa" to distract him enough to be able to elbow him in the face.

I also liked him using headlights to momentarily blind the people shooting at him.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think this was one of the better episodes, either, but a lot of this episode was filmed in my neighborhood so I've been waiting for the episode to air so I could see the neighborhood on TV. Renard's home is right up the street from my house!

Anonymous said...

You have forgot about the heroin dealer, Harrick from the episode where Sam was captured. Michael shot him in the stomach, and told him if those were teflon coated bullets he had about 30 minutes, but if they were hollowpoints, not to make any plans, leading you to believe he subsequently died from the gunshot wound.

Anonymous said...

hey everybody

i hope someone is still reading this blog because im looking for a song that was in this episode (they only played it yesterday in my country)

im looking for the title of the song that comes on when fiona arrives at the house of dumond..........its probably a haitian song (compas i think) its sang in french tho, theres an accordeon in it and i remember the word chrysantheme (not much i know lol)

if someone know this song please let me know how its called! thanks!