Friday, February 27, 2009

Burn Notice, "Sins of Omission": My fiancee Sam

Spoilers for last night's "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I see what I modify my disposable camera...

Why was "Sins of Omission" one of the best episodes of this very strong "Burn Notice" season? Let's count the reasons:

1)A bad guy who was not only well-cast, with Jay Karnes from "The Shield" (sporting his haircut from "Sons of Anarchy"), but well-written as someone so good at his job and so smart about the way people like Michael operate, that our heroes were never really able to trick him. The best they could do, when all else failed, was to push him into a corner where he had no choice but to do what they needed him to do.

2)Some good romantic and familial tension for Michael with the appearance of Dina Meyer as thief/ex-fiancee Samantha. It's always fun to see Michael, who's so in control of any professional encounter, be at a loss on how to deal with his mom, or Fiona's jealousy, and this particular scenario raised the stakes a little.

3)They didn't drag out the Karnes portion of the episode once they ran out of interesting twists for it, but instead put Karnes off to the side and did a quick one-act reverse heist story with Michael and Samantha breaking in to return the chip. The episode felt richer for all the stuff going on in it.

4)Victor, so crazy and intense and jittery, makes a great foil for Michael. Even when they're only talking on the phone from separate locations, there's an energy to their interaction that isn't always there with some of his other professional rivals (including Carla, who was pretty flat in this episode). While it's fun to watch Michael physically dominate bad guys who don't have his training, it's even more entertaining to see him triumph over an equal.

5)Dude, Michael made a taser out of a disposable camera. Dayeenu.

What did everybody else think?


Carolyn said...

i LOVED it also.

and the romance stuff at the end tied in so well with a few episodes back when he thought Fi might've burned up in the house.


i really really hated that actor to begin with (based solely on his performance in Hitch) but this season has totally won me over.

R.A. Porter said...

A fantastic episode. Michael Shanks is one of those rare actors who can bring the crazy eyes and not look like he's actually crazy. There's still an undercurrent of calculation and awareness in every move he makes. Paired against Michael's cool reserve it makes a fantastic contrast.

And nobody plays a know-it-all (who probably does know it all) like Jay Karnes. My years of watching him as Dutch colored the way I saw him last night, but that just added even more depth to his tough, smart villain. I was very pleased they left him free and pissed off at Michael at the end of the hour and hope we see him match wits with Michael again.

More thoughts in my review.

Martha Flynn said...

Luuuurved it and found out my husband knows how to do that camera trick which made the whole thing even cooler.

I've always been a little annoyed at how easy people are to "trick" on the show so to have Karnes be consistenly unfoolable raised the stakes and the writers seem open to bringing him back - can't wait for that arc.

I'm a sucker for the unrequited love angle so I had plenty of squee friendly moments from Fiona and Michael.

Hadn't realized Victor was a foil character (so much guilty pleasure I stopped analyzing the show) - will have to rewatch for that.

rhys said...

@ Carolyn - I know someone who hates Jeffrey Donovan because of his Hitch character too. Never saw it, but I guess he really sold it.

Definitely liked the episode. The last few episodes have been pretty good in terms of giving us a clever side story. I liked how the plot with the Haitian dictator fell through so they just kidnapped him. I also really enjoyed the bank robbery, especially the end. I love Bruce Campbell's "Charles Finley" persona.

Mrglass said...

What did everybody else think?

I think it was one of the greatest hours of television, ever. OK? Now how can I get an 'House' review?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Want some cheese with that whine? I'll get to House when I've actually, you know, finished watching it.

Anonymous said...

What did Michael and Samantha each steal in the reverse heist? I couldn't make out what was said.

I liked the play-of-wits between Michael and Karnes, but when Karnes gave back the device with another 20 minutes left in the episode, I assumed (after the commercial break) that we'd see Michael and Fi opening an empty bag, realizing Karnes had outwitted them, still had the device, and the whole airport scene was an elaborate setup to get rid of Michael and Samantha. This ended a little flat because it wasn't quite as clever as we're used to seeing.

Mrglass said...

Too much sarcasm, Alan, you're killing me!

Back to 'Burn Notice': I was very happy to see an actress from 'Starship Troopers', one of the best movies ever, as a guest star on that show. Now I want Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris in the season finale.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Glass, I think we'd be OK if no one ever saw Denise Richards or Casper Van Dien in anything, ever again.

I highly entertaining hour. I want to go back and watch the episode that introduced Victor early in the season. They play off of each other well, because Victor seems to take Michael's calmness as a front. He thinks Michael is afraid of him, not realizing that Michael is that cool because he's got icewater running through his veins.

I like that they didn't bother giving Michael and Fi cover identities to deal with the bad guy this time. I like that the writers can recognize their own formula and change it from time to time. Team Westen is always improvising, but they are also always a step ahead of their targets, so it was a lot of fun to see them in lock step with Karnes, who was clearly having a blast playing such an unapologetic prick (yet again...)

I wish they could find a way to get Michael's mom involved in a more significant way, though. Obvisouly, she doesn't have the intelligence connections/background as Sam or Fi, so she is gonna be difficult to work into the main plot every week, but it is frustrating to see her stuck on the sidelines week after week.

Antid Oto said...

I really like how the writers are having Michael's relationship with his mother gradually soften. Very well done.

Anonymous said...

I loved that Michael and co. went up against two equals this week. Victor works so well because he's so like Michael, only reversed. And it was nice to see a bad guy who seemed to always be one step up on them.

In James Bond movies (and Mission Impossible and everything else), everything is super slick and not particularly realistic. With Michael, we get Homer, or in this case, the obnoxious vendor.

Anonymous said...

I watched "Changeling" right before Burn Notice, and my hatred of his character in that movie was augmented because of how I love the Michael Weston one. This episode was chock-full of good stuff.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the episode, but what was the point of having Madeline move into Michael's place if Michael, Fi, and Sam were all going to be off dealing with the case of the week? Victor knows where Michael lives, and it's not like the place is a fortress -- former fiancee Sam was able to evade the outer defenses and walk up to the door without much effort. Victor is certainly capable of the same.

Anonymous said...

re: Mary Ann

I was thinking the exact same thing. Not just about Madeline, but about everyone who uses Michael's place as a safe house. This seems like a plot flaw in the same vein as the Buy More in Chuck. I mean, in last week's episode the father found Michael through some random, nameless acquaintance, so it's seems like Michael should be on the move more often.

afoglia said...

Excellent episode. I can't wait to see what Michael will do with Victor.

Dude, Michael made a taser out of a disposable phone.

Digital camera, I thought. A little more plausible. Just discharge the flash through the electrodes. Probably not enough to actually stun someone, but that's dramatic license.

R.A. Porter said...

@Anthony Foglia, it was a disposable. They have fairly fat capacitors in them for the flash unit, though I don't know that they'd have enough power to stun.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it despite not seeing the chemistry between Michael and Sam the ex-fiancé (in fact, I found her acting lacking compared to the rest of the cast).

Jay Karnes makes an excellent son of a bitch. I think the only way Michael will be able to get rid of his character is to kill him. He's too smart and he's also too scary to leave running around much longer.

Also agree with everyone who finds Victor a great foil for Michael. I hope they keep him around for a little while longer.

Chris Lawrence said...

Victor's little hops of joy when Michael talked to him on the phone in one scene just made the episode for me. Maybe when he figures out Michael will be turning him over to Carla's goons he'll be a bit more cooperative.

And the improvised taser was a disposable camera; assuming Michael took the guts out, I'd imagine you could cram in the capacitor from a taser in the body–or at least enough capacitance to disorient someone long enough to crack their head on a sink, since the improvised taser didn't take down Victor on its own.

Definitely a fun episode. I'm disappointed we're only getting one more for a while!

jack said...

@anon: What did Michael and Samantha each steal in the reverse heist? I couldn't make out what was said.

Michael stole some lenses to make it look like something had been stolen. Sam had put in her purse a spool of platinum wire, which she said was worth about 8 grand.

bsangs said...

Loved it too.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dutch (Karnes, for all the non-Shielders) will return next season - and I'm already looking forward to it. Unlike in Sons of Anarchy, where they closed that door on that possibility pretty tight. :)

Michael making a taser out of a camera phone was fantastic. Wonder if he could do it with Bret's from "Flight of the Conchords?"

Unknown said...

I disliked the casting of Samantha. I couldn't get past "generic hollywood actress" whenever I saw Dina Meyer. And it's not that Meyer did a bad job. She just wasn't right for the part. And I agree with dez that she had no chemistry with Donovan.

Otherwise, loved the episode for all the reasons already mentioned. I can never get enough Jay Karnes,

Anonymous said...

Just got around to seeing it, and it was a quality episode, but I was just a little disappointed.

I was kind of thinking the whole thing was a scam. Right when Michael's tracked back to Victor, his ex-fiancee shows up needing his help? And then Victor conveniently shows up at the airport? It would have been nice if somebody had at least raised the question.

Unknown said...

I thought it was well done to see what Michael's taste in women runs towards. Heh. And Karnes did a darned good job. And I love crazy Victor.

Madeline had to move in so she could eavesdrop on the ex-fiancee drama. There was really no other reason to move her in there for a change. They could have just said her house needed repair, really.

Anonymous said...

@Owen: I disliked the casting of Samantha. (...) she had no chemistry with Donovan.

I actually thought that the (obvious to us) lack of chemistry was a nice touch: Samantha is interested in what she sees in Michael (his expertise, experience and physique), not what he is. She doesn't get or understand anything more of him. This makes Michael's explanation to Fiona all the more believable.

Unknown said...

Hey, when Michael tasered Victor in the last fight scene, why doesn't Michael fall as well, since he was in physical contact with Victor? In the "Comrades" episode, Fi was knocked unconcious for the same reason.