‘Burn Notice’ 5.02 Recap: “Michael, You Know This Is the Only Way”

Without a hint of hyperbole (okay, maybe just a little), I really think that last week’s was one of the best ‘Burn Notice’ episodes ever.

I actually enjoy the ‘Burn Notice’ formula, and it seems that the show is going back to its roots. Michael will help people on the side while doing jobs for the CIA. How this will affect his relationships with his close friends is the big question.

There are two main storylines going on in this episode. The first is the CIA job where Michael is ordered to babysit an agency asset who enjoys cheating on his wife at science conferences. Michael’s job is to make sure that the guy doesn’t spill any classified secrets to pretty women. The other plot has to do with a gang of human traffickers transporting women from Asia to the United States.

At first, Michael doesn’t want to help out with the extracurricular activities of finding a gang of human traffickers, but he relents in the end. It’s hard to say no to friends, and it’s even harder when life or death are at stake.

The most interesting dynamic in the show has always been between Michael and his mother, Madeline. She’s always been a strong-willed character. While she’s not in every single episode, she plays a key role here. Michael interrogates one of the human traffickers to find out where the girls are being hidden. Madeline has to play the part of a kidnapped nurse who’s there to take care of the captive. In order to sell the performance, Michael has to treat her just as badly as he’d treat a man who makes his living by selling slaves.

It’s actually a pretty emotional episode. We know that Michael had a hard-nosed father, and that Madeline put up with a lot of abuse in the past. Now Michael has to act exactly like his father in order to make the captive think that Madeline is doing this against her will.

While the episode ends the way most ‘Burn Notice’s episodes do – everyone’s happy and the bad guys’ plans have been thwarted – the way this one plays out completely redeems the sort-of mundane season premiere. This is a great episode. It let us into Michael’s and Madeline’s lives more deeply than any other episode ever has.

Other Random Thoughts:
  • I still don’t know if I’m sold on Jesse being in every episode. He’s my least favorite addition to the show. If he’s going to be a recurring regular, even though he has his own private security gig now, I like him in an ancillary role the best.
  • Wow, an entire episode of ‘Burn Notice’ went by without one explosion. Is that a first?
  • I have a hard time believing that Fiona could’ve pulled off the 130mph on the freeway with her eyes closed, even if she is a trained spy.


  1. Stephen N.

    Wow. I agree with you on every point here and this truly was one of the best Burn Notice episodes so far.

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