I was wrong. Foregrounding Mike and Fi’s dysfunctional love affair over Mike and Carla’s cat-and-mouse game did not make last night’s Burn Notice a better watch. It made it a slow, annoying drama with too much downtime — especially since the episode mostly featured them hemming and hawing, rather than making up, making out, and making mincemeat out of criminals. And whose plan was it to throw hammy Madeline in the middle as their couples counselor? Bad idea jeans. Thanks for turning my favorite TV character into USA’s most annoying mom (that’s counting Cybill Shepherd on Psych). I owe you a (Molotov) cocktail.

Yet, as much as I want to complain about yesterday’s breakup subplot, the other two storylines (Mike getting intel on Carla from a Pakistani spy and the crew saving a mother/son duo from a con artist club owner and some vicious loan sharks) were the season’s best so far. You can’t get more exciting than Michael beating two thugs into submission using just a rolled up copy of Cat Fancy after telling them “guys, wife beaters, so not a good look.” I’m going to have to use that on my little bro, who loves sporting those cheesy tank tops back home in Jersey. I also enjoyed watching Sam (pictured) become more integral to the action: The undercover personas he created, like the bullish textiles entrepreneur at the Pakistani consulate or the priggish trust executor for the mother/son job, were nearly as brilliant as Mike’s. He also had the two top lines of the night. The first, he delivered while pretending to wait on line at the consulate: “If I don’t get these signoffs today, there ain’t going to be nothing on those looms, sugar lips!” The second, he said to Fiona when she described the conman as “smooth, too, in a cheesy Sam sort of way.” His reply? “Hey, smooth is smooth, baby.” Damn straight.

Just one caveat: Where is his girlfriend Veronica? You can’tbackwards a Maris Crane-type character. You either show her or youdon’t. You can’t introduce her and then decide to make her a loomingcipher that everyone always talks about but the audience never sees.It’s unfair. And she’s played by a Landers sister! The site of one ofthem rubbing up against Bruce Campbell is funny just in theory.

More Burn Notice after the jump…

addCredit(“Burn Notice: Glenn Watson”)

Anyway, last week Mike figured out that Carla spent some timein Kurdistan ten years or so ago. I guess he reckoned that since she isa kick-ass broad now, she was a kick-ass broad back then — thus thePakistani intelligence agency, the finest in the area at the time,would have a dossier on her. So, he broke one of the few gentleman’sagreements in covert ops, stay way from embassies and consulates, tosteal some files and use them as leverage against a local Pakistani spy(also the consulate’s security chief) named Waseem. The guy didn’t godown easy, ripped on Mike’s Urdu, and forced us to watch him feedstrawberries to his multiple girlfriends (I will never look at thefruit the same again). Though, when he finally caved, Mike “found outCarla’s cover.” Stay tuned next week to find out what the h-e-doublehockey sticks that means.

As for Mike, Sam and Fiona’s job last night: They helped the mom from Ferris Buellerand her wimpy kid fend off a loan shark the latter owed $200,000 bydouble-crossing the conman who stole the money from them in the firstplace. The fella had a weakness for the ladies, which of course, madeFiona the asset in this situation — and gave her a good opportunity tomake Mike jealous. Or was it an opportunity for her to emotionally moveon by coming on to another dude, no matter who he was? As she toldMadeline, she doesn’t want to be second best in Mike’s life anymore.And I don’t blame her. But I do hold her responsible for that skimpy,white outfit she wore the second night at the club: It was horrendousand obnoxiously short. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I saw her ladyparts at least twice. Then again, it’s pretty hot in Miami, so maybe itwas called for.

So what did y’all think? The most excellent season two episodeso far? Happy that Sam’s role keeps expanding? Want to see more or lessof Madeline? Freaked out by her sideways suggestion that Mike have kidsbecause they saved her from her own loneliness? Hope, like me, thatWaseem returns (I loved their chemistry)? Interested, at all, in thenew Burn Notice tie-in book, The Fix, that hits stores on August 5th?

Burn Notice
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