Burn Notice, Tim Matheson

It’s been a long three weeks since we lost Burn Notice to all that tennis. Thanks to TNT’s Law & Order marathon, I watched Jeffrey Donovan’s recent episode twice. Otherwise, it was a long haul. So, in the interest of getting back to speed, let’s begin the recap with a recap. On the personal side, Fiona started dating other men, making Mike a bit jealous. At home, Madeleine dragged him to therapy with her mini-me analyst, but it all went bust when the shrink agreed with Michael over Mom. And, in the spy world, Mike carried out a Carla-ordered op to steal a high-powered Russian sniper rifle (a.k.a. the Dragunov) and has since been obsessed with finding out what the frak she wants it for and who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is its new owner, Bill Johnson.

Got it? Good. Because yesterday’s episode wasn’t just the best of the season, it was the best of the series. Number one, guest star Tim Matheson was perfect as Michael’s psychotic buddy from the time he spent in the Balkans during the early ’90s. Apparently, walking into an exploding oil refinery back then didn’t kill Larry (it was all a ruse) and now he’s freelancing. You know, a lot like Michael, but he kills people rather than helps them. As a friend, Larry’s the anti-Sam. Sure, they share the same awesome wisecracks (Larry: “Slippery slopes can be fun too, like waterslides. Sam: “Larry… still drinking the blood of children?”), but they’re very different influences on our guy. Sam has a big heart. Larry likes to give people heart attacks by spraying atropine on their silverware.

Number two, last night’s show featured Burn Notice‘s most heart-pounding (and heartbreaking) scene ever: When Michael saved Fiona and this week’s sad sack Jeannie (Amy Pietz) from death by dump truck by allowing the driver to literally run over the pickup he was in. It’s almost impossible to describe on paper, but between the split screens and the anxious music, and the look on Fiona’s face when she saw the accident, I nearly poked my eyes out trying to cover them. Then when Michael walked away from the pile-up and into her concerned arms, it nearly took my breath away.

Finally, the plot was about Michael’s bad side — the crazythings he may have done in the Balkans 15 years ago and his oldcovert-operative ability to have very little compassion. Says Larryabout Michael’s ability to kill: “Tell me that you don’t have the sameimpulse. I know how you used to look at people when they betrayed us.When their stupidity disappointed us. Come on. I know that look andyou know how easy that this would be.”

As it turns out, it isn’t easy for Mike. He can’t murder Larry, evento save Jeannie’s idiotic, if murderous, stepson Drew (played by Home Improvement‘sZachery Bryan) and the host of other people Larry will go on to slay.And it’s all thanks to Madeleine. We found out during their therapysession yesterday (they’ve got a new analyst who makes house visits)that it wasn’t Dad who signed the papers for Michael to join the ArmedForces when he was a teenager, it was Mom. Why? Because she was afraidMichael would turn out nasty like Pops, and she wanted him to focus hisabilities on something good. Apparently, it worked. That said, I got agood chuckle when the top entry on Mike’s “Things I’m Grateful to Mom for”list was “outfitted me with cover i.d.” to break into Bill Johnson’s.Priceless.

Oh, Bill. He seems to be in the same boat as Mike: beholden toCarla’s, as Sam calls it, “do what we say or we’ll ruin your lifeplaybook.” Turns out that he’s a skilled sniper with 20 years of modelmarine service, but Carla and co. got him dishonorably discharged andare holding his pension. Bill’s pretty stressed (hence all the prunes).And not only does he have the Dragunov, but also the high-tech passcard Michael copied weeks ago. In short, Mike’s just been tacticalsupport for whatever terrible mission Carla is blackmailing poor,constipated Bill to execute.

Besides Bill, we also met Fiona’s boyfriend, the paramedic boy-toyCampbell. His name? An obvious homage to Bruce. His likely staying power? Notso good. Campbell seemed a little freaked out by Fiona’s coolnessduring their op (he lent them his ambulance to stowaway Jeannie). Now,I would agree with the guy, but it’s not like it was a bigrisk-your-life sort of thing. Was he there last season when they tookon the Jamaicans? When Fiona had to go after those gangsters with theMolotov cocktails? I don’t think so. Man up, Campbell sweetie. Or theactor who plays you is going to be out of a job.

And while we’re talking about personal relationships, I’m prettysure Sam’s over Ronnie. First he’s giving some secret agent “Sam-time”to get the 411 on Bill, then he’s chatting up Campbell’s partnerparamedic. What a dog! Which is exactly how I like him.

So, there’s only one episode left (and I still don’t know whereFiona got that awesome fanny pack) before the five-month hiatus! We’llfinally see Carla again next week. USA definitely played that one right— I went from hating her to wishing she would just come back and getthis whole secret mission thing over with. What about you guys? Wereyou down with last night’s episode? Excited about Carla’s return? Thinkwe’ll get any closure or will we have to wait until January?

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