Friday, May 30, 2008

Old Friends

Episode 4: Old Friends
Production Number: BN102
Writer: Alfredo Barrios
Director: David Solomon

Click the Picture to go to the Old Friends Gallery

Full Summary
Personal Commentary
Writer's Blog

A friend of Michael requests assistance in freeing his daughter from a prostitution ring. Meanwhile, Michael must protect himself from repeated assassination attempts by an old friend. On top of this, his gambling brother Nate is back in town, and eager to "help".

Full Summary

The episodes opens with Michael and Sam trading trivia in a sports bar. Michael notices Jan Haseck, a Czech Assassin, walk into the bar.

"If it looks like you're about to get into a fight that could get you killed, try starting another one."

Michael starts a fight with a fat guy in the bar, and in the confusion, gives the assassin a welcome punch to Miami.

"When bobby trapping your home, it's important to keep it simple. Make it easy to set up, easy to disable. One more thing about bobby traps, make sure your friends know about it."

Michael rigs a shotgun up to his apartment doorway just incase Jan the assassin shows up again. Michael's mother calls and says the disposal is clogged and she needs Michael's help.

"No, do NOT put your hand down the disposal"

Upon entering his mother's house, Michael is attacked by Nate Westen, his younger brother. Nate has taken a thousand dollars from an old school friend, Bill, in exchange for finding Bill's daughter, 18 year old Jenna, who left home to become a model.

"Spies go to bars for the same reason people go to libraries, full of information if you know where to ask."

Michael uses a series of photos of Jenna and her "boyfriend", Brandon Diggs, to track him down to a bar. Fiona convinces Brandon to leave the bar, so Michael can question him. He admits to being a recruiter for the Wilhelm Brothers, who are known official do modeling but to the underworld are simply Pimps. Michael uses his brother's compulsive gambling "skills" to read the Wilhelm Brothers and get invited to one of their parties.

Now back to the Jan the assassin Fiona has been tracking him, and tells Michael he left his hotel room. Michael sneaks in and learns what little he can about his "old friend". Michael borrows Sam's car to get to the hotel, but Jan attacks him with a knife.

"The key to a good knife defense, is to control the knife and hit him with everything you've got."

Michael tries to fight back, but eventually runs into a packed elevator.

"It's also about knowing how to make the body count unacceptable".

Michael finds Jenna at the party, however, gets ushered away from her quickly. Now back to team Miami (Michael, Sam, and Fiona). Sam wants to sneak Jenna away, Fiona wants to go in guns blazing. Michael decides on stopping the car she'll be transported in and taking her from there.

Back at Madeline's house, a handful of "enforcers" came to beat up Nate and remind him of his gambling debts. Nate wants his half of the job money now, but Michael is convinced that Nate will simply gamble it away rather than pay off his debt, Nate walks off in anger.

"A rescue attempt is hard enough when it's someone wants to be rescued. It doesn't matter whether it's a brother with a compulsive gambling problem, or a girl who thinks she's about to launch her modeling career. So you eliminate escape options, keep a low profile, but no matter what you do you'll still have someone screaming bloody murder in the back of your car."

While preparing the car at his mother's house, Michael hears that Nate went to his house, the house he rigged with a shot gun in case anyone unfriendly entered. Michael rushes to his house, only to get shot at by Jan.

"A ricocheted might not be deadly, but it sure feels that way."

A ricocheted bullet hits Michael in the back of the shoulder, however Nate pulls out a gun and chases Jan off.

Without Michael, Sam and Fiona improvise, Sam gets in a "car accident" with the car transporting Jenna, delaying the Wilhelm Brothers flight plan for another day.

Flashback to Michael's apartment where Nate is doing field surgery on Michael's bullet wound. When Sam walks in and asks questions, Michael is forced to give an obvious lie to give Sam the benefit of plausible deniability.

Michael changes up the plan. This time he captures one of the Wilhelm brothers and stuffs him in the trunk of a car. From there he negotiates the release of Jenna and the payment of the Wilhelms' other girls. Michael exchanges one Wilhelm brother for Jenna, then delivers her to her father, Bill.

Over to a hot dog stand, Jan the assassin is eating a hot dog when he starts choking and searching for a syringe. Michael comes in and grabs the syringe from him, revealing that he found out about Jan's peanut allergy and sprinkled Jan's favorite food with crushed peanuts. Michael holds the syringe hostage for information about his Burn Notice.

"A lot of people want you (Michael) dead from old days... now you are the one to protect " ~ Jan

Michael leaves Jan with the syringe in his thigh and zip tied to the park bench.

Later, Michael receives a package from an "old friend" simply saying that they would see each other soon. Michael calls Sam and finds out that some high clearance level officers picked up Jan and left him in a jail cell with his own shoelaces, thus allowing him to hang himself.

Michael is left wondering who this old friend is, and why they want to keep him alive.

Personal Commentary

I'm glad we got a scene of Sam and Michael simply hanging out and talking. It provides some proof that Michael actually see Sam as a friend, not just a contact when he's burned. We'll see later in the episode how this relationship is strained by the FBI. We get another glimpse of a simple fix for booby trapping your home, and a few helpful hints about when to actually set it. Michael has to lie to Sam about why he started that fight.

The introduction of Nate's brother. He is a moocher and a compulsive gambler who's only real skill seems to be getting into trouble and some level of dumb luck. This'll be the second case that Madeline brought to Michael, I wonder how involved she'll get into Team Miami (Michael, Sam, Fiona). I also like how Nate squeezed every last bit of money he could from Bill the father. Still, 3,000 dollars split with Nate is a pretty low pay for Michael.

I also enjoy how Michael is able to use extremely obscure clues to get a lead and start his investigation. A series of photos from a photo booth? No problem. Note during the party, right after Michael gets separated from Jenna how quickly and seamlessly he slips from one character to another. That's the skill of a spy and more importantly, the skill of an actor.

Sam likes to sneak, Fiona likes to blow stuff up. Another trip to the hardware store for planning the rescue mission. That place must be doing great business with Michael around.

The action scene with Michael dodging Jan's bullets was nice, though I was a bit annoyed that some random shots from Nate is enough to make him slowly walk away. A bit odd. I loved Sam's method of stopping a car. It works, it's painful, but it works. Nate doing surgery on Michael. SMALL INCISION. SMALL INCISION!

I'll be interested to see how stressed Sam and Michael's relationship becomes with the FBI putting the grind on Sam. The final scene with Jan and the hot dog stand was incredibly creepy. The number of ways Michael can get you is scary. Either way, it was a very well done scene. A lot of people wanted Michael dead, now they have to protect him, an interesting hint. I truly think that the zip tie is Michael's most used weapon, with the second one being duct tape.

So, an "old friend" is looking after Michael, they want him in Miami, they want him alive, and whoever is pulling this has some very high up connections.
The mystery goes on.

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