BURN NOTICE 5.15 ‘Necessary Evil’

Sam and Jesse go undercover with an African warlord while Michael and Fiona target a threat closer to home.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Necessary Evil"

Writer: Craig O'Neill

Director: Alfredo Barrios, Jr.

Previously on "Burn Notice":

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is finally back in the good graces of the CIA and the wider U.S. spy agencies. The problem is that Michael is also operating under the thumb of Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns); the man who burned him so many years ago. Thanks to falsified evidence linking Michael's girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) to the deaths of two security guards at the British consulate building, Anson forced Michael to use his newly reinstated security clearance to purge the CIA's computers of any trace of his identity.

Not willing to take this lying down, Michael, Fiona and their friends, Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) managed to track Anson down to an apartment complex that was seemingly clean of anything that could be used against him. However, they also discovered a high tech satellite antenna at the apartment complex that Anson was using to communicate with his operatives worldwide.


Now that Michael and Fiona know how Anson is communicating, the next step is breaking into the defense contractor nearby (whose systems Anson has been piggybacking his signals on) and obtain some records from inside a heavily guarded building. Posing as window washers, Michael and Fiona stage a scaffolding accident that gives them the precious seconds they need to be alone in the office and download what they need. But soon enough, they learn that Anson has frequently been calling Benny, the new boyfriend of Michael's mother, Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless).

Before they can act on that intelligence, Michael is called in to see his CIA contact, Agent Pierce (Lauren Stamile). She gives him an off-the-books assignment to retrieve a weapons engineer named William Resnik, who is believed to be working for a Liberian warlord, Joseph Kamba (Jonathan Adams) on an advanced missile. But because Michael may already be known by the Liberians, she wants him to send in Sam and Jesse while running the opp remotely. Sam and Jesse aren't exactly thrilled about being conscripted, but they take the assignment as well.

Sam and Jesse pose as microchip specialists and get inside Kamba's compound, only to find that Resnik is a hostage not a traitor. Jesse takes Resnik aside and tells him that the CIA is trying to rescue him, but he says that Kamba has his daughter, Sophie. They secure Resnik's assistance in making Kamba believe that there is a slight problem with the microchips. But the unbalanced warlord threatens them all and takes Jesse as an additional hostage to ensure Sam's quick return. Back at the CIA, Sam is pissed that Pierce seems more concerned about getting the specs of the missile than recovering Jesse, Sophie or Resnik.

Meanwhile, Michael breaks it to his mom that Benny is working with Anson to spy on them. Madeline refuses to believe it, but she says that she will look into it herself. And if she determines that Benny is spying on them, she'll plant a bug as well. Shortly thereafter, Michael and Fiona locate the house where Sophie is being held. But they know that they can't storm the house until Jesse is out of danger. Working with Sam to hide gun parts inside of ordinary tech components and the side door of the vehicle, Michael sends his friend back into the compound with a reasonable explanation for the equipment. However, Kamba ruins the plan by refusing to allow the vehicle inside the compound.

Weaponless and forced to stall for time, Sam and Jesse convince Resnik to badly burn his hand so that they can remain in the compound with him and finish the missile. But Kamba gets increasingly suspicious and he orders Sophie to be brought to the compound to properly motivate her father. Sam makes contact with Michael and gives him an update on the situation. At Benny's home, Madeline finds evidence that he is spying on Michael, but she manages to put it away before Benny catches her in the act. Although Benny seems to realize that Madeline is on to him, he leaves her alone for a minute and she plants a bug in his phone.

Back at the compound, Sam goes to see Kamba privately in order to make him believe that one of his own men is sabotaging the project. Right on cue, Michael, Fiona and Pierce blow the gas line into the compound. Although Kamba is incredulous about the timing, Sam convinces him to arm the missile and take out his own men (because it's unclear who the traitor is). But while Kamba admires the explosion that claimed the lives of his men, Sam and Jesse get the drop on him with weapons hidden by Michael. Later, Pierce gets pissed at Sam for not even trying to get the missile specs and he basically blows her off. Regardless, Pierce is impressed by the way Michael ran the operation.

Later, Michael and Madeline listen in as Anson makes contact with Benny. During the call, Benny expresses his remorse about deceiving Madeline and states that she may be on to him. Anson then asks Benny if he received a package from him. Realizing what's about to happen, Michael tries to run into the building. But as soon as Benny opens the package, it detonates and envelops the entire house in an explosion. When Michael looks back at his mother, he sees an expression of horror on her face. Somehow Anson was one step ahead yet again.


I was really enjoying this episode up to a certain point, but "Burn Notice" is getting very predictable.

It was initially refreshing that nothing Michael and his friends tried to pull on Kamba worked because he was so unstable and paranoid. And yet in the end, Kamba trusts Sam enough to blow up all of his own men? Really?!

The paranoia of Kamba can account for some of his actions, but how many times now has the resolution of a story hinged upon the villain inexplicably trusting Michael and his friends before they're led into a trap? I think it's the fourth or fifth time… this season! If not more. And this particular "Burn Notice" trope is getting pretty old.

Jonathan Adams was fairly convincing as Kamba and his character's mental instability was well portrayed. It's good to have an occasional villain who is so crazy that conventional strategy just doesn't work against them. The most effective parts of "Necessary Evil" were the scenes in which Michael and company realized  that they weren't making any headway against Kamba no matter what they did.

Although it has to be asked: what the hell is an African warlord doing in Florida?! Is that really the best place to assemble a missile that you want to fire on Monrovia? There is always a reasonable suspension of disbelief with any TV show. But "Burn Notice" was really pushing it here.

In regards to predictability, as soon as Benny started voicing his regret for betraying Madeline, he might as well have said "and I'm retiring in two days!" The problem with Benny's death is that he's someone we've heard about and yet he's barely appeared on the series. If the audience is expected to care about his fate at all, Benny should have had a more substantial role before getting killed off. Even in this episode, Benny is barely more than extra. And I think even Reznik's daughter had more lines than Benny!

Of course, there were still some parts of the episode that worked really well. The opening break in at the defense contractor was one of the best stunts of the season. It was the one scene of the episode that felt feature film worthy. Bruce Campbell also had some really fun parts while Sam was trying to talk Kamba out of some of his crazier moments of anger.

As for Anson, it's kind of amazing that Michael and Fiona assume that he isn't spying on them in the same way they're keeping tabs on him. At least I assume that's what's happening. If Anson killed Benny for no other reason than Michael and Madeline were on to him, it just makes Anson look careless for eliminating someone in Michael's life in such a dramatic way that he would have to take notice of it.

"Burn Notice" feels like it's on shaky ground at the moment. The final three episodes really need to kick up the momentum, otherwise the revitalized version of the show from earlier this season will be nothing more than a distant memory.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out 10.