Episode Title: "Depth Perception"
Writers: Peter Lalayanis & Ryan Johnson
Director: Craig Siebels
Previously on "Burn Notice":
Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) discovered that Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns) was not only blackmailing him, he was also using Benny — the boyfriend of Michael's mother, Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless) — to spy on Michael. And when Anson discovered that Michael knew, he had Benny killed. At a meeting with Anson, Michael is incensed that Anson doesn't even seem to be slightly concerned that Michael knows he killed Benny or why. Anson informs Michael that he needs access to his funds in the Cayman islands and he suggests sending Michael's girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) and their friend, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) in a way that suggests he knew both of them were watching the meeting through sniper scopes.
Michael then visits Madeline at her home and he explains why Benny seemed so perfect for her. Years ago, Anson pretended to be Madeline's substitute therapist to get information about Michael and he provided the info that Benny used to win her heart. Upset that Michael never shared this with her, Madeline slaps him and kicks him out of the house. Later, Michael meets with Fiona and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) to find a solution to their Anson problem. Sam suggests using his resources in the FBI to set up a meeting with the deputy director about Anson; which Michael agrees may be their only move to make.
After laying the ground work for the meeting, Sam is surprised by the unexpected return of Beatriz (Ilza Rosario); a young woman he once encountered during his final mission in Columbia. Now a crusading journalist, Beatriz tells Sam that she is being targeted for assassination but she's not sure by who are why. And when the two of them leave her hotel room, a sniper across the street nearly picks them off. After they narrowly escape, Sam and Beatriz turn to Michael for help. They determine that Beatriz's stories about corrupt Russian oil companies in South America are likely the cause of her death mark. But other than that, Michael comes up empty and he reluctantly asks Anson for assistance.
Anson is delighted to help… provided Michael lets him come along on the case and answer all of his questions. Meanwhile, Fiona and Jesse contact Anson's corrupt banker in the Cayman Islands by posing as a rich couple looking to hide their funds. But in their second meeting, they make it clear that they need the money in Anson's accounts moved despite the accounts being flagged by international law enforcement organizations. Back in Miami, Anson identifies the man targeting Beatriz as Oscar Markov (Chris Marks); whom Beatriz unintentionally outed as a spy in one of her articles.
With Anson's assistance, Michael slips into a Russian operated office and sees Oscar arguing with his handler, Ivan. Oscar uses the distraction of Michael's intrusion to slip away and Ivan warns Michael to stay out of this before having him thrown out of the office. Figuring out how Oscar is tracking Beatriz, Michael and Anson lay in wait for him after setting a trap while Sam hides Beatriz in a trailer safe house a fair distance away. However, Oscar sends a dupe to enter Michael's trap as Sam and Beatriz come under heavy sniper file, wounding Beatriz in the office.
Realizing that they would never be able to arrive in time to save Sam, Anson forces Michael to figure out that they need to approach Ivan again. This time, Michael passionately argues that Oscar can be recalled if he feels he can reclaim his life and be a hero to his people again. At Michael's suggestion, Ivan contacts Oscar and claims that Beatriz was also a Russian asset and he convinces Oscar to come in. In the Cayman Islands, the corrupt banker makes a sloppy attempt to get the drop on Fiona and Jesse; who disarm him and force him to go through with the withdrawal anyway. They even help the man fake his own death and escape with some of the money from his criminal clients. But they also leave him without a ride to the airport.
In Miami, Sam tells a recovering Beatriz that her protection will only last if she stops writing about the corrupt Russian companies and she says that she'll consider doing that. Elsewhere, Anson tells Michael that he enjoyed getting a chance to see how he works. And to twist the knife even further, Anson claims that he tracked down Michael's abussive father, Frank Westen years ago as an additional source for information about Michael. Anson claims that Frank wanted to apologize to his family, but Anson had him killed when he got too suspicious about Anson's interest in Michael.
To top things off, Sam learns that Anson convinced Ivan to report that Sam was working for the Russians as well. Now facing a federal investigation of his own, Sam is unable to get a meeting with the Deputy Director of the FBI. After returning to Miami, Fiona notes that they just gave a very dangerous man a great deal of money. And Team Westen is quickly running out of ways to emerge from this mess intact.
Has anyone else noticed that Anson Fullerton is the Gary Stu (Mary Sue?) of "Burn Notice" villains? Think about it: almost all of Anson's plans succeed and thus far he's always several steps ahead of Michael and his friends. Now, the show is trying even harder to convince us that Anson is the ultimate villain by establishing that he is also responsible for the death of Michael's father.
That last touch was probably a bridge too far. I've enjoyed watching the character and Jere Burns is pretty good in the role. But Anson was already the man who burned Michael, framed him for the murder of a CIA agent and he's also the current blackmailer of Michael's girlfriend. Did the writers really have to add the death of Frank Weston to that list of crimes? To put it in comic book terms, it's like the Green Goblin secretly shot Spider-Man's Uncle Ben before eventually throwing Gwen Stacy off of a bridge. Actually, it's like the Goblin did all of that and he was also responsible for the deaths of Peter Parker's parents as well.
That's way too much to lay at the feet of any villain and it's also kind of unnecessary. It's highly unlikely that the Anson storyline is going to extend into the sixth season, so what's the point of building up an adversary to such great heights that no other villain could possibly compete with him? That's a trick that should be saved for the end of a series.
It also marred what was an otherwise enjoyable episode. Anson and Michael actually do make a fun team and it was interesting to see Anson contribute to the resolution of that story. It was also a fairly clever way to integrate Anson into the episode's main plot as opposed to his usual place on the sidelines.
Beatriz's return after her appearance in "The Fall of Sam Axe," was also welcome; but I had to double check to make sure that Ilza Rosario portrayed her both times. Rosario came off as much younger in "Fall of Sam Axe;" so her more adult appearance was a little surprising. The one disappointing thing about Rosario's turn in this episode is that the story largely glossed over the relationship that Sam made with Beatriz in "Fall of Sam Axe." There, Sam was more like Beatriz's surrogate father and here she was basically just an old friend. Their emotional connection was sorely missed.
Michael's revelatory speech to Ivan about what Oscar wanted was pretty on the nose about Michael's own motivations. All in front of Anson, of course. If Anson actually uses that information for anything concrete, I can overlook the slightly sloppy writing. But as a stand alone moment, it didn't work that well.
I am intrigued by the idea of Sam coming under investigation by the FBI as a way of tightening the screws on Michael and his team. It just depends on whether this plot twist will be remembered and properly dealt with in the remaining two episodes of the season. With two strong back-to-back episodes, "Burn Notice" can still end this season on a high note and chart out a new direction for season six.
But I'm starting to doubt the direction of the current story…
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.