BURN NOTICE “Where There’s Smoke” Review

The BURN NOTICE episode “Where There’s Smoke” refers to a signal sent during the latter part of the story. The show opens with Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) and Jesse (Coby Bell) planning to rob a bank in search of documents of some kind, with help from Michael’s chain-smoking mom Madeline (Sharon Gless, who it turns out, really does smoke like a chimney and we wish her well.) At the same time, Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) are paired off again, hired to protect a tech industry businessman at a party for his company’s Lithium battery. But things go sour fast when masked gunmen break into the house and kidnap not just the wife, but Fi, too. As they said at the Burn Notice panel at Comic-Con 2010, don’t kidnap Fi, ’cause she’ll kick your butt and mess you up. And that she does to the kidnappers as our heroes – with Fi very resourceful – turn the tables, eventually taking one two brothers in the scheme hostage and offering him back in exchange for the still-held wife. While all this is happening, Jesse is clearly upset by Fi’s life in danger – he’s crushin’ on her – and Maddy’s become the surrogate mom, offering advice to help him through it. So when Fi returns, entering Michael’s place exhausted, battered, her dress torn up, quipping, “You should see the other guy” they embrace and start to kiss as Jesse uncomfortably walks away.

There was great chemistry again in Sam and Fi partnering as he comments after battering down a door in the kidnapper’s lair to find her rescuing herself that she’s “growing on him.” Michael is feeling more guilt over burning Jesse, Fi even hammering him for lying, while Maddy has near-adopted him as another son. Though there’s plenty of the usual voiceover “how-to” guide stuff from Michael, it’s the character development that’s key here.

“Where There’s Smoke” was an engaging step away from recent Burn Notice sub-plot story arcs, with just one central tale for a change. Still, the show’s usual post-script brings us back to the gun-runner chase-down, Michael and Jesse finding a bible with blacked out words in the bank safety deposit box – obviously code they’ll need to decipher. Stay tuned.

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