Michael and the gang performed a lucrative task for the high-strung Calvin Schmidt in order to purchase new identities, while Maddie worked alongside Barry Burkowski to throw the CIA off Westen's scent as everyone made plans for an international getaway. While "Best Laid Plans" offered legitimate obstacles in moving the season plot forward, its weaker moments smacked of time-biding on the way to more interesting, hard answers.
Thankfully, Michael finally gave his mother the comfort she'd been seeking since Nate's passing as the two resolved to stick together moving into the unknown of life off the grid. It's no small secret that I'm a Patton Oswalt fan, and just like last week, I credit the freshness of this episode to Oswalt's quips aplenty. He served as something of a viewer surrogate, embellishing predictable developments with punched-up lines like, "If I die today my ghost will haunt your children's children. It will be like one of those Japanese movie ghosts too..." Calvin Schmidt did nothing if not whine up a storm, but he was so funny doing it that he balanced out an otherwise paint-by-the-numbers excursion. Oh yeah, also the non-cliffhanger cliffhanger of Sam struggling with whether or not to sit out the journey was resolved within the first five minutes, because Elsa gave him her off-screen blessing. Seeing this scene play out would've been a nice character moment for Sam, but maybe Jennifer Taylor's got pricey demands.
The mission this episode was standard Burn Notice fare, and centered on the team's remaining need to escape the country while lacking money to purchase new identities. Luckily Calvin Schmidt had a Remote Circuit Cutter for disabling alarm systems in his warehouse, and it was worth a delivery rate of $1,000,000. So's all the Westen crew had to do was sneak past tons of patrolling heat and snag the neat gizmo. It seemed a little unbelievable that Fi and Jesse would be able to elude the cops like they did, which exposed the continued larger problem with Riley and her posse. Ostensibly she's the boss of these buffoons who allowed the slip, but is good help really that hard to find? I understand it's a fictional world that has to allow certain incompetence for plot advancement, but how much more capable would Westen and company appear if Riley's skill level was the norm for the entire organization and they still kicked butt? Instead we got a gaggle of doofuses who remained five steps behind every gate crash, IED, and what have you. At least she knew to torture Maddie via cigarette deprivation.
It's always fun to see Barry squirm, though, and I chuckled heartily at his concern over a fake "aggressive fungus in a very sensitive area" on his secret meet-up with Maddie. It's weird, I just started watching Homeland, and that show also features a meet-up in a spa. Are these writers watching each other's shows, or are spas chock-a-block with spy games? Anyway, Barry did what Barry does (i.e. worry up a storm about his ridiculous appearance), plus tricked the CIA into thinking that Michael and company were headed to three different countries, supposedly leading authorities on a tri-cornered wild goose chase (actually a good idea, I approve). Unfortunately, effed-up dude that he is, he just had to schedule a "tanning and O2" session which brought Riley crashing down on Maddie's trail. What I don't get is why Olivia Riley doesn't just trail Maddie super intensely, given that scary-ass form she made her sign. If she's allowed to follow Maddie's movements as much as she does, Riley should just follow her closer. Maybe then she'd catch Maddie drawing green Xs on bus benches or touching strange joggers in the park. That being said, it was great when Maddie hung up on Riley mid-threat.
All in all, this episode contained a heck of a lot of Burn Notice-themed fun, replete with a meaty wall crash, cool gadgetry, Sam undercover, a slimy bad guy who looked like an ex-porn star (current porn star?), and Westen and Jessie getting into a genuinely fun kerfuffle ("That's rich coming from 'Roger Dodger' who's been dead weight since day one"). It was slower than Patton Oswalt's last outing with the crew, and I'll be sad to see him go. One would think putting Axe more in the action would have spiced up the mission, but the fact that Sam had to remain undercover didn't allow for a huge interplay between what would have been a fun relationship. Sidelining Michael always proves less enjoyable, so those parts of this episode were frustrating, but maybe his indirect coaching is indicative of a transition away from the action (a.k.a. a "final" season). However, he did pull off a lot of cool stuff behind the scenes, went undercover, and shared a truly touching moment with Maddie, so I can't squawk too hard. Like any fan, I prefer Michael front and center, but for variety's sake taking him out of the action once in a while usually means a way cooler event is on the way, and for that I am always grateful.
1. How will Maddie influence the group dynamic?
2. How will Riley thwart their next move?
3. Did you enjoy this episode?
4. How does this season compare to previous ones?
5. Were you happy Bruce Campbell's chin got another mention? The Chin Lives!
6. What is your ideal Burn Notice mission?
7. Was Glenanne putting the "Fi" in "fine"?
8. Did you appreciate Maddie touching Michael in the park or was that foolish of her?