Burn Notice

Season 4 Episode 16

Dead or Alive

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Dec 09, 2010 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
141 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Sam tries to help a friend who's been deemed a dirty cop clear his name. Elsewhere, Michael plans to meet with Jesse's former handler in order to make sure government documents end up in the right hands.

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  • Second half of the season not as good as the first

    I imagine the end of this episode would have been a lot more stunning and foreboding if I had even the slightest idea who Brennan was. I'm assuming that he was a former enemy of Michael Westen, and therefore it is a very bad thing that he has the list? I think we all could have assumed that the deal with Marv was going to do terrible wrong, but if they brought back an old villain, instead of introducing a new one, that's probably for the best.

    I liked the Sam-centric nature of the episode, if only because it gave Bruce Campbell even more of a chance to demonstrate his acting chops. I've said this before, but given how often he is typecast in other productions, this has to be one of his favorite jobs. This episode made me even more excited to see what they do with the Sam Axe prequel, whenever it finally hits the air.

    In terms of the actual plot, it was a little bit confusing, at least in terms of the character motivations. I understood Sam's desire to bring his friend's killers to justice by any means necessary, including asking the grieving widow to pretend that her husband was still alive. But Michael, arguing against taking down a dirty cop? I suppose it makes sense in terms of keeping a relatively low profile, but he's been willing to expose himself for far less in the past.

    And while it makes sense that Michael would still want to have his name cleared, does it make sense for him to actually expect to be reinstated at this point? Hasn't too much happened in the past few years for that to be a realistic outcome? Restoring Jesse's status might be possible, since it's only been a few months, but I think Michael would be happy just getting his name cleared.

    With the trade with Marv having gone horrifically wrong, we're back to the likelihood of a grand sacrifice to resolve the season arc. I still think that Jesse is the most likely candidate, but the plot progression since the mid-season cliffhanger makes such a fate somewhat less compelling. The narrative thread really hasn't been as strong, and part of that has been the soft treatment of Jesse's re-integration into the team. If he ends up making the sacrificial play, I don't think it will mean as much as it would have at the end of the summer run.moreless
  • Well entil2001, not only was your review way off base - if you don't know who one of the best bad guys in the history of Burn Notice is - you shouldn't be writing an uninformed review. For everyone else - the episode was great -especially for Sam.moreless


    *SPOILERS for this ep only*

    That villain of course turns out to be.... Tyler Brennan played by the great Jay Karnes (Dutch from The Shield)! I can not fathom why someone would attempt a review of this episode without even trying to find out who Brennan is. Wikipedia yo.

    The ep - it was great. One of the few times a murder hits one of the team members really hard - this time it's a friend of Sam's and Sam is pissed. And boy did Bruce get to show his acting chops in this ep! If you're a Bruce Campbell fan like I am, this ep is for you. And even if not, the story is good - but the overall arc involving Marv and the flash drive containing the encrypted names of everyone who burned Michael, and in turn Jesse, was what really made this ep stand out. Marv was great as usual - and the return of Brennan is probably the worst thing that could happen to Michael right now. This is setting up for a wild final 2 eps of the season. I hope everyone is enjoying this season as much as I am! What would be really cool is to have these people who burned him yet we presume them dead - really be alive! Can you imagine if Carla and Victor were to show back up. Hey a fan can dream ya know.moreless
  • 416

    Burn Notice is a show that has a lot of buzz around it, it is one of the best shows on cable, but lately it has just not had that "oomph" so to speak about it. Sure, Michael Westen had some very good lines in tonight's show, some nice jokes, but Burn Notice was always about more than that, or at least it was to me. It was about action too, and strong characters, and neither of those was really prevalent in tonight's episode here either. Not a bad ep by any means, but not one I will rush to watch again either.moreless
  • Wow...definitly the best episode of the season to date.

    I honestly had no idea what would go down in this one. I mean, in the last episode they got the list of people that burned Michael back and the only issue left was what Michael would do with it. Then the preview for this episode came on and I saw that this episode would be about Michael's decision: What will he do with the list? And then I saw the preview that an old enemy of Michael's would return.

    Let's start off with the A Story this week: The client case. The client this week, believe it or not, is a dead guy. The dead guy is a cop that was actually framed and killed by his partner, and the world thinks he's dirty. Michael, Sam and Fiona go on a mission to clear the cop's name, and I think this was a really great story. Is it just me, or are penultimate Burn Notice episodes always amazing?

    Now to the main story, which in my opinion was awesome this week. Michael wants to hand over the list of people working for Management to the government and they need Jesse's handler, Marv, to do that. They also use it as a way to get Michael and Jesse back in. But the end comes and we find out that Marv set them up. After they give Marv the list he is shot and killed and now someone else has the list: Brennen.

    In case you didn't know, Brennen is an old enemy from Seasons 2 and 3 that was always involved in the client stories, but Michael has managed to piss him off enough that now he is involved in the main story.

    Season Finale next week, and Dead Larry is returning too. I can't wait. Brennen, Larry, Vaughn (possibly Management or Simon) and Dylan Baker's character next week, plus Matt Nix called next week's finale the 'biggest one yet.' I'm all hyped up. Anyway, this episode was great, and sets up very well for the big 2-part finale next week.moreless
Tom Hillmann

Tom Hillmann

Lieutenant Briggs

Guest Star

Eric Wornsley

Eric Wornsley


Guest Star

Chuck Aurin

Chuck Aurin

Traffic Jam Driver (uncredited)

Guest Star

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Michael: (voice-over) A career in law enforcement tends to make for a cynical outlook on life. Where spies spend their careers telling lies, cops spend their careers listening to them.

    • Michael: I thought you hated the idea of me working for the government again.
      Fiona: Oh, I do. But I want you to have a choice.
      Michael: You want me to have the choice, but you want me to choose to turn it down? Either way, don't we end up at the same place?
      Fiona: Michael, I hope you're never in a situation where your survival depends on your ability to understand relationships. You'll be dead in seconds.

    • Michael: (voice-over) You can work in the field your entire life, but telling people their loved ones are dead never gets easier. There's no training that makes it better, no technique that makes it smoother. You just get through it however you can. In the end, all you can really do with that kind of pain is decide what you're going to do to make it right.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Spies use different interrogation techniques than police. Cops tend to do their questioning in bright, fluorescent-lit rooms, and they're legally required to let the bad guys know who they are before they start asking questions. Spies, on the other hand, often start interrogations in darkness in completely unfamiliar locations. And the less the bad guy knows, the better.

    • Sam: Kevin had a repeat caller.
      Fiona: Well, not a very chatty one. The calls only lasted a couple seconds.
      Michael: But less than a minute later, Kevin called the number back. He was stepping away, getting to a place he could talk in private.
      Fiona: (alludes) Remind me to check your phone records.

    • Michael: (voice-over) In the world of deception spies inhabit, the truth takes on a peculiar power. The truth, the verifiable, unvarnished truth becomes the ultimate bargaining chip. The irony is that the only time you can afford to play that chip is when everything is on the line. And you only get to play it once.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Covert intelligence, at the most basic level, is a type of weapon. Like any weapon, it can be used for good or evil, to serve justice or power. It comes down to one thing, what you decide to do with it.

    • Marv: Please state your name for the record.
      Michael: My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      United Kingdom: December 7, 2011 on FX/FX HD

    • Featured Music:
      "Contemplate" by Jeff Biebuyck/ Joseph Delia
      "You Will Know" by Simon Hunter
      "Pothic Thump" by Methodic Doubt
      "Tightrope" by Kurt Farquhar
      "Just Rock" by Shane Drasin and Kurt Farquhar
      "Valeur" by Edgard Jaude
      "Strong Creature" by M.A.D Music