Burn Notice

Season 1 Episode 9

Hard Bargain

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Aug 23, 2007 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
313 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A house-sitter's fiancée is kidnapped and held for ransom. Nick, the house-sitter, hires Michael to rescue Dawn, his fiancée.

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  • Kidnapped

    Good show, case about the kidnapping was nicely done. Even though the outcome what was going happen to the client if she came back. Michael also got an arrangement with CSS to discuss his blacklist problem, that was interesting development. I thought it was pretty well written and more importantly fine acting from the cast, not much people say that only the writers get the credit.
  • Halliburton comparison was interesting.....

    I only watch this show occasionally. It's got potential but doesn't really grab me. And the T&A shots in the opening shots of Miami annoy me. I've been to Miami, not everyone walks around in bikinis or looks like they're going clubbing. I don't really like the "Sam" character all that much - but I recognize the need for another chatacter for Weston to play off of. The part about the spy needing to find information while being cut out and revealing tricks of the trade are the reasons I watch.

    I've watched the last few episodes out of interest about the "burn notice" but now I'm worried that either 1.) it'll be resolved and there'll be nothing else to do 2.) they'll try to stretch out this one plot point forever. I hope they don't fall into either of these traps.

    This episode in particular interested me because of one small passing allusion to Halliburton. (Michael says they should have contacted Halliburton instead). The fact that Michael is passing himself off as a hired mercenary like Halliburton is hiring themselves out to the military in Iraq was an interesting parallel. Obviously this isn't the same case. Halliburton is a warprofiteer - whereas it has been shown repeatedly that while Michael takes these jobs for money - he is more interested in actually helping people than in taking someone's life savings or asking for more than they can afford.

    This started me thinking about the fact that Michael has been an intelligence operative in many Arab countries and has been 'burned' not from some act but some political reason from someone high up in the government. This then started me thinking about the Valerie Plame case where she was "outed" as an agent (sort of the same as being 'burned') and could not work again because Cheney/Libby & the neocons wanted revenge for her husband intelligence gathering husband not falling in and supporting the false story about Iraq building weapson of mass destruction.

    I doubt this would happen, but if the plotline develops into this sort of exploration of a similar kind of case I would definitely be more interested to watch and would recommend the show to others. A social commentary on our government's current politized "intelligence" gathering would be interesting.

    I'm sure I give the show too much credit to be that complex though.

    Otherwise the show was about average. I liked seeing an Asian guy cast in what normally would've been a blond Caucasian stoner surfer type, but the plot was kind of silly. I disliked them making Fiona all stereotypically needy (next she'll be talking marriage & biological clocks). I enjoyed the part about the beaurocrat assasin, that advanced the story arc well (who wants him dead & why).

    Worth watching for this part.moreless
  • ok episode...

    I think I would like this episode more if the house-sitter person wasn't so annoying. Every time he opened his mouth I wanted to shoot him! I did like how it showed how Michael had to deal with incompitent people to get a job done. I liked how the girlfriend was pissed at the house-sitter when she got rescued. I liked the growing development of Fiona and Michael. Their character interactions are halarious! Overall, the story just wasn't that intersting. Also, the guest characters were annoying. . . Just an ok episode which wasn't terrible only because of great star characters.moreless
  • Review

    The episode by episode cases are beginning to take over more and more of the episode. It seems like this show has two scenes that deal with the Burn Notice portion of the plot: The very first scene and one of the closing scenes. That is what this episode was, only it had one tiny little scene thrown in in the middle to set it up. The big case is why we are all watching this show. The big case is what has us coming back from week to week. Going two scenes by two scenes is not cutting it. The show needs to get on track and start having episodes like the middle of the season again where the cases were wtrong, Fiona and Weston had good chemistry, and the main case had a lot more then just a couple of scenes. Overall, the episode was okay but nothing more about it really stood out to me.moreless
  • This is the most humanizing episode of the series so far. Michael has to deal with ruthless kidnappers and with a bureaucrat's offer that seems too good to be true. In other words, tread lightly.moreless

    Burn Notice has built up its entire pattern on Michaels skills and professionalism, he knows exactly what he is doing and knows when to take the big chances. This features the most immediate threat he has come across in the series since his gang beating in the opening of the first episode. There isn't Michale working to protect someone, if they don't do things right, the girl will be killed. Everyone is given a nice little moment of true character, with Nick using his ritzy job to pretend he is rich, and Fiona actually showing that she sometimes cares about other people. The episode does a counterpoint tactic, using parallel stories to compare and contrast. The kidnapping story is the story of the week, where Michael does what he does best to save an innocent girlfriend. He does it with his usual charm and steely nerves. Michael throwing the kidanappers cell phone off the roof and then rationalizing with a gun in his face is what this series has based itself on. I especially liked the moment out in the park where Michael is informed that a sniper is trained on him, and he poses for the sniper, showing off his suit and asking if he looks good.

    The story with the bureaucrat, Perry, seemed to be mostly the same thing, with Michael using his regular bag of tricks to keep things in his favor. While the ending was not completely unexpected, it was handled in a way that we could relate to his surprise when the situation changed. And the simple fact that he had home field advantage is what kept him from being killed. If anything, it proved that Michael is not completely invincible.

    This marks the moment where Burn Notice shows what possibilities it has. Michael could have to deal with future enemies with a similar caliber of skill that he has.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (29)

    • Michael: (voice-over) There's no way to anticipate every danger. You need a backup plan for when things go wrong. That's why home court advantage is so important.

    • Michael: (voice-over) If you can't get through a door without attracting attention, the next best thing is to attract a lot of attention. Once everyone is looking at the door wondering what's going on, you can pop in a flash grenade, and they won't see anything for a while.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Running a double agent is a relationship; there's a give and take. Mostly take, but sometimes you have to give.

    • Michael: (voice-over) GPS devices are becoming more and more common these days. Mostly they are for nervous parents tracking their children. But they are perfectly good for other uses.

    • Michael: (voice-over) From Karachi to Bogotá, every kidnapper's favorite resource is a corrupt employee. An employee can handle alarms, police, you can get financial information, bank accounts, you've even got a fall guy, if anything goes wrong. To a professional kidnapper, a good man on the inside is worth a lot...and a bad man on the inside is worth even more.

    • Michael: (voice-over) A kidnapping is a business deal. The bad guys have negotiating power, since they are selling the life of a loved one. But then again, they have a market of one, so they have to work with you.

    • Michael: (voice-over) About 40% of kidnapping victims are released safely. These statistics are affected by a number of factors, including the nationality of the kidnappers, the age of the victim and whether a hostage negotiator is employed. The odds go down sharply if no-one has any money to pay the ransom.

    • (Clarke is strangling Michael)
      Michael: Wow, you're pretty good.
      Perry Clarke: Let go, it'll be less painful for you. It'll looked like you hanged your self. No surprise really, no work, no money. (Michael knocks Clarke on his back) This would have been easier if you'd kept our appointment in Fort Lauderdale. I had some things arranged. Oh well.
      Michael: Sorry to inconvenience you.

    • Michael: (voice-over) The longer you've been in the game, the more you have to be careful about underestimating an opponent. Say you don't think much of bureaucrats, don't think they're worth your time or attention. Then a bureaucrat is the perfect person to send to kill you.

    • Fiona: I'm not excited about you seeing Reyes by yourself.
      Michael: Someone needs to stall him in case you need more time.
      Sam: Mike, no one's got your back. This goes bad and Reyes could get tipped off.
      Michael: The only other option for backup is Nick. You guys like that idea?

    • Michael: (voice-over) Rescuing a hostage isn't about battering rams and guns. Charge through a door with a gun, and chances are the person you're trying to save will be the first one lying on the floor dying of acute lead poisoning. So you come up with alternatives; ingredients from the local pharmacy, mixed with aluminum foil, powdered in a coffee grinder, will make a serviceable flash grenade that would stun anyone for a good 20 feet. Thermite is another handy tool; with a surface temperature of 1000 degrees, it's used to weld together railroad ties. It would make pretty short works of most locks too.

    • Fiona: They don't have a water front like this in Afghanistan.
      Michael: It doesn't rain as much either there. There are pleasant parts of Afghanistan, the mountains are nice.

    • (Sitting in car)
      Michael: So you understand? You pick up the package and walk away. Got it?
      Nick: Yeah.
      Michael: You don't look at us, you don't talk to us, you just walk out with the video. Fiona and I will be watching to see if the kidnappers have someone there, and Sam will follow in the car if he sees anyone leave.
      Nick: Ok. So I walk to the car.
      Michael: No Nick, focus. You just walk away.
      Fiona: You pick up the package, and you leave like we're not even there.
      Nick: But wait, you will be there, right?
      Michael: Yes, we will be there. Ok, go ahead. (Nick tries to get out) Unlock it first.

    • (Having just seen a video of Nick's fiancée)
      Nick: Jesus! Aw, I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry.
      Michael: Ok, stop saying it.
      Nick: Aww, God. I screwed everything up, bro.
      Michael: Seriously, stop talking. Stop moaning now. The moaning, it's the...Nick, stop moaning!

    • Michael: Nick, I'm not saying I'm happy with how things went down today either. But this can still work out, in some ways we're better off.
      Nick: How? How are we better off, dude? We got some kidnapper tied up some place, they got Dawn. Oh wait. Ohhh, I get it, your gonna trade Dawn for the dude.
      Michael: No.

    • Reyes: Ok, so give me a number, a counteroffer.
      Michael: I think I close it at a million.
      Reyes: One million? That's 20 percent of my price!
      Michael: Hmm, you are good with numbers.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Once a kidnapper knows that you're on to him, he'll try to contact his partners to have the hostage killed, at that point you have a choice. (Pause) You can start choosing wreaths for the hostage's funeral or take a hostage of your own.

    • Michael: (voice-over) The thing about doubling anyone is that the more they do for you, the deeper they get. The deeper they get, the more you can make them do. Great, if you're running them, but hard on the source. The suicide rate is above average.

    • Michael: (voice-over) It's always easier to turn someone who works for a criminal gang into a double agent. The more secretive and ruthless their side is the better. You work on their fear of any hint of disloyalty will get them killed by their own people.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Working with untrained amateurs introduces an element of risk. It's a risk you have to live with in a lot of operations, although you often found yourself wishing that everybody went through Green Beret training in high school.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Work around spies for awhile and you learn to be careful when it looks like you're getting what you want. That's when you tend to let your guard down, get careless. Calling the cops on someone can teach you a lot, a foreign agent would run, so might an armed assassin, a bureaucrat is going to act like a bureaucrat.

    • Nick: (agitated) So, what? I'm supposed to just sit here?
      Michael: (calmly) No, you're going to get me the Yellow Pages and tell me where the nearest pharmacy and gardening store is. I have to pick up a few things.
      Nick: (incredulously) Yellow Pages? Bro, I have a computer.

    • Reyes: (the kidnapper, to Michael, posing as the hostage negotiator) If I take 20 percent of my price, I give you 20 percent of the girl.
      Michael: (nonchalantly) Hostage negotiators hear that one a lot, it's funny the first few times.

    • Fiona: It's my birthday in a few days. Did you get me anything yet?
      Michael: Yeah, I got you something.
      Fiona: You know, for someone who's worked as a professional liar for most of his career, you're not terribly good at it when it counts.

    • Michael: (to Lucio) Sam's pretty good with a computer.
      Sam: Well thanks, Mike -- it's just Photoshop.

    • (Fiona is threatening Lucio with a taser)
      Michael: (voice-over) The art of turning someone into a double agent is delicate. The target has to be put into a fragile psychological state.
      Lucio: Get this crazy bitch away from me!
      Michael: (voice-over) Fortunately, fragile psychological states are a specialty of Fiona's.

    • Sam: That's a job? House sitter?
      Nick: Yeah. These people are only here a few weeks out of the year.
      Sam: Ok, so do you need an application for that?

    • Sam: He heard that she had a boyfriend who could help.
      Michael: He heard that she had a boyfriend that could help?
      Sam: I was vague. I said I was a freelance superhero Robin Hood kinda guy.
      Michael: That's vague.

    • Michael: What exactly do you do for these women, Sam?
      Sam: Well...
      Michael: Never mind.

  • NOTES (3)

    • International Episode Titles:
      Czech Republic: Tvrdě za svým (Hard Bargain)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      New Zealand: December 30, 2007 on TV3
      Czech Republic: April 9, 2008 on Prima
      Sweden: April 13, 2008 on TV6
      United Kingdom: November 30, 2008 on FX
      Germany: November 23, 2009 on Vox
      Slovakia: February 25, 2010 on JOJ
      Finland: March 29, 2010 on MTV3

    • Although credited, Sharon Gless (Madeline Westen) does not appear in this episode.


    • Sam: I said I was a freelance, super hero, Robin Hood type of guy.

      Referencing three of Bruce Campbell's previous works, Jack of all Trades, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.