Burn Notice

Season 4 Episode 7

Past and Future Tense

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Jul 22, 2010 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
170 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Michael helps former CIA operative Paul Anderson who got into trouble with some Russian spies.

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  • Dropped the ball

    I love Burn Notice. It is, by far, my favorite show of the summer. I love it so much because the writers give the characters intricate and very creative ways of dealing with problems. I suppose that I should say almost always because this episode was lacking greatly in that respect. Burt Reynolds was just blah, like he couldn't muster up any emotion. Maybe it was his character, maybe it was his acting. Whatever the case, he brought the episode down. Like others, I did enjoy the parts where Michael freaked people out just be telling them who he was. That was funny. But I really hope that next week they get back to the creativity that makes the show so spectacular.moreless
  • Every once in a while they remind us of just how Awesome Michael Weston really is. And I love it.

    After a string of low key or "local" jobs, it feels good to see Michael tangle with the best of the best from the international circuit again.

    Bringing in old time spies, Soviet Spetsnaz and sleazy congressmen, this episode provides a lot of ego-stroking for Michael - but also a few depressing realitychecks.

    Being able to scare the living daylights out of hardened professionals merely by introducing yourself is Awesome, in the classic James Bond-style. Having the Soviet Spetsnaz wet work team exclaim "But there's only four of us!" when faced with the "boogeyman" himself is just too funny for words. :D

    The other side of the coin is of course coming face to face with your own possible future in the person of an old, retired, drunk and slightly senile (or just too PTSD-ridden) spy who keeps saying you could have been him 30 years ago...

    Not to mention having to lie and betray people around you for the "good of the cause" - causing your lover to start hating you just a little...

    The "Weston, Michael Weston"-moments were great. The old spy playing the ghost of Christmas future was a bit sad, but not without its lighter moments - it's a POSSIBLE future, not set in stone. But the part where Fiona starts to question his motives and ethics - that's a real kicker. Because we can't help but agree.

    Come on, Michael, you're better than this!moreless
  • 7/22

    Burt Reynolds used to be a big movie star and I was excited to see him appear on this show, but this role was beneath him. This is something they gave to an unknown, not a former A-lister.

    As a whole, this Burn Notice just did not do it for me. It just seemed like a whole lot of fluff, a lot of thrown-together scenes with no real point to them. Madeline willingly participating in the con, Sam and Michael being able to KO people with one punch, it just seemed out of character for this show, like there were different writers or something.

    Not horrible, but definitely a disappointing episode.moreless
  • A return to form!

    I'm going to assume that this is roughly the midpoint of this season of "Burn Notice", at least in terms of the summer arc, and maybe that explains why this episode really hit the ground running. After a two-episode skid focusing on the acting abomination that was Kendra, things take a much more substantial turn. And that's not even taking a wonderfully understated performance by none other than Burt Reynolds into account.

    Jesse's hunt for the cause of his burn notice seemed to slip into the ether, but now it's back with a vengeance. It's definitely going to be a huge part of the resolution of the season arc, and it's setting up to be a truly horrific situation. Consider this: the longer Michael and the gang work with Jesse, the more intel they hand him for that inevitable day he decides to come gunning for them. And the more personal they make it, since they are actively destroying information to keep that day from coming. It's a slow-motion train wreck, made worse by the fact that I really like Jesse and his interaction with Team Westen.

    This is the first time I saw evidence that Michael has a reputation in the intelligence community to such a degree. I assume that's because I skipped three seasons. But it does make it odd that his closest confidantes don't have the same level of appreciation for his talents. Maybe because they see the flawed man behind the legend?

    I'm also not sure I get what Fiona was saying at the end of the episode. I don't see Michael losing his empathy, but maybe that's a function of my lack of context. Instead, it feels like a plot point: Michael's work with the Organization is turning him into something he hates. Was Fiona's comment justified, or was it just checking off a bullet point on the wipeboard in the writers' room? I leave it to more informed fans to weigh in.

    Whatever the case, it was a very good episode, and probably my favorite of the season so far.moreless
  • "You know Michael Westen? Is he your Target?"

    This was a really interesting episode, Russians / Soviets are usually always in a great deal of spy-related material because of really, well World History. But I must admit, unlike other shows and movies - Burn Notice came thru with a much needed, modernized and realistic episode. Russian wet work jobs are usually handed out by the KGB and it would be interesting to see if we see another team later on this season or maybe next.

    The whole scaring the Russian, Alexi, in Russian dialect was absolutely phenomenal. Why is that, no matter how scary you can make things seem in English, Russian just seems to take it to a whole other level solely on the language. Tying in Burt Reynolds was phenomenal and well, the surprise ending with him was rather a twist, I might say, I didn't see coming. As ominous as endings go, the whole "conversation" between Michael and Fi at the end was by far really reminiscent of the conversation he had at the loft with his mother. As far as leaving him speechless, those women just have the perfect method of doing that.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • In the first episode, Madeline said Michael broke out of his room at 6 to see the Star Wars. This can't be since Star Wars came out in 1977, making him just over 10 when he sneaked out.

    • Michael's drivers license says that he was born 01/7/67 weighs 185 lbs and is 5'11".

    • Featured Music:
      "Ella Es Mia" by Qbanito
      "No Reason" by Aliex Six
      "Bostonova" by Lisa Maxwell
      "The Catch" by DJ Kambo
      "Mr. Deceit" by Kathie Talbot
      "Meet Me At The Partay" by Lori Michaels
      "Cornered" by Beat Chanber
      "MDV- Caliente Salsa 02" by Latin Pulse Music
      "Dirty Deedz"
      "Grynd Nutt" by Polywood
      "Fire Ignite" by Kopius Few

    • Near the end of the episode, Marv gives Fiona a timesheet from the day that Michael used Jesse's login to steal classified files, that proves that Jesse was innocent. The timesheet has a gray header and two rows marked in red. Fiona destroys this timesheet to keep Michael's secret safe.

      In the next scene however, Jesse holds a very similar looking piece of paper (gray header, two red rows in the same places) in his hands, when he and Michael are looking through the notes from the failed bank heist.

    • After Michael and Paul Anderson steal the documents, they get into a small gun fight with the Russians in which the left back light of Michael's car is destroyed. In the following car chase, the car does not have a scratch.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Michael: (voice-over) When you're being hunted in a crowd, your biggest advantage is, your opponents can't maintain visual contact with each other. The key is to move without drawing attention to yourself. When you can, you disguise your actions as something else. When you can't, you strike fast and hard. Then you calmly move for the exits and get the hell out of there.

    • Fiona: I can't stand this! I can't stand lying to Jesse. I can't stand watching you keep this secret like it's nothing! I can't stand what you're turning into.
      Michael: Which is what?
      Fiona: Someone who only cares about the idea of people who doesn't give a damn about the ones who have his back every single day.
      Michael: You know me better than that.
      Fiona: I used to think so.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Spies and politicians tend not to get along very well. Politicians see spies as vitally important in the national interest, right up to the point where they deny ever meeting them and abandon them entirely. It makes for a tough working relationship.

    • Paul: What are you talking about we? It's my mess. I'll clean it up.
      Sam: Sorry, old timer. Can't be picking off bad guys in the middle of a crowded bar. You're just gonna have to accept our help.
      Paul: All right. But if you call me old timer again, you're gonna be wearing your ass around your head. Like a hat.

    • Michael: It sounded to me like Marv thought Jesse was actually innocent. And if he starts digging and he finds out that I'm the one who got Jesse fired, we could have some real problems.
      Fiona: So it's not enough to burn the guy, now we have to make sure he stays burned?

    • Michael: (voice-over) Under ideal circumstances, a good interrogation unfolds slowly. But circumstances are not always ideal. If you're operating on a clock, sometimes you have to get right in your enemy's face and turn up the heat.

    • Michael: Guys! There's a wet-work team on South Beach that might be here to kill me. I would like to find out today. Sam, you make the introductions, I'm famous, Fi is the hammer.
      Sam: Okay, so bad cop, badder cop...worse cop? I can live with that.

    • Michael: (at the beach) Jesse, you want to tell us why we've come here?
      Jesse: What? It's a beautiful day, man.
      Fiona: Oh, please. First you complain about how sandy the beach is, (about the fat lady) and then you can't stop staring at the one woman on South Beach who should not be wearing a bikini.

    • Michael: (voice-over) International conferences are good cover for run-of-the-mill diplomatic spooks and black-bag operatives alike. One way to tell them apart their luggage. You don't bring a high-speed-film camera to an event where nobody wants their picture taken unless you want to bypass the X-ray machines at the airport. Telephoto lenses are a great place to store the illegal silencer you're smuggling in.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Psychiatrists have nothing on spies when it comes to over-analyzing their friends' behavior. As a covert operative, you routinely trust your co-workers with your life, so you tend to notice when they start acting strangely.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Every country emphasizes slightly different tactics with their elite troops. The Chinese Special Forces learn how to shoot with either hand. The German DSO teaches their men to rappel from helicopters. And every Russian Spetznatz team is trained to siege, secure locations by surrounding, advancing and synchronizing their attack. Their discipline makes them hard to escape but easy to predict.

  • NOTES (1)


    • When Sam says "The Russians are coming", it is actually alluding to the a famous phrase attributed to United States Secretary of Defense James Forrestal in 1949. The complete phrase was: "The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. They're right around. I've seen Russian soldiers."