Burn Notice

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Jun 28, 2007 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
545 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Michael Westen, a spy, is "burned" while on assignment in Nigeria. Spies are not fired; they're issued a burn notice to let the agent know their services are no longer required.

Dumped in his Miami hometown with no money or resources to his name, Michael agrees to help a man accused of stealing valuable pieces of art and jewelry.moreless

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  • Interesting

    Decided to get this a try and look at the pilot. It has a good story of the spy business and also I liked when he explains tips and tricks of what he about to do. Most of the time it reminds me of macgyver with making things and being creative. This episodes gave a lot of good traits of what the show is about and how it all works, I'm looking forward to seeing more of this show.moreless
  • Fmeh.

    Overlong and underwritten, but with the occasional glimmer of a series worth watching, Burn Notice doesn't exactly get off to a good start. Having devoured Alias, and all of its mind-boggling mythology, and enjoyed Chuck's quick wit and affable characters, Burn Notice aims to avoid both of these shows' formats and trademarks; instead, opting for a more DIY spy show, which doesn't really work. (Not yet, anyways.)

    It would be easy to forget that once upon a time, a pilot, usually, would be a mere glimpse of what the show will eventually evolve into. But these past few years, we've been spoiled by the sheer volume of impressive pilots – most resembling feature films. Burn Notice takes a nice and easy approach, with minimal plotting, and a very few main characters. It also doesn't help that there's very little action, and some of the makeshift espionage is a little tedious.

    While the first half could very well send you into a coma, the second half does pick up the pace a little. There's more humour to digest in the second part and less torturous exposition, but things still feel forced, and the setup isn't as inviting as it should be. The main plot also doesn't really work: it's boring, for the most part, and offers up a lot superficial scenes, nothing feels genuine.

    I also had an issue or three with the main lead. Smarmy is never a good quality in anyone. Especially if that someone is the main character. The voiceover stuff also didn't click with me – I thought it to be pretentious and mostly unfunny. I just can't get behind a character that's so bloody full of himself. Hopefully the writers tone him down throughout the course of the season.

    If there's anything that's worth praising, it's the show's impressive casting: David Zayas, Ray Wise and Bruce Campbell round out some impressive genre names. I also got a kick of seeing a strong, Irish lass onscreen. She's probably the best thing about the pilot, even if there's not a lot to her character as of yet (she drinks a lot and likes a good ol shag).

    Overall, an unimpressive outing, it has to be said. It can only get better...moreless
  • The pilot

    Okay, some shows start off great, but others start off with a bad pilot and grow into an excellent series; Burn Notice was one of those shows. B Note has evolved into one of cable's premiere programs, it has led to USA Network ordering several similar series, but it struggled to find its footings here. The witty dialogue was not there, outside of a few isolated lines, and the interactions between Michael and the villains were just pitiful.

    You can tell the show needed a lot of reworking after this pilot, and thankfully it put in that work to become the great show it is today.moreless
  • Wasn't what I expected, but wasn't as bad as I feared. Grew on me through the episode.

    This episode was not particularly great. It was not very amusing, there wasn't a whole lot of action, and it does begin in media res. However, halfway through, the viewer should get a handle on things. This pilot won an Edgar Allan Poe award in 2008, and I think that's fair.

    It felt very Miami - which is good, it was supposed to. (I've seen shows that were supposed to feel like a certain location and seemed entirely not that location.) I appreciate the narrative by the main character that are explanatory and witty. The main character is interesting - but surprising. He says he has two black belts, is seen beating up baddies, but he's scrawny and lanky. The actor has curious and engaging facial expressions and fits the role well. Will we tire of him in his beige suits?

    The supporting characters were rather blah, but I suspect they will develop in time. I'm patient. I will wait. I like the Miami Vice-meets-MacGyver feel. And there's a "happy" ending.moreless
  • My favorite new show

    Very exciting episode. You get to see Michael in his spy personality, being very tough but when it comes to help a kid deal with a bully or try to go through a teary moment with his mother, he might not be the opposite, but he changes and tries to help.

    The voice overs reminds me of one of my favorite shows of all time, MacGyver. But not only because of that, as Michael is an expert in creating artifacts and devices with things you can find in a garage. It was good to see Sharon Gless back and she did a great job playing the so-hypochondriac mother. It was also nice to see Gabrielle Anwar back, but unfortunately the restaurant scene was a little bit over acted. However, I like her and I'm sure she will improve in the next episodes

    The case was interesting, entertaining, with good action scenes and funny moments.moreless
Mauricio Suarez

Mauricio Suarez


Guest Star

Dimitri Diatchenko

Dimitri Diatchenko


Guest Star

Reggie Pierre

Reggie Pierre


Guest Star

Marc Macaulay

Marc Macaulay

Agent Harris

Recurring Role

Brandon Morris

Brandon Morris

Agent Lane

Recurring Role

Paul Tei

Paul Tei

Barry Burkowski

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • When Michael pays Enrique, he holds the money over the envelope but in the next shot, Michael is pressing down on the money in a different place.

    • After getting off the phone, Michael sees the cops watching him and he pays the two boys to "distract them". After that, when Michael is riding away on the bus (smiling), you can clearly see a reflection of the boom on the left side of the screen in the windows of the bus.

    • When David is fighting the bully at the end of the episode, he stands up suddenly to headbutt the bully as instructed by Michael earlier in the episode, however you can see that his head does not make contact with the bullies.

    • This is the only episode where Madeline Westen has her hair grown out and not cut short.

    • Michael's sunglasses are made by Oliver Peoples.

    • The U.S. Department of Defense's Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines a burn notice as: "an official statement by one intelligence agency to other agencies, domestic or foreign, that an individual or group is unreliable for any of a variety of reasons".

  • QUOTES (32)

    • Michael: (voice-over) It doesn't matter how much training you have. A broken rib is a broken rib.

    • Michael: (voice-over) People with happy families don't become spies. A bad childhood is the perfect background for covert ops. You don't trust anyone. You're used to getting smacked around, and you never get homesick.

    • Michael: (voice-over) For a job like getting rid of the drug dealer next door, I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.

    • Fiona: A spy is just a criminal with a government paycheck.

    • David: Are you a soldier?
      Michael: Uh... no. Sort of.
      David: My dad says you're here to help us.
      Michael: Yeah, I might be. I just need to talk to your dad about some money first.
      David: Then are you gonna shoot the people that robbed Mr. Pyne?
      Michael: No, no. That shouldn't be necessary.
      David: What if they shoot at you?
      Michael: Well, in that case, it would be necessary, so yeah.

    • Oleg: You're real Michael Westen, yes?
      Michael: Yeah.
      Oleg: Back home, your story Russian Intelligence tells to scare. They say you're one name for many people. Special Operations team. They think, one person cannot make so much problems.
      Michael: Nope. Just me.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Airbags save a lot of lives, but they also put you out long enough to get your hands cable-tied to the steering wheel.

    • Fiona: Any thoughts on to why you're so unpopular? Why didn't they just kill ya?
      Michael: I might be a lesson, a warning. Maybe somebody wants to offer me a job, but they want me desperate, before they make the offer... It could be a lot of things. I don't know.

    • Fiona: That sounds like fun.
      Michael: I'm glad you think so. I haven't worked so hard for so little money since Afghanistan. Afghanistan... (shudders) But at least there my mother wasn't calling me 30 times a day! Thank you for giving her my number!
      Fiona: You're welcome.

    • Madeline: (referring to Michael's father) The two of you were so much alike! I don't know why you antagonised him!
      Michael: Mom, we were nothing alike! Everything I did antagonised him. Being alive antagonised him. Everything I did was a reason for him to slap me around.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Most people would be thrilled to be dumped in Miami. Sadly, I am not most people. Spend a few years as a covert operative, and a sunny beach just looks like a vulnerable tactical position with no decent cover. I've never found a good way to hide a gun in a bathing suit.

    • Michael: (voice-over) If you are going to collapse on a plane, I recommend business class. The seats are bigger, if you start convulsing. Although once you pass out, it really doesn't matter.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Sleep through an aerial bombing or two, and noise isn't an issue. You just need some privacy and a bed. In a pinch you can lose the bed, but the privacy's important for projects like this one. With everyone x-raying and chemical testing their mail these days, a box of wire and pipe and batteries sprinkled with chemical fertilizer is a great attention-getter.

    • Michael: (voice-over) With this much money, things get complicated. Change a light bulb in a place like this, and a week later you are on a speed boat on the Cayman Islands with someone shooting at you.

    • Sam: You know spies, a bunch of bitchy little girls.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Need to go some place you're not wanted? Any uniform store will sell you a messenger outfit, and any messenger can get past a security desk.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Sometimes the truth hurts. In these situations, I recommend lying.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Actually, losing a tail isn't about driving fast. A high-speed pursuit is just gonna land you on the 6:00 news. So you just keep driving like an idiot, until the other guy makes a mistake. Again, all of this is easier without a passenger yelling at you for missing a decade's worth of Thanksgivings.

    • Michael: (voice-over) I don't like stealing cars, but sometimes it's necessary. I have rules, though. I'll keep it clean, and if I take your car on a work day, I'll have it back by 5:00.

    • Michael: (voice-over) If you're going to put prints on a gun, sticking in someone's hand isn't going to do it. Any decent lawyer can explain prints on a gun. But try explaining prints on the inside of the trigger assembly.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Blackmail is kind of like owning a Pitbull. It might protect you or it might bite your hand off.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Fighting for the little guys is for suckers. We all do it once in a while, but the trick is to get in and out quickly without getting involved. That's one trick I never really mastered.

    • Michael: (to two kids) See that cop? I'll give you guys five bucks each, if you go over there and tell him, that the man in that car over there tried to make you sit on his lap.

    • Michael: (voice-over) I will say this for Nigeria though, it's the gun running capital for Africa, and that makes it a bad place to drive a passenger Sedan in a crowded market.

    • Michael: (voice-over) When you're being watched, what you need is contrast, a background that will make the surveillance stand out. An FBI field office is full of guys in their forties. At most south beach business hotels, it would be tough to tell, which middle-aged white guy was watching you. So you stay in the place where everyone is a Jell-O shot away from alcohol poisoning. If you see someone who can walk a straight line, that's the Fed.

    • Madeline: You know you missed your father's funeral by eight years.
      Michael: Well, last time I talked to him, he said, "I'll see you in hell, boy", so I figured we had something on the books.

    • Michael: (voice-over) 30 years of karate. Combat experience on five continents. A rating with every weapon that shoots a bullet or holds an edge. Still haven't found any defense to Mom crying into my shirt.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Figuring out, if a car is tailing you, is basically about driving like you're an idiot. You speed up, slow down, signal one way, turn the other. Of course, ideally you're doing this without your mother in the car.

    • Michael: (voice-over) When a spy gets fired, he doesn't get a call from the lady in H.R. and a gold watch. They cut him off. They make sure he can never work again. They can't take away his skills or what's in his head, so they take away the resources, that allow him to function. They burn him.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Southern Nigeria isn't my favorite place in the world. It's unstable, it's corrupt, and the people there eat a lot of terrible-smelling preserved fish.

    • Michael: (voice-over) In a fight, you have to be careful not to break the little bones in your hand on someone's face. That's why I like bathrooms. Lots of hard surfaces.

    • Michael: (voice-over) Covert intelligence involves a lot of waiting around. Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist's reception area 24 hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee and ever so often, someone tries to kill you.

  • NOTES (4)

    • International Show Titles:
      Czech Republic: Status: Nežádoucí (Status: Unwanted)
      Slovakia: Agent (Agent)

    • Awards and Nominations
      2008 – Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Television Episode Teleplay (won)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Australia: January 15/22, 2008 on TEN
      Brazil: October 2, 2007 on AXN
      Czech Republic: February 06/13, 2008 on Prima
      New Zealand: November 4, 2007 on TV3
      Sweden: February 17, 2008 on TV6
      Germany: September 28, 2009 on Vox
      United Kingdom: October 5, 2008 on FX
      Finland: January 25/February 1, 2010 on MTV3
      Slovakia: February 12/15, 2010 on JOJ

    • This episode was sponsored by DirecTV and originally aired advert free on USA Network.


    • Madeline: Well, remember when you were six and Daddy locked you in your room and wouldn't let you see the Star Wars movie. Well, you just pulled up the floor and sneaked out the heating vent.

      Star Wars was created by George Lucas in the 1970s.