Burn Notice – “Scatter Point”

“Scatter Point”

August 7th, 2008

When it comes to integrating the Carla storyline, it is generally used in one of two things thus far in Burn Notice’s second season: either to allow Michael opportunities to show off various skills and technologies that aren’t really applicable to normal missions, and to serve as a distraction from his more pressing client obligations.

What we see in “Scatter Point” is both of these examples, along with some further answers about Carla’s whereabouts and Michael’s ability (or inability) to track her down. And yet, while it may distract Michael, it isn’t really distracting for the review; this episode isn’t quite as indulgent as last week’s, which offered a bit more to just kind of sit back and enjoy, but this remains an example of how Burn Notice can maintain its quality while delving into somewhat more serious storylines and with an extra hint of danger to the proceedings.

The one thing I will say about “Scatter Point” is that it, well, feels a little bit scattered. The main storyline, Michael’s infiltration of a ring of thieves with a driver who wants out but doesn’t have a way of doing it, feels like it moves at a really quick pace, almost too quick. Last week was all about control: every change in tactic was calculated and planned out, and we were so “in on” the execution that it felt like we were learning something while being entertained at the same time. Here, it was actually trying to be suspenseful: every twist and turn showed Michael losing control, to the point where he was forced to think on the fly rather than rely on truly planning ahead.

Which isn’t a bad perspective, don’t get me wrong; I like seeing how Michael adapts to various scenarios, whether it’s his paper notepad over a cell phone or having to figure out how to stop the Heist when there’s a man on the inside.  The problem with it is that we never really get to see Michael’s plan go into effect because things change too quickly – other than the big finish, which was admittedly quite well paced, it felt like everything was just a constant bait and switch until it reached the conclusion. I think a lot of that has to do with the amount of time spent on the Carla side of things – it felt like there was just too many twists going on for the show to sustain both storylines, and that’s an issue of balance that didn’t ruin anything but certainly could have used some work. The conclusion was also a bit dark: I get that killing Timo was perhaps necessary, and he certainly wasn’t a nice guy, but is there any real moral difference between killing the guy outright and framing him knowing he was about to die? I’m fine with this type of perspective, but the show does need to acknowledge it.

As far as the Carla storyline goes, though, I think it was worth the time. This episode, as noted above, really offered all that the storyline has to offer, along with the added twist of Carla finally pulling the rug out from under Michael where we knew that she should. For someone who seemed so secretive and well-guarded, for Michael to so easily gain all of this background information without some kind of retaliation on her part seems strange. That it takes the form of humiliation as opposed to violence may seem kind of sketchy considering he hasn’t received a direct task from her in a few episodes now (Does she really still need him?), it does make for a good piece of work for Tricia Helfer’s sultry voice. One presumes we’re going to be seeing a bit more of her if the crossword is any indication, so I’ll be really curious to see what she has to say about his latest activities (And how much she knows about his actions).

And considering our dueling storylines, the rest of the series’ milieu didn’t get much attention: in fact, this episode was completely family-free for Michael, allowing Sam’s relationship with Veronica to get the attention instead. It’s not much of a storyline: she buys him nice things, he likes nice things, she wants to get married, he has never had his first marriage that went nowhere expunged from the records, she for some reason overreacts to this and kicks him out for no other reason than to let Bruce Campbell continue to play house at Michael’s. Marrying off Sam isn’t an option for the show, but this could have been a bit more believable.

Cultural Observations

  • Someone had pointed out some ADR issues ahead of the episode, and I agree – a couple of lines were really unfortunate, and one wonders whether it’s a time crunch or something else which causes it.
  • Loved the moment, as I usually love such moments, where Fiona could have screamed at any point during the Sam/Safecracker fight to get the Police’s attention, but chose to let Sam get hit in the face some more instead. Those scenes are always great, combining Fiona’s pleasure of pain and Sam’s, well, pain.

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