Burn Wiki
Broken Rules
Season 1, Episode 7
Air date August 9, 2007
Written by Mere Smith
Directed by Tim Matheson
Episode Guide
Unpaid Debts
Wanted Man

Broken Rules is the seventh episode of the first season and is the eighth episode overall.



Michael poses as a thief to infiltrate a crime gang who are terrorizing a local store owner.

Spy Facts[]

  • For anyone who works in covert ops, names have a special power. Knowing someone's real name, who they work for, you've got something on them. 'Out' a spy in the field, and you could get him killed. 'Out' a bureaucrat in a restaurant... and you'll just piss him off.
  • The longer you run from the police, the more certain you are to get caught. There's a small window of time after a chase begins, before backup arrives, before helicopters are deployed. If you want any chance of getting away, you'd best use this time to find some place secluded... and bail out. 
  • In intelligence work, surveillance is called coverage. It's like basketball: you can run zone defense, or man to man. Man to man's risky. Follow someone too long, they're going to get suspicious. Zone is usually the way to go. Stay put, and let targets come to you; less obvious, easier on the feet, and you can catch up on your celebrity gossip. 
  • Explaining the rules of covert ops is always a challenge. It's a world where good guys look like bad guys, and two wrongs do, in fact, make a right. 
  • As cover ID's go, I prefer rich businessman, or international playboy to crazy thief. But if the situation calls for it, you do what you have to do. 
  • The term "shock and awe" gets misused a lot these days. It's a popular name for a military tactic known as "rapid dominance". Whether you do it with a thousand pound bomb, or with a can of turpentine and a power drill, it's all about being spectacular. Kill the electronic brain of any late model car, and it's dead; won't start, windows won't open. Then, you can pretty much do whatever you want. 
  • Piss off a criminal organization and you could end up dead... But, if they don't kill you, they've got plans for you.
  • There's no substitute for improvisation. Even the best plans can't anticipate everything. You'd better be able to roll with the punches.
  • They say you only get one chance to make a first impression with an employer. Doesn't matter if you're a store manager, or a strong-arm guy, you've got to put your best foot forward.
  • Any employer is looking for the same things. Are you willing to go the extra mile? Can you take the initiative, impress them? 
  • In any new job there's always friction with your co-workers. They're wondering if the boss likes the new guy better, if he's going to make them look bad. In some jobs, that could get you a dark look in the break room; in other jobs, that could get you a bullet, in the back of the head. 
  • Military fire bombs are typically white phosphorous or chlorine tri-fluoride. These are remarkable effective, but they're also unstable, lethally toxic, and hard to find at the grocery store. The main ingredient in a homemade firebomb, on the other hand, is Styrofoam. A military demolitions expert can put something together in a few hours; an IRA-trained guerilla can do it in twenty minutes, give or take. 
  • Being a spy, you have to get comfortable with the idea of people doing bad things for good reasons; doing good things for bad reasons. You do the best you can. 
  • In any kind of covert, intelligence operation, it's important to be careful of what you wish for. The information that you fight so hard to get, may be everything you wished for, or it may just make your life more complicated. 

Full Recap[]

The dance between Agent Bly and Michael continues. Armed with the stolen ID, Michael waits for Bly to enter a restaurant where he's to meet Fiona, and announces to the crowd that Jason Bly works for the CSS. In spy terms, Michael tells us:

"...out a spy in the field and you could get them killed. Out a bureaucrat in a crowded restaurant and you'll just piss them off."

Michael tells Bly that the point to stealing his ID was merely to get to know him better. Taking it back, Bly tells Michael that he's been learning about Michael as well... his mother, Sam Axe and Fiona Glenanne. Michael warns Bly yet again that this is just between the two of them. Bly disagrees. He counsels Michael: "Adjusting to your circumstances is a process. It's natural for there to be some grieving, some anger, some denial. Involving your friends and family is an important part of the process." Bly goes on to tell Michael that he knows Fiona is on her way to meet Michael. He also knows the car she's driving is stolen. And he wonders if Michael knows there are illegal guns in the trunk of that car?

As he hears sirens in the distance, Michael grabs a napkin as he bolts from the restaurant, using it to avoid leaving fingerprints in the stolen car. He tells Fiona that Bly has set her up, and berates her for running stolen guns. Fiona protests that while she has always supported Michael in his work, she feels he's always had a problem with her work. Michael reiterates the differences between helping people and gun running, as they look for a place to ditch the car and go their separate ways, agreeing to meet at the apartment.

Fiona beats Michael back to the apartment, having gotten a ride from an older man 'concerned for her welfare'. As they discuss what Bly has done, Michael explains that Bly wants him to shut up and accept the burn notice, or he has made it plain that his friends and family are fair game. Fiona wants to know if she is 'friend' or 'family'. Michael, as always, tries to avoid this conversation. Fiona persists, getting Michael to agree they will discuss 'them' as soon as Bly has been dealt with. She offers to kill him to expedite the conversation; Michael declines. He warns Fiona that Bly is his best connection to finding out why he was burned and who was behind it. But to get anything out of Bly, he needs leverage, and a lot of cash.

Michael meets with Ernie Paseo, a small merchant who is being extorted by a new gang of thugs in his neighborhood. Ernie heard about Michael from Javier, a former client. Michael isn't thrilled with the fact that a former client has talked, and even less thrilled with the idea of ridding the neighborhood of organized crime. Ernie begs; the boss is a woman named Concha Ramirez, and she is ruining his business, as well as those of his friends and neighbors. He's offering $20,000.00 in cash if Michael can help him. The sight of an up-front $10,000.00 in cash, plus Ernie's heartfelt pleas for the families in his neighborhood convince Michael. He takes the job; now he has cash to implement his plan regarding Jason Bly.

Leaving Ernie's, Michael gets a panicked call from Sam. Jason Bly has been to visit Veronica; she is angered to have been visited by a Federal agent who told her Sam was at his ex-girlfriend's house. Sam is ducking flying objects; Michael offers to send an extraction team. Sam declines, sweet-talking Veronica and promising to meet Michael as soon as possible.

The trio meet at an outdoor cafe and discuss the job. Michael shows the cash, commenting that this amount should allow him to get Bly out of all their lives, as well as learn what he knows about the burn notice. Sam is reluctant to take on organized crime. Michael believes all that will be needed is to make the gang feel the neighborhood isn't worth the effort. Fiona catches on first: "Scare the Hell out of them!" They agree reconnaissance is the first step, and feeling guilty, Michael offers Sam some of the money to buy his lady friend a gift. Fiona watches in disbelief as Sam gouges Michael on the amount.

The stakeout begins. They get pics of Concha, and overhear her telling her crew to kill those who cannot pay. Fanning out in the general area, they simply watch, identifying the members of the gang, as well as the under-boss, Diego Cruz, and elderly man who accepts the money from the enforcers. In short order, Michael has seen enough.

At the apartment, Michael wonders aloud why they gang is leaning so hard on their 'customer base', driving them out of business, and even being willing to kill them, less-than-organized crime, it seems. Fiona calls them amateurs. Michael comments that a few Cuban coffees affected Sam's photography skills. Fiona, sensing an opening, remarks that she believes Sam is still upset about his girlfriend, continuing the discussion until Michael cuts her off. She feigns ignorance, this conversation is about Sam. Michael knows better, she is going to turn this into a discussion about their relationship. "After!" he says firmly. Fiona almost purrs: "Alright. But I promise you, if I am not satisfied, then I am going to kick your ass."

The plan is ready, and they spy explains an important detail:

"Explaining the rules of covert ops is always a challenge. It's a world where good guys look like bad guys, and two wrongs do make a right."

He now has to convince Ernie of this logic. Dressed as a street thug and carrying a baseball bat, Michael enters Ernie's shop, explaining that he is there to smash the place. Ernie is incredulous, thinking he has hired a security guard with Special Ops training. Michael tells him that for both their sakes, Ernie must tell no one that he's hired Michael, and that he also must convince everyone that his shop was attacked by a genuine psycho. The bad guys must believe that they are up against someone worse than themselves. Ernie reluctantly agrees, asking: "So, my job is to say a psycho robbed my store. What's your job?" Michael replies: "I get to be the psycho. Trust me. That's the hard part" and leaves, grinning inanely.

Michael's Notes:

"As cover ID's go, I prefer 'rich businessman' or 'international playboy' to 'crazy thief'. But, if the situation calls for it, you do what you have to do."

Leaning up against the thugs' car, jiving to music only the 'psycho' can hear, Michael waits for Concha's thugs, Oscar and Luis. Making short work of them with the baseball bat, he warns them that the neighborhood is now his.

Fiona and Sam are sitting on Concha's house. They see Luis and Oscar arrive, and hear them tell Diego Cruz that they were beaten by a crazy man. Diego orders them into the house. Fiona calls Michael to report that all is going to plan, and is told that she and Sam are to stay and observe. Watching Sam check and re-check his cell phone, Fiona can't resist asking if he'd sent flowers. Sam replies in the affirmative, asking Fiona why else he'd be checking his phone so frequently. Fiona asks what the card said. Sam replies: "I'm sorry. Call me." Fiona scolds him: "She doesn't need to know you're sorry. She needs to know who you are, where she stands..." catching herself, she finishes, "I would imagine." Sam bites, asking Fiona what a second card should say.

Returning to the apartment, Michael greets Jason Bly, who is waiting on his doorstep. They spar verbally a bit, and Bly lays out his offer. He will give Michael a new background and a job as a security guard in a bank, an opportunity to start over as a private citizen. Sarcastically, Michael agrees to think about the offer. Watching Bly walk away, he places a call.

Meeting Barry, the money launderer, Michael lays out what he wants: Barry needs to set up a business for a 'friend' of Michael's, using the $10,000.00 from Ernie. He needs an offshore business or two, bank accounts, some purchases...Barry should keep it vague. Barry asks if the 'friend' knows of this, Michael wants it to be a surprise. Barry agrees to help for 30% and a personal debt from Michael. The deal is struck.

Meeting Ernie, again Michael must calm his client. The gang has escalated their demands and activities. Michael patiently explains that this is normal, and reassures Ernie that he knows what he's doing.

Returning to Ernie's neighborhood, Michael institutes the next step in his plan:

"The term 'shock and awe' gets misused a lot these days. It's a military tactic known as 'rapid dominance'. Whether you do it with a thousand pound bomb, or with a can of turpentine and a power drill, it's all about being spectacular."

Trapping a handful of thugs in their car after they have made their days shake-downs, he disables the electronic brain of the car with the drill, rendering the locks, ignition and power windows useless. Back in 'psycho' character, he jumps on top of the car, drilling holes in the roof at random, then pouring the turpentine into the car. One thug reaches for a gun, but the 'psycho' reminds them that the shot will ignite the fumes. Holding a lighter, he tells them that they will die, but not from the fire. They will suffocate when the fire sucks out all the oxygen from the closed car, and then their bodies will burn. Demanding the money from the day's take, 'psycho' reiterates his position: The neighborhood belongs to him. Leaving the thugs trapped, Michael leaves the scene, only to be met by Diego Cruz, holding a drawn gun. Somehow, Michael manages not to look pleased, at least not where Diego can see. He is taken straight to Concha. His suspicions about the operation are confirmed. She cares nothing about the money she is taking from the businesses; she wants to buy the real estate, and cheaply. Fiona was wrong, it was not an amateur shake-down crew. Concha offers Michael a job. He declines, she insists. It is decided that Michael will now work for Concha.

Assigned to work with Diego Cruz since the rest of the crew is scared of the 'psycho', Michael gently pries information out of Diego about his relationship with Concha. Diego confesses that he once was a bookie, made a good living and answered to no one. He thought street collections were beneath him, but since Concha had killed his previous boss in cold blood - in front of the man's children at a birthday party - he had been left with no choice. He explains that Michael will extort money from half the neighborhood businesses on this day, and collect from the rest the next day. Michael has a different plan. Fiona is nearby in Sam's car, Sam is sitting at a sidewalk cafe. Michael tells Diego that the current plan to empty the neighborhood will take too long, he has a different approach in mind. Walking up to the waiting Fiona, Michael pulls his gun, breaking the car window and grabbing her purse. Being Fiona, she can't resist fighting back, making Michael beg her to stick to the plan and give up the purse. Returning to Diego flaunting the purse, Diego is outraged. A street mugging will bring the cops, and the day's business must stop. He promises Michael that Concha will be told, and will not be happy. The neighborhood residents are safe for the day.

Returning to the apartment, Michael encounters Bly inside, lounging in a chair, enjoying a yogurt. Asking about Bly's warrant, Bly tells Michael they are way beyond such niceties, warning him that it was Michael himself who decided to make this job personal. Casually glancing outside, Michael notes that Jason's rental has been upgraded to a flashy red convertible. Bly can't resist bragging, the upgrade is a reward for doing such a good job with Michael. Smugly, Bly continues to taunt Michael; his brother Nate will end up in jail, and Bly will inform a few angry associates of Fiona's where she can be found. Michael relents, asking Bly to leave his family and friends out of this; he will take the bank security job.

Joining Diego and Concha at her home, Diego is upset over Michael's street mugging. Excusing Diego, Concha has seen a way to exploit Michael's apparent recklessness. She knows Ernie Paseo is the only person holding the neighborhood together. She wants him and his entire family to die in a fire. This is Michael's assignment. Michael accepts.

Michael goes to Ernie, needing him to leave town. Ernie is incredulous, he wants to stay put, he hasn't closed a day in 30 years, he's given Michael his entire life savings. Gently, and firmly, Michael tells Ernie that it's time for a vacation, promising Ernie that he can handle the situation, but Ernie must trust him and take his family away. Reluctantly, Ernie agrees.

Fiona's IRA talents are put to good use, and a fire bomb is made. Michael meets Diego and they proceed to Ernie's store. Diego is shocked to find the store is closed, and as he is ranting that Ernie had to have been tipped off, Michael puts a gun to Diego's head, explaining that he had two job assignments from Concha - take out the store, and kill Diego. Diego is incredulous; Concha has assigned him to kill Michael as soon as the store has been bombed. 'Psycho' pretends to be stunned, and tells Diego it's just business. Believing himself about to die, Diego begs Michael to allow him to get rid of Concha, something he feels he should have done long ago. He promises Michael that even if he does what Concha asks, she will double-cross Michael in the end as well, and if Diego is allowed to deal with Concha, they will go their separate ways; Michael can have the neighborhood. "How would you do it?" Michael asks.

"Being a spy, you have to get comfortable with the idea of people doing bad things for good reasons, doing good things for bad reasons. You do the best you can."

Diego takes Fiona's fire bomb and places it inside Concha's house, leaving quickly. Hearing a noise, Concha looks out on the street, and seeing Diego wave goodbye, she has no time to react before Diego pushes the detonator. The house explodes into bits, taking Conch with it. Watching from nearby, Michael and Diego acknowledge each other, and go their separate ways.

Michael and Ernie meet in a church. Ernie has the final payment, the other $10,000.00. Michael refuses the additional money and returns the majority of the initial money, telling Ernie it was never his intention to take his life savings; he needed the money to use temporarily, returning all but what had been needed for expenses. Ernie is incredulous, he wants to tell the neighborhood what Michael has done for them. Michael cautions Ernie that no one must ever know what he'd done, and they must never meet again. Uncomfortable as ever, in the face of emotion and gratitude, Michael walks away.

His client's problem handled, Michael returns to his plan for Jason Bly. They meet at the "retirement party for Michael Weston". Bly is smug. He hands Michael the folder detailing his new life. Michael will start on the night shift, if he's good, he will be the daytime security manager in a couple of years, there is a dental plan for good measure. Bly is enjoying himself immensely, but his look of jubilation turns to confusion at Michael's next words. Calmly, Michael states that this is awkward, but he is turning down the job. Bly reminds Michael that he isn't going anywhere, he will stay in Miami and make Michael's life miserable until he gives up chasing after his former career.

Michael deals his trump card: He presents Bly with a folder of his own making, and calmly outlines the contents. He has taken their 'close personal friendship' to a whole new level. He has set up an offshore business in both their names. In the last week, he has given Bly $100,000.00 in cash - admitting that it's only $10,000.00 deposited over and over, but it sure looks like a whole lot of money. The folder contains a picture of Jason Bly making himself comfortable in Michael's apartment, enjoying a yogurt, no warrant in sight. And, as a final touch, there are pics of Jason driving the red convertible, upgrade paid for by Michael Weston. Jason Bly looks sick. Michael's tone is conversational: "That's a career-ender there, Bly. I gotta say, it looks pretty convincing." Defeated and outmaneuvered, Bly asks Michael what he wants in return for the manufactured file. Michael wants the dossier on his burn notice, and walks away. Jason looks ill; then he realizes that Michael has just pulled away in the red convertible.

Sam calls Michael to congratulate him on getting rid of Bly. It seems Bly even apologized to Sam's lady friend, giving Sam a bit of street credibility in the process; it looked to the girlfriend as if Sam had been the one to get rid of the CSS agent. He also warns Michael. He's been talking to Fiona, taking her advice on patching up his romance, and thinks Michael ought to know that Fiona is on her way to Michael's place, intent on 'the BIG talk'. As the words leave Sam's lips, Fiona open the door to the apartment, Michael hangs up quickly.

Fiona wastes no time, reminding Michael that Bly is gone; they will talk or she will make good on her promise to kick his ass. Michael tells her he has no idea what to say. Fiona reminds him that he's promised her. Michael still stalls, telling her that while he had promised they would talk, he had not promised that he would know what to say. His eyes never leave her as she pins her hair up out of her way. She tells him she wants to know if their relationship is going anywhere. Michael reminds her of how unhappy they were when they were together, pointing out the scars she'd left on his body as proof, and he tells her that he doesn't want to go there again. She asks him quietly if he wants someone else. He denies it: "Fi. As unhappy as we were, I don't think there is anyone I could be with that would make me any happier than you. And I don't know if that's good enough." Fiona replies, "It's not." and strikes the first blow. As the fight begins, Michael accidentally hits Fiona in the face, and instantly apologizes. Fiona merely smiles, her determination growing. Michael begs for her to stop. Fearless, Fiona strikes again. Michael doesn't want anything to do with this fight. He warns her that she will get hurt, receiving only amusement from her, and no mercy. She is relentless, and knowing this must happen, Michael reluctantly defends himself in earnest - two pros locked in combat. The fight is short but brutal, both know what they are doing. As Fiona pins Michael on his back, each with their hands gripped around the other's throat, anger and brutality give way to passion, and they make love instead.

Waking to a noise, both former operatives pull guns from beneath their pillows, training them on the doorway. Jason Bly enters. He hands Michael the file he's been seeking, telling Michael only "Have fun with it." Bly is gone.

Michael comments:

In any kind of covert intelligence operation, it's important to be careful what you ask for. The information that you fight so hard to get may be everything you wished for, or it just may make your life more complicated."

He holds the prized dossier in his hand.



Guest Starring[]


  • Julio Perez as Thug
  • Paul Tei as Barry


  • Consulting Producer: Michael Wilson
  • Produced by: Terry Miller
  • Supervising Producer: Mere Smith
  • Supervising Producer: Alfredo Barrios, Jr.
  • Co-Executive Producer: Nick Thiel
  • Co-Executive Producer: Jeff Freilich
  • Executive Producer: Mikkel Bondesen
  • Executive Producer: Matt Nix
  • Created by: Matt Nix
  • Associate Producer: Erik Lee
  • Executive Story Editor: Craig O'Neill
  • Executive Story Editor: Jason Tracey
  • Casting by: Wendy Weidman, CSA
  • Casting by: Barbara Fiorentino, CSA
  • Casting by: Rebecca Mangieri, CSA
  • Miami Casting: Ellen Jacoby, CSA
  • Director of Photography: Roy H. Wagner, A.S.C.
  • Production Designer: J. Mark Harrington
  • Edited by: Steven Lang
  • Unit Production Manager: Terry Miller
  • First Assistant Director: Melanie Grefe
  • Second Unit Director: Oscar Aguirre
  • Score by: John Dickson
  • Production Supervisor: Ek Keratsis
  • Costume Designer: Danny Santiago
  • A Camera Operator: Mike McGowan Jr.
  • B Camera Operator: Al "Tiko" Pavoni
  • Gaffer: William Smaling
  • Key Grip: Tom Smaling
  • Art Director: Craig Siebels
  • Set Decorator: Barbara Peterson
  • Location Manager: Jennifer Radzikowski
  • Transportation Coordinator: Larry Crenshaw
  • Construction Coordinator: Michael Metzel
  • Make-Up Artist: Susie Mendez-Pfister
  • Marine Coordinator: Don Abbatiello
  • Hair Stylist: Couqui Collazo
  • Property Master: Charlie Guanci, Jr.
  • Production Accountant: Chad McQuay
  • Script Supervisor: Betty Bennett
  • Production Sound Mixer: Scott Clements
  • Script Coordinator: Peter Lalayanis
  • Production Coordinator: Simi Wein
  • First Assistant Camera A: Mike McLean
  • First Assistant Camera B: Peter Farber
  • Best Boy Electric: Robert Cates
  • Best Boy Grip: Dave Robinson
  • Transportation Captain: Melvin Turner
  • Stunt Coordinator: Artie Malesci
  • Special Effects Coordinator: Kevin Harris
  • Assistant to Matt Nix: Kate Sargeant
  • Post Production Supervisor: John Klump
  • Assistant Editor: Doug Hannah
  • Supervising Sound Editor: Albert Ibbotson
  • Music Editor: Kevin Bassinson
  • Re-Recording Mixer: Sherry Klein
  • Re-Recording Mixer: David Raines
  • Assistant to Jeff Freilich: Conchi Tellechea
  • Telecine and Electronic Assembly by: Cineworks Digital Studios, Inc.
  • Telecine and Electronic Assembly by: Laserpacific Media Corporation
  • Special Thanks to Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature for Florida's Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive
  • Post Production Sound by: Larson Studios
  • SRS Circle Surround provided by SRS Labs, Inc.
  • Camera Systems by Cinevideotech


  • Although Sharon Gless is credited in this episode, this episode marks the first absence from a credited main character. This makes Jeffrey Donovan, Bruce Campbell, and Gabrielle Anwar the only three main characters to appear in all episodes.
  • The production code was # 5037-07-106/S106

Continuity Errors[]

  • When Michael and Bly are talking, Fiona pulls up and is seen putting on makeup without gloves but when Michael asks if the car is clean she is shown wearing gloves
  • Michael enters Ernie's store and locks the door. However, when leaving, Michael does so without unlocking the door.