Burn Wiki
Bad Breaks
Season 2, Episode 13
Air date February 13, 2009
Written by Michael Horowitz
Directed by John Kretchmer
Episode Guide
Seek and Destroy
Truth and Reconciliation

Bad Breaks is the thirteenth episode of the second season and the twenty-fifth episode overall.



Michael finds himself trapped inside a private bank with Jason Bly during an armed robbery. Meanwhile, Michael's predicament disrupts Sam's love life.

Spy Facts[]

  • As a spy, you have a lot of ways to get information. You can get it with a gun, you can get it with a lock-pick, you can get it with a listening device. But most often, more than all the other information gathering techniques combined, you get information with a free lunch.
  • When someone starts acting like there’s an extra person in the conversation, it’s a pretty good bet they’re wearing a wire. The question, then, is who’s taping you -The police, The feds, or a government agent you blackmailed a while back, and were hoping to never see again?
  • Government agents have to stay within the law, but they still have plenty of options to hit you below the belt. Sometimes a bullet to the head is a lot easier than a slow death drowning in red tape.
  • There are a number of different choices when you take over a building by force. Do you keep the hostages face down on the floor, or do you move them into a room together? How do you cut all the lines of communication out? And how do you deal with the place's security methods? Whatever your style, hostile takeovers are about one thing, total dominance.
  • A wounded hostage is a good measure of how far a criminal’s willing to go. They either want to keep the hostage alive, or they don’t, which means more people are getting hurt.
  • In a hostage situation, any idiot can steal a gun and start shooting. It’s a great way to get a bunch of innocent people killed. Keeping people alive means fighting like a spy. Fighting like a spy means disguising attacks as attempts to help. It means making acts of man, seem like acts of God.
  • Cutting through a wall with scissors isn’t as hard as it sounds. Start at an electrical socket and saw through the hard surface of the drywall and the lower layers are a lot easier.
  • In an enclosed space, getting around a cellphone jammer is a game of who’s got the stronger signal. A cellphone jammer broadcasts a powerful signal over a range of frequencies, but it can’t compete with an entire Ethernet wired to serve as one big antenna.
  • The massive air pressure that makes air hammers effective also makes them dangerous. Tamper in any way with the locking collar that holds the bit in place, and the air hammer becomes a very inaccurate gun with a single bullet.
  • Mixing medications is always a bad idea, especially when one’s an upper and one’s a downer. Anxiety and allergy meds together are a scary combination, and that’s before you add the caffeine of an energy drink.
  • Experience with battlefield medicine may not make you as precise as an E.R. surgeon, but after you’ve stitched up a few people under artillery fire, you can handle outside pressure.
  • People are too trusting when it comes to pills. They’ll take whatever a doctor hands them.
  • Liquid nitrogen can cool a wound to 150 below, freezing the cells and cutting off blood flow. Super cooling also damages metal. Freeze the inside of a gun, and the next time it gets hot, it’ll rip apart as if it’s loaded with the wrong ammo.
  • Elevators have so many safety devices that they’re easy to sabotage. Disable any part and the entire system shuts down.
  • Life with a hypochondriac mother gives you a useful knowledge of pharmaceuticals. In low doses, Pilocarpine cures dry mouth. In high doses, it has roughly the same effect as a sarin gas attack.
  • In a weakened state, you want to avoid pressure on your carotid artery. Block the blood flow to your brain, and you black out in four seconds.
  • The coating on tablets and medicine keeps them from dissolving in your stomach right away. Which buys you a little time to find some privacy and do the only safe thing, get them out of your system.
  • If you have one bullet and you need to take down three armed guys in close quarters, you’re betting your life on a lot of lucky breaks. It’s the kind of bet you don’t want to make unless you have to.

Full Recap[]

As a spy, there are a lot of ways to get information. To wit: the free lunch.

Sam harangues Michael for taking Barry to a fancy lunch in exchange for tracking a mysterious Cayman bank account. Barry starts reciting what he's doing for Michael Weston - breaking a lot of laws.

Michael's Spidey Sense goes off. He realizes he's being taped. And in walks Jason Bly (Alex Carter), the government agent he blackmailed a while ago (Burn Notice: Broken Rules (#1.7)) and hoped to never see again. Michael reminds Bly of the file he has on him and how he was never supposed to see him again.

Bly recounts how thrilled he was to find Barry investigating suspicious accounts for him. He thinks that should negate the blackmail.

Michael frets to Fi. If Bly goes after him with Barry, he's got problems.

Michael returns home to find Bly leading a health department investigation for toxic mold. Bly packs Michael a bag and it's off to mom's.

Of course Mom has a friend with a problem. Paula met a guy, Prescott, on the Internet and now she thinks she's being stalked. Michael agrees to talk to him.

His dating profile leads nowhere.

Sam has to leave for a date with a beer distributor who has a quad kegerator.

Paula calls, Prescott is outside her work.

Michael shows up. She works for a private bank. As they're talking, Bly strolls in. He wants everything that references him. Then in walks the stalker... except that he's not a stalker. Meet Prescott (Mark Sheppard) the bank robber.

He has a team. They block cell phones with a jamming signal and unpack automatic weapons from boxes. They're well-prepared. They herd the hostages into the conference room.

Bly tells Michael they should grab guns. Michael tells him to wait. Instead, Bly tries to grab a gun and gets beat down by a robber. Prescott lays out the rules, which mostly involve him killing people who don't cooperate. To make his point, he shoots Bly in the arm.

Michael tells us a wounded hostage is a good measure of how serious the robbers are. If they're willing to let one die, others will get hurt. Michael tell Prescott he's a doctor and he's just trying to help keep people calm.

Michael examines Bly's arm. He has to get the bullet out.

He asks a bank employee where the data server is. He wants to cut a hole in the hall to get to that room and blast out from there.

Michael walks out "looking for tools" to operate on Bly but actually doing recon. Inside, Bly tells people to start cutting through the wall with scissors. Apparently it's not that hard if you start at the socket.

Michael poo-poos the medical kit and says he needs to search desks. He generally takes control and bosses the goon around as he gathers items, including a spare cell phone. He uses the bank's ethernet to boost a cell signal more powerful than the jammer.

Elsewhere Sam is on his date with Angela (Adele Uddo), the perfect woman. She talks beach houses and how she never needs to get married again. A nude beach is mentioned. Finally, Sam answers. Michael needs Sam and Fi to blast an exit in the side wall. Sam tells his date the truth and runs out.

Back in the bank Michael uses an air-hammer and match to make a "very inaccurate gun with a single bullet." He puts it back in a guard's bag. He slipped the guards by mentioning they've got people at every exit and he can't really go anywhere. He also mixes meds into a robber's energy drink which should make an interesting combination. Back in the conference room, he gets a gun across the temple as punishment for disappearing.

He gives Bly some pain pills he found as he pours vodka from someone's desk on the wound.

Sam and Fi gear up as Sam gloats over being Michael's first call in a crisis.

Michael uses tweezers to get the bullet out of Bly's arm and stitches him up. The robbers are emptying the vault downstairs. The silent alarm has been cut. No help is coming.

Prescott wants Michael downstairs.

Outside the bank, Fi criticizes Sam for not determining what the signal is for the explosion.

Michael has been called to tend to the man who had the misfortune of handling the air-hammer he rigged. He asks to use the liquid nitrogen they're using to cauterize the wound. He also takes a moment to blast Prescott's gun when he's not looking, which can't be good for the gun.

Prescott gets called up to the conference room. The guy cutting through the wall has been busted. Bly steps up and says it was him. He hands over the scissors. Prescott takes aim. And fires.

Fortunately for Bly, the gun explodes in Prescott's hand.

Prescott yells at his men to shoot Bly as he holds his wounded paw, but Michael steps in front of him saying that Prescott is gushing arterial blood and he'll need a doctor to save him. He tells his men to move the hostages downstairs. Bly exhales.

One of the men tells Prescott they're about 20 minutes behind schedule and asks if he should call the boat.

As they walk to the stairs, Bly asks Michael how his plan is going. He's working on Plan B. He asks Bly if he trusts him. Yes. Michael tells him to collapse in a nearby doorway and sell it to buy him time. He does. Michael shouts that he's going into shock and he can't move him, he'll need a few minutes. Prescott gives him one. Michael goes back to the Ethernet-boosted phone and calls Sam. He tells him to try to listen into their walkies to find the boat.

Michael mentions how easy it is to sabotage an elevator. One of the goons reports the elevator is busted.

As Michael works on Prescott's hand he lifts a wrench from his bag and takes it. Michael says he needs a splint and asks Prescott if he needs any meds. That's a big 10-4.

In the car, Fi searches for the walkie frequency while Sam calls his lady and tells her not to make plans later.

A cop pulls up and they need to prevent him from investigating the robber's trucks parked out front. Fi causes a distraction with a coffee vendor out front. The cop gets another call and leaves.

Michael goes to Bly under the pretext of getting meds and slips him the wrench he snuck earlier.

He brings Prescott meds, something that cures dry mouth in small doses and acts like Sarin gas in high doses. Prescott wants to see Michael take them first. He pops a few.

Meanwhile, the robber who's been guzzling the dosed energy drink tells Michael he's feeling weird. Michael says he's just going to take his pulse, and cuts off his air instead.

The pills remain in Michael's stomach while he teaches us about the coating on pills that keeps them from dissolving at first. And so he makes himself hurl into a trashcan.

Sam goes to the marina and says he's late to repair someone's boat. He asks if there's anyone waiting around looking pissed. They point him to the boat.

Michael, armed now with the passed-out robber's gun, hears another robber telling Prescott they're ready and Prescott telling him to kill everyone because they've seen their faces.

Bly keeps the hostages calm downstairs as they're moved into the vault.

Upstairs Michael goes back to the "ether phone." He tells Sam it's time for Operation Quicksilver. A blitzkrieg, but all Michael has is one bullet so Sam is going to have to sell it.

Angela the perfect woman calls Sam, saying his life is too fast-paced for her. As he's telling her he's just talking a walk in a marina, he apprehends one of the robber's guys at the boat.

Michael prepares to try to take on three armed men using only one bullet. He tells Prescott, who is waiting at the entrance with two others guys, that one of his men had a stroke. Prescott doesn't care and orders a goon to kill Michael. As the man approaches and Michael puts a hand on the gun down the back of his pants, the guy Sam grabbed radios in, asking Prescott why he didn't tell them who they were robbing.

The guy babbles that they're all dead and that someone is coming back. Sam takes over, saying that they're making a huge mistake. The robbers downstairs hear Sam lay on the threats and are distracted, giving Bly just enough a time to use the wrench to whack one and take a gun.

Upstairs, a robber turns on Prescott and Michael piles on Sam's story, saying he recognizes the voice and that Sam once brought him a tortured man to cure so the pain would last longer. "You have no idea who you're dealing with," he says.

The guys in the vault don't answer and Prescott continues to insist nothing is wrong—until Fi makes his truck outside explode. He kills his two men and grabs the bag but is quickly stopped by the police.

He's arrested laughing at the dumb luck of it all.

Inside, Michael sits down with Bly and they discuss if they're ready to continue trying to destroy each other. Bly recognizes that Michael had plenty of opportunities to let him die. He says he's going to go pass out at the local ER but after that he'll fix the loft and things with Barry. As long as he's feeling helpful, Michael says, could he ask a favor?

Paula tells Madeline about the heist. Michael takes his stuff and starts to head home. But Mom's ordering take out. He'll stay.

Later, Michael meets with Barry, who apologizes for the wire. No hard feelings.

Sam and Fi argue who was more clutch in the op. Fi tells Michael that Sam has been insufferable since Michael called him first. Michael clarifies: he called Fi first, but she didn't answer. So in the future he's going to call Sam first.

Michael meets with Bly in the loft, giving him all his blackmail files. Bly traced the bank and banker, but the account is just a number. Worse, the account was being monitored and it looks like it was tripped. Maybe by him, maybe by Barry. Whoever it is, they know he's coming.

Bly shakes his hand, wishes him luck and leaves.





  • Mandy June Turpin as Paula Foster
  • Mark Sheppard as Tom Prescott
  • Brice Beckham as Jeremy
  • Adele Uddo as Angela


  • Sam's call display during his lunch shows the number that Michael is calling him from as 555-0132. This was the phone number for Mr. Chapel in the series Vengeance Unlimited (ABC 1998-1999), in which Michael Madsen played a similar character to Westen, using his former training to help people in trouble.

Continuity Errors[]