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Dead or Alive
Season 4, Episode 16
BN 416.jpg
Air date December 9, 2010
Written by Lisa Joy
Directed by Peter Markle
Episode Guide
Brotherly Love
Out of the Fire

Dead or Alive is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season and the sixtieth episode overall.


  • Clients: Claire Baruchel


Sam tries to help a friend who's been deemed a dirty cop clear his name. Elsewhere, Michael plans to meet with Jesse's former handler in order to make sure government documents end up in the right hands.

Spy Facts[]

Covert intelligence, at the most basic level, is a type of weapon. Like any weapon, it can be used for good or evil, to make war or peace, to serve justice or power. It comes down to one thing: what you decide to do with it. 

In the world of deception spies inhabit, the truth takes on a peculiar power. The truth, the verifiable unvarnished truth, becomes the ultimate bargaining chip. The irony is that the only time you can afford to play that chip, is when everything is on the line, and you only get to play it once. 

Spies use different interrogation techniques than police. Cops tend to do their questioning in bright fluorescent lit rooms and they're legally required to let the bad guys know who they are before they start asking questions. Spies on the other hand often start interrogations in darkness in completely unfamiliar locations. And the less the bad guy knows, the better. 

You can work in the field your entire life, but telling people their loved ones are dead never gets easier. There's no training that makes it better, no technique that makes it smoother, you just get through it however you can. In the end, all you can really do with that kind of pain is decide what your going to do to make it right. 

Napalm or gelled fuel is best known for it's use in bombs. But it's essentially just gasoline that has been chemically altered to make it sticky and easier to control. It can be used in explosive devices, but it can also be used in any situation where you need to control the shape and size of a flame, which makes it very useful in forest fire work, building demolition and any situation where you want to scare the hell out of someone. 

Anyone who has battled big city traffic knows a traffic jam is just about the easiest thing in the world to create. Any number of fluids poured on a hot engine can create enough smoke to turn a freeway into a parking lot. if you're looking to grab someone stuck in that traffic jam, you need a choke point; a place where road conditions restrict visibility. Your target is likely to be distracted, unarmed and sitting in your potential getaway vehicle.

A career in law enforcement tends to make for a cynical outlook on life. Where spies spend their careers telling lies, cops spend their careers listening to them. 

It's standard protocol for a Homeland Security officer escorting classified materials to be armed. Less standard for their arms to have silencers. 

Full Recap[]

Previously on... Michael found "Barretts list," the key to destroying the people who burned him. It went missing, but Jesse and Sam tracked it down before it was auctioned in the Dominican Republic, and Michael and FI made the trip to steal it. Sam wants to give it to the government, but Fi urged Michael to keep it and decode it himself.

Michael gives Jesse the list and says they need to hand it over to the government. Jesse will give it to Marv, who will look like a hero. Michael wants to talk to Marv, but Jesse thinks it's a bad idea because Marv doesn't like or trust Michael. Jesse finally relents.

Marv (Richard Kind) reminds Michael of all the things Michael has done to make Marv distrust him, who defends his background. Marv says he can't take the chance that Michael is lying about the list. Marv tells Michael he has to call out all of the people who burned him. He wants to put Michael on a polygraph, and Michael eagerly agrees. He sits down and when Marv asks him to state his name and occupation, Michael utters the oh-so familiar phrase: "My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy."

Jesse tells Maddy there's a chance he and Mike will be "back in" to their government jobs. She's stunned, but says she's happy for them both.

Sam hands Michael a bunch of files and asks him to pass them on to Marv quickly. Sam tells Michael about a cop friend he's trying to help out. Michael knows the story from the newspaper and tells Sam the cop is crooked because the news reports say he's gone into hiding after some drug dealers were killed. Sam doesn't believe it.

Sam talks to Kevin-the-cop's wife and Kevin's partner and they discuss accusations that Kevin was hooked up with drug dealers. He's been suspended and his pension has been taken. Claire asks Sam to find her husband and bring him home.

Sam finds one repeat caller on Kevin's phone bill and he's traced the number back to a phone used by a guy named Ted, who lives in the same neighborhood where the drug dealers were shot. Michael and the gang agree to help. Sam and Michael track Ted down at his house. They mention the detective's name and Ted goes running, right into the place where Jesse is hiding with a Taser gun. They toss Ted into a trunk and take him away from questioning.

Ted tells them Detective Jackman is his "get out of jail free" card. Sam remembers that's Kevin's partner's name. He's the cop allegedly trying to help. Ted first refuses to tell them where Kevin is, but when they threaten to let him dehydrate, Ted says that Kevin is "gone," meaning he's dead. Pete, Kevin's partner, told Ted to kill Kevin. Ted claims Pete killed the drug dealers and that he told Ted to kill Kevin. Sam gets upset about his friend having been killed.

Fi says it will be tough to convince the cops that one of their own was responsible for another cop's killing. Sam wants to crack the case open for them in order to clear Kevin's name. Sam has to go break the news to Claire, who breaks down.

Michael starts coming up with ideas, and mentions that Pete hasn't moved the drugs he stole from the dealers yet. They're going to try to get Pete to bring the drugs out for movement. They need Claire to keep the plan quiet and play along with Pete until it's done. They tell Ted to help set him up.

Sam gets to Claire's house and Pete is there. She tells Sam to get rid of Pete, and he gives Claire a little story about how he's there for her and that Kevin will come back eventually. Claire keeps a brave face.

Fi tells Michael she wants him to have the choice to get his job back, even though she doesn't want him to do it. He meets with Marv, who admits that most of his story is "legit," but "there are other issues -- other people." He points out Sam as a problem, along with Fiona. Michael assures Marv that nobody else knows his situation. Marv says he'll do what he can and give him a time and place to give him the list.

Sam is working up some napalm to help Michael make a big introduction in his initial meeting with Pete. Michael is playing the drug dealer who Ted has connected Pete with. Pete gets suspicious when Michael claims he killed Ted. Pete threatens to leave, but Michael ignites a ring around them both, with the napalm controlling the shape of the circle. His move is convincing enough to get Pete to take a deal.

Pete keeps changing the place and time of the meeting because he's too scared to make the move. Michael tells Sam he wants to pretend Kevin is still alive, because Pete never saw the body. It might be their only chance to scare Pete into going through with the drug deal. Sam hates the idea, but says he'll tell Claire. She doesn't like it, either, but reluctantly agrees after some encouragement from Sam and Jesse. Sam asks her for a private meeting place where Kevin would have gone when he needed time alone. She suggests his boat.

At the boat, Sam meets Pete and tells him he just missed Kevin. He sells it to Pete as if it's good news, and Pete seems nervous.

Fi visits with Maddy, who is worried about Michael going back to work. Fi says his ticket back in isn't a sure thing. Fi assures Maddy that if Michael leaves again like he did before, she'll kill him.

Pete confronts Claire and asks about Kevin, and she tells him Kevin is "fine" but that she can't say much more. Jesse and Fi meet up with Pete, posing as internal affairs officers. They tell him not to leave town. When they leave, Pete calls Michael and says he's ready to make the deal immediately.

Michael is going to make sure Pete has the cocaine before calling the cops in. The deal is happening at Kevin's boat. Michael goes into the boat to wait for Pete, but when Fi sees Pete hiding in the brush with a detonator, she tells Michael to jump and he escapes just as Pete blows up the boat.

Pete drives off and Sam misses with his sniper rifle. Michael emerges from the water. Michael takes Sam's phone and talks to Jesse, saying they need to get Pete before he gets to the airport. Michael's new plan is to try to get Pete to plant the cocaine at Kevin's house.

Jesse jams up traffic, allowing Michael to sneak up on Pete and lead him to an isolated dumpster. Michael tells Pete he's going to kill him and can't risk being connected to the cops' internal investigation. Pete plays right into Michael's plan, saying that he'll take advantage of the fact that the cops think Kevin was behind it, and says he'll plant the drugs at Kevin's house.

Sam tracks down Police Lieutenant Briggs (Tom Hillmann) and urges him to go to Kevin's house to witness Pete planting the drugs. Briggs blows Sam off, but Sam takes him hostage, taking hi's gun and forcing him to go to Kevin's house. Briggs says he'll crucify Sam for this, but Sam tells him all will be resolved once Pete is implicated.

Pete is getting nervous while sitting in a car with Michael near Kevin's house, but Michael convinces him to go in and plant the drugs. Kevin sneaks into the house and starts putting cocaine into the vents. Briggs, who has been lying in waitm pulls a gun on Pete and arrests him. Pete sees Sam and is confused after learning that Kevin is actually dead and Ted is still alive, and will be spending time in prison with him. Sam punches Pete in the face and offers to let the cops arrest him. They don't, and Briggs asks Sam for help getting Pete into the cop car.

Claire and her son participate in an official police officer's funeral service for Kevin. Lieutenant Briggs tells Sam he was right, that Kevin was a good officer and he's sorry he lost his friend. They shake hands. Michael offers Sam a drink, and he says he could use one.

Maddy tells Michael she knows he's trying to get back to his old job. He says he's sorry she didn't find out from him. He promises to let her know whatever he decides to do, if he gets a chance at his old job.

Michael and Jesse meet Marv at the top of a parking garage to hand over the list. Marv seems nervous and tells Jesse it's better for them if he doesn't who he's giving the list to. Michael notices the "Homeland Security" officers escorting Marv have silencers on their guns, and realizes something is amiss. Michael asks who "these guys" are, and Marv says he's sorry. "They threatened me, they said that they would kill my wife." The men draw their guns and shoot Marv in the back twice.

As the SUV drives away, Michael sees that Tyler Brennen (Jay Karnes) -- "part-time spy, full-time sociopath" -- is in the back seat. Jesse asks who it is and Michael says he's "our worst nightmare."






Continuity Errors[]