Burn Wiki
Company Man
Season 5, Episode 1
Air date June 23, 2011
Episode Guide
Last Stand

Company Man is the first episode of the fifth season. It aired as a two-hour season premiere.


Michael, though his burn notice has not officially been lifted, goes on a mission with his new handler, Max, to find John Kessler, the top man responsible for burning him.

Spy Facts[]

In the world of intelligence, taking down an entire covert network is the ultimate challenge. It's not something you can do alone. You need the resources of an entire Intelligence Agency behind you. You need solid intelligence that can point you in the right direction. But that's just a starting point. You're not after an individual person, you're after dozens of people, all of them hiding, all of them with resources and skills, all of them fighting you by any means necessary. It's a gigantic jigsaw puzzle of information that requires months of research and analysis, where one target leads to the next. A courier picked up off the suburban street leads to a spy hiding out as a diplomat in a foreign embassy, leads to a hardened group of armed assassins in another place entirely. Sometimes it's a surgical operation done with discreet teams that no one ever hears about, other times it's all-out war. One thing is always the same: with each piece of the puzzle, you find you understand your enemy more clearly. You penetrate the secrecy that shields the people behind the scenes, working your way to the top of the network, to the people pulling the strings. You keep fighting. Trying to put that last piece of the puzzle in place, trying to find that last person who will give you the answers you're looking for.

RFID security is easy to get around with a device known in the trade as a gecko. Complicated electronics, but a simple principle: any key can be copied, even a digital one.

One of the most dangerous times for a spy, is right after a job. Your guard is down, which makes it a good time for an attack by your enemies or, in some cases, your friends.

One of the things you give up in intelligence is control over your own schedule. It's a little like being a doctor on call, only your emergencies tend to be thousands of miles away.

The biggest obstacle you can face in an interrogation is yourself. When your own feelings, your own anger, your own desire for revenge are all that stand between you and the information you want. The stronger your feelings are, the hotter your hate burns, the more important it is to set it aside.

Intelligence agencies choose their foreign command centers with a few things in mind. You want a place that's near main roads but not on them. It's best if the owner is on the payroll or is controllable in some other way. You want power for the computers, air conditioning for the meetings, and a generous late check-out policy in case an operation goes wrong.

When you're working under a cover I.D. overseas, it's all about the little things. The farther you are from home, the higher the stakes. That's why you study. You have to know every visa on your passport, every detail on every document, the entire history of the person you're claiming to be. It's true whether you're pretending to be a Russian spy on a foreign recruitment mission, or a clueless American tourist with a bad rental car.

When you're recruiting an asset from a hostile country, you pose as a citizen of one of your target's allies. Someone who would never help the United States, for example, might be perfectly happy to help a Russian.

It's always a tense time right after after you've made a pitch to recruit an asset on foreign soil. If they accept, you're in business. If they decline, you're in jail. Which is why it's a good idea to have backup

Magicians and mind readers often use a technique known as shotgunning, in which you determine what your target is thinking by throwing a bunch of information at them and reading their reactions. It's effective for spies as well but it's considerably harder with a gun pointed at you

The challenge of a good large-scale field operation is to keep all parts coordinated while keeping them as separate as possible. Field units are separate from transportation units, with the command unit separate from both. When things go right, they all work together as one big team. The problem with remote command centers is what happens when things go wrong. Anyone stuck in the command center is too far away to do anything about it

The most vulnerable system in any reinforced structure is typically ventilation. Holes that let in air can also let in other things, like the explosive cores of concussion grenades for example. They're a high quality explosive and quite effective. Of course, you have to get them into place without blowing your hands off.

As a spy, your job is intelligence. Whether you're after national security secrets, or operational information about the people who destroyed your life, the job is the same. There's no greater satisfaction than that moment when you finally get the answers you're looking for, and nothing is harder to take than having those answers forever taken away

A well-trained police force knows that the first priority in arriving at a scene, is to establish a perimeter and lock down the area. You let them do that, and chances are you're not getting out. That's why it's important to make sure they have a higher priority like dealing with a more urgent threat. If you've got enough ammunition and a good osculating fan, you can keep them busy dealing with your gun while your busy getting away.

Full Recap[]

Michael explains that in order to take down a criminal network, you need a bigger backing and resources because the mission could take you all over the world to find all sorts of people. He says you keep fighting, capturing and taking out person after person until you get to that last piece of the puzzle -- the final person who will help it all come together.

In Ottawa, Canada, Michael meets up with Max, a CIA officer whom he's clearly working with now. They've entered a building they aren't supposed to be in. Michael is "a CIA asset" until his burn notice is officially lifted. Raines, their "boss," is listening to everything they're saying as Max tells Michael that Raines has "a crush" on him. They come across a guy named Hector who's using a fake name because he's trying to steal information. There's a light scuffle and they subdue Hector when Max injects him with something.

Michael is told he's going home, but he wants in on the interrogation. Raines tells him he understands Michael wants answers, but Michael corrects him, saying, "No, Raines. I need answers."

When Michael gets home, he's attacked -- by Fiona. He doesn't seem to mind.

After they get reacquainted, she asks him where he was and he can't say. Fi doesn't like that Michael's been around the world for six months without her. She tells him that the time since he was burned has been hard for everyone around him.

He goes to see his mom and Sam, who's in good shape. He can't give Sam details on what he's been doing, but says there's been "progress." Sam has a surprise: Michael's car ... and Jesse. He finds out Jesse quit his government agency job and is now working private security and helping people. Michael's phone rings and Max orders him back to D.C. immediately.

Hector isn't talking, but they need him to give up Kessler -- the man who did all the work in getting Michael and other agents fired.

Michael talks to Hector, who says he won't reveal anything. He tells Hector that his organization is something that any agent might want -- the ability to get things done without government intervention. Hector says Kessler will kill his whole family if he says anything. He convinces Hector that if he wants to protect his family, he should share info with Michael.

Michael emerges from the room and tells Raines that Kessler is in a compound in Caracas. He agrees to go look for him, but demands that his own team make the trip. Raines tells Michael he forgot what a pain in the ass Michael could be and Michael simply smiles and says, "Yeah, but I'm worth it."

Michael, Sam and Fi arrive in Venezuela. The accommodations aren't great. All three of them are sharing a room, but the CIA has given them an open bar, which wins Sam's approval. Max gives Michael the scoop on the mission and tells him Kessler is heavy guarded. Michael is going to have to make friends with a particular military checkpoint officer near Kessler's compound to get his assistance.

Sam and Fi pose as American tourists with a bum rental car in order to distract the officer's other men while Michael goes to have a chat with him. Michael poses as a Russian agent (knowing that the officer was trained in Cuba before the Soviet Union fell) and tells the officer that Kessler has committed many crimes in Russia. He asks for the man's help in getting Kessler to the checkpoint alone. He says he'll make it worth his while. He invites the man to meet him at a restaurant.

The officer arrives and tells Michael he checked around about the mission and no one knows anything about it. He pulls a gun on Michael under the table. With Sam, Max and Fi feeding Michael information through an earpiece about people the officer might know, Michael gets out of the situation and gets the officer to agree to help -- for a fee.

Michael and Max run the whole team through the mission. Sam and Fi aren't happy with their side roles, but Michael tells them there's nothing he can do.

Kessler gets to the checkpoint and the officer Michael paid asks Kessler to come into the office to sign some papers. A gunfight ensues. Sam and Fi are nearby and help with survivors. Kessler heads back to his compound and Michael chases him back there with Max in tow. At the compound, there's another shootout, but this time it's Michael and Max against Kessler's entire team.

They get inside Kessler's house, but there's more gunfire as Kessler heads into a safe room. Michael calls Fi and asks her to buy him some more time.

While Michael tries to blow a hole in the safe room's wall with grenade parts, Fi sets up an effective roadblock with explosives and a burned-up car.

Michael's explosion of the wall works, but inside he finds that Kessler is dead. He shot himself. Michael yells at Kessler's body for a moment, upset that he's come all that way for so many years to get nothing from Kessler.

But the next priority is getting out and avoiding the cops. Michael sets up an oscillating fan with ammo to shoot bullets randomly around the cops as a distraction so he and Max can get out another way.

In Miami, Michael reads the news that Kessler was killed by a "Colombian cartel" He's upset and unfulfilled with the way Kessler went out and isn't in the mood to toast.

Back in his mom's garage, he tells her that his quest to get answers fell short as his target ended up in a body bag. She tells him she doesn't really believe in closure, adding that when "somebody blasts a hole in your life, it tends to stay open."

As she leaves, she tells him he should fix the Charger, which he says is beyond saving. She tells him nothing is beyond saving if you work at it, and we finally see him pulling the tarp off the old car.




  • Max


  • Clients:
  • Bad Guys:


Stock footage of a Northwest Airlines plane is shown taking Michael back to Washington DC. Northwest Airlines was dissolved into Delta Airlines and ceased operations years prior to this episode.

Of the cut scenes of Caracas, Venezuela, one was actually Cusco, Peru as shown by both the country and city flag flying on one of the buildings.



  • Max: Glad you made it. I was beginning to wish I'd brought a magazine.
  • Michael Westen: There was a guard change at the front entrance. Isn't knowing that supposed to be your job as senior field officer?
  • Max: Handling that kind of your job as operative extraordinaire?
  • Michael Westen: Oh, but that's not my title. Until my burn notice is officially lifted, I'm just a "civilian intelligence asset".

Share this quote

  • Michael Westen: [voiceover] One of the things you give up in intelligence is control over your own schedule. It's a little like being a doctor on call, only your emergencies tend to be thousands of miles away.