Burn Wiki
Hard Out
Season 5, Episode 8
BN 508.jpg
Air date August 11, 2011
Written by Rashad Raisani
Directed by Craig Siebels
Episode Guide
Eye for an Eye

Hard Out is the eighth episode of Season 5 of Burn Notice.


  • Clients: Agent Pearce (Michael's CIA contact), Armand  
  • Bad Guys: Armand ("friend" to those in need), Steve Cahill (target for extraction), Miles Vanderwaal (sadistic mercenary)


Michael and Jesse go on an extraction mission on a Caribbean island but end up trapped there by mercenaries. Meanwhile, Fiona tries to get information out of an ex by doing a favor for him.

Spy Facts[]

  • Low-tech explosives may be clumsy and unreliable, but their simplicity makes them almost impossible to trace. Sophisticated bombs, on the other hand, are more effective but require expertise and specialized components. Which means, the more lethal the bomb, the more you know about the man who wants you dead.
  • There's a reason that everyone from 17th century pirates, to present day drug smugglers have operated in the Caribbean. It's filled with tiny islands that are close to major ports, but outside the reach of national laws. That said, the privacy that makes the islands great hiding places also makes them vulnerable. Your enemies may be able to hide from you, but you can hide from them just as easily. 
  • Properly scouting a facility's security is a two-step process. Observing the outside will tell you about its physical defenses, but to get a complete picture of your target's manpower and security protocols, you need to get inside their walls, too.
  • Spies have long known its a good idea to bring along a fast-acting drug when you're targeting someone for extraction. In the earliest days of espionage, that meant a rag soaked in chloroform or ether. But now, its usually a syringe of propofol. It works quicker and has fewer side effects, but shares one downside with its predecessors: you still have to get close to your target to administer the dose. That's why it never hurts to attack from two angles. 
  • When you find yourself in a tough situation, like being outnumbered 20-1 on an island crawling with mercenaries, its important to remember that the key to any battle is intelligence. It may be tempting to shoot first and ask questions later, but if you want to stay alive, you ask questions first. 
  • Destroying high-tech electronics with glorified camping equipment is tough, but not impossible. The mix of nitrate and magnesium in a marine flare burns at over 3,000 degrees. With the right fuse, it'll turn an electrical system into a smoldering heap. 
  • To hit a facility directly, you just need a gun and the willingness to use it. Less-bloody approaches require fewer bullets, but more planning. And more recruiting. 
  • Getting stuck behind enemy lines is one of the hazards of being a spy. When it happens, you can either hide in the shadows and wait to get killed, or you can march into the open and take your enemy head-on. Its a game of high-risk, high-reward. Play it right, and you might survive. 
  • When you're pretending to be on the same side as your enemy, its critical to keep them from talking. The more the bad guys can compare notes, the more likely they'll second-guess your story. That's why you shut down as many forms of communication as you can. It won't make you any friends, but friends are a luxury when you're trying to stay alive. 
  • The quickest way to turn a security force's attention away from an outside attack, is to make them think there's an even bigger threat inside their facility. If you know which employees will be out of town, you can send a care package filled with metallic sodium to an empty office. Then all you have to do is set off the company's sprinkler system with a smoke bomb. If you do it right, the sodium will react to the water, and you've got the distraction you need. 
  • As a general rule, spies prefer to steal information quietly. Its a lot easier to pay off an informant, hack a computer, or crack a safe than it is to grab something from someone who's armed and angry. But like any job, some days are just harder than others. 
  • When you're being interrogated in the field, its not about holding out. Field interrogations tend to be quick and dirty, and often end with a bullet to the head. The key to surviving is a good offense. When you take a swing to save your life, you swing for the fences. 
  • For a spy, getting someone to lie for you serves a number of purposes. It's less about the lie itself, no matter how useful it is. Its about how it changes your relationship with your target. Once a guy lies for you, for better or for worse, your fates are tied together. 
  • Like good defense attorneys, spies know the facts don't always matter as much as how you sell them. Only when lawyers lose a case, they get an appeal. When spies lose a case, they get a shallow grave. 
  • Disarming people by force is bloody and unpleasant. Sometimes it's easier to put on a smile and just ask.  

Full Recap[]

Fiona is examining the complex bomb that someone tried to use to kill Jacob by looking for clues as to how it was made. All Fi knows that is that maker is a "master." An analysis by a friend of Jesse's of the C-4 in the bomb showed it was stolen from the Soviets in 1988. Fi thinks she knows someone who can help.

Michael is taking Maddy to lunch on a glass-bottom boat, but he's distracted by the whole international conspiracy thing. A quartet of dudes on motorcycles traps the car and Fi says she knows what it's about. She gets out and gets onto the back of one of the bikes, and is gone in an instant. We next see Fi in an airport hangar, meeting a guy named Armand, "a 'friend' to those in need." He asks a small favor. He wants Fi to steal a truck full of armor-piercing bullets in exchange for telling her who built the bomb.

Sam thinks Michael and Fi are nuts for considering the theft. Michael can't join in on it because he has another top-secret mission for Pearce. Sam isn't happy about it, but he'll go along.

Michael meets with Pearce, who is tired from a red-eye flight from Cairo that was a bust. She wants to refocus the investigation in Miami, where the murder happened. That leads to the new assignment: Steve Cahill. The CIA wants to extract him because they want to know what he's up to. Pearce can get the help of one more person -- but that person must have a security clearance. It's Jesse, who's not happy about it.

Michael and Jesse get ready to head to the assignment in the Caribbean. As Fi drops them off, Agent Pearce walks up and Fi notes that Michael left out some details when describing Pearce. When Pearce tells Fi she'll "take good care" of Michael, he just smiles.

The trio arrives on a remote island in the Caribbean to find Cahill. They also see Miles Vanderwaal, a "sadistic mercenary." Pearce wonders what they're meeting about. Cahill hands over a briefcase and gets tossed a bag of money.

Meanwhile, Fi and Sam are staking out the weapons facility. Fi is looking from the outside and Sam is getting a tour, posing as someone with clients who need intellectual property safely stored. Sam gets a chance to talk to the facility's security team. He learns that if an alarm goes off anywhere in the facility, guards show up within 30 seconds. They'll have to think of something clever.

Michael and Jesse take down Cahill and subdue him with an injection. Vanderwaal has a large group of mercenaries arriving on the island, and they're blocking our group's way off the island.

The mercenaries are unloading crates onto the island, and Michael and Pearce go question Cahill. He says they're launching attacks in South America and the island is their operating base. They're wiping out American outposts -- DEA secret bases and CIA safe houses. He delivered to Vanderwaal files of all the outposts. He says he got them from a guy from the NSA. Pearce and Michael agree they need to get those files back.

Michael suggests that if they can't beat the mercenaries because they're outnumbered, they should join them. They will pose as a covert team sent by the company that hired the mercenaries. He wants to wipe out their communications link before the group has a chance to check out their backstory. Pearce says it's the craziest idea she's heard in the field and Jesse tells her, with a laugh, that she just hasn't hung around with Michael long enough.

Jesse and Pearce bond for a moment, then use some basic camping supplies to burn up the group's satellite, cutting off their communication.

Sam and Fi want Maddy to sneak into the secure storage complex and plant a smoke bomb in a trash can. She asks questions about Armand and Fi finally opens up, saying he got her out of Ireland when no one else could. "But his help wasn't free," and she had to serve as a lookout on a kidnapping. Maddy agrees to do it.

Fi goes back to the loft to find Armand there. He offers her some machine guns and she says she doesn't want to use guns on this mission. Armand asks where Fi's boyfriend is and she says he's busy. Armand tells her, "I hope he's worth it."

Back on the island, Michael puts duct tape over Cahill's mouth and tells him to nod and go along with everything Michael says. Michael and Pearce walk right up to the mercenaries and he asks to talk to "the idiot who's in charge of this fiasco." He asks for Miles Vanderwaal by name and says they're a security team sent by the company. When Vanderwaal tries to dial out, Michael says there's no signal because "this weasel" -- he whistles to Jesse to march Cahill out -- burned up the satellite. Michael demands that Cahill not be touched until he gets some answers, and tells Vanderwaal to help secure the island. Vanderwaal puts his gun down. Michael convinces Vanderwaal they're a security team from Pyramid, the company looking to take over the American outposts.

Jesse is suddenly in the role of a sergeant mocking the mercenaries for being lax on security. He takes all their radios with the real goal of preventing them from talking to each other. Michael and Pearce, meanwhile, tell Vanderwaal they need to be sure that the outpost files are secure. They suggest he might be keeping them because he's working with Cahill, but Vanderwaal doesn't take kindly to this. He offers to take them to the other side of the island, where the files are hidden. Michael and Pearce try to disperse the guys with guns by sending them off into the jungle to "secure" other parts of the island. Vanderwaal agrees to send the men off.

Fi and Sam are about to launch their heist. The smoke bomb sets off a fire in a gift basket Sam and Fi sent to the place. While the security team goes to check out the fire, Sam and Fi bust in and hot wire the truck Armand wanted. They get away.

Vanderwaal takes Michael, Jesse and Pearce to the outpost where the files were hidden, only to find that there's another security team there and that Jackson -- Vanderwaal's boss -- has taken the files to Grand Cayman. Vanderwaal asks the leader of the other security what Jackson said about Michael, Jesse and Pearce, and the man says he knows nothing about them. Vanderwaal asks Michael why Jackson left another team of commandos and didn't mention Michael's team's existence. He hits Michael in the temple with the back of his gun and tells him to get used to the pain because "there's plenty more where that came from."

Now cuffed, Michael, Jesse and Pearce are being questioned. Michael decides on the fly to "swing for the fences" with a new strategy. He starts to laugh and goes on to explain that Jackson must be behind the whole operation to sell the files. Pearce and Jesse go along right away, saying Jackson was the only person who knew they were coming and he cut out the communication. He says that when Jackson knew they were coming to run a security test he would have know he was busted and had to think of a fall guy, which would be Vanderwaal, because Jackson would have expected him to kill Michael, Jesse and Pearce ("any intruders"). Pearce then tells Vanderwaal that Jackson's commandos will probably kill him. Vanderwaal tells his men to hold Jackson's men until further orders. He says that he and his new friends are going to go to Grand Cayman and visit Jackson.

Michael and Vanderwaal arrive on another island to visit Jackson. On their way to see him, Michael tells Vanderwaal not to mention that he's a member of Pyramid's security team, but to say he's a tech who went to fix the satellite. Once Vanderwaal agrees to lie for Michael, their fates are tied together. Vanderwaal does just this, and they both get past security to see Jackson. Vanderwaal pulls a gun on Jackson and tells him he knows Jackson stole the files. Jackson holds them up and says he "secured" them. Jackson tries to convince Vanderwaal that Michael is the one who's lying and Vanderwaal turns him gun on Michael, who must act quickly. Michael tells Vanderwaal that there were two possible scenarios: Either Jackson is lying and stole the files from him, or Vanderwaal let "some super-genius" take over his island, take out his communications and turn his operation upside down. He asks which is more likely. He then tells Vanderwaal he can get rid of Jackson or kill Michael and then be shot by Jackson's men. Vanderwaal shoots Jackson and declares that he's taking over the operation.

Michael is about to leave with the files, telling Vanderwaal that Pyramid will reward him nicely, but Vanderwaal isn't letting them go just yet. He wants a signed contract putting him in charge before giving up the files. He gets close to Pearce, saying he wants "something I can touch; something I can feel." Michael asks Pearce to arrange a flight back to headquarters.

We next see Michael, Jesse, Pearce, Vanderwaal and several of his men arrive on a helipad with men in suits standing next to a helicopter. The men tell Vanderwaal the guns can't go on the chopper and he resists at first, but Michael smiles and tells Vanderwaal it's time to take it easy and celebrate, and the guns would make the helicopter overweight. He agrees to put the guns down and as soon as he does, Jesse reveals that they're all CIA and Vanderwaal is suddenly defenseless. Pearce gives him a knee to the gut and an elbow to the back of the head. As he writhes on the ground, she bends down and asks, "How's that for something you can feel, Mr. Vanderwaal?"

She hands the files to one of the men in suits and says it shouldn't be hard to find the NSA leak.

Fi meets Armand in an airplane hangar. He asks her if she's happy and whether it was worth it to follow Michael to Miami. He hands her the information on the bomb maker in exchange for the truck with the bullets. He tells her she can feel glad she spared the guards and didn't use guns to get the truck, but that the truck was supposed to be delivered to a rival of his who pre-sold the ammunition to a Mexican cartel. He's been dismembered. Fi is shaken by this and Armand reminds her that "we know what kind of man I am." He then asks, "What kind of man sends you for my help?" This scores with Fiona. She leaves.

Fi is still upset when she meets Michael that night. She doesn't say much but makes it clear she isn't happy that Michael is only now asking questions about Armand after having gotten the information he wanted. She admits to him that she and Armand used to be an item but she left him after learning that Armand had killed a British customs agent in order to meet her. Maddy and her new boyfriend show up and are all smiles. They raise their glasses of wine and Michael toasts "to supportive partners."





  • Richard Haylor as Commander Jackson
  • Henri Lubatti as Steve Cahill
  • David Dayan Fisher as Miles Vanderwall
  • Gavin Rossdale as Armand