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Better Halves
Season 5, Episode 11
BN 511.jpg
Air date September 1, 2011
Written by Lisa Joy
Directed by Michael Smith
Episode Guide
Army of One
Dead to Rights

Better Halves is the eleventh episode of the fifth season and the seventy-third episode overall.


In order to catch a bioweapons specialist, Michael and Fiona go undercover at a South American resort. In the meantime, Sam and Jesse corner Max's killer.


  • Clients:
  • Bad Guys: Stigler (ATM to the eastern bloc), Kevin Skylar (Bio weapons scientist), Serge and Karina (bodyguards), Tavian Korzha (the man who framed Michael)

Spy Facts[]

  • In the intelligence community, the enemy is less likely to hide behind Kevlar and camouflage, than offshore accounts and blind trusts. Once you pick up a bad guy's money trail, though, finding them is just a matter of doing your homework. If you can find where they spend their cash, you know where they are. If you can find where they got their cash, you can figure out where they came from.
  • Solving the murder of a covert operative is a little different than most homicide investigations. The pool of suspects is smaller, but so are the odds that the killer got sloppy. When leads are more precious and motives more plentiful, you have to look at the case from every angle because you never know where you'll find the killer.
  • Working a cover at a foreign resort isn't about keeping a low profile, it's about having as much access as possible. Arrive in a nice car and tip extravagantly, and the service staff will open all sorts of doors for you. If you want to rub elbows with the other guests, select a cover that gives you an excuse to be social, and a reason for the hotel to upgrade you to a central room. "Travel writer" usually works fine. It's a good idea to make use of all the hotel's amenities. A laptop and some hacking software can get you access to the hotel's database, and give you free pay-per-view in the process.
  • When gathering intelligence, operatives often rely on binoculars, hidden cameras, and electronic listening devices. But sometimes all it takes is a well-dressed date and a decent sense of rhythm. If you're light on your feet, you can study a crowd without standing out in it, and examine every angle of a room with a simple spin. The first step, of course, is identifying your surveillance targets, locating them, assessing them, and coming up with a strategy for further intelligence gathering. The worst thing you can do at this point is rush things. Your goal is to blend in, plan your moves, and let the dance carry you where you need to go. The simplest kind of surveillance of course, is eavesdropping. Easy enough on the dance floor, where getting close to people is simply a matter of knowing the right moves and using them at the right time. More direct approaches can work, as well. Dancing alongside someone for an evening can give you a perfect excuse to strike up a conversation and find out what you need to know. You can even pull off a covert weapons-check, if you're careful.
  • An outlet is the ideal place to plant a bug in a hotel. Not only do they provide power, but any audio picked up can be transmitted through the wires to any other outlet in the building. As long as you can manage to hook into a live circuit without electrocuting yourself.
  • As a spy, improvising to get out of tough situations is just part of the job. Sometimes that means stealing a car to get away from a gun battle, other times it means destroying a $2,000 dress to climb down safely from a hotel balcony. You do what you have to do to survive, but it doesn't mean you won't upset someone in the process.
  • For a spy, making an approach is about problem solving. Whether it's a bad marriage or an unsatisfying job, you look for the problem: the issue on the target's mind. Once you know the problem, it's just a matter of turning yourself into the solution, and arranging a meeting.
  • Pinning down a moving target is all about preparation and timing. If your target will be driving, the first task is to stop the vehicle. If you have room, a bigger vehicle will do the trick. But if space is tight, you have to improvise. Finally, if you know where the target vehicle is headed, a directional blast that can launch a projectile into the engine of a car at high speed will stop it in its tracks. You just have to find a place to plant it and wait.
  • As a spy, you're trained never to pitch assets in situations you don't control. Still, you can't always avoid it. If it's a choice between that or losing the asset altogether, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and roll the dice.
  • People tend to over-estimate the value of weapons. Choosing the time and place of a fight is often more important than having a lot of firepower. It doesn't matter if all you've got is spa rocks and a wet towel. If you can surprise an unarmed opponent on favorable ground, that can be all you need.
  • As tactical vehicles, motorcycles have advantages and disadvantages. Their off-the-line acceleration leaves most four-wheel vehicles in their dust. But as a vehicle for bursting through a roadblock, you can't do much worse.

Full Recap[]

Michael is following Max's killer's money trail and he, Jesse and Sam have found a guy who's been bankrolling the effort: It's a man named Stigler, ID'd as "ATM to the Eastern bloc." He loaned money to a guy named Tavian, who used it to kill Max. He also ended up killing Lucien. This gets Stigler's attention. He says he'll ask around and that Sam and Jesse's lives depend on them telling the truth.

Pearce is going over the notes on Max's killing, but tells Michael she's got nothing, so far. She sends Michael to a beach town in Venezuela to extract a guy named Cheshire, who creates "nasty bugs used in germ warfare for the Eastern bloc," and his wife. The CIA is sending Michael and Fi, making it easier for them to disavow any involvement if it goes bad for Michael and Fi. This isn't the kind of quality time Fi was hoping for, but it'll have to do.

Stigler meets Sam and Jesse at a restaurant and says their story about Tavian is true. He tells them when Tavian comes to pick up money. He's inside Stigler's place for about a minute and that will be the extent of their opportunity to get him. Stigler tells them if they fail, it will be bad.

Michael and Fi arrive in Venezuela and Michael works some hacking magic at the resort to find four couples have the same check-in date that Cheshire did. They head to a formal ball where all of the couples are in attendance and they work some crafty ballroom magic to do surveillance. Michael thinks he's got the couple figured out and they head to the couple's room to plant a bug. Then they have to destroy Fi's new dress to rappel down from the room's balcony in order to avoid getting caught.

"Cheshire," whose real name is Kevin Skylar, and his wife Nikki are spending most of the night arguing about how she wants a real life and doesn't want Russian bodyguards telling here where she can and can't go. Michael suggests Fi offer Nikki a bit of a break from all the structure and give her a taste of "the good life."

The next day, Fi and Nikki bond over their disconnected husbands, and Fi mentions a helicopter ride over the rainforest. Later, Michael and Fi jointly try to talk Kevin and Nikki into joining. It seems unlikely at first, but Nikki talks Kevin into agreeing to go.

Sam and Jesse devise an explosive and plant it into a grate in preparation for disabling Tavian's car. They set it up and head off for lunch.

At dinner in Venezuela, Nikki and Kevin now say they can't go on the helicopter ride and Michael decides to lay all the cards on the table. With the couple's bodyguards sitting just a few tables away, Michael tells Kevin he knows who he isn't claiming to be, and lays out the whole process of how Kevin ended up working for the Russians, and the promise of a new life didn't pan out. Nikki exclaims, "How did you know that?" Michael proceeds to tell Kevin he can get him a job making twice as much as what the Russians pay and that he won't "insult" him by making him run around with babysitters all the time. Nikki tells Kevin to accept. With the bodyguards getting suspicious and approaching the table, Kevin says yes and Fi tells everyone to laugh loudly to throw the guards off. They do, and they toast to their new friendship.

The next day, Michael lays out the plan to escape the bodyguards and get to the helicopter.

Back in Miami, Sam and Jesse are waiting for Tavian to arrive at Stigler's place, and he's 30 minutes late. Jesse goes in to see what's going on and finds Stigler dead. Outside, Tavian has a gun to Sam's neck before he can make a move. When Jesse gets no response from Sam, he runs out.

Tavian takes Sam to an isolated place and says he wants a meeting with Michael. He wants a truce and claims he has answers to "the questions he doesn't even know to ask." He gives Sam a meeting place and time and says he won't wait. He drives away.

Michael and Kevin sit in a steam room waiting for Serge, Kevin's bodyguard, to show up. Michael's ready with a towel full of spa rocks and another towel twisted up. When Serge comes in, Michael hits him with the rocks, giving Kevin time to escape, then, after some hand-to-hand fighting, Michael puts a chokehold on Serge that knocks him out. Fi's exit with Nikki doesn't go as smoothly when Nikki panics and freezes just as they're about to run for it. Karina, the female guard, notices and chases while shooting at them. Fi and Nikki are forced to jump into the water rather than head for their car.

Karina is still shooting when Serge picks her up in an SUV. Fi hot wires a motorcycle and they head out. There are roadblocks in place so Fi pulls off into a warehouse-type place. She says they aren't going to go quietly.

When Michael realizes something's gone wrong with Fi, he goes back and arrives just in time to knock Karina out when Fi was out of bullets. They work quite closely together, using each other's guns and ammo while shooting back to back to take out more of the Russians' backups. When the shootout is over, Michael and Fi take Kevin and Nikki to a chopper, but it isn't for a sightseeing tour. The destination is CIA headquarters. Kevin resists at first, but Michael and Fi remind him the Russians aren't going to give him much of a warm reception if he tries going back to them. He gives in and gets on board, saying they won't get "a word" out of him. But Nikki tells him they'll get plenty out of her.

Tavian is waiting for Michael at the park he'd set up as the meeting place, and Jesse has pulled out all his connections to secure the water, roads and airspace. An angry Tavian calls Sam and says he's not going to wait for Michael any longer, but Sam tells him about all the paths being blocked off, which should buy them a few hours.

Michael and Fi have a playful exchange about how they posed as being married and she tells him that next time she's his wife she wants an Asscher cut diamond.

Michael goes inside to drop off his bags, and Pearce. having broken in, is waiting. She's excited to tell him about a break she's made in Max's case. She says she's got security camera footage that shows some cars passing by from a nearby all-glass building's reflection. She asks him to take a look. He checks out the footage and sees his Charger. Stunned, he turns around to explain, but Pearce already has her gun pointed at him. Michael tries to explain that Sam and Jesse are following Tavian and if she just lets him make one phone call he could clear everything up. She tells him he shouldn't dare, and tosses him plastic handcuffs for him to put on himself.

He does.





  • Charisma Carpenter as Nicki Skyler


  • Nicki: Uhm... I don't ride [motorcycle].
    Fiona: Yeah, but you know how to be clingy!
  • Michael: (voice-over) It's a good idea to make use of all the hotel amenities. Laptop and some hacking software can give you access to the hotel's database... and give you free pay-per-view in the process.


Summary from tv.com.