Burn Wiki
Damned If You Do
Season 5, Episode 13
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Air date November 3, 2011
Episode Guide
Dead to Rights
Breaking Point

Damned If You Do is the thirteenth episode of Season 5 of Burn Notice.


Michael and Fiona go to Puerto Rico to kidnap a financial hacker whose software they need for Anson. However, things get complicated when some dangerous enemies are waiting for the hacker back in Miami. Meanwhile, Madeline gets some training from Sam and Jesse to be able to retrieve sensitive information from the police.

Spy Facts[]

  • For a spy, the worst thing that can happen is to become someone else's asset. You do anything you can to avoid it, making sure there's nothing people can grab onto and use as leverage. You move through life unattached, keeping the world at a distance. It's a hard way to live, but there's a cold logic to it. Love nothing, and nothing you love can be used against you. Once you violate that rule and make that connection with someone, you've handed your enemies the key to destroying you. 
  • When operating without official cover in remote locations, you don't have resources or backup if things go wrong. So it's usually best to move fast and stay exposed for as little time as possible. It's just a matter of figuring out what you're up against, crossing your fingers, and getting in and out as quickly as you can. 
  • Creating a good diversion isn't just about making noise and firing guns. It's about giving the enemy the impression that he's being attacked in a way that demands the immediate attention of all of his forces. Ideally, something big and very, very loud.
  • Information stored on a D-Ram chip was long considered impossible to steal. It's automatically erased when the chip's removed. The one way to preserve the information in a D-ram chip is by freezing it immediately after you take it out of the computer. A quick application of compressed air from your local drug store will keep the memory intact long enough to get what you need. It's possible, but far from easy. And if you don't want to get caught, it takes some practice.  
  • When you need to buy time for an operation, the key is staying relaxed. No matter how high the stakes are, you have to act like everything's fine. The key is staying natural. Giving your team as much room to operate as you can without letting on what you're doing. When you know that time is running out, you have to signal your team at the first opportunity and hope for the best. 
  • In a situation where you're trying to keep someone from being captured, your best leverage is often the life of the very person you're trying to protect. The trick is convincing the bad guys that you're willing to kill their prize before you let them have it. 
  • When you're surprised by an enemy who has you outgunned, your first instinct is naturally going to be to try to run. This can be a serious tactical mistake. Sometimes it's less important to get away immediately, than it is to make sure your enemies can't follow. 
  • Active security systems are built to keep people out. Passive systems on the other hand, don't prevent security breaches-they help you catch the bad guy after he leaves. They're often cheaper and more effective. Plus, they let you know who your enemies are. Micro RFID tags work like anti-theft tags in department stores. Only, they're a lot smaller and stick to clothes, shoes, and even hair. Once activated, they transmit a response to a coded signal. From there, its easy for a surveillance satellite to lock on and follow a high-value target. And the best part is, the target never even knew it happened. 
  • The age of satellite surveillance has made some operations easier for spies and a lot harder for others. If you need to secretly meet someone who's being tracked by a satellite, your options are pretty limited. The only move is to make sure you're some place the surveillance satellites can't see you. That usually means a cave, a tunnel, or in a pinch, a freeway overpass. 
  • One of the nice things about sending a full-scale Homeland Security response after your enemies is the fact that you can get the resources of every branch of law enforcement. Which means they generally catch whoever they're after, and they don't listen to excuses. 
  • For a spy, loyalty is a strange thing. Your job is to deceive, to live among your enemies, to perform dark deeds for a noble purpose. And it's that purpose that guides you through the darkness. When you lose sight of that, the darkness is all there is. 


Previously on 'Burn Notice': Max's murder case is closed and Michael's standing with the agency is unchanged. Larry came back and forced Michael to help him with a job, and Fiona wound up accidentally killing two innocent security guards while trying to get at Larry. A guy named Anson, ID'd as "The Man Who Framed Michael," had set up the whole thing and now has what he likes to call "leverage" on Fiona and Michael.

'Damned if you do' Michael is now someone else's asset, which is the worst thing for a spy. Voiceover Michael tells us about the cold, necessary rule of life as a spy: "Love nothing, and nothing you love can be used against you." Once that rule is violated, "you've handed your enemies the key to destroying you." He's looking at Fi while telling us this.

Micheal is with Pearce, being evaluated for a higher clearance. He's still working "off the books," which she admits is "pushing the boundaries" of legality. She commences the questioning. She implores him to tell the truth, then asks him whether any trace of a network of burned spies still exists. He answers, "No. All of that's over now." We next see him go to meet Anson.

Anson wants Michael to get his bank info out of the CIA's computers. He tells Michael about a malware program that can scrub all trace of a person off a computer system without a trace. The man who made is in Puerto Rico. His name is Oswald Patterson. And Anson wants Michael to get him.

Fi doesn't want Michael to do it, but he says he has no choice. If he turns Anson in, she could go to jail for murder. Fi decides she's going with him because she knows Oswald has a serious security team. Sam, meanwhile, wants to find out from the police what they know about Fi. He says he's got a plan that he and Jesse cooked up and he wants Maddy to help. She can "fly under the radar." Michael doesn't like the idea a bit.

Sam goes to Maddy with the plan and she's mildly outraged. She agrees to do it when Jesse hands her a fake ID that has her age listed as 52. He says a good cover ID lists the age you look, not the age you are, and she's sold.

Michael and Fi arrive in Puerto Rico and find Oswald's compound covered by four armed guards -- just at the rear. Fi thinks they should give it up, but Michael wants to make a plan. He wants Fi to distract the guards so he can sneak in Fi rolls an SUV to the front gates of the compound and detonates it. The guards all run to the gate and Michael goes in the back door to get Oswald, who denies knowing anything about software.

Back in Michael's Miami loft, Oswald is bound to a chair and still insists he doesn't have the software Michael is asking about. Michael takes a different approach, taking Oswald for a walk and telling him he's going to confess that he kidnapped him. He knows Oswald is being hunted and this strategy works. Oswald then reveals some history. He tells Michael that a guy paid him $10 million to write the software that would delete the guy's name from international banking systems. But he says before he could deliver it, the FBI busted him and confiscated the program. He has an "associate," though, who can get him access to it.

Sam and Jesse are giving Maddy a Spy 101 course at her house. She has to remove a D-RAM chip, download its info, then put it back. She gets it right, then Sam makes her practice it until she gets it down and can do it under pressure -- without a cigarette in her hand.

Maddy and Jesse go to talk to a police investigator. She claims she was a witness at the consulate explosion. She's looking through photos of people who may have been at the scene and says she's struggling to remember. Jesse gets the detective to take a walk to a soda machine and Maddy gets the opening she needs to work her new computer skills and download the info off the detective's D-RAM chip. He comes back as she's stuffing her own laptop back into her bag and the guy asks what she's smuggling. She pulls out her cigarettes and says she was trying to sneak one. He gives her a pass.

Oswald takes Michael and Fi to his "associate's" house and we meet Sherry -- his associate. He asks where the TV he sent her can be found and she doesn't have it. She says it's in storage. She had no idea there was anything hidden in. That's where Oswald's access cards were hidden. Two SUVs pull up to the house and Sherry admits she tipped off the coke dealer, Xavier, who Oswald pissed off. She says Xavier found her and said that if she Oswald without telling Xavier where to find him, she'd be killed.

Michael walks Oswald right out to Xavier and his heavily armed men, knowing that Xavier still wants Oswald's software and won't kill him. Michael holds Oswald as a hostage, with a gun pointed at him, and chats up Xavier. Michael gets Xavier and his men to drop their weapons. Michael, Fi, Sherry and Oswald get into the Charger and drive away, with Xavier vowing that he'll see them soon.

Sherry is worried about Xavier finding them. Oswald is worried about Sherry, saying she should be allowed to flee Miami. Fi calls an "import/export friend" who takes her off to Puerto Rico.

Sam and Jesse are sitting at the restaurant when drinks, courtesy of Anson, arrive. He steps forward and tells them the investigation is stalled, but the police are just a few clues away from solving the case. He threatens them on his way out, warning them that he knows "a lot more" about them than their favorite drinks.

Michael and Oswald go to the storage unit where Oswalds TV is supposed to stashes. Michael ties Oswald to a pole as a lookout. He finds the TV, smashes it and gets the access cards when Oswald starts screaming that Xavier is approaching. Instead of running immediately, Michael jumps into a forklift that has a storage unit attached, drives it right at Xavier's oncoming SUV, then stops it quickly enough that the forklift topples and the storage unit smashes the roof of the SUV, immobilizing it long enough for Michael to free Oswald and drive away.

Oswald leads Michael to the places where the software is stored. As Michael is about to enter, Oswald stops him and tells him there are some intense, miniscule tracking devices that will be implanted on him as soon as he steps inside. The FBI will have satellites tracking him immediately. Oswald says he kept this quiet because he previously didn't know anything about Michael and thought Michael might kill him. Now that he trusts Michael, he doesn't want him to risk getting caught. Michael now needs to find someone else who can go inside.

Michael brings Oswald back to the loft and introduces him to Sam and Jesse. Michael tells them he wants to let Xavier go in and get the software. Once Xavier is in, he'll be tagged with the tracking device and the FBI will scoop him up. Michael plans on getting the software from Xavier before the FBI tracks him down. Michael tells Oswald to call Xavier and tell him he escaped and wants to make a deal for the software.

Oswald is nervous, thinking Xavier might just kill them all and take the access cards. Xavier arrives and after some chatter with Sam and Jesse, Oswald gets his money and Xavier gets the access cards. He goes in and gets the virus -- and unwittingly gets tagged with the air-thin tracking devices.

Michael and Fi are dressed up as a cops and get the signal from Sam that Xavier is about to leave. The real cops are already scrambling when Michael is driving around in a big truck, looking for a freeway overpass to shield them from overhead surveillance. When Xavier's SUV gets to the overpass, Michael uses the truck to stop it and Fi shows up to convince Xavier -- at gunpoint -- to give up the software drive so Michael can copy it.

This all happens in mere seconds as the cops are approaching. Michael and Fi get away in the truck and Xavier and his men are chased down by all sorts of law enforcement.

Oswald is getting a ride back to Puerto Rico from Fi's friend and he warns Fi that the virus is "not a good thing." He tells Fi to make sure Michael is careful with it because "some roads you go down, you can't get back from." Fi assures Oswald Michael knows, then adds, "We both do."

Michael goes to see Maddy, who says she knows Michael is going to hand the computer virus over to Anson. He says he hopes Anson will disappear once he gets what he wants. Then Michael adds, "I'll track him down one day."

Maddy asks how things are going with the CIA and when Michael tells her about the clearance questionnaire, she says it seems like they're starting to trust him. She thinks they should, but Michael isn't as sure.

The next day, Pearce tells Michael he got his clearance. He's still "off the books," but... She asks him to make sure the lies he tells, from now on, are the lies the agency wants him to tell. She tells him to go celebrate.

Michael goes to meet with Anson and asks for everything he has on Fiona in exchange for the flash drive. Anson tells him, though, that the virus does him no good in Michael's hands. He needs it in the CIA's computers, and he thinks that shouldn't be a problem for Michael, with his new CIA clearance.

Michael bristles. Anson tells Michael he knows every part of Michael is telling him to fight this, but he should ask himself why Anson is so comfortable telling him that he "owns" him. "Because it's true," Anson says, answering his own question. "There's no moves left on the chess board. Unless you're willing to see your girlfriend go to prison for the rest of her life, you will do exactly as I say."

Anson leaves.





  • Unnamed Hacker