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Acceptable Loss
Season 5, Episode 17
BN 517.jpg
Air date December 8, 2011
Episode Guide
Depth Perception
Fail Safe

Acceptable Loss is the seventeenth episode of season five of Burn Notice. Penultimate episode of Season 5.


  • Client: Ian (The Client)
  • Bad Guy: Yash (Dirty Diplomat)


Michael wants to find out more about Anson's plans, but this requires the help of a former enemy. Meanwhile, an old friend contacts Jesse, asking him to help bring his diamond-smuggling employer to justice.

Spy Facts[]

  • A spy's life rarely starts with a happy childhood. The fact is, the best preparation for a career filled with danger and paranoia, is a home life filled with danger and paranoia. It makes for a complex relationship with the past, under the best of circumstances. 
  • Law firms are used to run all sorts of shady businesses. For good reason. They're discreet, powerful and protected. Between the high security and privacy rules, getting intel from a law office is more or less impossible, unless you're willing to break those rules. 
  • If you can find someone who fits your general description and borrow their identification, the perfect wig and a new pair of glasses can get you a free ticket to look around. At least until the firm's lawyers get back from lunch. 
  • Audio surveillance is more difficult than it sounds. Taking coherent notes on a half-heard conversation is a challenge. And aiming a directional mic at a target without being too obvious takes the skills of a marksman. 
  • Most people assume the best time to rob someone is on a dark street at night. But the fact is, a daytime heist has its advantages. Bystanders are more focused on their own business than what's going on around them. And most importantly, the target is less likely to have his guard up. Daytime robberies do have one major drawback, however. If a cop shows up at the wrong time, it's a lot harder to hide.
  • The key to manipulating another driver is to make them reactive. If you want them to speed up, ride their bumper. If you want them to slow down, box them in. When you need them to make a turn, steer them towards an obstacle. It's a lot like dancing... At 60 miles an hour into oncoming traffic.
  • When approaching an underworld target, you don't get points for being subtle. Most bad guys live in a world where the point of money is to show it off. It's one of the few times having a blue silk shirt and diamonds on your watch sends the message that you're a good business partner.
  • When you're operating under a cover I.D, it's sometimes necessary to convince people in the field to support your operation. Often it's something simple, like asking someone at a restaurant if you can join them for a few minutes while you're doing surveillance. Some requests, however, are a little more difficult.
  • The problem with relying on untrained civilians is you never know how they're going to react in a life-or-death situation until you're actually in one.
  • Making deals with prisoners in covert detention facilities is always a challenge. The problem is there's not much to bargain with-no lawyers to discuss plea deals, no judges to reduce sentences. It's usually just you, the prisoner and a lot of razor wire.
  • If you need to create a doorway in a concrete wall, a breaching frame is a handy tool to bring along. Filled with water and lined with explosives, it directs a charge to surgically cut into a structure. Set it up properly, and it will blast into a building faster than you can say "open sesame". Of course, if you can't set it up properly, you might as well knock on your target's front door.
  • Communication in the field is critical for a mission's success but it's even more important when an operation is going south. Best case, you have a secure line or a system of signals to warn your team without your enemies noticing. Worst case, you do whatever it takes to get your message across. If your enemies notice, so be it. So if you find yourself in a situation where modern methods of communication won't work, you can always send up a smoke signal.  
  • Simulated munitions are a form of non-lethal projectile used mainly for training purposes. They pack a punch, but they're designed not to do any real damage beyond a welt and some bruising. Which means, if they're all you got in a firefight, you don't have much.  
  • Whether it's betraying their country or committing a murder, getting someone to make a life-altering mistake is less about logic, than passion. You have to create an environment fueled by emotion. Make them rely on instinct. And make them believe they're in a do-or-die situation. 

Full Recap[]

Michael and Madeline are at Frank's grave, and Maddie tells her son that she believes Anson is responsible for Frank's death and wants Michael to stop him before more lives are lost. Michael and Fiona are in D.C., hot on Anson's paper trail. They head into a law firm and rummage through files, and Fi finds one that links Anson with Vaughn. The file contains a series of numbers which Vaughn might be able to decipher.

Michael realizes that they'll need Vaughn's help, so he asks Pearce to request Vaughn be transferred from Guantanamo to a high-security prison in Tampa. Meanwhile, Jesse meets up with an old friend, Ian, who is seeking to retire from his government work. He was the right hand man to an Indian diplomat named Yash, who's set up a very lucrative diamond-smuggling trade on the side. Ian's name is on all of the authorization documents, so if the operation is discovered, he'll take the blame. He wants Jesse to help him bring Yash down. Jesse agrees to help.

Sam and Jesse set up surveillance on Yash, and it seems like he has a deal very close to completion. They don't have much time, so they plan on just stealing the money from the buyer. After that happens, Jesse can go undercover with the money and broker and deal with Yash himself.

Meanwhile, Michael goes to meet Vaughn. Vaughn will only help if he gets full immunity and an easy release out of prison. Michael says he can't promise that because he doesn't have enough influence.

Jesse pretends to be potential buyer Mr. Ray, and at first Yash is suspicious despite Ian's positive recommendation. Yash insists on seeing Ray's diamond-cutting operation. Jesse quickly calls on Sam to set up a jewelry shop as their base. After looking over the shop, Yash agrees to start dealing with Mr. Ray.

Jesse and Ian head back to Yash's mansion, and Sam and Fi are outside ready to set the explosives to take down Yash. However, the building is reinforced with steel, so there's no way the plan will work. Instead, they plant a bomb on Jesse's Porsche as a distraction, in order to give Jesse and Ian time to flee. Sam comes in and tells Mr. Ray about how he found listening devices in the jewelry shop after Yash's visit. Jesse accuses Yash of trying to kill him as soon as the money exchanges hands.

Yash has already shipped the evidence back to India, so the team doesn't have a chance to bring him down for the smuggling. Ian reminds them that diplomatic immunity is waived if the diplomat murders a citizen of the country, and Ian wants to sacrifice himself. Michael and Jesse immediately balk at this idea, but Ian confesses that he has pancreatic cancer, and it's terminal. He wants to clear his conscience before he dies, and he needs to destroy everything that Yash forced him to build.

Jesse meets with Yash again to claim that Ian planted the bomb in order to take the money and the diamonds for himself. Yash is easily convinced that Ian is the culprit, because he'd have access to all of Yash's finances. Jesse wants to bring Ian in again, to perhaps broker a deal with him.

Ian arrives at Yash's mansion, and he "shoots" Jesse (with blanks as blood packs planted on his body burst). Jesse feigns dying, and Ian shoots at Yash before fleeing from the home. Yash runs after him, pulling out his own gun. Meanwhile Michael calls 911, and the timing of the police's arrival coincides with Yash shooting Ian dead. Yash is taken in for murder, and Ian finally brings his boss to justice.

Michael heads back to the prison to speak with Vaughn and to give him an ultimatum. Michael will have all of Vaughn's enemies transferred to the same prison unless Vaughn explains what the numbers mean for Anson. Vaughn admits that the numbers mean that Anson is trying to rebuild his organization, the same group that burned Michael. Vaughn warns that Michael might be too late to stop Anson. But when Vaughn also asks for Michael to stop the prisoner transfers, Michael coolly says that that might be too late as well.





  • Ravi Kapoor as Yash Ahluwalia
  • Gregg Henry as Ian Covey


  • Ian


  • Michael: Breaking into a diplomatic residence that's well guarded even with weeks to plan, it's iffy. With a few days, impossible.
    Ian: I thought impossible was what you did.
    Jesse: He's heard a few Michael Westen stories.