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Fail Safe
Season 5, Episode 18
BN 518.jpg
Air date December 15, 2011
Written by Ben Watkins
Directed by Renny Harlin
Episode Guide
Acceptable Loss
Scorched Earth

Fail Safe is the eighteenth and finale episode of the fifth season and is the eightieth episode overall.


  • Clients: N/A
  • Bad Guys: Reed (spy recruiter), Rebecca, Anson, Jake (Anson's "caretaker")


In order to release Anson's hold on Fiona, Michael plans on taking him down once and for all. Meanwhile, Pearce offers Michael a special mission: leading a team of operatives to capture a spy recruiter.

Spy Facts[]

  • In espionage, you often deal with people who are working undercover. Some legitimately, because their identity needs to remain a secret; and some illegitimate, because they're betraying the country they've sworn to protect. Either way, they go to great lengths to keep their regular life separate from their covert lives, keeping their secrets far from view. Which is why there's nothing quite so unsettling as seeing one of those secrets show up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Abandoned facilities are often used to cover up covert activity. Set up in a crumbling building covered in graffiti, and no one takes much notice. There are ways of figuring out if a facility is truly abandoned, however. Like the power draw. If a building's using electricity, chances are someone's home.
  • In a heavily populated and high-traffic environment, a covert op has to leave a small foot print, and create as little disturbance as possible. An urban snatch-and-grab with a small team requires good intelligence, that begins with identifying and tracking the target. It's not enough knowing he'll be in town, you need to know when his flight arrives, what vehicle he's driving, every detail down to where he's going to make a left turn. Once your target is tracked, the next task is to stop his vehicle. In an urban environment, this is usually done with another vehicle and a precisely timed collision. Finally, you need a team in place to go in before the smoke clears and do the actual extraction. Do it right, and you're in and out before anyone has time to fire a shot. With some planning, you can stop a large vehicle with a much smaller one. It's a matter of calculating the physics involved and very precise timing. Unfortunately, when timing is that precise, any obstacle whatsoever can cause a very large problem.
  • Getting the attention of someone who recruits traitors for a living is an art. You can't exactly run around a security conference yelling "I want to betray my country!" You have to be subtle. Just make it known you're desperate enough to do something stupid, and let the bad guy find you.
  • The key to breaching a building is getting inside quickly and dealing with the occupants before they have time to respond. When you can't use explosives, sometimes you have to get creative. If you can find utility equipment that is built into the wall, you just need a couple thousand foot pounds of torque to make yourself a door.
  • One of the most useful tools in domestic intelligence operations is local government. One call from the CIA, and most federal and state agencies will help out if they can.
  • In any operation, one of the toughest parts is dealing with collateral damage. When you're alone, in the field, you have to decide whether to take actions that could hurt innocent people, weighing the consequences against what happens if you do nothing. And when you act,when you take that step, you know that whatever your reasons, whatever the costs or benefits, you have done something terrible. And when it's done, all you can do then, is carry on with the operation. Knowing that it's your job to repair the hurt you're about to cause and the damage you're about to do, or die trying.
  • When an operation goes bad, you don't get much time to decide what to do. It's just a matter of facing the consequences of immediate failure, or the risks of trying to save the operation on the fly.

Full Recap[]

Michael meets with Anson, but Fiona has her sniper rifle trained right on Anson. However, Anson threatens to ruin Fi's life if they go through with their plans to get rid of him. Michael pulls Anson out of Fi's sights at the very last moment. Later, Fi is furious that Michael stopped them from getting Anson. Sam says that he's tracked down a warehouse which might contain the evidence Anson had been collecting on Fiona.

Pearce has a new mission for Michael, with the hopes of getting him back in good graces with the CIA. He gets to lead a team of three other operatives to take down a man named Reed. Meanwhile, Sam and Fi decide to break into Anson's warehouse.

Michael and his team track down their target and are about to incapacitate his car when a civilian car gets in the way. Everyone is safe, but Reed has escaped. Michael comes up with a change in plan. Jesse will pose as a possible recruit at a security conference in order to gain Reed's attention and gain his trust. The ruse works, and Reed is ready to accept Jesse into his operation. Reed plans on getting Jesse onto a plane and out of the US.

Sam and Fi use a truck to tear down an outside wall and discover one of Anson's men inside, along with a large cache of weapons. They plan on taking everything out of the building, but as they leave, the warehouse explodes and all of the evidence goes up in flames.

Michael meets up with Anson again, who still wants Michael to join his operation, along with the rest of his CIA team. He wants Michael to plant some data onto Pearce's computer which would cause her and the CIA team to get burned. Fi and Sam try to talk him out of it, but Michael doesn't want Fi to go to prison either.

Michael and his team are at the airport, awaiting the moment when Reed and Jesse board their plane. Sam calls Michael and tells him that Fi is very adamant about turning herself in. Michael leaves to head over to the loft, where he finds Fi and then chains her to a post so that she can't leave.

When Michael returns to the airport, however, he realizes that one of his fellow operatives is working for Anson. She plans on blowing up the plane, along with Reed and Jesse. She and Michael have a standoff at gunpoint, but she eventually escapes, with Michael holding the detonator for the bomb. Michael tells Jesse to bring Reed to Pearce, while he heads back to check on Fi.

But Fi is gone, with Sam handcuffed in her place. Michael hurries over to the federal building, just in time to watch helplessly as Fi turns herself in to the feds.





  • Eric Roberts as Reed Perkins
  • Dean Cain as Ryan Pewterbaugh
  • Maxwell Terlecki as Nick Carnahan
  • Tony Senzamici as Detective Tom Kendrick
  • Luke Albright as Jake


  • Sharon Gless does not appear in this episode.

Continuity Errors[]