|Season 7, Episode 9|
|Air date||August 8, 2013|
Nature of the Beast
Bitter Pill is the ninth episode of the seventh season and the one hundred and seventh episode of Burn Notice.
Bad Guys: James
James gives Michael and his team an assignment to protect a Middle East reformer, but their job gets more complicated after the man is poisoned.
Michael is starting to worry about how much or little he actually knows about James and his standing in James' organization. He's hearing Peter's warning about just how bad of a guy James can be. Peter's warning that "no one can stop him" rings in Michael's mind. Suddenly, two men arrive at Michael's place and tell him that James has asked that he come with them. They ask for his gun and phone and Michael hands them over and goes with them.
Michael is taken to a warehouse where a lot of heavily armed men are watching and telling Michael where to go. In the warehouse, he finds Fi, Sam and Jesse, who were also brought there and asked to give up their guns and phones. They don't know why they're there, but Michael tells Sam they should trust him. James finally shows up and Michael asks James why he didn't just tell them where to meet. James said he needed to know what they would do and "all did fine." James says he just wants to talk, and this was a test.
James thanks them all for coming and says he needed a team in Miami. He says a man is going to be assassinated in the next 24 hours and he needs to make sure that doesn't happen. It's Omar Hamed, the lead reformer in the Middle East. Hamed doesn't know James' organization exists, but James says that if he dies there'll be a war and a war "would affect our interests." He introduces the group to Ben Snyder, one of his top men, who will be running the operation. Hamed doesn't know he's being targeted. Ben has arranged for Sam and Michael to be on Hamed's security while Fi and Jesse will work the perimeter. Ben seems a little shaky and James explains that Ben is a Middle East expert on his first field op. Ben assures James he's up for it. Michael also confirms they're all in.
At Maddy's house, Maddy is upset that the people Michael are working with came to the house when Charlie was there. She wonders how they knew her schedule and Fi's. Michael says "they were probably watching." He says that's not OK, "it's just a fact of life right now." Maddy tells Michael that sometimes "people get used to the wrong things," but she can't afford to do that anymore because of Charlie. She tells Michael she's going to do whatever she has to do.
Hamed is giving his speech while Sam and Michael keep watch. Ben is reviewing facial recognition and seeing nothing significant. The speech ends and Michael and Sam escort Hamed around to the reception. There's no activity, but Ben gets an alert about an encrypted phone call from inside the hotel. Michael spots a server with an ear piece and starts to follow him while Sam takes Hamed to safety. Michael gives chase while Ben pulls the van around and cuts the server off, climbing out of the van with an assault rifle. The server, cornered, says it wasn't his fault and adds, "they made me do it." Just then, another van drives by and shoots the server dead. Hamed, who is being kept safe in a utility closet by Sam, starts to have trouble breathing and Sam and Michael realize Hamed's been poisoned. Michael pulls a vile out of the server's pocket.
Hamed is getting treatment at a combat-support hospital but he's not doing well. The doctor there says they need an antidote within 24 hours in order to save Hamed. Ben and Sam argue about what to do next, but Michael intervenes and says they should check with Fi and Jesse. Sam doesn't seem to like the way Michael ended the conversation.
Jesse and Fi have tracked the server's phone call after the poisoning back to a strip club, whose owner is listed as a chemical engineer from Libya. Michael starts to plot the right approach to get to Mazik, the chemical engineer.
Meanwhile, Maddy is walking around nervous that everyone is watching her. She drops Charlie off at daycare and is nervous that her moves are being tracked. She walks around to an alley where there are some dumpsters and a man seems to follow her. She hides and surprises him with a gun pulled, threatening to shoot him if he doesn't tell her why he's following her. He leaves, saying, daring her to shoot him.
Fi and Jesse are at Mazik's strip club plotting a way to get to Mazik. Fi revealed a bag of 1,000 pills of ecstasy and $100,000 cash, provided by Snyder, to pique Mazik's interest. They approach Mazik and tell him they want him to make ecstasy for them. They get alone with him in his office and pull a gun on him, demanding the antidote for the poison used on Hamed. Mazik calls their bluff, noting that if they kill him, they won't get the antidote. He quickly hits an intercom and calls for his men, who come pounding on the door. With only one other way out, Jesse throws a chair through a massive window above the marina behind Mazik. They throw Mazik, who says he can't swim, out the window and jump into the water behind him.
Jesse and Fi bring Mazik back to Snyder, who is impatient with waiting for Mazik to talk. He speeds things up by injecting the poison into Mazik's neck, telling him that if he wants to live, he'd better take them to the antidote.
Hamed, meanwhile, is getting worse. Jesse calls and tells Sam where Mazik's drug lab is and Sam says they will meet at the lab with Hamed.
Maddy gets home and James is there waiting for her. She pulls her gun on him right away. He tells her he's the man with answers. He says he just wants to have a conversation. James tells Maddy that he cares about Michael and all the people he cares about, including her and Charlie. She asks why he has people following them and he says he's willing to go to extremes to do what he thinks is right. James explains that Michael is "much more" than an employee. He tells Maddy he doesn't want her to lose anyone else, saying, "Please, let me protect you." She says, "Fine, but the next time you show up like this I will shoot you on sight." He gets up slowly, reaches across the table to pick up Maddy's pack of cigarettes and crushes it.
Mazik brings Jesse, Fi and Snyder to his lab, which is protected by at least 10 armed guards. Hamed can't even think of a way to get in until he remembers as about a hole in the back of the fence, which is there in case the drug makers need to escape from police.
Jesse takes out one guard at the back of the facility and Mazik leads the group inside. He grabs a vile of the antidote from a refrigerator. Just as he's about to inject himself, Snyder takes the syringe and starts to tie Mazik up to a table. He says he doesn't care if Mazik dies, he just needed the antidote. Mazik tries to run and Snyder shoots, getting the attention of several guards, who come in firing.
The gunfight continues while Fi, Jesse and Snyder try to find a way out. Jesse calls Michael to tell him to hang back. Fi and Snyder lay cover fire so Jesse can run out with the antidote. Jesse gets out to Michael and Hamed with the antidote. Inside the building, Fi and Snyder are still taking heat fire and Fi notices a flammable tank has a hole shot through it. Sparks soon make the liquid burst into flames and the whole place goes up. Fi calls out to Snyder for help, but he takes off running to save himself. Outside, Michael asks Snyder where Fi is and he says she didn't make it. After realizing that Snyder didn't actually see Fi die, Michael runs inside.
Inside, he spots Fi laid out in a corner, unconscious. He manages to throw a fire extinguisher into the flames separating them and shoot the canister to cause an explosion of flame retardant. It clears enough space for him to get to her and carry her out.
Michael watches over Fi in the combat-support hospital and she wakes up. She asks him what the bandage around his hand is about and Michael says, "Nothing." She tells him she didn't think she was going to get out and thanks him. He says she would've done the same. Michael is called outside.
James comes in with a fleet of armed guards. He says they owe Michael and his whole team a debt of gratitude. He says Hamed is on his way back to the Middle East for more peace talks. James says the mission went almost perfectly, but turns to Snyder and reminds him about the vow he made to never leave anyone behind. James prepares to shoot Snyder for the disloyalty but Michael steps up and says Snyder just "made a mistake." James says he doesn't call it a mistake, he calls it "cowardice" and that Snyder broke a promise.
"And promises must be kept," James says, pointing the gun at Snyder while look at Michael and saying, "Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me I'm wrong."
Michael says nothing and James says, "Goodbye, Ben," before shooting Snyder at point blank while Sam, Jesse and Michael look on, stunned.
Working a long-term undercover job is about learning to live with uncertainty. The uncertainty that comes with chasing something that you can never see. You're often going after a target you know little or nothing about. You don't know their plans, you don't know where they'll be, you don't know what they know about you. After a while, that uncertainty begins to gnaw at you. It affects you, no matter how well-trained you are. The real battle becomes the one within yourself to keep your doubts at bay. So that when the day comes to take your target down, you're ready.
Personal security uses a method called "arm's reach". In an attack, if you're closest to the client, you shield them. If you're closest to the attacker, you focus on the threat. One man tries to defend against danger, and the other one tries to find it. Of course, if personal security has to get involved, something's already gone very wrong. A good security setup stops threats before they ever get close. With a combination of human spotters, computerized facial recognition, and electronic surveillance equipment, the goal is to find the bad guys long before they make a move.
Combat support hospitals are portable operating rooms that can be set up anywhere in an hour. If you don't have time to get your wounded to a doctor, hospitals like these can bring the doctor to you. But there are still some injuries that even immediate medical attention can't fix.
For someone who's not used to being under surveillance, knowing someone's watching can be a lot worse than being oblivious. The problem is that, when anyone could be watching you, it often feels like everyone is watching you. Whether you're a professional or a civilian, there's ultimately only one real way to find out for sure if someone's watching you. You have to go somewhere concealed, and see if they follow.
There are a lot of reasons strip clubs have become a common meeting spot for a wide range of criminal activities. For one thing, they're open in the day, windowless, and too loud for good audio surveillance. They also provide privacy. Dark corners designed for flirting with dancers work just as well for a covert meeting. And of course, if you're doing or saying anything illegal, chances are, everyone else will be too distracted to notice.
When you have to make a cold approach, and you have to make it fast, you don't get any points for being polite. The most important thing is to get your target's attention. Because it doesn't matter if they like you, as long as they like what you have to say.
Once you sold your cover ID to your target, it's important to know your limits. The more complex and technical your cover is, the greater the danger is you'll be discovered. If you're pretending to be an expert in organic chemistry, it's a good idea to make your move as quickly as possible.
Being under surveillance is more stressful than most people realize. Even when you have no contact with the people watching you, just knowing that they're there can take a lot out of you. The problem is you begin to feel eyes on you all the time. Often it's just your imagination playing tricks on you. But sometimes, those eyes are all too real.
There are many techniques for dealing with guards without raising alarm. They all boil down to 2 basic steps: a stunning move to stop your target from crying out, and a subduing move to keep him quiet.
- Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen
- Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne
- Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe
- Coby Bell as Jesse Porter
- Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen
|Episodes | Season 7|
|New Deal • Forget Me Not • Down Range • Brothers In Arms • Exit Plan • All or Nothing • Psychological Warfare • Nature of the Beast • Bitter Pill • Things Unseen • Tipping Point • Sea Change • Reckoning|