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Fight or Flight
Season 1, Episode 3
Fi mike
Air date July 12, 2007
Written by Craig O'Neill & Jason Tracey
Directed by Colin Bucksey
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Fight or Flight is the third episode of the first season and the third episode overall.

NotesEdit

SynopsisEdit

Oleg, Michael's landlord, asks him to help Cara, a waitress in one of his clubs, after she stops showing up for work. It turns out that Cara, a single mother, is being threatened after she witnessed a drug dealer brutally beat up a man. Michael then attempts to have Cara and her teenager daughter Sophie to move to Buffalo, New York. Thoough Cara agrees to the moving, Sophie refuses to leave town, as she feels unhappy of leaving everything behind that she knows, including a school prom that she wants to attend.

Spy FactsEdit

  • International conferences attract spies for the same reason hotel bars attract hookers. You can do business and drink for free.
  • Any high security function is going to have a lot of oversight, a lot of meetings, a lot of bureaucrats checking up on each other. In all the confusion of the big event, it's easy for another bureaucrat to just… show up! The important thing is to disappear before people can ask questions. If they do decide to ask questions you just have to hope you are in building with a lot of hallways, a good service basement and plenty of exits. But in the end, sometimes making an escape is just about being willing to do what the guy chasing you won't – like jumping off a building.
  • Asking my mom for anything is a lot like getting a favor from a Russian mob boss. He'll give you what you want with a smile, but believe me, you'll pay for it. 
  • My father's approach to machinery was similar to his approach to his family: If you don't like how something works, keep banging on it till it does what you want. If something doesn't fit, force it. And above all, make sure it looks good on the outside.
  • Convincing a bully to back down is usually a matter of showing them you're not afraid of them. Of course, some bullies have guys with three fifty-seven magnums. Then you change tactics.
  • When faced with a superior force, you can do two things: you can retreat quietly or you can attack with as much fanfare as possible.
  • Outfitting a safe house is about two things. You need to know if someone's coming and you need to know how the folks you're protecting are going to get out of there if they do. And if you can't be on baby sitting duty all the time, you need to make sure that you know the minute something's wrong.
  • A thirty-five dollar outdoor flood light has a decent motion detector on it. Wire that to a cell phone and you've got a remote alarm system that will call you if there's trouble.
  • I love commuters. Anybody who drives the same route to work everyday, it's like they're doing all the work for you... and a punctual commuter, a guy who's in the same place every morning at the 8:36a.m., it's almost too easy. 
  • Threaten any serious criminal organization and they're going to do one of two things: they'll send someone to make a deal... or they'll send someone to make a corpse. Either way you've got something to work with.
  • When you go on the run, the first thing you do is lay down tracks in the opposite direction, but that only works if the bad guys find the trail and believe it's for real. Which means selling it. You need to put on a little show, make them feel clever. When you make somebody work to get a piece of information they'll believe it that much more because it's hard to get. 
  • Approaching a spy in the middle of a job gives you a lot of leverage. They're playing a delicate game and the last thing they want is someone coming in and smashing their delicate game with a brick.
  • Basic rule of body guarding, never fight with the protectee around, mostly because if they catch a stray bullet, you're out of the job. 
  • Modern technology has made it possible to do sophisticated electronic surveillance with stuff from your local electronics store. Faking a surveillance video has come a long way, it used to be slaving over a VHS tape with a razor blade. Now it's a few hours and a computer. 
  • A drug cartel is a business. If killing a witness to protect a valued employee from jail time is the best way to keep making money, they'll do that. If it looks like that employee is testifying to the FBI though, they're just as happy to leave the witness alone and take care of their problem another way. 
  • An alphanumeric tracking code and a special access program code name. It's not much, but it's a start!

Full RecapEdit

International conferences attract spies for the same reason hotel bars attract hookers. You can do business and drink for free.

Still searching for why he was burned, Michael enters a local conference, brazenly enters the Security office and browses the logs for the name of some conference attendee that he feels might be able to give him information. Getting a name, he narrowly escapes the now-wise security staff.

[I]n the end, sometimes making an escape is just about being willing to do what the guy chasing you won't. Like jump off a building.

Michael limps back to his apartment, fuming because Fiona was supposed to be waiting for him with their getaway car, but drove off instead and left him to walk two miles with a twisted ankle. Fiona, who's broken into the apartment again, reminds him that the car was stolen, and she couldn't afford to wait around. She argues that Michael needs a car, and she needs a key to his apartment instead of having to break in all the time. She challenges him that he sees either of these things as a sign of commitment, that he can't face. Michael argues that he desn't have any assets with which to purchase a car, and Fiona sweetly informs him that his mother is offering the use of his father's old Dodge Charger.

While Michael is repairing his apartment door, he is approached by his landlord, Oleg, who needs Michael to solve a problem for him. Cara Stagner, the best waitress at his nightclub, hasn't shown up for work for two weeks, apparently because someone is threatening her. Oleg offers Michael free rent for two months if he helps Cara get back to work. Michael negotiates him up to four, and agrees.

In her home, which she hasn't left for two weeks, Cara explains to Michael that she saw a pizza delivery guy accidentally rear-end another man's Lexus, then saw the Lexus driver savagely beat the pizza guy with a steering wheel lock. Now the pizza guy is in a coma. Cara called the police and gave them the Lexus driver's license plate number, but now she has been receiving death threats. After meeting Cara and her teenaged daughter, Sophie, Michael agrees to help.

As for tracking down his burn notice, Michael has identified an Egyptian spy he knows, Akhom Thabet, who is attending the conference. Akhom owes Michael a favor, for saving his life. However, he can't go back to the hotel, since the security is now on the lookout for him. So he asks Fiona to shadow Akhom and find a moment when Michael can get him alone; in exchange, he promises to ask his mother for the Charger.

Getting anything from my mom is a lot like asking a favor from a Russian mob boss. He'll give you what you want with a smile, but believe me, you'll pay for it.

Madeline is delighted to hear that Michael will accept his father's car, taking it as a sign that he's staying in Miami. Michael examines the car and finds it needs a complete overhaul and new spark plugs.

My father's approach to machinery was a lot like his approach to his family. If something doesn't work, beat it until it does what you want. It something doesn't fit, you force it. And above all, make sure it looks good on the outside.

With the Charger useless for the moment, Michael returns to the Stagners' problem. Sam helps Michael out by identifying the name of the thug threatening them, one Alvaro DeSantos.

Convincing a bully to back down is usually a matter of showing them you're not afraid of them.

Michael's conversation with him doesn't go well, however, when he learns that Desantos is in fact a Miami "employee" of a Colombian drug cartel. In fact, Desantos says that Cara and Sophie will cease to be a problem, momentarily.

Of course, some bullies have guys with three fifty-seven magnums. Then you change tactics.

Michael manages to warn Fiona just in time for her to send the thugs scurrying with improvised Molotov cocktails using the liquor cabinet and a few rags. Fiona is having the time of her life, but Cara and Sophie are badly shaken, and must be moved to a safer location.

Hiding them in Madeline's garage, complete with cool tricked-out on-the-cheap spy techniques for keeping remote tabs on their security, is Michael's first idea, but the teenaged Sophie is predictably miserable, especially when Michael forbids the use of her cell phone. She wants to attend her school's Spring Dance. He tells them to sit tight for the next few days, while he approaches their problem from a different angle.

I love commuters. Anybody who drives the same route to work everyday, it's like they're doing all the work for you... and a punctual commuter, a guy who's in the same place every morning at the eight thirty-six am, it's almost too easy.

He approaches Bruce Gellman, the cartel's Miami lawyer, by spiking his tires in the middle of the lawyer's own neighborhood. Michael says that DeSantos has been a "bad boy," and is risking an investigation that might upset the "big boys" in Columbia, who should tell DeSantos to back off. The laywer says he doesn't discuss his client's business, but Michael asks him to think it over, promising to meet him again the next day.

Threaten any serious criminal organization and they're going to do one of two things: they'll send someone to make a deal... or they'll send someone to make a corpse. Either way you've got something to work with.

While waiting for his meeting with Gellman, Michael surprises a cartel thug trying to kill him with a car bomb. At gunpoint, the thug admits that Gellman has received orders from Colombia to "kill you all" - Cara, Sophie, and anyone trying to protect them.

When you go on the run, the first thing you do is lay down tracks in the opposite direction, but that only works if the bad guys find the trail and believe it's for real. Which means selling it. You need to put on a little show, make them feel clever. When you make somebody work to get a piece of information they'll believe it that much more because it's hard to get.

Since he needs a new plan, he proposes sending Cara and Sophie permanently to Buffalo, New York, while having Fiona plant evidence on their computer of a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah. Sophie pitches a fit at having to leave Miami permanently.

Approaching a spy in the middle of a job gives you a lot of leverage. They're playing a delicate game and the last thing they want is someone coming in and smashing their delicate game with a brick.

Michael approaches Akhom at the conference, reminding him that he once saved his life. If that isn't enough to enlist Akhom's assistance, Michael ups the ante by threatening to expose his double-dealings to the Sudanese delegates the Egyptian is meeting with at the conference.

Akhom is not happy, particularly when Michael tells him it's a copy of the Homeland Security Directive that blacklisted him that he wants. In the middle of their meeting, Michael's cell phone rings, activated by the motion detector outside the safe house.

Michael rushes to the safe house and finds Cara in hysterics. Sophie snuck out of the garage while Cara was asleep, planning to attend her school's spring formal, ignoring Michael's warnings that the bad guys are likely watching her school.

Michael rushes to the school and finds Sophie, who starts complaining about his over-protectiveness... until he jams the door in the nick of time against two Colombian thugs charging at her. Michael drags a now-terrified Sophie into the school and hides her in the auto shop. When the two thugs follow their trail, Michael tells Sophie to run while he stays behind, and promises to meet her behind the gym in five minutes.

Basic rule of bodyguarding: never fight with the protectee around, mostly because if they happen to catch a stray bullet, you just lost your job.

Ingenuity wins the day again, as Michael booby-traps the door to the shop by heating the door knob with a blowtorch, and disarms the two attackers, escaping with Sophie and some spark plugs for the Charger.

Now resigned to the fact that she and her mother must leave Miami, Sophie sadly confides that she was really getting to like the boy she was going to the dance with. Michael tries to offer some romantic advice, confiding that he had to leave Fiona without ever saying goodbye, but they reconnected years later. Sophie asks, hopefully, whether this means that, if two people are meant to be together, they will find each other. Michael gives an unconvincing "sure," but Sophie sees through him and adds with a smile, "you're really bad at this."

Thanks to Sophie, the bad guys now know that Cara has not yet left Miami. Michael comes up with a new plan: turning the cartel against Desantos. Michael videotapes Desantos, while Sam records an innocent phone conversation with him, as Fiona checks off all the phrases they need him to say on a pad.

Faking a surveillance video has come a long way, it use to be slaving over a VHS tape with a razor blade. Now it's a few hours and a computer.

Michael then edits the tape so that it appears as though Desantos is ratting out the cartel, and syncs it with the videotape. Sam passes the tape along to Agents Lane and Harris. The next day, Michael stops Gellman's car again in his own neighborhood. Displaying no fear, the lawyer thanks Michael for not blowing out his tires this time. Michael himself "thanks" the lawyer for convincing Desantos to back off from the Stagners and testify about his bosses to the FBI, which Michael buoyantly describes as a "win-win" for everybody: DeSantos gets immunity for the assault charge, and Cara is off the hook. Gellman gapes in disbelief, and Michael winks, saying he understands that Gellman doesn't talk about his clients' business, but thanks him all the same. As he walks away, he Michael stabs a balisong knife into the rear tire, adding "that's for trying to kill me."

Out of Gellman's earshot, Michael calls Sam, wagering that Gellman will be on the phone with his own contacts at the FBI "before his tire goes flat" and will have a copy of the incriminating tape on his desk by lunch.

A drug cartel is a business. If killing a witness to protect a valued employee from jail time is the best way to keep making money, they'll do that. If it looks like that employee is testifying to the FBI though, they're just as happy to leave the witness alone and take care of the problem another way.

Desantos is last seen being forced into the trunk of a drug cartel car by some angry thugs, under Gellman's supervision. With Desantos no longer a factor, the cartel has stopped caring about silencing Cara or Sophie.

Cara and Sophie are grateful to be safe, and even more grateful that they don't have to leave town. Sophie apologizes for her earlier brattiness and kisses Michael on the cheek.


Fiona gets her key as a reward, Sam gets a bit of relief from the FBI for turning over the drug cartel guy, and Michael makes his mother happy by reluctantly visiting his father's grave. He meets Akhom there and is given the copy of the burn notice; there is no information on who issued it, but there is an alpha-numeric tracing code and a special access code name, "Cold Sunshine." In Michael's words, "It's not much, but it's a start."

CastEdit

MainEdit

RecurringEdit

  • Marc Macaulay as Harris
  • Brandon Morris as Lane
  • George Tasudis as Oleg

GuestEdit

TriviaEdit

  • When Michael gives the newspaper to Bruce, the journalists who wrote the cover story (Craig O'Neill and Jason Tracey) are the writers for this episode.
  • This episode features Sam's first use of the alias Chuck Finley, while he is posing as Cara's lawyer on the phone with Desantos.

Continuity ErrorsEdit

  • After Cara gives Michael the mug, his hand on the mug changes position between shots.


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