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Episode 105: Family Business

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Family Business
Season 1, Episode 5
BurnNotice 1x04
Air date July 19, 2007
Written by Matt Nix
Directed by Sandy Bookstaver
Episode Guide
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Old Friends
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Unpaid Debts
Family Business is the fifth episode of the first season and the fifth episode overall.

NotesEdit

SynopsisEdit

Michael infiltrates a family of gunrunners who are pressuring an airport supervisor and his pregnant wife. Also, the FBI begins to put pressure on Sam to gather more information on Michael.

Spy FactsEdit

  • There's a good reason covert operatives keep their work a secret from their families. Once your family knows what you do you've got a problem. Best case: they're scared; worst case: they figure they can get into trouble and you'll get them out of it.
  • In gathering intel little things can tell you a lot: A top flight alarm system, well placed cameras without blind spots, paying attention to strangers in the area. * More aggressive intelligence gathering is more delicate; but someone who knows what to look for can find out a lot. If you know what to look for a bunch of little things can tell you everything you need to know. 
  • One cheap and effective security measure is working in an area with low or no traffic. Anyone in a car is too obvious so you force any would-be followers to get out and walk. 
  • Fighting is something you want to avoid. Once you fight someone he knows your face. You kind of blow your cover when you hit a guy with a piece of rebar; but, when you have no choice, rebar it is! 
  • When you want to turn someone into an asset, get him to betray the people he loves, you have to get to know him. You need to know his frustrations, you need to know how he spends his time and money and you need to know his hopes and dreams.
  • C-4 has a plastic sheen and a putty like consistency. If you need to counterfeit it, the best thing I've found is cake icing – or fondant, as it is known in the baking trade. 
  • If you need a moldable explosive that makes a bang, someone with Fiona's skills can make home-made C-4 with spackle, petroleum jelly and a bunch of other things I don't even want to know about. 
  • You ever meet someone and it just seems to click instantly? You like the same things, share the same opinions, it seems like you've known them all your life. It could be fate; or, it could be that you have a listening device planted under the dashboard of your car. 
  • You'd be surprised how often covert operatives pose as "international men of mystery". Fantasies about glamorous, covert ops can be extremely useful to exploit; though some secret agent fantasies are more useful than others. 
  • Anybody in the arms trade knows that the mark of a pro is the "blow and burn". It's the detonator on whatever you're selling in case the deal goes bad. 
  • Dealing with a blown cover is about stalling for time. Stay alive long enough to figure out what they know and tell a bigger lie to save yourself.
  • Riding in a car with a blindfold on takes getting used to. The good news is that the driver's busy making sure you can't see anything. He's not paying attention to whether he's being followed. 
  • Any good operative is going to be a bit of a control freak. Above all, they don't want to hear that the people they think they own really belong to someone who can destroy them. 
  • There's nothing worse for anyone who's spent time in intelligence work than being up against a ghost. You can deal with an enemy you know, but an enemy you don't know? He could be a competitor who knows all about your operation, could be law enforcement getting ready to bust you, could be a foreign agent setting you up in some deep spy game. Your only option is to disappear. 

Full RecapEdit

There's a good reason covert operatives keep their work a secret from their families. Once your family knows what you do you've got a problem. Best case: they're scared; worst case: they figure they can get into trouble and you'll get them out of it.

While studying the meager collection of information he's gathered about his burn notice, Michael gets a call from Nate. He's calling from a private airport, and needs Michael's help. It seems Nate has accepted $1,000.00 from a friend to "talk to a guy". Michael is angry that Nate didn't find out more before accepting the job. Nate has been badly beaten and tells Michael that he needed the job. Since Michael is driving the Charger, Nate begins to fuss about the car, angry that Madeline has given it to Michael, since it was Nate who spent a summer rebuilding the motor. Michael tells Nate what Madeline told him; their father wanted the car to go to Michael. Suddenly, Michael realizes the fuss is Nate's way of asking for his help with this job.

While working on the Charger in Madeline's garage, Michael is explaining to Fiona that if he doesn't help Nate with the job, he'll get himself killed and tells her that Nate is complaining about Michael having been given the car. Fiona can't resist teasing Michael, telling him she's never seen him attached to anything. Michael persists. His father wasn't a generous person and if he'd specifically left the Charger to Michael, he must have had a good reason. The car won't crank and Fiona checks the ignition wiring, finding a bug. She is certain it's Sam's work. She wants to kneecap Sam, Michael wants to leave the bug in place - at least he knows it's there and they will only hear what he chooses for them to hear. Fiona is sardonic, "Is that tradecraft, Michael - or protecting a friend?"  Michael says he has to leave to meet with Nate's friend, and asks Fiona if she can finish the engine work herself.  She says yes, and he warns her not to do anything to Sam while he is gone.  She promises to behave - but when he is gone, she leans over the engine again and adds, "maybe," with a mischievous smile.

Interviewing the client, Jake Miller, Michael learns that he works security at the private airport and has had the job about a year. He'd met this family, the Zamars, and they'd become friendly. He thinks they are Lebanese. He had been to basketball games with them, they had given him a few small gifts, and loaned him some money. He needed the money because his wife is pregnant. They'd asked small things of him, such as changing the arrival times of a few planes, but now they were pressuring him to leave a flight off the log entirely. Then, he'd recalled that Nate had told him that he and his brother had this business "helping people'. Michael is surprised to hear that he and Nate are now supposedly a team. Jake Miller isn't through. The Zamars had sent people to his home when he'd refused to leave the future flight off the log. They had threatened his pregnant wife. He had tried to quit his job, but they told him they would hurt him if he did. Jake had Michael at "pregnant wife was threatened". He agrees to help Nate help Jake.Nate is still fuming about the car, even as Michael tells him he has agreed to help.

Michael and Sam are keeping the men from the airport under surveillance, and Michael mentions that he and Fiona have been working on the car's electrical system. "Why?" asks Sam. It's glitchy, is the reply. Sam is uncomfortable, but feigns ignorance, even offering to help with the car. Sam offers up the intel he's gathered so far. They are Eli, Ilan and Ari Zamar, but he's learned little else.

In gathering intel little things can tell you a lot: A top flight alarm system, well placed cameras without blind spots, paying attention to strangers in the area. 

Both ex-spies agree the Zamars run a tight ship, the sign on the front of their office identifies their business as import/export, but the security system is state-of-the-art, the cameras are perfectly placed, and the father, Sam observes, does a perimeter check every time he goes outside.  Sure enough, he and Michael see the father, Eli, step outside for a cigarette, and move hastily when the old man notices their car in the parking lot.

More aggressive intelligence gathering is more delicate; but someone who knows what to look for can find out a lot.

The next step is to figure out what business they are in.  Calling on Fiona's talents, she enters the airport hangar, pretending to have been told to meet some guy at the this hangar for a flight in his private plane. As Fiona makes sure she's seen everything there is to see in the hangar, she notes one brother, Ari, is flirting with her, but the other brother and the father are brusque, and shove her out of the hanger. She has what she needs, however, and reports back to Nate and Michael.

If you know what to look for a bunch of little things can tell you everything you need to know.

"Arms dealers.", says Michael. "Great." Nate wants to know if she is sure. Miffed, Fiona points out that these are "her people", plus she'd instantly recognized the smell of the packing grease used for shipping guns. She tells Nate he was lucky not to have been killed, since the old man was carrying a Desert Eagle, 9mm, with combat grips. "Ex Mossad.", gripes Michael, glaring at Nate.  Nate finds this a little fanciful, but Fiona assures him that "every other retired spook is an arms trader."  She adds that it's not a bad business to be in, provided you can stand retired spooks - earning a dirty look from Michael.

Talking to the client once more, Jake protests that he's never seen guns at the airport. Michael tells him that the Zamars are too smart for that, and shows him a newspaper clipping. Jake's job had opened up when the previous airport security manager had died in a car wreck - all his brakes just happened to fail at the same time. Jake is stunned. Michael tells him all he has to do is cooperate with the Zamars, while the "team" works to get the Zamars busted while in possession of the guns, but in a way unrelated to Jake.

While waiting for the Zamars to leave their house, and hopefully lead them to the guns, Michael and Sam chat. Sam mentions he's getting more and more pressure from the FBI to turn over information on Michael.

One cheap and effective security measure is working in an area with low or no traffic. Anyone in a car is too obvious so you force any would-be followers to get out and walk.

Just as Sam appears to be on the verge of some confession, the family exits their home. Michael knows that he's dealing with thorough professionals when he's led into an abandoned area with absolutely no traffic, meaning that he and Sam will have to get out and walk. Sam grumbles about the walking, but Michael tells him the Zamars have to be nearby. As Michael is attempting to enter a likely looking warehouse, the two brothers, Ari and Ilan have been sent to check things out by Ari, who thought he'd seen someone following them.

Fighting is something you want to avoid. Once you fight someone he knows your face. You kind of blow your cover when you hit a guy with a piece of rebar; but, when you have no choice, rebar it is!

Michael is trapped, and knows if he fights these guys, he'll have blown his cover, but Sam staggers to his rescue, pretending to be a disgruntled drunk. Tossing refuse at the empty building, Sam yells about jobs being sent overseas, and suggests that the brothers just go ahead and shoot him and put him out of his misery.  The two brothers relax, buying Sam's act.

Nate and Michael return to talk to Jake, explaining they need more time. Jake wants to send his wife out of town, but Michael doesn't want the Zamars tipped off in any way. Jake asks what he's supposed to do about the flight they want left off the log, and Michael tells him bluntly that since a "No" will probably get him killed, to say "Yes".

Back at the apartment, Sam, Fiona and Michael are trying to decide how to find the guns. Sam suggests that it's time for Michael to do the "spy thing", and make a new friend. Fiona suggests that the younger brother who'd flirted with her at the hangar is the weakest link. She also can't resist a dig at Sam, suggesting not-so-innocently that he bug Ari's car.

When you want to turn someone into an asset, get him to betray the people he loves, you have to get to know him. You need to know his frustrations, you need to know how he spends his time and money and you need to know his hopes and dreams.

Sam eavesdrops on Ari's conversation with his girlfriend, Debbie, at a local club. He learns what wines Ari likes, and the fact that he feels a bit oppressed by his father, leading to taunts from Debbie. Fiona was right about Ari, his sloppy security measures have led to his leaving the top down on his convertible, making it a breeze for Sam to bug Ari's car.

C-4 has a plastic sheen and a putty like consistency. If you need to counterfeit it, the best thing I've found is cake icing – or fondant, as it is known in the baking trade.

Sam is taking notes on Ari, courtesy of the bug in his car, when Michael and Fiona arrive at the apartment, shopping bags in hand. Sam holds up his notes and says Ari is such an easy target that Mike will kiss Sam. The con has been planned: Michael is going to approach Ari posing as another arms dealer, with an offer to sell C-4 (military-grade plastic explosive). They are generating a fake batch using baker's icing, and packaging it to look like the real thing.

If you need a moldable explosive that makes a bang, someone with Fiona's skills can make home-made C-4 with spackle, petroleum jelly and a bunch of other things I don't even want to know about.

Fiona, meanwhile, makes up a batch of genuine explosive, calling on her IRA talents. Sam has procured Michael a fake Rolex, and has a deal to rent a cheap, but flashy Aston Martin for the sting. He also produces Michaels new business cards. "Steve Remington?" Michael says in disbelief. Sam retorts that he's just having a little fun. He hands over a list of details he's gathered on Ari from his car bug.

At Madeline's house, Nate is digging through papers, determined to find his father's will. Michael has come to borrow his father's old cuff links and cigarette case for his "Steve Remington" identity. Nate comments that his dad had kept notes on Michael, and points out that Michael had stolen more cars by the time he was 12 than Nate himself had ever stolen. Giving a glimpse into the motivations that drove him away from Miami in the first place, Michael asked Nate if he'd ever wondered just how they got to the store for groceries when their dad wasn't around. Madeline is upset that Nate wants to see their father's will, wondering aloud why Nate just can't accept that their father wanted Michael to have it. Michael retorts that it's because it just doesn't sound like their dad.

You ever meet someone and it just seems to click instantly? You like the same things, share the same opinions, it seems like you've known them all your life. It could be fate; or, it could be that you have a listening device planted under the dashboard of your car.

The sting is on. Michael enters the club where he knows Ari will be, and waits for his opening. When Ari approaches the bar, "Steve" orders a wine he knows will capture Ari's admiration. Ari bites, and "Steve" is invited to join Ari and Debbie. Since Michael knows every hope and dream of Ari's, thanks to Sam, they hit it off immediately. Michael is playing the part of a mystery man, wealthy, but with little to say about where the money comes from. He drops in a few stories that could be interpreted as a background in covert ops, and Debbie is impressed.

You'd be surprised how often covert operatives pose as "international men of mystery". Fantasies about glamorous, covert ops can be extremely useful to exploit; though some secret agent fantasies are more useful than others.

But Ari is "Steve's" focus. Once he drops his guard, Michael pretends to confess that he'd set out to meet Ari on purpose. He knows about the family business, and has come to offer Ari an opportunity, cunningly playing on Ari's feelings of insecurity within his family, and uses the added pressure of Debbie hanging on every word... all designed to push Ari into attempting a deal all on his own. He also plays to his ego, telling him the word is that Ari is the up-and-coming member of the family. Spotting the older brother, Ilan, heading into the club, "Steve" melts into a crowd at the next table, leaving behind "Steve Remington's" business card with a note on the back: Tonight. 1 am. Embarrassed that "Steve" overheard his brother demanding he leave like a disobedient child, Ari takes the bait.

Arriving at a deserted junkyard in the rented Aston Martin, confiding to Ari that he'd been in town to do a deal on some military grade explosives, but his deal fell through. Michael shows Ari the fake C-4.

Anybody in the arms trade knows that the mark of a pro is the "blow and burn". It's the detonator on whatever you're selling in case the deal goes bad.

Still playing the wary professional, Ari asks for a demonstration, and Michael obliges, using Fiona's homemade batch to blow up a junked car. Fiona's work passes muster, and the explosion is sufficiently loud and bright to sell Ari. "Are we in business?" asks "Steve" with a smile. Ari is in.

As Michael prepares to meet with Ari the next day, Fiona is teasing him about the number of times Debbie has called him. She thinks Debbie is looking to trade up, boyfriend-wise. Michael teases her back: "If I need a beautiful woman to mess up my life... I can do a lot better than Debbie." At the club, Michael talks shop again with Ari. Now "Steve" proposes an addition to the C-4 deal, military grade 50 caliber machine guns, smoothly adding that they can go bigger, but "Steve" must see the Zamar's operation. Ari protests that this is impossible, his father would kill him. Pretending to pull back from the deal, implying that approaching Ari might have been a mistake, Michael gets Ari to give in and ask to meet "Steve" the next night.

Relaxing at an outdoor cafe as they listen in on Ari's conversations, it sounds as if Ari plans to go for the deal. "Just goes to show you," Michael muses "a car is a bad place to have a conversation." Sam knows he's been found out. He confesses that he had to bug Michael's car, due to mounting pressure from the FBI to provide information on Michael's activities. He tells Michael that they'd wanted him to search the apartment instead, but he's planted the bug, knowing Michael would find it, and had all but signed his name to it so Michael would know it had been put there by Sam. Michael makes a decision, and tells Sam to search his apartment, directing him to the exact place where he's hidden the Homeland Security directive to burn him, commenting that the FBI was useless to him, but that piece of paper might attract the attention of someone who would be useful to him.

At the hangar, the Zamars are pressuring Jake about the flight they want left of the log. The old man, senses hesitation on Jake's part and the threats escalate, and Ilya pistol-whips him for fun.

Michael waits at the club for Ari. Debbie arrives first, and puts the moves on "Steve". Sliding her hand across his lap, she professes to want to see his gun. "Okay, that's not my gun...not my gun!" says an uncomfortable Michael. Ari approaches in a fury, dragging "Steve" into a stairway at gunpoint. "I know your secret.", Ari yells.

Dealing with a blown cover is about stalling for time. Stay alive long enough to figure out what they know and tell a bigger lie to save yourself.

Michael stalls for time, trying to guess what it is Ari thinks he's figured out. Ari rants that he knows "Steve" is after Debbie. Knowing his operation is safe, "Steve" bursts out laughing, to the surprise of Ari. Again playing to his ego, "Steve" flatters Ari, telling him how smart it was to send Debbie over first while he watched from a distance to see how "Steve" handled the pressure. Though this was not what Ari had done, he accepts the praise, pretending that "Steve" had guessed his plan, and the tense moment fades. Ari agrees to take Michael to see the warehouse.

Riding in a car with a blindfold on takes getting used to. The good news is that the driver's busy making sure you can't see anything. He's not paying attention to whether he's being followed.

Michael points out that while riding around blindfolded takes a bit of getting used to, the plus side is that the driver is so intent on being certain that the passenger can't see anything, he often fails to look for anyone tailing him, and Ari is sloppy. As they drive, Ari spills the details of the operation - the details Michael needs. There's no paper trail back to the family from the warehouse, and they have cops on the payroll to tip them off about any potential raid. Only the family knows where the warehouse is, so it's unlikely the guns can be stolen.

Inside the warehouse, "Steve" removes his blindfold and handles a couple of the more exotic guns, correctly identifying them to impress Ari, while praising him on his merchandise. Michael inquires about their airport security - Jake, his client. Ari laughs, saying he is reliable, and if not, the family wouldn't hesitate to liquidate him. Ari agrees to put together a deal with "Steve" and present it to his father after the current inventory has been sold. Reapplying his blindfold and ready to go, "Steve" has learned everything he needs to know.

Any good operative is going to be a bit of a control freak. Above all, they don't want to hear that the people they think they own really belong to someone who can destroy them.

Michael's original plan, to get the Zamar's busted while in possession of the guns, won't work now that he knows the Zamar's have cops on the payroll. His new plan requires that Jake go talk to the Zamars. Jake is hesitant, asking what Michael wants him to say. "I think it's time the Zamar family learns about Ari's new friend.", he replies, knowing it will rattle the Zamars to learn that someone they think they own is working for someone who might be able to destroy them.

Jake enters the Zamar house, clearly distraught. "Look, I said I'd help you. I gotta help your friends now? I can't do this." Ari Zamar is nonplussed. Jake applies the final touches to the con, ranting that this new guy was "Steve something", and said he worked with Ari. He goes on to tell the old man that this mysterious man had checked the logs and looked around the hangar, had Jake's social security number and passport information. "He said I belong to him now!" Jake protests. On a roll, he adds the finishing touches. "He has stuff on you guys, too, pictures..."

Eli Zamar turns on Ari in a fury. Ari confesses to putting together a deal on his own, and to showing "Steve" the warehouse. Fuming, the old man calls Ilya and the three head straight to the warehouse. It's been emptied, with only a business card from "Steve Remington" left on a table. After that, it's a simple matter to locate the bug Sam had placed in Ari's car.

There's nothing worse for anyone who's spent time in intelligence work than being up against a ghost. You can deal with an enemy you know, but an enemy you don't know? He could be a competitor who knows all about your operation, could be law enforcement getting ready to bust you, could be a foreign agent setting you up in some deep spy game. Your only option is to disappear.

As Sam is casually tossing the illegal guns into a canal, the Zamars abandon their Miami operation, loading everything on their plane. As they rush across the tarmac, Ari is on his cell phone, still trying to track down the mysterious "Steve Remington." An impatient Eli grabs the cell phone and drops it on the ground, hustling his sons onto the plane. A close-up of the phone shows an incoming call from Debbie, presumably now wanting Ari back now that "Steve Remington" has disappeared.

Nate and Michael visit Jake to tell him the result of the sting. Michael tells him he's safe as long as the Zamars believe a mystery man owns Jake, but cautions both Jake and his wife to keep their mouths shut about the entire deal, since Ari Zamar will retaliate if he ever learns he was conned. Nate chimes in: "It's not that hard. Secrets are what keeps a family strong."

Sam is enjoying lunch, courtesy of the FBI. He's turned over Michael's burn notice, the one he "searched" Michael's apartment to find. They've sent it up the ladder, and they inform Sam that Michael should never have had such a classified document, and that they've been pulled off the job. They don't know who their replacement will be, or even what department that person might be from. Dropping an excessive tip on the table, the FBI agents bid Sam good-bye. He calls Michael with the news. Gathering the excess tip, Sam invites himself to join a single, attractive blonde seated at the next table. "Hi, I'm Veronica" she says.

In the garage at Madeline's house, Nate has found the will. There is no mention of the car. Michael is confused, since his mother had specifically told him that his father left it to him. As Nate and Michael puzzle this over, Madeline enters the garage with a couple of Mojitos. She confesses to a con of her own. She had wanted Michael to believe his father had remembered him in the end, reminding Nate that he'd been the one to spend more time with the boys' father, so she had simply lied when she gave Michael the car.

Michael offers to flip Nate for the car. The gambler in Nate can't resist this, but Michael wins. Nate seems unconcerned, saying Michael had won fair and square, and offering his big brother a hug before he leaving. "You see, Michael", Madeline persists "you're too hard on him, he can be so sweet. I just want us to be a family.", she pleads. Michael soothes her, then, realizing Nate has lifted his wallet, he tears out of the garage, leaving Madeline holding the drinks.

CastEdit

MainEdit

RecurringEdit

GuestEdit

  • Scott Michael Campbell as Jake Miller
  • Guri Weinberg as Ari Zamar
  • Joel Swetow as Eli Zamar
  • Paul Gutrecht as Ilan Zamar
  • Hannia Guillen as Debbie
  • Jessica Baldwin as Melody Miller

TriviaEdit

  • This is the only episode of the first season where no yogurt appears or is mentioned.
  • After leaving the hangar, Fiona reports that Eli was carrying a "9-millimeter Desert Eagle". The Desert Eagle is not produced in a 9-millimeter caliber, however, Eli's pistol, a Jericho 941, is sometimes called a "Baby Eagle," since it is manufactured by the same company and resembles a smaller, compact version of the Desert Eagle.

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