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Episode 307: Shot in the Dark

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Shot in the Dark
Season 3, Episode 7
Shot-in-the-dark
Air date July 23, 2009
Written by Ben Watkins
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Episode Guide
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The Hunter
next
Friends Like These
Shot in the Dark is the seventh episode of the third season and the thirty-fifth episode overall.

NotesEdit

SynopsisEdit

While Strickler still tries to convince Michael to work for him, Michael runs into a boy trying to steal one of his guns. After hearing him out, Michael decides to help the boy get rid of his abusive stepfather.

Spy FactsEdit

  • (00:54) Spies aren't much into night clubs. In a career where hearing loss is a serious operational concern, and crowds of strangers must be constantly monitored, they just don't seem like much fun.
  • (01:50) Training a covert operative takes years and costs a lot of money.  In theory, it's all for the tax payers who paid the bills. In practice, it's worth a lot on the open market, and when something's that valuable, there's always someone trying to sell it.
  • (03:16) Spies hate drop-in visits. Any questionable contact has to be reported to superiors, a process that involves hours of paperwork and uncomfortable questions.  If you're a questionable contact, that gives you some leverage. If you know where a spy operates, even a guy running a lowly cover import/export business, you can make someone's life miserable.
  • (5:00) If you wanna stay alive, you have to recognize the signs of a break-in.  The most skilled operative in the world won't last long if he walks into an ambush carrying a box of cereal.  When a target is cornered, the best strategy is to flush them into a choke point, where they have one of two options: surrender, or be shot. Of course, if your target turns out to be 13-years old, carrying a dismantled pistol, it changes the tactical response somewhat.
  • (13:00) When you're undercover, you often fight your emotions.  If the operation demands you be a target's best friend, you do it, no matter what you're feeling.  But there are times emotions can help sell a cover ID.  If hitting a guy reinforces a cover, then give it all you got.
  • (15:22) 99% of controlling someone's behavior is controlling their environment. All the conversations in the world won't have the same impact as turning off the right light at the right time.  If you want to kill a streetlight without the mess and inconvenience of breaking into the pole with a cutting torch, you need to access the circuit breaker. Connect lines from the breakers to an exposed cell phone wire, and with a quick call, you can short the circuits.  A similar trick can be used to temporarily disable the car. It doesn't take much to trip a few electronic safety mechanisms, and make a vehicle impossible to start. If you want to make sure you're the only one making any calls, a hundred dollar cell phone jammer will block all signals in a one-block radius.
  • (16:35) When you want to create fear, it's best to keep it simple. The same things people are afraid of as kids scare them when they're adults.  Fear of the dark, for example. Fear of being alone. And above all, fear of the unknown. 
  • (19:42) With today's powerful encryption, it's usually a waste of time to decipher coded communication.  Tap the data stream of even a low-level spy, and you're going to get incomprehensible garbage.  Just because it's garbage, doesn't mean it's worthless though.  A network analyzer can tell you how much information someone's accessing and how encoded it is. If someone starts using heavy-duty crypto and starts changing their security protocol, sometimes that's enough to tell you what you need to know.
  • (25:48) When you push someone to the point of desperation, there's always a chance they'll go looking for help, unless you're the one providing the help.
  • (28:00) If you want the appearance of a gunshot without actually dying, you need to create a high-powered burst of blood.  A bottle cap, packed with a bit of plastic explosive does the trick nicely.  Rig a few remote charges to create the sound of a firearm, and you've got everything you need.
  • (29:26) Getting a target to do what you want requires a delicate touch. Sometimes, you're a bully, sometimes you're a friend.  You have to know when to give the target help and comfort, and when to take it away.
  • (31:20) When you work as a spy, follow-through is crucial. Even the best executed plan can fall apart. You don't score if you spike the ball before you're in the end-zone.
  • (32:40) When a plan goes wrong, you have two basic options: the first is to accept failure and abort the mission. That works best when you have the resources and time to remove personnel from the field. When you don't have time, you're left with option two: get back in there and salvage the situation however you can. There's a long tradition in spy craft of making enemy assets appear unreliable. Make an operative look like a traitor, for example, and if you're lucky, your enemies take him out for you. Better than an enemy look disloyal is making him look insane. It takes some doing, but when you pull it off, it's more devastating than a bullet.
  • (40:40) As a spy, you often have to do things you don't like for people you don't trust. You don't always get to choose who you do business with. When the devil, himself, is offering the thing you want most, sometimes you dance with the devil.

Full RecapEdit

Spies aren't much into night clubs. In a career where hearing loss is a serious operational concern, and crowds of strangers must be constantly monitored, they just don't seem like much fun.

When Michael and Fiona come home to his apartment, an attractive woman who was sent by Strickler to give Michael rejuvenating body lotion awaits them. Though the woman offers to apply it, Michael sends her away.

Training a covert operative takes years and costs a lot of money. In theory, it's all for the tax payers who paid the bills. In practice, it's worth a lot on the open market, and when something's that valuable, there's always someone trying to sell it.

The next day, Michael visits Strickler to give the lotion back and to tell him that he is not interested in being Strickler's mercenary. However, Strickler offers to help Michael with his burn notice.

Soon later, Michael pays his "favorite point of contact" Diego a visit. He wants to know if Tom Strickler is indeed able to help him with his burn notice and asks Diego to check him out.

If you wanna stay alive, you have to recognize the signs of a break-in. The most skilled operative in the world won't last long if he walks into an ambush carrying a box of cereal. When a target is cornered, the best strategy is to flush them into a choke point, where they have one of two options: surrender, or be shot.

Fiona and Michael are on their way to Fiona's apartment, arguing about Strickler's offer because Fiona doesn't want Michael to trust Strickler. When they arrive, Michael discovers that someone broke into Fiona's apartment. They corner the housebreaker into a choke point and have to realize that a teenage boy who tried to steal one of Fiona's pistol is the culprit.

Of course, if your target turns out to be 13 years old, carrying a dismantled pistol, it changes the tactical response somewhat.

The boy tries to run away, but Michael catches up with him. The boy reveals that he needed the gun to kill his stepfather.

Back in Fiona's apartment, Fiona and Michael try to talk to the boy. He reveals that his stepfather wants to take him and his brother away from their mother and Michael promises to help his family.

Sam is surprised that Michael is on a case of domestic disputes, but understands that Michael can relate to the boy because of his own father. Sam and Michael joins Fiona and their new client April Luna, the boy's mother. April does not believe that they can help to keep her two sons. Her abusive husband Erik is connected and his brother Quinn is a gangster.

At Erik's golf club, Michael and Sam check the Luna brothers out. Sam found out that Quinn needs Erik's pretty face and clean record to keep the empire he built and therefor Quinn is a little protective.

In the meantime, April and her sons move in with Michael's mother Madeline. Fiona asks April about any issues between the Luna brothers that could drive them apart. April reveals that Erik has a side business his brother doesn't know about.

In Madeline's garage, Michael is building a listening device while Sam tells him about Erik's scam. Erik takes stuff that gets seized at the docks, sells it and pockets the profits. When Joey appears, Michael asks him to give him a hand and assures Joey that he can make his stepfather run.

Spies hate drop-in visits. Any questionable contact has to be reported to superiors, a process that involves hours of paperwork and uncomfortable questions. If you're a questionable contact, that gives you some leverage. If you know where a spy operates, even a guy running a lowly cover import/export business, you can make someone's life miserable.

Michael walks into Erik Luna's office and pretends to be an unsatisfied, angry costumer of Erik's side business. Michael claims that he bought a Lotus that was stolen back by the original owner who is now trying to kill him.

When you're undercover, you often fight your emotions. If the operation demands you be a target's best friend, you do it, no matter what you're feeling. But there are times emotions can help sell a cover ID. If hitting a guy reinforces a cover, then give it all you got.

To sell his anger - which is very real, given Erik's treatment of his stepsons - Michael throws Erik to the ground and starts kicking him around. He demands his money back, and warns Erik that the death squad will be after him, too.


99% of controlling someone's behavior is controlling their environment. All the conversations in the world won't have the same impact as turning off the right light at the right time. If you want to kill a streetlight without the mess and inconvenience of breaking into the pole with a cutting torch, you need to access the circuit breaker. Connect lines from the breakers to an exposed cell phone wire, and with a quick call, you can short the circuits. A similar trick can be used to temporarily disable the car. It doesn't take much to trip a few electronic safety mechanisms, and make a vehicle impossible to start. If you want to make sure you're the only one making any calls, a hundred dollar cell phone jammer will block all signals in a one-block radius.

For the next step of their plan to make Erik believe that there is a killer after him, Michael, Fiona and Sam prepare the streetlight and Erik's car. When Erik leaves his office that night, suddenly the streetlight dies, his car won't start and his phone has no reception. While he still wonders what's happening, they chase him with a car and Fiona shoots at Erik. Soon later, Michael receives a phone call from Erik who tells him they need to meet.

When you want to create fear, it's best to keep it simple. The same things people are afraid of as kids scare them when they're adults. Fear of the dark, for example. Fear of being alone. And above all, fear of the unknown.

The next day, Michael meets with Erik. He tries to convince him that they have to run because of the psychopath who is trying to kill them, but Erik tells Michael that he can't run. He wants to team up with Michael to find out who is after them.

After the meeting, Michael calls Sam to tell him about it and Sam suggests that they have to make Erik regret his decision to see who is after him. But first, Michael wants to find out what Diego is doing with the name Tom Strickler. He connects a network analyzer to Diego's data stream to see if he is changing his security protocol.

With today's powerful encryption, it's usually a waste of time to decipher coded communication. Tap the data stream of even a low-level spy, and you're going to get incomprehensible garbage. Just because it's garbage, doesn't mean it's worthless though. A network analyzer can tell you how much information someone's accessing and how encoded it is. If someone starts using heavy-duty crypto and starts changing their security protocol, sometimes that's enough to tell you what you need to know.

When he has finished his work, Erik calls. He saw the same car driving by his office several times. Michael recognizes the car and has an idea about the driver. He calls his mother and gets to know that Joey took Madeline's car.

Michael drives to Erik's golf club and discovers his mother's car. Between trees, he finds Joey who is armed with a shotgun, ready to shoot his stepfather. He accuses Michael of making their situation worse rather than helping his family, but Michael can take away the shotgun from him and assures Joey that his plan is working and asks for his help to scare Erik who is armed with a gun nervously pacing up and down the parking lot.

When you push someone to the point of desperation, there's always a chance they'll go looking for help, unless you're the one providing the help.

When Joey speeds away in Madeline's car, Michael approaches Erik and accuses him of passing up the chance to meet their pursuer by scaring him away. Once again, Michael suggests to leave the city, but Erik replies that going away is not an option. He wants to hire someone to deal with their problem, and Michael tells him that he knows some people for that job.

Michael meets with Joey who apologizes for his behavior. With the help of the listening device they built earlier and which Michael hid in Erik's office, they listen to a conversation between the Luna brothers. Quinn is very angry because Erik was seen running through the parking lot with a gun. Joey is delighted to get to know that Erik is on the edge and promises Michael to stay with his mother until Michael and his team are done.

If you want the appearance of a gunshot without actually dying, you need to create a high-powered burst of blood. A bottle cap, packed with a bit of plastic explosive does the trick nicely. Rig a few remote charges to create the sound of a firearm, and you've got everything you need.

Michael and Erik meets Michael's "people" Sam and Fiona. They assure Erik they can find the one who's after them. Soon later, Michael meets Fiona and Sam in his apartment to prepare their last step of their plan which involves pretended gunshot wounds. When they are ready, Sam calls Erik to tell him they found the guy he was looking for.

Getting a target to do what you want requires a delicate touch. Sometimes, you're a bully, sometimes you're a friend. You have to know when to give the target help and comfort, and when to take it away.

They take Erik to an alley where they use their bottle caps that they packed with a bit of plastic explosive to pretend Fiona, Sam and Michael are shot to death while Erik can escape. When the three get up, they are sure Erik is going to miss the custody hearing.

When you work as a spy, follow-through is crucial. Even the best executed plan can fall apart. You don't score if you spike the ball before you're in the end-zone.

Nevertheless, Sam uses the listening device to monitor Erik's leaving. Unfortunately, his brother Quinn arrives while Erik is packing and prevents Erik from leaving the town. He thinks Erik acts like a lunatic and tells him that they will take his guys to find out what Erik is talking about. Sam calls Michael to tell him that Erik and Quinn are heading back to Hallendale where Erik saw them get shot. Michael reminds Sam of an operation in Moscow that could rescue their operation.

When a plan goes wrong, you have two basic options: the first is to accept failure and abort the mission. That works best when you have the resources and time to remove personnel from the field. When you don't have time, you're left with option two: get back in there and salvage the situation however you can. There's a long tradition in spycraft of making enemy assets appear unreliable. Make an operative look like a traitor, for example, and if you're lucky, your enemies take him out for you. Even better than making an enemy look disloyal is making him look insane. It takes some doing, but when you pull it off, it's more devastating than a bullet.

When Erik, Quinn and Quinn's men arrive, all signs of the shooting are gone. When they enter the building where Erik believes the killer came from, they meet Michael dressed as a priest. Michael tells Quinn that he does outreach for the homeless and met Erik one day on the street. Sympathetically, he asks whether Erik is still telling the same wild story about people trying to kill him. Erik loses his temper and lunges at Michael, and Quinn and his men pull him away, fearful of attracting attention. Just then, Erik catches sight of Fiona walking casually down the street, and Sam buying fruit at a stand, and excitedly points them out as Michael's accomplices.

Quinn, seeing his brother shouting abuse at seemingly random passers-by, is now convinced his brother has gone insane and is a liability to his business, and orders his men to hustle Quinn into the car, out of sight. Michael solemnly wishes Erik the best, assuring him that he has a loving brother and will get the best care that money can buy. As a goodbye, he makes the sign of the cross.. and winks at Erik. Seeing the wink, Erik begins yelling desperately for his brother to listen to him, as he is dragged away in the car.

After the custody hearing, April tells Fiona that she was given full custody with Erik being in a mental facility and Fiona hands her the money Erik gave them when he hired them. Michael asks Joey if he will be alright. Joey is not sure and reveals that his mother believes he is some kind of delinquent, but Michael tells him that he knows a kid like him who turned out all right. Joey knows that Michael is referring to himself.

Michael, Sam and Fiona meet in a restaurant and Sam tells them that with Erik gone the police is looking into Quinn's business. Michael leaves to follow up on that Strickler business. When Michael tries to remove the network analyzer, Diego threatens him with a gun. He is angry because he had to spend the last four days dealing with reporting procedures because Michael dropped the name of Strickler. Though Diego refuses to tell Michael anything about Strickler, Michael has found out what he was looking for. Knowing that Strickler is as connected as he said he is, he hands Diego the network analyzer and leaves.

Michael visits Strickler who knows that Michael checked his references. He offers once again to help Michael to become a respectable citizen again. In return, he asks Michael to do a job for him. Strickler doesn't give away any details about the job, but asks Michael to choose right away.

As a spy, you often have to do things you don't like for people you don't trust. You don't always get to choose who you do business with. When the devil himself, is offering the thing you want most, sometimes you dance with the devil.

Michael agrees.

CastEdit

MainEdit

RecurringEdit

  • Ben Shenkman as Tom Strickler
  • Otto Sanchez as Diego Garza

GuestEdit

  • Nick Galarza as Joey Luna
  • Josie Davis as April Luna
  • Jay Harrington as Erik Luna
  • Nicholas Lea as Quinn Luna

TriviaEdit

Continuity ErrorsEdit

  • When Michael meets Eric Luna, Michael states that he bought a stolen Lotus from him. Later, Sam claims to have checked out the two factories in Italy that could have made the car. Lotus cars are however produced in the UK, not in Italy.

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