Plot: Michael's working with the CIA, but he's not exactly back in. The burn notice is still under review. You wouldn't think that'd be the case, seeing as he's spent six months since the end of Season 4 roaming the world, helping them hunt down all the people on that list. But that's government for you. The wheels grind slowly, but exceedingly dumb.
Michael and Max (his partner for the time being, who is in the CIA) tracked down Hector in Ontario, and Michael's able to play sympathetic enough to convince Hector to give up the name of the last guy they need. A John Kessler, hiding in Venezuela. Michael manages to get Sam and Fi involved, but they're chafe a bit at how the CIA does things. They fact they'll be relegated to the sidelines for the attempted abduction of Kessler doesn't help things, either.
The abduction doesn't go as planned. The attempt to bribe an official at a checkpoint by having Mike pose as a Russian agent almost goes sour, but even after they smooth that out, there's still the fact they underestimated Kessler's resources. He's able to pick up and jam their allegedly coded transmissions, and the team gets crushed while Kessler hightails it back to his fortress. Mike and Max can't get to him before he shoots himself, which leaves Mike extremely frustrated. He didn't get the answers he wanted. But Jesse did get him the Charger back (slightly mangled), that should count for something.
The Players: Max (CIA Officer), Michael (CIA Asset), Raines (The Boss), Kessler (Michael's Last Chance For Answers)
Quote of the Episode: Mike - 'A plan? No, I got some tactical goals and a rough approach.'
Does Fiona blow anything up? A telephone pole. Or a power pole. One or the other. It blocks a road with wood and a shower of sparks.
Sam Axe Drink Count: 2 (2 overall). They say Sam slimmed down. I don't really see it myself. Maybe it's the baggy shirts.
Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (0 overall)
Michael's Fake Laugh Count: 0 (0 overall)
Other: Michael's alias is "Vasily Andropov". Sam and Fi were stuck with "Greg and Tara Winter". yes, the CIA broke Sam's Chuck Finley mojo. Because they are morons.
Jesse getting his job at CIFA back only to quit it strikes me as kind of silly. I assume the idea was they want to keep him as a cast regular - something I'm fine with - and thought working for a private security company would better facilitate that than if he worked for a different large government agency than Michael (probably one that is a rival of the CIA, knowing the pissing contests and jurisdictional battles agencies have). Even so, Jesse's argument that he wanted to be helping people more directly is a little naive. There's no guarantee the people he'll protect deserve protection, simply because they can afford to pay for it. If he'd started his own security operation, where he had final say on the clientele, sure.
Michael's relationships with Madeline and Fiona are both surprisingly positive, considering how much he's keeping them in the dark. He couldn't even tell Fiona he went to Canada, for pete's sake. But it's strong inferred that Mike's been returning to Miami regularly in between these missions, so they've been getting to see him at least, which is more than they probably expected when those CIA guys took him away at the end of last season.
I laughed when Hector told Mike he wouldn't get Kessler because he was too careful. He asked him how he though Kessler had avoided him so long, and all I could think was, "He stayed out of Miami?" If you just stay away from Florida in general, Michael's been largely powerless these last 4 seasons. Yet people keep showing up, all the way back to Phillip Cowan at the end of Season 1.
Cowan, incidentally, is the one who first told Michael he wouldn't be able to get any easy answers. That it was as simple as Cowan being the sole bad guy, so if Michael defeated him - somehow - everything would be fixed. Cowan was right, even if he died about 10 seconds later. Victor told him much the same thing in a men's room a season later. Here we are in Season 5, and I'm not sure Michael's ever let that sink in. Still running for answers about why him, specifically. And now it appears he lost the chance to find out. Maybe that's why things are going well with Maddy and Fi. His personal life is on a high note, so professionally things need to start deteriorating again. Like Peter Parker, things can't go well for Michael Westen in both halves of his life? When he thought Strickler was gonna get him back in, he almost lost Fiona, and getting her back led to him killing Strickler, which kind of tossed any chance he had of helping Michael.
Is there a psychological difference between people who search for reasons why something bad happens to them, and people who accept it as chance, fate, God's will, whatever? Michael's clearly in the former category.