Last week, I wasn’t too thrilled with the return of Natalie (Callie Thorne). This week, however, I am beside myself when it comes to Burn Notice, as it gives me the overdue return of Michael’s ne’er do well brother Nate Westen (Seth Peterson).
Michael’s bummed out, unhappy that Sam and Jesse are on their way to Santo Domingo to attend the auction of the list from Simon’s Bible and he’s not going with. Sam points out that his face wouldn’t exactly be a welcome one in that company anyway, which gets Michael to relent. Leaving him behind, Jesse finally meets Justin Walsh (apologies as I don’t recognize the actor and can’t verify who he is) in person and finds him to be more than a little antisocial. Their brief conversation does tell him that Walsh is using a “moving loop” to keep the list out of anyone else’s hands; he’s concerned that it means they won’t be able to keep track of where the list is at any given time, but Sam is unruffled. He has A Plan.
Benched from that operation, Michael is left to chaperone the returning Nate, and is immediately suspicious of his little brother’s motives. Nate admits he came back to help a friend whose auto shop has been hit a few times, and brings Michael to meet said friend only to find Jeff Taylor (The Shield‘s Michael Jace) and his brother Billy exchanging punches in the garage. A story comes out: Billy let drug dealer Hector Rivera use their cars to transport drugs, including a 1969 GTO that was subsequently stolen from them. Nate immediately takes Jeff and Billy on as clients without consulting Michael, who knows his brother can’t handle the gig alone. He, in turn, enlists Fiona – and bad guy Tony Soto (Adam Clark), last seen in season two’s “Hot Spot.”
Michael restablishes his old cover and goes to meet Soto, wanting to know where the car is, claiming it belonged to him. Soto gives Michael the address of the chop shop that belongs to the responsible party, a car thief named Buckwild. In return, he wants Michael to put the shop out of commission. Michael agrees to do the job, but before he can track down the car, is forced to go back to the Taylors’ shop as Rivera is there and angry. He tells Rivera that he intends on returning the car, and Rivera establishes a 24-hour deadline, not to mention saddles the brothers with his right-hand man, Caleb. Furthermore, he takes Billy as a hostage to be kept until the car is returned. Except for that last part, it’s kind of like the final drive at the end of 2 Fast 2 Furious, except with better acting.
Madeline is not happy about Michael letting Nate work on the operation. Brandishing her ever-present cigarette, she warns him that “Your brother gets hurt and I’m putting one of these out in your eye.” With that warning over his head, the whole posse goes to visit the chop shop. The GTO isn’t there, but the employees are all too happy to tell them where to look before the team blows the entire place up in a nice fireball. The next stop is Buckwild’s house, where Caleb decides to gun down Buckwild before he can answer any questions. Fiona connects the dots: Caleb’s the one who really stole the GTO, and is letting Billy take the fall.
Back in Santo Domingo, Sam and Jesse have enlisted their own “network of potential spies” from amongst the townspeople to keep their eyes out for the motorcycle which is carrying the list. With the information they get from the locals, Jesse is able to figure out the where and when of the loop. “Can I get an invite to the party in your head?” Sam asks before Jesse excitedly gives him the rundown. The two start planning their next move, not sure if they can do the job alone.
Jeff is beside himself at the idea that his brother is going to be held responsible for a crime he didn’t commit. Nate and Michael convince him that they’ll exonerate Billy. This begins with staking out Caleb’s house, and in doing so, Nate sees Billy being led out from the house at gunpoint. Michael realizes Caleb and Billy are both due at the same meeting he’s just been summoned to by Rivera. While he meets with Caleb, who claims that he’s going to take them to the GTO, Nate and Fiona search through Caleb’s house. Fiona finds a rental agreement for a storage unit in Billy Taylor’s name, and the two head there, hoping to beat the drug dealer to the scene of an obvious setup.
They arrive and find the missing GTO, and Nate tells Fiona that he can hotwire the car if she can get him inside. He drives the car off just moments before Rivera and his entourage arrive at the storage unit. When Caleb goes to rub everything in Billy’s face, he finds the vehicle gone, much to the ire of his boss. Game on (again).
Nate gets the GTO back to Michael’s loft, but there’s one more problem: the drugs aren’t in the car as everyone assumed they were. As Michael decides that they can get the car onto Caleb’s lawn and use it to incriminate him anyway, Madeline drops another bombshell on him. Nate and his wife Ruth are expecting their first child, which is why she’s been so worried about him. Michael is sympathetic, but tells his mother that he needs Nate’s help. The brothers and Fiona sneak the car onto Caleb’s property, after which Michael goes to meet with a still-irate Rivera and brings him to recover the GTO.
Everyone walks into Caleb’s house to find him threatening Billy Taylor. He walks right into where Nate and Fiona left the car, and goes into a panic, especially after his boss shoves the muzzle of a gun under his chin. Caleb is hauled off by Rivera’s henchmen, and Rivera tells Michael to take Billy and walk away. The Westens and the Taylors meet for drinks, and Michael tells Nate to keep the whole payment from the job to support his new family. The pair share a moment of bonding, with Michael telling his younger brother that if the kid turns out anything like Nate, he’ll be proud. Nate, in return, says he’d like the kid to have a cousin someday. Hint, hint. I’m with Madeline, though; I don’t see Michael settling down.
No sooner has Nate left than Sam calls, telling Michael he has a seaplane on standby. The team is reunited in Santo Domingo, where Jesse lays out the plan for taking out the motorcycle with the list. On cue, there’s a massive traffic backup on the cyclist’s route courtesy of Sam, and Fiona blocks the guy into an alley where Michael meets him with a few well-placed blows. He swipes the list and makes an escape just as the rider’s buddies turn up and start shooting. It’s all perfectly timed, with Michael rightly pointing out that “You don’t need a hero to succeed in the field. You need a team.” I can certainly vouch for that myself.
Upon their return to Miami, the team look over the list. “People are going to die when this gets out,” Jesse says. “Lives are going to be ruined.” So what do they do with something so powerful? Fiona’s for taking down the entire network of people themselves. Sam says to let someone else do the dirty work. What’s Michael choose? Well, you’ll have to wait till next week to find out.
“Brotherly Love” is certainly an improvement over “Hot Property,” if only because it brings back a character I want to see back. Nate has also done something Natalie didn’t, which is change and mature since we saw him last. He’s still no saint, but he’s still got good intentions and he’s willing to risk his life to do something for his family. Seth Peterson and Jeffrey Donovan still have that brotherly chemistry working for them. The plot of the episode gives the brothers a mirror image in the form of the Taylor siblings, and we learn a lot about their relationship by how they see themselves in relation to their clients.
Meanwhile, the team finally gets their hands on the list we’ve been hearing about and chasing all season. I almost expected the show to let that drag out more, but now that it’s over, the writers have posed an even more intriguing question: now what? I can see either side of the argument, and that leaves me just as curious as anyone else when it comes to which option Michael will choose. Either way, I know it’s going to be a ride.