"Burn Notice" Acceptable Loss (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Menial State Department official Ian Covey asks Jesse's help to set up his Asian boss, Yash Ahluwalia, who abuses his diplomatic immunity for systematic dealing in blood diamonds, at any cost, even life. Looking into nightmare Anson, Michael must find a way to lean on Guantanamo-incarcerated Vaughn, who is forced to go trough his file and ultimately brings terrible news.

  • While Michael turns to Vaughn to get answers about Anson, the rest of the crew helps Jesse's friend take down a diplomat dealing in blood diamonds.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Previously on Burn Notice: "Evil mastermind" Anson Fullerton has been wreaking havoc on Michael's life, and revealed that he was behind the death of Frank Weston, Michael's father.

    "Acceptable loss:" Michael talks about how having a complex life filled with paranoia led him to being a spy. While paying a visit to Frank's grave for the first time since his 1998 funeral, Michael tells Maddy he isn't totally sure about believing Anson's story that Frank died trying to protect Michael. She says she remembers that Frank asked about Michael a lot just before he died. She thinks "it fits." Michael thinks Anson's just trying to get in his head. Maddy thinks Anson's story holds up. She says she's going to visit Nate in Daytona Beach. Maddy then tells Michael to "make sure Anson doesn't ruin any more lives," and adds that he should do whatever he has to do.

    Back at the loft, Fiona tells Michael that Barry traced some of Anson's money into a Chinese brokerage account and to a D.C. law firm. She says she's already packed.

    They arrive in D.C. and hatch a plan to get into the law office. They spot a woman who matches Fiona's general size and stature, and while Fiona goes and gets dressed like that woman, Michael gets her office ID card by pretending to ask her for directions and lifting the ID while she's distracted. Inside, they scour files for Anson. They don't find anything on Anson, but do find something on Vaughn -- the man who burned Michael. The file was updated two days ago. If they can figure out what Anson wants with a man who's in prison for life, they can get one step ahead of Anson.

    Michael wants to put together a plan to talk to Vaughn, but wants to see if Jesse's firm can turn the random numbers in the documents into real names. Vaughn's at Guantanamo, but Fi thinks Pearce can get him back when they're ready for him.

    Jesse agrees to get the research work done and meets an old friend, Ian (Gregg Henry), at a bar -- thinking he was going to a retirement party. Ian says he's getting out of government work, but notes that he's been helping a diplomat smuggle diamonds. It's technically not illegal because it's under diplomatic cover. He thinks the man, Yash, is working in blood diamonds and he wants to bring him down. He's having a sale soon, and that could be the chance to make a move and gather the evidence needed, even if Ian risks going to prison himself.

    Sam, Jesse and Ian do some audio surveillance on "dirty diplomat" Yash's lunchtime conversation. He tells his diamond purchaser to get the money, and he says he'll have it the next morning. They can't put together a plan to jump on the sale that quickly, so they need to delay it. Jesse decides that Fiona can help make the buyer's money disappear for a few days.

    Michael pays Agent Pearce a surprise visit to follow up on his request to get Vaughn transported for a meeting. She agrees to do it as long as Michael promises it won't blow up in her face. She decides to make him help fill out the giant stack of paperwork needed to fulfill his request.

    Fi works up a daytime robbery of the diamond buyer while he's carrying his bag of cash, but it's foiled when a cop is writing the guy a ticket because he parked his red Ferrari in a red zone. Fi has another plan that makes Sam nervous. She tells Sam where to be, and guides the Ferrari into a quiet parking lot. Sam's waiting there and when the guy gets out, Sam hops into the Ferrari. Fi also drives off, and they leave the guy stranded.

    Jesse and Ian meet with Michael to help with the plan. Michael doesn't think there's a chance, saying it's "impossible" to break into a diplomat's place and steal anything. They'd have a chance if they were already in the house, so the new plan is for Jesse to pose as the new buyer, with Ian introducing him. Ian would have to sell the whole deal, and says he's up for it.

    Michael heads to Tampa to meet with Vaughn at a federal detention facility. Michael offers Vaughn (Robert Wisdom) a deal: to make his life a little better if he can help him figure out what Anson is planning. Michael tells Vaughn about the lawyer Anson's been wiring money to, and Vaughn says it's "starting to make sense." He asks for a bottle of Scotch and the rest of the file and he'll check it out.

    Ian brings Jesse to Yash's house and offers up Jesse as a new buyer because he knows the other deal fell through. Yash pulls Ian aside and says he's making "a terrible mistake," but Ian says he knows about the side business and says he just wants "a taste" of the big life. Yash agrees to meet Ian's buyer, but tells Ian to go home immediately. Yash wants to see Jesse's diamond-cutting facility, saying he won't sell to anyone who involves a third party. Jesse tries to get out of it, but when Yash tells him he needs to verify that Jesse does his own work or he'll be killed, Jesse makes a phone call to set it up.

    Jesse calls Sam and casually explains -- while careful not to tip off Yash -- that he needs to show a diamond-cutting shop immediately. Sam tells him about a place where a old girlfriend used to take him window shopping, and advises Jesse to take the scenic route to buy a little more time. Sam and Fi race to the jewelry story and offer the owner $20,000 to use the shop for 30 minutes. She refuses, but Fiona pulls a gun and takes the owner and an employee to the back room. When Jesse arrives with Yash, Yash demands to see the cutting equipment and Jesse leads him to the back room, unsure of whether the hostages will be cooperating. When the door opens, he finds Fi, the owner and the employee looking nice and calm, and Yash is satisfied, and says he's "ready to do business."

    At a bar, Sam and Jesse show Ian the plan to subdue Yash when the sale is about to go down with a needle full of "sleepy-time juice" that's hidden in a ball-point pen.

    Vaughn wants full immunity in exchange for his help. He wants Michael to show him what he can do to help him before he commits to helping Michael.

    Jesse and Ian go to Yash's house to make the deal. Meanwhile, Fi and Sam go around to the back to try to set up the explosives that will make Jesse and Ian's doorway out of the back of the place. They run into trouble, though, when they discover that the back wall is reinforced with steel. Fiona has another plan that involves the C4.

    Inside, Ian and Jesse are frisked and a guard finds Jesse's pen (which we know is hiding the needle). Yash nods to the guard to let Jesse keep it and asks for no interruptions while they're going business.

    Outside, Sam makes a scene at the front of the house, saying he needs to talk to "Mr. Ray" (Jesse) right away. Unable to get in contact with Jesse, Fiona puts the C4 on the Porsche and it goes up in an explosive burst of flames. Spooked, Yash rushes Jesse and Ian out of the house and Jesse is stunned when he sees his Porsche in pieces and on fire. Sam plays it up as if Yash was behind it, and Yash tells everyone to leave while he locks the place down. On the way out, Jesse tells Sam the Porsche was a lease, and Sam says they still have the money from the diamond deal, so he can buy himself a new one. Then he offers Jesse a ride home.

    Back at the loft, Michael tells Ian they had no choice but to call off the operation. Ian doesn't think it has to be over, but Yash has shipped all of his diamonds back to India because of the explosion. Ian says they can get Yash for murder, which is an extreme situation that would waive his diplomatic immunity. Ian says Yash can murder him. When Jesse scoffs, Ian reveals he has pancreatic cancer and just wants to do "one good thing" before he dies. Ian insists he wants to be the one to do something about the empire that Yash has built on the blood of people in other countries who don't matter. Jesse says that if Ian wants to do this, he's in. Michael tells Ian that if he starts down that path, he has to be sure. Ian says he's "never been more sure of anything in my life."

    Jesse sets up another meeting with Yash. Jesse tells Yash that Ian planted a bug on him, and that Ian planted the bomb in his car. He convinces Yash that Ian had planned to kill Jesse and then Yash, and run off with the diamonds and the money. Yash calls Ian and tells him to come to the house.

    Michael is setting up a handgun with Simunitions bullets that Ian will use to shoot at Jesse, but only to burst some blood packs Jesse will have on him. Michael warns Ian that the fake bullets won't help if he gets cold feet. Ian tells Michael he's "tired of living in a gray world."

    "You wouldn't believe how easy it is to make up good reasons for doing bad things," Ian adds. "Sooner or later, you have to see yourself for who you really are."

    He tells Michael he wouldn't understand because he's been "fighting the good fight" his whole life. Michael says he understands completely.

    Ian shows up at Yash's house, and he and Jesse play out a whole argument where the accusations of Ian's betrayal are laid out. Ian pulls out his gun with the fake bullets in it and fires at Jesse, who falls to the ground. As Yash turns to grab his gun, Ian slips Jesse the fake gun and runs out of Yash's office toward the front of the house, with Yash following him. Michael and Sam are watching from nearby when Ian makes it outside to the entrance and Yash tells Ian to freeze. In order to force Yash into an emotional move, Ian turns and pretends he's pulling another gun from his jacket, and Yash shoots him several times.

    With his final breaths, Ian tells Yash, "I got you."

    The cops, who Michael called to a nearby house earlier, show up and put cuffs on Yash, who claims it was self defense and says Ian has a gun. One cop arrests Yash while the other discovers that Ian is dead and has no gun.

    Yash claims Ian shot a man in his office, and shouts to the cops to go inside and see. Jesse comes out from the back of the house and tells Sam and Michael that he has to give Ian, because "not a lot of people get to go out on their own terms."

    Michael gives a long, hard look at Ian's dead body while Jesse tells him they have to go.

    Michael heads back to Tampa and Agent Pearce meets him there, saying she almost turned around three times on her way there. She hands Michael an envelope and says the file could set off some serious mess. She wants to know what it's about. He says he's had his doubts about all of the people involved in burning him having been rounded up, but says he doesn't want to share any information with Pearce because the last person he talked to about it was Max and he was killed over it. Pearce asks Michael, "What if I want to help?" He tells her that he'll let her know if or when it comes to that. She wishes him lunch and leaves.

    Michael brings Vaughn the file, saying he used every trick he could but no immunity. He says he got him a consolation prize -- a transfer out of Guantanamo. Vaughn says that's not enough. Michael says he figured Vaughn would say that, but he did it anyway -- and also had some of Vaughn's friends moved to the same prison, including a Belgian assassin who Vaughn ratted out, and Simon, who Vaughn tried to have killed. Michael says they'll have "25 years to patch things up" in the same prison. Vaughn begs Michael not to do that, and Michael says he won't have to if Vaughn gives him something on Anson.

    Vaughn explains that the numbers are linked to real things -- businesses, supply depots, weapons manufacturers. Vaughn tells Michael that Anson isn't retiring, "he's rebuilding -- that organization that burned you, he's bringing that back online." Vaughn tells Michael he can try to stop it, but if he knows Anson, it may already be too late.

    Michael walks away and Vaughn shouts to Michael not to let those transfers happen. Without turning around, Michael says, "I don't know, Vaughn, it just might be too late."

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