Identity (Burn Notice)

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Burn Notice episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Rod Hardy[1]
Written by Matt Nix
Production code BN101
Original air date July 6, 2007
Episode chronology
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List of Burn Notice episodes

"Identity" is the second episode of Burn Notice, an American television drama series created for the USA Network. Michael Westen agrees to help his mother, Madeline Westen recover the money of an elderly friend from a scammer in exchange for information about two mysterious men monitoring his mother's home.


The episode opens with Michael trying to track down where the photographs that he found on his apartment floor were taken. After talking to his mother, Madeline, he found out two government agents were in her home, and after checking the wiring, he finds a bug. He tracks the bug down to an abandoned house only to see two guys taking off in a car and their equipment left in flames.

Madeline refuses to tell her son anything more about the two men that came to her house until Michael agrees to help one of her friends, Laura (Elayne Wilks), who got scammed and beaten by a con artist. Laura is able to provide only a weak description, but the fake certificate she has leads Michael to a copy shop, where he is able to eventually trace it back to the master criminal.

Sam Axe finds that the con artist's name is Quentin (Mark Pellegrino) and provides Michael with a brief background of Quentin's run-ins with the law. Michael decides to use this information to attempt to trick Quentin into thinking that Westen is a fellow con artist. After their first encounter goes poorly, Michael pushes Quentin harder. Sam sets up some fake papers to make it look like Quentin's partners are about to betray him. However, everything falls apart when a device meant to disable Quentin's car is set incorrectly by Fiona Glenanne, and accidentally blows it up right before he steps inside.

Now that Quentin is scared, Michael is playing his cards carefully. He sends Sam and Fiona to play police officers and convinces Quentin's partners that they are about to be sent to jail. To avoid this, they sail away on Quentin's boat. Meanwhile, Michael takes advantage of Quentin's paranoia and convinces Quentin that he cannot go to the bank to withdraw his money because the FBI is watching him. Michael then cons Quentin into giving him full access to his bank accounts so he can withdraw the money in his place. Once he has the information, Michael proceeds to return all the money Quentin stole, along with providing his name to several "colorful" organizations.

After all of the money is returned, a thankful Madeline finally divulges all of the details about the two government agents. They came into the house and asked whether Michael had returned to Miami. She told them no because to her, "family comes first". She then gives Michael a number the agents had given her to contact them. Michael calls the number and speaks with an anonymous voice, who congratulates Michael for his hard work, but does not provide any helpful information.


Writer Matt Nix had long been fascinated with con artists as well as spies. Although they behave similarly and have similar skills, they have different reasons for conning and spying. Nix wanted to demonstrate the difference between Michael and the average P.I. or cop, and put Michael up against a con artist to see if he could beat the guy at his own game. Michael's motivation is to get his client's money back, although it is harder and more interesting than simply getting the guy busted by the police. Nix's other favorite moment in the episode was the "accidental" explosion of Quentin's car. Bruce Campbell (Sam) did not know how big the explosion would be. Just as he asked the crew on set if he would know when it blows up, the director called action and induced the explosion. In Nix's mind, Bruce's performance was so good in the scene because the huge explosion startled the actor enormously.[2]


According to Variety, Burn Notice pulled off a "rare feat" when this second episode matched the 4 million viewers that tuned in for the pilot. Helping the ratings was the fact that USA aired it after the hit movie National Treasure.[3]


  1. ^ Writer Matt Nix's Blog
  2. ^ Writer Matt Nix's Blog
  3. ^ Dempsey, John (July 8, 2007). "USA viewers take 'Notice'". Variety. Retrieved 2007-08-06. 

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