Season 1 episodes
With Michael preoccupied with his burn notice, Sam takes the case of Gillian Walsh, a supervisor at a defense contractor who is being blackmailed and forced to use her security clearance to help smuggle Turkish heroin into the U.S. Gillian's friend and fellow blackmail victim Melissa is oddly reluctant to help and Sam and Fiona soon discover why. Melissa and her husband Kent are actually involved in the heroin smuggling operation and have been using Gillian to do their dirty work. Sam and Fiona turn to Michael for help in orchestrating a reverse-blackmail scheme.
With the help of his brother Nate, Michael escapes the government agents who just assassinated Philip Cowan and rescues Fiona from the heroin smugglers who are still pursuing her. In the meantime, Glen Harrick, a former Special Forces officer turned drug trafficker, has taken Sam hostage and is using violent tactics to force Sam to give him information about his "team." Sam wants to keep Michael from trying a rescue attempt that will put him in danger, so he encourages the beatings and tries to goad Harrick into killing him. Michael and Fiona make contact with a local drug dealer and locate Harrick, who is holding Sam in a barge on the Miami River. At the same time Michael has to convince the government agents that are after him that he will cooperate if they give him the time to save his friend.
Michael is hired by Evelyn, an attractive woman whose ex-husband, Doug, has taken their son and gone into hiding. Michael connects emotionally with Evelyn, whose passion for protecting her troubled, gifted son strikes a deep chord. Fiona is angry and frustrated by the way Michael is allowing his emotions to interfere with his judgment, and drops off the case. Michael finds Doug hiding in the woods... only to discover that Evelyn is actually an assassin, hired to kill Doug before he can go into witness protection. She used Michael to do the legwork of finding her target; now she's going to finish the job.
House-sitter Nick is living large on his client's wealth - living in mansions, driving Ferraris and bragging in nightclubs. Nick gets more than he bargained for when his fiancé, Dawn, is kidnapped and held for a ransom he couldn't even dream of paying. He hires Michael to get him out of the mess and save the woman he loves. Michael abducts Lucio, one of the kidnappers, and turns him against his own organization by making him a double agent. With Lucio's help, they set up the kidnappers with an enticing target - Sam poses as a disgruntled bodyguard looking to make easy cash by offering up his "boss", Fiona.
Fiona’s new gig as a freelance bounty hunter nets an accused jewel thief and bumbling fugitive named Thomas McKee. Believing he’s innocent, she hides him instead of turning him in and gets Michael to help clear his name. Michael must first locate the brooch and the real thief. After discovering that the culprit is Thomas McKee’s boss, Lawrence Henderson, a financially desperate hotel owner, he devises a plan to steal it back. After doing recon on Lawrence’s home Michael realizes that his security is so tight that a break in would be impossible. Instead, Michael must use spy-ops techniques to convince Lawrence that being robbed is not only possible, but also likely, so Lawrence will move the brooch into the open, where he can be caught red handed. Meanwhile, Fiona uses her time with Thomas to make Michael jealous, with mixed results.
Ernie Paseo's business is being destroyed by local thugs who terrorize him and his customers. Michael agrees to help but soon finds out that they are part of a much larger and more dangerous criminal organization run by a beautiful but ruthless woman named Concha Ramirez. To scare off the gang, Michael poses as an out of control thief who out- thugs the thugs. Michael so impresses Concha that she recruits him for a very important assignment: to kill Ernie Paseo and his entire family. By befriending Concha's right hand man, Diego, and convincing him that he's about to be killed by his boss, Michael is able to turn the tables on Concha.
A former Navy Seal who once saved Sam's life is beaten when he attempts to repo a speedboat from a Jamaican gang. Virgil hires Michael to finish the job he started. But when Michael tries to return the boat to Virgil's "client", he discovers that the client is a crooked cop and that the boat is hiding ten million dollars. Knowing that they'll both come looking for Virgil, Michael hides him at his mom's house never suspecting that a romance could be sparked between the two. Both the Jamaicans and the cops want the money. Michael, posing as Homer, one of Virgil's devoted employees, must broker a solution. By promising the money to both, he keeps them at bay long enough to come up with a plan. The plan is quickly abandoned when Virgil, out on a date with Madeline, is kidnapped by the Jamaicans. This all leads to an abandoned bridge where the money is set on fire and the cops shoot it out with the Jamaicans. With the help of Fiona and Sam, Michael is able to escape with Virgil and some of the money.
Michael's brother Nate introduces him to Jake Miller, an airport supervisor, who has been accepting small gifts from a family of exporters for doing them small favors. When they offered him a large gift for a larger and highly illegal favor, Jake turned them down and the threats began. Michael quickly learns that these "exporters" are really gunrunners trading in stolen military weaponry and that the patriarch of the family is a former Mossad officer who is not easily intimidated. To infiltrate the family Michael poses as an international arms dealer and befriends Eli's black sheep son, Ari. By convincing Ari that he could impress his dad by doing a huge deal with him, Michael is able to see the inner workings of the operation, disrupt it, and spook Eli and his family into leaving Miami.
Oleg, Michael's landlord, asks him to help his best waitress Cara, who stopped showing up to work after receiving threats against her life. Michael sees it as a golden opportunity to live rent-free for a few months, until he finds out that a Colombian cartel is involved. Cara was the only witness to a brutal beating, and visually ID'd the attacker, Alvaro DeSantos, for police. She's been receiving "anonymous" death threats ever since and the cops are providing no protection. Michael tries to help Cara escape Miami but her seventeen-year-old daughter's reluctance to leave her life behind makes that very difficult. Michael must turn the cartel against DeSantos in order to keep mother and daughter alive and safe in Miami. Meanwhile Michael makes contact with an old spy friend of his who is in town attending a conference under diplomatic cover. This man is his key to obtaining privileged information concerning his burn notice and Michael isn't afraid to use a little blackmail to get it. In the end, Michael saves the lives of a desperate mother and daughter and obtains his first concrete lead: the tracking number from his burn notice.
Michael discovers that his mother's house has been bugged, but by the time he finds a nearby listening post, the surveillance team has disappeared and destroyed their equipment. Madeline agrees to tell him crucial information if he helps Laura, a neighbor of hers who has been scammed out of all her finances.
While on assignment in Nigeria, covert operative Michael Westen learns that he's been "burned." For a spy, it's the equivalent of being fired. A burned spy is blacklisted from all government agencies and resources; his bank accounts are frozen and his credit is trashed. Michael barely escapes Nigeria and wakes up, battered, in a Miami motel. In order to survive and fund his own personal investigation, Michael enlists the help of the only two "friends" he has: Fiona, an ex-IRA operative who also happens to be an ex-girlfriend and Sam, a washed-out military intelligence contact who the feds have keeping an eye on Michael. He's also forced to deal with the family he went halfway around the world to get away from - particularly his mother, who couldn't be happier to have her son back in town.