Comic-Con and press tour are going to knock a lot of the usual shows out of the rotation for the next few weeks, but USA wisely sent out advance screeners of tonight's Burt Reynolds-errific episode of "Burn Notice." A quick review coming up just as soon as I switch to autumn colors...

"All you really have in the end are your stories." -Paul

What a fantastic episode. Best of this season, and the best one the show's done in a very long time.

Obviously, the presence of Burt Reynolds - as Paul, Michael's ghost of Christmas future - helped, as the '70s icon's natural hamminess fits in nicely on this show, and yet whose story gave the usual hijinks some gravitas by giving Michael a look at what he might become one day. And as a "Wire" fan, I'm constitutionally obligated to praise any show that casts John Doman, particularly to play a high-ranking jerk.

But the real fun came from the concept of Michael as bogeyman for Russian spies. The show has on occasion offered hints of what a memorable career Michael had before being burned, but here we got to see it in action as he repeatedly scared the hell out of the Russian hit squad. Jeffrey Donovan clearly relished the chance to go big on this one and toss around a lot of Russian phrases, and the initial interrogation of Alexi made me smile as broadly as any "Burn Notice" scene I can remember. Great idea, executed perfectly.

I'm still losing the thread on the Jesse arc, but have accepted at this point that it's just a series of MacGuffin's designed to make the gang jump through different hoops. This one featured a nice, surprisingly understated turn by Richard Kind as Jesse's ex-boss. My one issue with it is that Fi's concern about what Michael's becoming didn't entirely track with the future version of Michael suggested by Paul's story. Fi has been concerned about this all season, obviously, but I think we could have eased off on that for one week to worry about one bad road for the guy at a time.

Still, "Past & Future Tense" was "Burn Notice" at its best: good spy tips and improvisation (locking the guys inside the Congressman's house), Michael playing a fun character (an exaggerated version of himself), nice guest work, etc.

Nicely done, folks.

What did everybody else think?