Summer-time means a lot of things. It brings more than one thing to mind and is often the start of new beginnings or family vacations, time at the pool or gardening. For me, one of the simple joys the season brings is the return of (one of) my favorite shows, Burn Notice. In its five years on television, it has become so much more than it starts out as. And that is a good thing.
Five years of his life were consumed with finding answers about the people who issued his burn notice and now spy extraordinaire Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is back at Langley, and yet, he isn’t. Unofficially, Michael doesn’t receive a government paycheck which means his burn notice isn’t lifted just yet. Now, the CIA manages to capture a man who could lead them to the man who calls the shots.
Michael heads back to Miami where his reunion with girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) is, well, passionate. His mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless) is just happy to have her son home again. Then his boss calls him back, their prisoner isn’t talking. Michael manages to get a location from the man and the CIA is again ready to finally take down the man behind Michael’s ruined career. Under the watchful supervision of his CIA contact, Max (Grant Shaw), Michael goes along but on one condition only: He wants his team to come.
Michael’s buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) always has Mike’s back but Max calls the shots differently. When things go wrong, Michael loses his only chance at the answers he wants. Framed for murder, it will take Michael’s entire team – including Jesse (Coby Bell) who is now working for a private security firm, to clear his name… and give him back his life.
Every year I am a little more impressed with Burn Notice. Once a TV serial has reached a certain point, that moment when you think it is at its peak, it seems unlikely that writers will top that. Yet, time and again, they do! This time around, everything was different but we didn’t care because the heart of the show is the same; and this is what viewers love about it. Then episode four goes and changes the stakes, again.
Similarly that is why the characters are so easy to like. All of them have a sullied past in some form. But I do like Michael as a hero. He can become anyone without making us, the viewers question his integrity. That’s just one of the many reasons it’s so easy to be on “his side” (I cannot remember once questioning his loyalty). In an interesting addition we see Maddie participate in one of the cases and she finally learns why Michael never wants her to be a part of their jobs. Unfortunately, Maddie still persists in blaming Michael for taking his friend’s trust for granted. This is the one thing that drives me insane. If the situation were reversed, he would do the same thing for all of his friends.
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Every single year I think I say this but this series has reached such a point of superiority that I’m not sure anything else can top it. So many episodes are phenomenal but I miss the origin style of Robin Hood-like scenarios for stories. One of the best episodes ever is “Better Halves.” In addition to the beautiful dancing scene (is Fiona’s dress stunning or what?), there’s totally an a la Mr. and Mrs. Smith moment. If there is one thing about the fifth year it would be how much Michael and Fiona’s relationship grows. It’s a love/hate romance from the very beginning but here it’s healthier. (Since I love them so much together, it’s good.) It’s this that propels us into the finale and for the first time in the history of Burn Notice finales, you may discover that you need a tissue.
Content concerns: The premiere has Fiona with Michael against a wall making out sending things crashing to the floor. Later they are seen lying in bed, sheets covering them [in the typical “post” shot]. During CIA missions men are killed; one man kills himself and another is murdered to frame another person. An explosion kills two innocent men and one villain. There is some mild profanity and alcohol consumption. The show is TV14.