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 - almost six years on television, it has become so much more than it started out as being. 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 despite the CIA having tracked down all but one of the people responsible for putting it out. Now, the CIA manages to capture a man who could lead them to the man who calls the shots. Michael is sent back to Miami where his reunion with girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) is… well, passionate and his mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless) is just happy to have her son home again. Then his boss calls him back – their guy isn’t talking and they need the best to get him to. Michael manages to get a location from the man and the CIA is again ready to proceed with finally taking down the men 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 along for the ride.
Michael’s buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) always has Mike’s back but his new partner-in-crime Max has the pair of them guarding luggage. This is not what they signed up for. When things go wrong, Michael loses his only chance at the answers he wanted but his work on a government paycheck is short-lived. 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. The creator’s didn’t snag my attention with the pilot in an I-am-so-addicted-to-this-show kind of way; it was a slow start and although I really liked it, there wasn’t that zing that it has now. In case you didn’t know it, I now consider this show one of my “top five” most favorites. 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 and yet, time and again, they do! This time around, everything was different but we didn’t care because the heart of the show remained the same – and that 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 or another – they’ve lied to each other, tricked each other and left people they cared more than they should about. I am so fond of Michael as a hero. He can become anyone during his jobs and modern-day Robin Hood quest without making us, the viewers question his integrity. That is just one of the many reasons it is so easy to be on “his side” and not feel conflicted about his character (I cannot remember once questioning his loyalties). This season opened up new complications as everyone who cares about Michael begins to have concerns that his obsession with finding the answers of his burn notice is less than healthy. In an interesting addition we see Maddie participate in one of the team’s cases and she finally learns why Michael never wanted her to be a part of their jobs. It also gives Sam and Fiona insight into who Michael’s father was, and a revelation comes out about Michael’s abusive father. Unfortunately, Maddie still persists in blaming Michael for taking his friend’s trust in him for granted. This is the one thing that drives me insane – he would do the same thing for all of his friends were the situation reversed. In fact, if there is one thing that will send him over the edge, it is a threat to his family and friends.
Every single year I think I say this but this series has reached such a point of superiority that I am not sure anything else can top it, and yet, I know that it can – and will because it has proved it over and over again. So many episodes are phenomenal but I missed that more of them were about CIA sanctioned missions and not those Robin Hood-like scenarios we have come to expect. One of the best episodes ever is “Better Halves.” In addition to the beautiful dancing scene (was Fiona’s dress stunning or what?), there is a totally (way cool) a la Mr.and Mrs. Smith moment that is just priceless. Fiona and Michael totally kick butt after he comes back for Fiona when she doesn’t turn up at their scheduled meeting place. If there is only one thing that could be surmised about the fifth year it would be how much Michael and Fiona’s relationship grows. It has been a love/hate romance from the very beginning but I felt like it reached a healthier point before all was said and done – and since I love them so much together, it was thrilling. 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 and later she “jumps” on top of him out of camera view. Later they are seen lying in bed, sheets covering them [they are in bed together in the typical “post” shot]. During CIA missions men are killed; one man kills himself and another is murdered to frame another person. There is quick a few scenes of guns being used as a result. An explosion kills two innocent men and one villain. There is some mild profanity and alcohol consumption. It is rated TV14.)