By John Keegan and Edmund Boys
A funny thing happened on the way to “Burn Notice” adopting a whole new style of storytelling. The writers figured out they could use all the show’s familiar tropes to advance that storyline. As Team Westen methodically picks up the one or two bread crumbs that lead towards their goal, they recreate another classic situation from previous seasons. Previously, we actually saw Sam’s sugar mama, and a turf war was settled by pitting the two sides against each other. This time, Michael goes undercover with an attempt at a Boston accent, just to obtain Nate’s FBI file.
Something I remember from past seasons is they used to steal files like this. Perhaps Michael has found new respect for departmental boundaries along with his new-found desire to keep his loved ones out of harm’s way. He attempts to freeze Fiona out, which almost deprives us of seeing Gabrielle Anwar channel Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinnie” as his Massachusetts gun moll. Not to mention discovering that Fiona can leap off parking garages in six-inch stilettos.
Once again, the setup is a situation Michael’s been in many times. He has to get to a guy. Plans go awry. He’s cut off. He has to improvise. He gets a message out. The cavalry, in the form of Sam and the FBI guy, arrive just in time. I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining. It’s great to have Mike and Fiona back as a team. Watching Michael maneuver all the pieces back into place is always good value. But it felt like an awful lot to do for relatively little reward.
Meanwhile, since the FBI guy actually gave them the file before Michael came through (never bring this guy along when you visit a car dealer), Jesse and Agent Pearce get to blackmail the arms dealer who sold the sniper rifle that killed Nate. This is a job with Sam Axe written all over it, but, hey, Jesse’s been a good soldier, so why not let him have some fun at the strip club? The dealer laughs it all off because Daddy can take care of it, until Pearce pulls some boilerplate threats about secret accounts. They close the deal, but unfortunately Daddy still has some pull. Word of Pearce’s involvement gets back to Langley, and she gets reassigned to the India desk.
I’m not unhappy to see Pearce go. This season, the writers pulled back from the good cop-bad cop whiplash and basically brought her onto the team. I still think shifting her into full bad cop and Anson skeptic would have made for better drama. What I fear about her departure is the team being pulled back towards status quo (minus Nate, plus Jesse.) On top of recycling plot tropes, we basically are back to the original team chasing after an unknown antagonist. Earlier in the season, I accused the show of spinning its wheels. Now, they’re in danger of falling into a full-blown rut.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Edmund Boys is Critical Myth's reviewer for Burn Notice.