Not too long ago, USA Network unleashed a summertime series about a professional spy who had been mysteriously disavowed, dropped off in Miami, and forced to take odd jobs while trying to get his old life back, and it just keeps getting better.
Since receiving his “burn notice,” we’ve learned that Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is most dangerous when he stops smiling, that his ex-FBI buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) is tough as nails (for an overgrown teddy bear), and that Michael’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) might actually be the hopeless romantic type if she could stop cleaning her guns long enough to make Michael get over himself. With the addition of Carla (Tricia Helfer) as his current handler (and best chance at figuring out who burned him), Michael is closer than ever to getting back what he lost or going over the edge, whichever comes first.
The location, the concept, and the format of “Burn Notice” would be enough to keep most shows going, but the amazing interaction between the cast members is what makes the program unmissable. As a decidedly adult series, we get to see Gabrielle Anwar as a beautiful woman staring down the barrel of middle age trying to reconcile herself with the right man (who keeps pushing her away). We get to enjoy Bruce Campbell (in a role he owns completely) doing his buddy-spy thing with a combination of smarm and charm that irresistible. Finally, we get to watch Jeffrey Donovan operate with that too-confident-for-belief swagger helping people who don’t deserve it while pushing himself closer to the edge, and the first new show of season 2.5 hints Michael Westen may have finally reached his breaking point.
As each season has progressed, viewers have been rewarded with clues as to how skilled the characters are and who they might be connected with, but on occasion they are all reminded that this is still a deadly game that they are all playing. Westen may be closer than ever to finding out who burned him, but the fine line between wanting to know and wanting to hurt anyone who gets in his way is starting to blur. Carla’ grasp on her little world appears to be spinning out of control, meaning that if Westen isn’t careful, he may lose his last lead to his old life, and if that happens, will it be the last straw?
In the first new episode “Do No Harm,” Sharon Gless is back as Westen’s mom, Madeline, but no one has seen Weston’s brother since Carla (presumably) had him arrested at the end of season 2.0. Future episode clearing his name? Most likely, but Westen’s brother works in this storyline only by having him pop up occasionally, more proof that the writers know how and when to use exactly what they have. The overall story arc seems to be veering toward something coming up soon, and the writing staff won’t be forgiven so readily a second time for what they pulled at the end of season one without something solid being the result. The new season 2.5 begins Thursday night, 10pm EST on USA Network.
Bottom line: unless you burn us, we’re not going anywhere.