There's been a marked "treading water" quality about Burn Notice. On the one hand, Burn Notice is very, very good when it's dealing with spy stuff; but when it's all that tedious "person in distress" stuff, it's really very boring - having all the mystery of whether the nuclear-bomb grade spy skills of Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) really can take out the small tea hut that is the usual criminal-of-the-week.
The spy stuff for the last few seasons has come from the series' big question: why was Michael fired from his spy job? I don't know. He doesn't know. He's been looking for ages and to stretch that plot out, they've been filling up episodes with tedious "person in distress" episodes that make me want to yawn. We've even had guest rapper episodes. Not good.
Fortunately, though, we've found out the answer to that question. Yes, we've found out. Sort of. And it looks like the hatches are being battened down for a third (or is that fourth?) season of mostly spy hijinks. Thank God for that.
Oh, some spoilers ahead, so watch out.
As with the last finale, there was an awful lot of explosions to make our time pass by quicker and make us want more. We also got some good writing, some really good, original tradecraft to jazz things up and Fi got to kill someone for a change. However, this time, we got a whole load of answers as well as a clearing of the decks, just as with season one's finale, to replace one big bad with a bigger one.
Disappointingly, that means no more Michael Shanks or Tricia Helfer, who I'd much rather had stuck around than Fi and her ever-fading accent, Michael's mom - the superfluous Sharon Gless - and even Bruce Campbell, who does cannon around rather more like a bull than a SEAL in a cable show - certainly, he contrasts poorly with Jeffrey Donovan's steely perfection and Shanks' loonier flipside of Michael, even if he is a man-god.
But it does promise that there might be well new spies of scary varieties arriving in town soon. Whether it's going to be shootings and tradecraft every week, or whether Michael will end up running for help to John Maloney's biggest bad by the end of episode one, I can't say, but I'm hoping the former. Certainly, yet more weeks of will they, won't they between Fi and Michael I could certainly do without.
Even if we don't find out exactly why Michael was burned now, we're close enough to the answers that it doesn't matter exactly why, which at least makes it a good finale for a spy show. What we need now is more spies.
- June 5, 2009: Review: Burn Notice 3x1
A review of the first episode of the third series of Burn Notice