Thursday, September 18, 2008

Burn Notice, "Good Soldier": Ring of Jesus fire

Spoilers for the "Burn Notice" "summer finale" -- or mid-season finale, or whatever you want to call the show's last episode of 2008 -- coming up just as soon as I go for a swim...

Basic cable scheduling frustrates me sometimes. I get that, for the most part, there are only going to be 13 episodes of a show per year, and that cable channels want to spread out their best assets over as long a time-frame as possible. And I get that "Burn Notice" might start to seem less essential in a week or two, once the broadcast season has kicked into gear and there are more substantive scripted dramas back on the air. (Though, to be frank, I'd easily take this show over any of the Thursday at 10 competition on the networks, barring a miraculous new pilot for "Life on Mars.") But dammit, the show had picked up such great momentum over these past 9 episodes -- and especially over the last handful -- that I don't want to wait until January or later for the next four.

I could also do without the Michael-in-jeopardy cliffhanger. We all know he's going to survive, and we even basically know how (he jumped before the bomb went off), so it likely won't even be an imaginative resolution. It's just false danger to make us more eager for the next episode, when the show has been so strong of late that the only thing I need to feel eager for the next episode is my awareness that it exists.

That said, "Good Soldier" was another terrific episode right until the producers had to play along with USA's scheduling shenanigans.

My brain tends to turn off during the more expository passages explaining Michael's case of the week, so I didn't follow all the details involving the kidnapping ring, but Jeffrey Donovan did his usual superlative job getting into one of Michael's cover identities, both as the drunk barely hanging on and then as the sober, born-again bad-ass who can quote scripture even as he's taking a shotgun to your car. You could see Fi falling in love with him all over again as he delivered that monologue to the bad guy, and you could see why. The man (either Donovan or Michael) is very good at what he does.

Minor nitpicking: more than most weeks, this episode had me wondering how Michael stays off the radar of local law enforcement. Not only does he slowly shoot up a car in broad daylight at a busy location, but he also leaves a whole lot of fingerprints in a place he knows is being set up as a sniper's nest.

Or is that latter bit part of Carla's plan? Has she been setting up Michael all along to be the patsy for whatever assassination she's planning? We've been assuming that Carla has underestimated Michael, let her guard down enough to let him and Sam and Fi gather all this intel on her operation. But what if she and what appears to be a very large and powerful organization have been tracking Team Westen's every move and tailoring their own scheme accordingly?

Tricia Helfer hasn't appeared much so far this season -- two full episodes, plus brief cameos (voice or otherwise) in a couple of others -- but I love watching her and Donovan bounce off each other, each one absolutely convinced they're playing the other. Much of the appeal of "Burn Notice" is in the way that Michael always has an answer for every situation, but it's also interesting to occasionally come upon a scenario where he doesn't have all the angles covered.

Like I said last week, "Burn Notice" has gone from amusing diversion to a show that has a serious shot at making my Top 10 list this year. Hurry back, you crazy spy show.

What did everybody else think?

20 comments:

David J. Loehr said...

Amen to that. Winter can't get here fast enough.

The fingerprint thing was bothering me, too, especially once he'd realized it was a sniper's nest. They've set him up to be smarter than that.

What really had me wondering this time was the realization that, for a bodyguard, he didn't really spend much time guarding. Why didn't the kidnappers try to take the girl when Michael wasn't around? It was just convenient that every player in each story was available to play at the right times for Michael's schedule. (In other words, it all worked out because the writer said it had to work out.)

That said, as always, I enjoy the show beyond such nitpicking. It's most definitely on my short list of favorite current shows. At least I'll have Chuck to tide me over until it returns.

Anonymous said...

It's actually coming back for 7 episodes in the winter so we get a bit more than most cable shows.

Pirate Alice said...

I kind of wonder if the kidnapping was part of Carla's master plan with the sniper and everything. When the kidnapping didn't happen, her whole plan went down the drain. That's why she got back at Michael with his brother's arrest and Mom losing the house, etc.

Sarah said...

I just started watching in the last couple weeks (and watched a bunch of episodes on-line). Pretty great show and nothing else is on on Thursdays this fall. I'll miss Michael and Sam

Toby said...

I started thinking about "The Parallax View" and CSM using Oswald and Ray as assassination patsies in 'The X-Files' as the episode was nearing its climax. I thought Michael would have gone to the building once he retrieved his pass-card and entered the fourth floor just in time to be targeted as the assassin who was now working from a different floor.

David J. Loehr said...

I kind of wonder if the kidnapping was part of Carla's master plan with the sniper and everything.

I also wondered that. I was figuring that another part of the family was going to be targeted on the ferry, and maybe that's all going to come back in the conclusion.

R.A. Porter said...

The scene with Michael, expressing his cover's road-to-Damascus moment while Fi watched, really killed. But when I checked Proverbs 27, it was even more impressive. Michael was speaking *directly* to Fi, because the verse right before 27:17 is...

Restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.

He can't hold her back, even if seeing her with Campbell kills him.

As much fun as the show can be - and any show with Bruce Campbell is going to be fun - they've really found a way to nail the emotional stories well this year.

Anonymous said...

Why would USA show a preview before the last segment of the episode about the show coming back in January that included the scene of Michael's apartment blowin up? Really pissed me off.

I agree about the show being on a good run. Im still not sure how they will be able to keep the show fresh over the long haul though.

memphish said...

I didn't read the cliffhanger as will and how will Michael survive. As you said that was obvious. But instead it's will Carla succeed in her assassination plot now that Michael, but also the assassin are out of the way. That's the thing that has me counting down the days.

This is one of the few shows where I don't mind the things like leaving fingerprints or the Miami police never catching him.

Toby said...

I think the Miami cops are all transplanted from New Jersey, because those cops never could catch Tony Soprano......

Sister T said...

I loved the episode. Matt Nix gives some commentary to the episode on hulu and explains that someone else blew up the sniper and Michael's apartment and that the new dynamic for the second season is Michael working partly with and mostly against Carla and her gang to figure out who this third entity is. So I am excited for 2009. If I can wait that long for Battlestar and Dollhouse, then I can wait for this too.

Speaking of BSG, nice, smooth "she's a machine" inside joke. It fit with the script and made me smile.

Kelsey said...

Heh, I can't believe I didn't catch the "She's a machine" comment on my own. Anyways... I read Proverbs 27 and the 16th verse doesn't sound like it could (or you would want it to) apply to Fiona. It's basically saying she's annoying as hell ("A quarrelsome wife") and you can't shut her up. That's not a good thing in the Bible. In the real world, yeah, give me people who speak their minds, but in the context of what that verse means...

R.A. Porter said...

@kelsey, I definitely agree that taken in context with 27:15 it's not complimentary, but on its own it can easily sum up Michael's feelings about Fi.

Besides, even in context, Fi *is* almost like Michael's quarrelsome wife. :)

Jon Delfin said...

[thread hijack] What, no "Bones" thoughts this week? So I have no place to comment about seeing Eric Millegan (Zack) the other day. Bummer. [/thread hijack]

Kensington said...

I really wish networks would move past this idea that it's best to spread their shows out in order to create the illusion of covering more of the calendar. I don't watch re-runs anymore, and haven't since HBO spearheaded the notion of running an entire season from start to finish without interruption.

I don't mind shorter seasons, and it seems that a lot of shows strain to fill out 22 episodes a year. I like when I can associate a program with a season (i.e. Dr Who means Springtime, The Sopranos meant Winter -- at least initially, LOST now means Winter, etc.) Burn Notice, like Monk and Psych, means Summer.

That's the way the networks should be thinking now. Run a season from start to finish and then bring in something else. The day when Tuesday at 10:00 always meant NYPD Blue or Thursday at 10:00 always meant E.R. shold be long past by now.

Waiting until Winter for the rest of Burn Notice, a quintessentially Summer program, is wrong-headed. Just run something else in January and make that a Winter show.

Mrglass said...

Perfect episode. This show went from good to great in one season. Will Carla become a series regular when it returns?

Anonymous said...

The Miami police? The same ones who have no clue anything is amiss with Dexter? Apparently they couldn't catch a cold.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear there will be seven more episodes, not four.

RE: Miami PD, I figure that Dexter and Michael are working out of the same Miami, each just offscreen from the other. And with all the serial killers they deal with on Dexter, exploding SUVs and the like just don't rate much attention.

dez said...

Matt Nix gives some commentary to the episode on hulu and explains that someone else blew up the sniper and Michael's apartment and that the new dynamic for the second season is Michael working partly with and mostly against Carla and her gang to figure out who this third entity is.

That resolves the anxiety I was feeling that Carla would harm Fi, Sam, and especially the mostly clueless Campbell while Michael was knocked out, phew! Also probably means the kidnapping wasn't related to the assassination. I hope the next batch of eps shows us how widespread Carla's org is (they have to be big--they seem to know *everything* Michael & Co. are up to), while bringing back Victor for some mayhem.

I wish they would run the season all the way through instead of making us all wait during this artificial hiatus. This season has been so good that I want it to keep on going!

Kenrick said...

Michael Westen is my hero. I just watched all the episodes over the past two weeks. I really really like this show. Can't wait until USA resumes broadcasting the rest of season two.