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?