Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burn Notice, "Do No Harm": Bikini girls with machine guns

Spoilers for the return of "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I cut my thumb...

"I want my brother out of jail! I want answers! I want my life back!" -Michael

As I said in today's column, "Do No Harm" shows us a different side of Michael -- and of "Burn Notice" -- than we've really seen before. For once, he doesn't have an answer for everything. He's battered, he's huffing around with those busted ribs and he's sick and tired of having to dance to Carla's tune, let alone having to figure out who else might have tried to blow him up.

And yet, even as Michael's tired and angry and at a loss, he still manages to be Michael Westen -- and "Burn Notice" still manages to be "Burn Notice." There are shows where I'd be frustrated to see a big arc-driven cliffhanger followed up by an episode where the main character gets caught up in a business-as-usual procedural case, but Matt Nix and company are cooking with gas right now, and they made it work. Hell, I didn't even groan too much at the idea of Michael helping out the poor sick kid with the rare heart condition, because those scenes deliberately didn't tug at our heartstrings, or even at Michael's. He'd be helping the suicidal dad no matter what the reason, because he happened to be there, and because that's sort of what he does now.

Fi, on the other hand? She was definitely touched by her time with the boy, but that in turn was almost played for laughs, as we got to watch her teach him how to properly array his toy soldiers for a sniper attack, and as she lost her temper and took a swing at the evil con woman, leading to that splendid bikini brawl.

Plus, any extended sequence of Michael and Sam interrogating guys -- and finding creative, non Jack Bauer-approved, methods of getting answers -- is always a delight.

It's good to have it back.

What did everybody else think?

25 comments:

Jordan said...

Loved this episode. Loved Fi and the army men, Sam and the interrogation, Michael unable to get into the car and maybe most of all the scene with Mike losing his cool with Sam. It was pretty human for a character that could easily become less than. It also shows why even when he didn't particularly like Sam, he respected him. Just straight up enjoyable tv.

mashedtaters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

My main complaint really is the having had to wait for this episode so long. The momentum of the season was lost and it took a little time to get back into it. Also, how many episodes are left now, like three? Not the show's fault, I blame the USA network for that boner.

Raul said...

It's not USA, but the writer's strike, I believe, that made everything screwy. There are six left after this one. On another topic, I think one of the most underrated aspects of the show is the title cards, and the timing with which they slide them out. It was brilliant that they announced the exact moment Campbell became "The Ex Boyfriend"

R.A. Porter said...

Jeffrey Donovan's spent two seasons showing us Michael's bottled-up emotions only through tiny moments - a smirk, a wince, a sarcastic roll of the eyes - and blew that facade completely off tonight in his scene with Carla. I was completely mesmerized by the raw, unrestrained emotion from him in that scene. The remainder of the episode, Michael trying to regain some measure of his composure with the help of his friends and his victim of the week, was like watching a clown put on his face or a warrior gird for battle.

Some of the finest acting I've ever seen on this show.

More of my thoughts in my review here.

Ingrid said...

It's good to have this show back. I completely agree with your review, Alan.

pdf said...

I liked this episode a lot, too. I admit I was kinda thinking the dad with the sick kid was just a little too pathetic and desperate, and was waiting for him to turn out to be some kind of even greater con artist who gets Good Samaritans to rip off other con artists for him...but that may have just been the guy's acting throwing me off.

Dan said...

Is there a Michael-Carla romance in the works? I know all indications point towards Michael and Fi resuming their relationship...but I thought I saw some pretty heavy looks exchanged between Michael/Carla during their last scene.

LOVE this show!

Anonymous said...

Not sure why Alan liked the girl fight so much. Seemed more like two skeletons going at each other than a hot girl-on-girl brawl. One skeleton (Fi) tanned like leather and the other (Rachel) bleached out. For all the attractive women in South Beach you'd think they could get two actresses with some meat on their bones.

Anonymous said...

and finding creative, non Jack Bauer-approved, methods of getting answers

Sorry, I'm quite a few years out of sync with 24. But, at least in the early years, throwing a guy out a window (but with a chain tied to the chair) would have been Jack Bauer approved. I guess you're saying that late era Jack Bauer wouldn't bother with the chain?

MJ

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry, I'm quite a few years out of sync with 24. But, at least in the early years, throwing a guy out a window (but with a chain tied to the chair) would have been Jack Bauer approved. I guess you're saying that late era Jack Bauer wouldn't bother with the chain?

Jack's not really interested in psychology anymore. Now he just shoots people in the leg, or some other physical means of extracting intel.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is there a Michael-Carla romance in the works? I know all indications point towards Michael and Fi resuming their relationship...but I thought I saw some pretty heavy looks exchanged between Michael/Carla during their last scene.

I read it as them both finding each other attractive, recognizing that the other feels the same way, and attempting to use that attraction to gain some kind of advantage. Nothing will likely ever come of it, both because Fi's around and because Michael and Carla are both professionals first and are more interested in screwing each other over than in screwing each other.

Kevin Michaels said...

This show has been a pleasant surprise both last year and this year (in spite of the huge gap between episodes....thanks USA). The writing is sharp for all characters and as the show progresses each of the characters has been allowed to grow and show more of what's inside them (Fi with the toy soldiers - Sam fighting with Michael- Michael losing his cool not just once). Like Raul's post, I love the title cards...it's the little things like that that make Burn unique and better than much of what else is on TV these days.

DNR said...

Fiona's punch was the only thing that struck a sore note with me. One of the premises of the show is that the protagonists are ex-spys and have dealt with worse people than Miami's small time scammers. She punched that woman because it was necessary to string out the plot a bit.

On the the other hand, that fight with Sam was great- simple, brutal, and surprising. I expected Michael to find some way to sucker punch after he gave up and get out of the apartment.

R.A. Porter said...

@DNR, I see what you're saying, but the man she loves was almost blown up what, 24 hours prior? It wasn't just Michael on edge and behaving a bit out of sorts.

I can see why she'd take that more personally than usual.

michael said...

Fi's always been the hothead of the group, so her punching out Rachael wasn't a big stretch to me.

Antid Oto said...

Sorry, but I'm pretty sure throwing a blindfolded guy out a window counts as torture under most sane legal definitions, even if you catch him with a cable.

JustJoan said...

@Anonymous says: Not sure why Alan liked the girl fight so much. Seemed more like two skeletons going at each other than a hot girl-on-girl brawl. One skeleton (Fi) tanned like leather and the other (Rachel) bleached out. For all the attractive women in South Beach you'd think they could get two actresses with some meat on their bones.

You have to be kidding. Why, Fi looks positively chubby this season! It was a pleasure not to be able to count vertebrae during that scene...

Jordan said...

The one and only thing that bugs me about this show is what is Michael doing for money? He used to take payment (or cellphones) from the victim of the week, but he hasn't in a while and he doesn't take Carla's money, so how is he getting by?

Hatfield said...

Fi is definitely too skinny, but she's muscular, so at least she's not *completely* frightening. Still, maybe she should go get some pulled pork sandwiches or something.

This show is great. For me, it's gone from amusing diversion I had low expectations for because it was on USA to can't-miss addiction. I can't really add anything that hasn't been said already, but I hope that whoever is after Michael (or more likely, messing with Carla's plans) is worth the suspense.

Dan said...

Jordan:

Didn't Michael get $500,000 from Rachel or whatever her name was? True, he told the guy that there was more than $250,000 in the bag. But how much more? Maybe just $350,000....in which case $150,000 for a week's worth of work is pretty good if you ask me.

Mrglass said...

Great episode. Besides the funny titles cards, another of the most underrated aspects of the show is the musical score. With a mix of latino songs, rock and techno, the music is one of the best on TV and makes Burn Notice all the more exciting to watch.

Sorry, I'm quite a few years out of sync with 24. But, at least in the early years, throwing a guy out a window (but with a chain tied to the chair) would have been Jack Bauer approved.

They went a bit over the line there, but at least didn't cut any finger. And the main difference with Bauer is that Michael and Max are rogue agents/PIs and would go to jail if exposed, instead of receiving from government officials.

OldDarth said...

First time Michael lost his cool. Civilian life must be getting to him.

He and Chuck should buddy up.

Glad to have the show back!

Maura said...

Great episode. A car chase in the first five minutes! Awesome.

The cast gets better all the time, especially Donovan. He was astoundingly good when Michael lost his cool.

Enough messing around with Michael and Fiona's relationship. Get them back together and be done with it.

I had a bouncing up and down on the couch moment when I started seeing ads for show's return. It's definitely can't miss television.

dez said...

Fi's always been the hothead of the group, so her punching out Rachael wasn't a big stretch to me.

I didn't have a problem with it, and as someone else mentioned, Fi's on edge after Michael was almost killed. Plus, those who think Anwar is too skinny should check out Angelina Jolie in "The Changeling" - now that's someone who is way too skinny (the bonus of seeing that film is getting to see Jeffery Donovan give nicely controlled performance as a corrupt police officer).

The show continues to deliver and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season.