"You're still the same person." -MichaelAs we've come to the end of the first half (give or take) of "Burn Notice" season three, I think we should take stock on the season as a whole as much as "Long Way Back," which on its own lived up to the show's standard for tense, emotional, action-packed finales.
"No, I'm not. Who I am now is so much to do with what I've done here." -Fiona
By taking away Michael's "protection" at the same time that Michael gained the ability to try to reclaim his job, I wonder if Matt Nix has bitten off more than he can chew in one season. There have been a lot of great individual episodes (like this one), but it feels like the overall story arc is trying to do too much at once, and is therefore not doing anything quite as well as it should. When Michael tells Fi in this episode that one of the reasons he wants to get back in is to make his friends and family safer, it reminded me that we've only seen a couple of examples of Michael's old enemies coming after him. We spent a while on the idea of the police suddenly gaining awareness of his activities, but that was hampered by the casting of Moon Bloodgood (and/or poor writing for the character of Paxson), and then we moved more actively into Michael trying to get back into the CIA.
In hindsight, I think we might have been better off with this entire first half of the season devoted to the headaches that came with Management's exit, leading up to a moment in this episode where Michael decides it's time to get his old job back already. And at that point, we could have met Strickler, Diego, etc., and focused entirely on that in the season's second half.
That said, they've been doing some good things in these last few episodes, particularly with Michael's estrangement with Fi. Other than the one exchange quoted above, I don't think "Long Way Back" was too overt in spelling out the parallels between Fi's situation and Michael's, but it was there if you wanted to see it amidst all the shoot-outs and explosions and fake brogues. (Note the brief return of Fiona's accent from the pilot when she was yelling at Michael and her brother.) Great work from both Donovan and Anwar tonight, and even in the midst of the comedy about Miss Reynolds' car, Bruce Campbell got the nice moment where Sam admitted that he'd lay down his life for Fi if he had to.
And seeing Michael cold-bloodedly blow away Strickler -- trading his potential ticket back for a chance to save Fiona -- was very satisfying, and moreso because Nix for the most part tries to avoid having Michael kill the bad guys to solve his problems.
So while I haven't been thrilled by everything so far this season, there's still enough uniquely "Burn Notice"-y goodness that I'm going to just look at it as a case of being a little too ambitious, and I'm eager to see the remaining episodes when the show comes back in early 2010.
What did everybody else think?