Friday, August 08, 2008

Burn Notice, "Scatter Point": Don't mess with Mrs. Tyson

Quick spoilers for "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I get my first marriage annulled...

Another very strong entry for a season that has decidedly avoided the sophomore slump. Oded Fehr is as good as they're going to get in terms of an episodic bad guy, and the menace he brings from his "Sleeper Cell" days translated nicely to the deadly control freak of a bad guy here. And an episode featuring Oded Fehr and Robin Givens? Awesome.

Couple of things to note:
  • It feels like an awful lot of Michael's cases this season climax with him arranging for the bad guy to get killed by his associates. That actually feels tonally appropriate for a show about an ex-spy (he's a spook, not a superhero), but I don't remember them going to that place nearly as often in season one. Is it just my imagination?
  • Along similar lines, I like that Michael is rarely eager to play do-gooder, but rather gets sucked into it by circumstance, a friend or relative or, in this case, the client inadvertently hitting Michael's deepest nerve. For that matter, I like that he doesn't especially want to talk about Sam's love life; this is a work friendship, not one where they're supposed to stand around and talk about their feelings.
  • It's hard to picture a show featuring Bruce Campbell where he isn't playing the most memorable character, but dammit if Gabrielle Anwar isn't stealing the show week after week after week. Campbell's great in his usual Bruce Campbell way, but moments like Fiona spitting at Michael on stakeout duty or Fiona taking her sweet time to yell for the cops are the ones that tend to pop out each week.
What did everybody else think?


R.A. Porter said...

I was thinking about the number of bad guys ending in death as well, but I think even last night it was interestingly contrasted with the way Trevor found out about Michael: another guy in prison, whose organization was destroyed by Michael. He still does it both ways, but there might have been a bit more deady-dead so far this year.

Another great episode, with Michael's deep daddy issues nicely underplayed. I like that as a character, he really doesn't want to talk about those ever, so we didn't get hit over the head with the personal nature. It was enough that Michael did take it personally.

A couple things that hit me:
- Yay! So happy to see Audrey Landers again! I know my grand theories for her turned out to be totally wrong, but I've still got a crush on her.

- I believe we've now been warned that we're going to be meeting Sam's wife sometime soon, probably just for a one-episode turn. That should be interesting, particularly if they cast her well.

- As a big fan of Michael Shanks, I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks. I think he'll generate some interesting tension with the core characters and I have this suspicion that he and Fi are going to get involved, really torquing Michael.

Annie Bulloch said...

I can't seem to force myself to be interested in Fiona. The other characters are strong and likable, but she's an interest vaccuum.

It's been two weeks in a row that the bad guy got set up to be killed by his associates. That seems kind of lazy, and while it's hard to feel bad about something like that happening to a human trafficker, it's not like there's any justice to it. Last night, it just meant that a thief was now a murderer too.

Don't get me wrong -- I like the show. It's funny and entertaining, but I don't want it to become too formulaic.

Daniel O'Neil said...

I'm surprised that someone finds Fiona an "Interest Vacuum". In a lot of ways she's much more interesting now that last season, because her role as a romantic lead has been replaced with her true nature: as a Stone Cold Badass with flair points.

She's a role player who will do the job, but always with some unexpected twist.

-- Shocking herself with a taser.
-- Waiting juuuuust a little longer to scream.
-- Perhaps putting a leeeetle too much explosive in the shack at the end of the episode.


My favorite line from the episode: "All these combinations end with the same number: C4". AWESOME.

Phil Freeman said...

I find it interesting that you mention her spitting and yelling, because Anwar seems to do most of her acting with her mouth. She's forever pouting like she's in a music video. I think she was an extremely poor choice for this character, and I almost feel like it might be costing the show viewers. My wife, for example, will not watch the show because she hates Anwar's performance so much, and it's not like she's anti-genre TV in general - after last week's pre-season-premiere marathon, she's a big Eureka fan.

R.A. Porter said...

Huh. I'm shocked at the Anwar backlash. Count me and TheWife in the big fan camp. Everyone's got their own tastes and preferences, but she just doesn't seem like a polarizing actress.

Anonymous said...

One thing I was thinking of last night is the backlash Michael *isn't* suffering--that is, when are we going to get an ep where an org he sent to jail sends people to get revenge on him? Since so many people seem to have heard of him and know where to find him, it would be good to have an ep or two where we see some repercussions for him from his work. Not that I doubt for a second that he will prevail in any fight, but it would make sense that he'd have to fight off a few revenge scenarios from the guys he didn't get killed (not that I have a problem with him getting so many of the baddies killed--unless they are as hot as Oded Fehr, dammit).

I like having Fi be such a badass and a brat. I have no problem believing Gabrielle Anwar can kick so much ass, same way as I buy Summer Glau being a badass Terminatrix.

Unknown said...

I think she's pretty amusing, and badass. So, on the like side. I would like to see Kandi return for a fight with Fi.

Anonymous said...

"One thing I was thinking of last night is the backlash Michael *isn't* suffering--that is, when are we going to get an ep where an org he sent to jail sends people to get revenge on him?"
I think that they're definitely gonna deal with that at some point. Several times this season clients have actively sought out Michael's help instead of being brought in by Sam or Madeline. Michael's getting his own legend and I think it's gonna bite him in the ass.

Mrglass said...

I just love Burn Notice, especially after such a perfect episode.

I don't think the show has to deal with Michael's job "backlash", because it is just unrealistic in the first place to think one man can take on so many gangs and thugs and stay alive, in the same city for so long. You just have to accept the premise, and enjoy.

Last year Michael fought a mega drug cartel. He should be dead or on the run; instead the cartel killed Michael's target (to answer Alan's question) and forgot about him.

Regarding this episode, the last scene was perfect. Someone as smart and powerful as Carla should indeed always be aware of whatever Michael does. But how long until we see Tricia Helfer actually back on the show?

Best moment: the "Client" tag appearing after a lot of arguing but before Michael accepts.

Anonymous said...

I questioned the casting of Gabrielle Anwar at first, but have really grown to love her character and appreciate what Anwar brings. Anyone who can hold her own in scenes with Bruce Campbell is nothing short of fantastic, IMO.

Have the ratings for Season 2 been as good as last season? I really love how fun this show is. Thanks for the recaps, Alan.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the show has to deal with Michael's job "backlash", because it is just unrealistic in the first place to think one man can take on so many gangs and thugs and stay alive, in the same city for so long.

True, but so many people frequently mention having "heard" about Michael (and are able to find him) that you'd think someone would come back, or at the very least, that a new someone would try to take him on to prove who's the real badass in town (we know it's Michael, but the potential opponent doesn't) :-) Anyway, there are always repercussions to what Michael does, so why shouldn't a defeated (and not-killed) baddie come back?

Karen said...

Count me in the Gabrielle Anwar Fan Club. After starting out in utter crap like If Looks Could Kill and Scent of a Woman (Oscar or no Oscar, I LOATHED that film), let's say I didn't hold out much hope for her when I saw her in the Burn Notice pilot. But she has surprised and impressed the hell out of me, completely selling how this little tiny bird of a girl is such a complete and utter bad-ass. It was nice to see Robin Givens parallel that in this week's episode, too--the women are the tough ones. Sweet.

Alan, you're not the first to comment on the trend of Michael's solution being have one bad guy take out another, but I'm not seeing that as a problem; not yet anyway. Michael's all about finding the easiest solution, and if he can manipulate his opponents into taking each other out and leaving him with no blood on his hands--well, why shouldn't he? What's fun is seing how he plays his pawns.

I was sorry Veronica dumped Sam, though. I agreed with Fi--I couldn't see any other option for him but the truth, and I think Roni over-reacted. I'm expecting her to come around eventually.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I didn't like Gabrielle Anwar at first--or Michael's mother, for that matter--but they've both really grown on me. Fi has had some of the best moments this season--the scream, the taser, the scene in the restaurant where she calls Sam "Daddy." Maybe it's just because she's not mooning over Michael now. And his mother has been humanized a lot more; I like that she's not just a joke. But still funny (I'm thinking of the scene in the therapist's office). And I love any scenes with Sam. Bruce Campbell sure does look good in a suit.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Put me in the Anwar/Fi non-fan column, for several reasons: Her character comes off as somewhat pathetic, in that her entire life seems to revolve around Michael even though they're no longer a couple, she's pushing 40 but usually dresses like a deranged 11 year old (was she wearing an oversized pillowcase in the last scene at Michael's place?), she's frighteningly gaunt, and she's so overtanned that she looks at times like she's made entirely of pudding skin. Plus the aforementioned pouting.

Anonymous said...

Pudding-skin. Ha!
I can't disagree with any of those criticisms. Yet, I'm still drawn to her.
Last season they told us she was bad-ass. But this season they've been showing it. Actually, I've been impressed with Fi since the moment she jumped off the bridge to avoid capture (season finale).

It would be nice if she backed off the self-tanner to at least vanilla pudding-skinnish tones.

Anonymous said...

love it love it love it!
Love Fi
Love Michael
Love Sam
LOVE Sharon Gless!

PERFECT Summer a great beach book!

justjoan123 said...

I think Gabrielle Anwar is fantastic as Fi, for all the reasons mentioned above and in spite of the fact that I have to sit on my hands to prevent me from trying to shove smoothies at her through the screen. Over on TWOP there is much Fi-hate, but I'm surprised to see it blooming here. Michael and Fiona as a couple is just plain bad news, but once Fi saw The Light, she has been champion as a team player. And if I didn't love her before, I would certainly have caved when she convinced Michael's mother, her biggest fan, that the reason Michael had no room in his life for her was because Mom was his most significant and only woman. Now, for a woman who thinks a power drill is a delicate instrument, that is finesse.