Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Burn Notice Season 6 Review

Last Thursday was the season 6 finale of my favorite TV show on the planet, Burn Notice.  Usually I'm so bummed when the season finale is over because it means I have to wait until the next June to find out what happens next.  The show is always so fast paced, and full of witty humor, with fantastic villans and plot developments.  However, this season I couldn't help but wonder when it was going to end!  And that's VERY hard for me to admit, trust me.

So what happened this season?  Why does it feel like season 6 of my favorite show became its "jumping the shark" moment?

Season 6 definitely didn't start that way.  When we last left our favorite burned spy, he was trying to get out from under the greatest villan the show has created.  Anson had evidence regarding a consulate bombing that would send Fiona to jail unless Michael did a lot of really horrible things for him.  Fiona took matters into her own hands, and turned herself in so that Michael would no longer have to do Anson's bidding.

We pick up right where season five ended.  Michael and Sam look all over Miami for Anson.  Jason Bly, a sometime friend/foe of Michael's interrogates Fiona after she is arrested.  Bly tries to get Fiona to give up information on Michael's involvement, and even goes as far as saying he died in a truck explosion.  Luckily, Fiona sees through the deception and sticks with the story that she acted alone at the British consulate bombing...(which wasn't her fault, but was done by Anson).  Anson attempts to distract Michael from hunting him by sending a psycho Army Ranger to kill Maddie, Michael's mother.  Jesse is able to help her with that....well, sort of.  Michael finally catches up to Anson inside a chemical plant.  He's about to bring him in when Anson reveals a dead-man switch that will trigger a bomb in the plant, and that allows Anson to escape.

Below is a FANTASTIC fan video all about the first episode of the season, "Scorched Earth".  (If the video doesn't come right up, click on the link that says, 'Watch on YouTube')  At about 2:40 into the video, all Burn Notice fans were jumping and screaming to join in with Michael.

So overall, the first episode was what we have come to expect from this awesome show:  incredible car chases, explosions, edge of your seat entertainment, and being able to feel the emotions Michael is feeling.

The next few episodes focused on Fiona while she was in prison.  We saw her trying to adjust, and fight for her life WAY TOO OFTEN.  I've heard stories about weapons in prison, but it seemed like Fiona was marked for death by almost very woman in the prison.

To gain visitation rights, Michael offered his services to the CIA agent who trained him:  a man named Tom Card.

Michael's younger brother, Nate also returns to Miami, telling his family that his marriage is falling apart.

It turns out that Fiona is in fact targeted for murder, so she does all she can to find out who is after her.  She manages to get a message to Michael when he comes to visit her.  Michael, Sam, and Jesse head to the Everglades to try and find the prison guard trying to kill Fiona, but instead they find him dead at the hands of Rebecca, who is a burned CIA agent now working for Anson.  Rebecca takes Sam hostage, but in the end Sam manages to get Rebecca to reveal that she's only following Anson's orders to keep her brother alive.  Rebecca decides to work with them to take Anson down.

Tom Card offers Fiona a deal to become a CIA assett, which will get her out of prison, and protect her from extradition to Ireland.  Let's just say there are a few people who want nothing more than Fiona's head on a stick!  Michael and Sam protect Rebecca's brother from a mob boss, and Rebecca reveals that she knows where Anson will be in the next few days.  It's beginning to look like they are finally one step ahead of this incredible villan.

Fiona is about to be released when an agent from MI6 tries to prevent that from happening.  They believe she blew up their consolate and want answers, among other things.

Fiona has befriended another inmate named Ayn, who has become her one and only ally.  Ayn has most of the prison guards wrapped around her finger, and has been able to help Fiona stay alive while in prison.   Fiona turns to Ayn for help.

Fiona entices Ayn by telling her that if she hides Fiona, Ayn should be the person who finds her, and that working with the warden would help shorten her jail time.  Ayn likes that idea and Fiona hides in a hole she made in a library wall.

Meanwhile, Michael, Jesse, Pearce, and Nate travel to Atlantic City to capture Anson.  I wrote a blog post about this entire episode when it first happened.  Click here to read all about what happens next.  One of the clips from the post has been removed from YouTube, but you'll see it shortly.

The following fan video contains clips from the episode "Shock Wave" and "Reunion".  Sam is helping Barry, their money laundering friend escape from some men who are very angry at him.  Remember in my earlier post how dumb I thought it was that Sam wasn't allowed to go with the team to get Anson?  Yep, this is what he did instead.

Out of jail and reunited with Michael, they are now completely focused on finding the man that murdered Nate.  Fiona participates in her first assignment as an official CIA asset, and it nearly gets her killed.  It's also her last assignment as an asset.  Somehow the paperwork "got lost".  Sam and Jesse find the name of the sniper that killed Nate:  Tyler Gray.

The team tracks Tyler Gray to Panama, where they meet up with another agent who was in charge of a botched attempt to capture Anson.  They fight through Gray's hired guns.  Michael is able to capture Gray, but he reveals to Michael that Tom Card set up the entire operation to be a suicide mission for Michael and his team.  Brady sacrifices himself, and they barely escape an F-18 that was sent to kill them.  Tom Card is told that everything has been "taken care of", and he believes everyone is dead.  The group is left stuck in Panama, out of resources, and wondering what their next move will be.

So, Tom Card is the bad guy.  The "good guy" who taught Michael everything he knows about being a spy.  I didn't see this coming, much to my dismay.

The show went on its summer break and came back strong.

The team manages to get back to the states.  Gray, who had been told lies about Michael by Card to make him look like a horrible person, has now agreed to help stop Card.  Tyler Gray has convinced Card that Michael and the team have been eliminated, and Card asks him to dig up any information Michael may have had on Anson and then torch Michael's loft.

Torching the loft was the first sign of a downhill spiral for me.

Michael eventually confronts Card.  During a very tense conversation, Card shoots Tyler Gray in front of Michael, attempts to appeal to the "we do what we have to do" side of Michael, and Michael responds by killing Tom Card.

Up until this point, Burn Notice was delivering all that fans have come to love.  If torching the loft began the down spiral, the moment Michael shot Card, (who was unarmed when he was shot) the down spiral went spinning out of control.

Apparently Tom Card had used Anson and Tyler Gray for unauthorized operations around the world, and was planning to do the same with Michael.  Card realized that Michael was closing in on Anson, so to protect himself, he had Gray kill Anson, and Nate as well.

The next three episodes of Burn Notice seem to take an eternity to get through.  It turns into one problem after another.  The show now focuses on getting everyone out of the country.  They turn to a smuggler named Schmidt, played by Patton Oswalt.  I'm not very familiar with this actor, but holy cow, his character is the most annoying man I've ever seen on Burn Notice.  Schmidt can get the passports and paperwork, but he needs their help first.  Then they discover the passports won't work, so he turns to another supplier for new passports and learns that the price has gone up.  The team has to recover a high tech gadget from Schmidt's heavily guarded warehouse and get it to a client.  Of course the device is shot up so they have to attempt to repair it.

Riley pressures Maddie, Michael's mom into giving up their location, so Maddie decides to go on the run with them.

They finally get their passports from the obnoxious Schmidt, they just need the microchip implants from a rival smuggler of Schmidt's.  Vanek, the smuggler, wants revenge against Schmidt for costing him millions in a past deal, and FOR CALLING THE FEDS ON HIM!

I was hoping to only have to endure one episode of Schmidt.  By the time "Odd Man Out" arrives, we've been forced this stupid character for the third straight hour.  Instead, they all get trapped in a warehouse and have to figure out how to escape.

By this time there's no doubt in my mind that Michael and company will not get out of the country.  It's also been made very apparent that Riley and the CIA are idiots.  For all the "hunting" they claim to do, and for how much they say they want Michael arrested, why is there no one at Nate's grave watching for them to show up?  Jesse, Fiona, and Schmidt escaped from Schmidt's warehouse when the CIA was right outside the door.  Really?  I doubt that would actually happen.  Most seasons I can't believe it's already time for the finale; not this year.

Schmidt's stupid behavior, the antics that never stop, Riley's "wannabe" tough cop routine, and the simple fact that Michael shot Card in cold blood made the last 3-4 episodes very boring and difficult to believe.

Back in early November, before the show came back from its summer hiatus, I read an article where actor Jeffrey Donovan, who plays Michael Westen, was interviewed.  He said the following,

"Michael makes a decision which affects not only his friends but Fiona," Donovan says.  "There is going to be a huge betrayal.  I think the audience is going to be excited to see Season 7 to see where Michael will go after making on of the worst decisions he has ever made."

With this statement hanging over my head, exciting me to see what the heck was going to happen, we move into the season finale.

Looks promising, right?

The flowers on Nate's grave were from Agent Bly, the man who interrogated Fiona at the beginning of the season.  Bly is a CSS agent from season 1 who wanted to destroy Michael, and turned out to be a sort of ally for him.  After seeing the flowers, I kept wondering who it was going to be.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, Michael agrees to meet Bly who offers Michael a deal.  Michael declines, but instead tries one more time to get everyone out of the country.  It doesn't work though.  Jesse is captured, and Sam gets shot.  For anyone who was freaking out that Sam was going to die......SERIOUSLY?  They were never going to kill Sam off, so his being shot served no real purpose for the episode.  The first hour was all about saving Sam, who we knew was going to live anyway, and watching Riley attempt to interrogate Jesse.  Michael and Fiona managed to rescue Jesse, end of hour one.

They spend the night at the home of a doctor who owes Fiona a favor.  Sam gets patched up and during the night, men with guns storm the home.  After the raid they discover that they weren't agents, but members of a drug cartel that has a vendetta against Michael.  Apparently clean, but mean Agent Riley has gone rogue, hiring a cartel to take out Michael.

Hold on a minute.  We've now watched Riley for 4 straight episodes do a legal, but crappy job of hunting Michael down.  What in the world made her decide to throw her career away and hire the cartel?  Was she always a dirty cop?  She could've used them to track Michael and then send in the real police.  This twist made no sense to me at all.  However, it gave Michael the leverage he needed.

Michael went back to Bly, told him about Riley and what happened, and he agreed to help Michael gather evidence against her that could be used to clear Michael and company.  Bly and Michael tail Riley to a meeting with the cartel leader.  While gathering info, a cartel member impersonating a marina security guard, approaches their car and throws a grenade inside.  Michael manages to escape, but because Bly's seat belt won't open, he's trapped in the car and is killed in the explosion, along with all the evidence they collected.

Again, hold on.  The grenade could've been thrown out of the car.  But what really fries me about this character death is that it happened because his seat belt wouldn't open.'re going to stick with that idea?  Throughout its 6 year run, Burn Notice has killed many people.  I've disagreed with some, but to kill Bly this way, especially when he and Michael were finally almost friends!  Not right.

Michael boards the cartel leader's yacht and tells Riley that the Coast Guard is approaching because he called them.  A game of cat and mouse ends with Riley calling the deputy director to confess what she's done moments before the Coast Guard blows the yacht to kingdom come.

At this point, I'm still waiting for the "betrayal" Jeffrey Donovan promised.

We then see Maddie, Sam, Jesse, and Fiona all sitting in prison cells.  Fiona is released, and brought to a large room where Michael, dressed in a suit and tie, is talking to other agents.  It's at this point that I've realized something is different.  Usually when wearing a suit, Michael looks like this:

However,  in this scene, his suit is darker in color, like that of fellow CIA agents.  He also appears to be giving directions to other operatives.

Fiona embraces Michael, then asks what he's been doing for three weeks while they've been in holding cells. Fiona reminds Michael about the promise he made her back in Panama, that when this was all over, it would just be the two of them.  No more chasing after the people that burned him.  As the others are brought into the room, Michael says that he had to make a deal to get them all freed, he did what he had to do.  He goes to embrace Fiona again, and she won't let him touch her.  She breaks down into complete hysterics and says, "No, you did what you wanted to do."  And that ends season 6.

HUH?  Did I miss something?  How was that a "cliffhanger" for next season?  And more importantly, how in the world was that a betrayal?  Fiona has always wanted Michael to forget about the CIA, he's never been able to.  It's not like she doesn't know this about him.  There's no way he was ever going to really stop hunting.  But if it's a choice between his family and friends in jail forever, or him taking a deal.......gee, let me think about that for a moment....the choice is clear!  What we don't know is exactly what the deal was that Michael took.  Some people have speculated that he's going to prison.  I don't buy that.  We did that during the beginning of this season with Fiona.  Plus, a man going off to prison wouldn't be giving orders to those around him, and be dressed in a suit.  I believe he took over Card's job and is working full time for the CIA.  Does this mean he won't be around anymore?  Doubt it....he's the center of the show.  

Overall, I was so disappointed with the second half of this season.  I knew that killing Nate was going to change the dynamics, but man, the last 6 hours/episodes of this show were difficult to watch.  Throw away plots, ridiculous situations to overcome, new characters that made you want to poke your eyes out, I WANT MY SHOW BACK!  A cliffhanger that was anything but, and a betrayal that I haven't seen.  Oh, and did I mention that we never got the satisfaction of having Michael take down Anson, the greatest adversary Michael has faced to date?  He beat him up a little during the season premiere, but we all wanted Michael to take him down.  So unfair to the public!

I feel so robbed!  They have a lot to make up for next season.  Rumor is that it will be their final season.  Burn Notice wasn't renewed until September, so part of me wonders if this was being written as their final season and then was tweeked when the show was renewed.  Oh well.  I'll have to wait until June.

If you've hung in this long and are still reading this post, I love you and I leave you with this:  Burn Notice gag reels.  For some reason, no one has uploaded the season 3 gag reel onto YouTube.  If I knew how, I would do it.  Enjoy season 1, 2, 4, and 5.