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Burn Notice

Michael Westen, a seasoned US spy, is suddenly ‘burned’, i.e. discredited, without any form of procedure. He survives by doing impossible jobs for desperate people in Miami, where his mother lives. Michael is usually aided by trusted former FBI informer Sam and his ex girlfriend Fiona.

Watch Burn Notice – You Can Run Online S06E18

Burn Notice - You Can Run
The first half of tonight’s two-hour season finale was yet another episode of “Why Aren’t Michael And Company Getting Out Of Town This Week?” Matt Nix and the rest of the creative team have been playing this game ever since the show returned from hiatus, so why should we expect any different at this point? I’m pretty sure the plot of season six, part two was scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Anyway, now that our heroes have their passports and false identities, all they need is a ride out of Miami. That’s arranged with an envelope full of cash pressed into the hands of the local Frank Sobotka, but of course, it can’t be that easy. Riley and her troops swarm out of a shipping container, and before you can say Horseface, Jesse is in cuffs and Sam has been shot in the gut. Michael manages to get Sam back to the safehouse, but Jesse ends up in custody, getting whacked with the yellow pages and threatened with being tossed into a dark hole and forgotten.

Finale time is usually when Burn Notice digs deep into the roster of recurring characters for some pinch-hitters, and “You Can Run” is no exception. EMT and Fiona’s ex-boyfriend Campbell is called on to dress Sam’s wounds, and perhaps more importantly, CSS Agent Bly turns up to propose an unpalatable deal: Michael turns himself in and becomes an official witness on the Card case, and his friends get off a little (but presumably not much) easier.

Unless you believe Sam is in danger of dying (which of course you don’t), this first hour isn’t much different from the last couple of episodes, except that Patton Oswalt is no longer around to make fun of Bruce Campbell’s chin. The rhyming interrogation scenes-Riley and Jesse, Michael and his CIA-goon hostage-could have made for a resonant contrast of styles, but instead, they’re just another demonstration of how much smarter Michael is, and how much more loyalty he accrues, than anyone else. (And while Jesse’s loyalty is admirable, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer if he didn’t guess, as you and I did, that Riley’s folder o’ secrets was actually filled with blank paper.)

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Watch Burn Notice – Odd Man Out Online S06E16

Burn Notice - Odd Man Out
This week’s Burn Notice was a lot like last week’s Burn Notice, only more so. Last time I noted that this back half of the season was starting to feel like one long stall, and “Odd Man Out” only reinforced that impression. It was a bottle episode of sorts, with most of the gang holed up in a warehouse for the bulk of the hour, and it advanced the arc of the season to a degree that could only be observed through an electron microscope. In fact, I’m not even sure there is an arc at this point; its more like a videogame where each task you accomplish advances you incrementally toward the eventual goal.

To wit: Michael and company have been trying to skip the country ever since he shot his CIA boss Card in the head. Within the first five minutes of “Odd Man Out” they’ve finally acquired the passports they need to get out safely, but of course, there’s a catch. The microchips implanted in the passports are supplied by Schmidt’s arch-rival Vanek, who holds a grudge against our favorite hobbit for various past indiscretions.

Schmidt, being the petty lowlife he is, sics the Feds on Vanek before our heroes get the chance to blow town. Vanek, in turn, pursues Michael, Fi, Sam, and Schmidt to one of those abandoned factories it always seems like a good idea to hole up in under these circumstances.

Meanwhile, Jesse is babysitting Maddie, who keeps trying to slip away to visit Nate’s grave and generally being the whiny pain in the ass she’s been for far too long now. I realize that Maddie is supposed to be the conscience of the show, and that dynamic has worked in the past, but it’s just so tired at this point. At least we get a flash of the more enjoyable side of her character when she and Jesse are tasked with commandeering a getaway vehicle-in this case, a dump truck. Maddie as amateur spy is a lot more fun than Maddie as self-righteous scold.

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Watch Burn Notice – Best Laid Plans Online S06E15

Burn Notice - Best Laid Plans
Michael and the gang performed a lucrative task for the high-strung Calvin Schmidt in order to purchase new identities, while Maddie worked alongside Barry Burkowski to throw the CIA off Westen’s scent as everyone made plans for an international getaway. While “Best Laid Plans” offered legitimate obstacles in moving the season plot forward, its weaker moments smacked of time-biding on the way to more interesting, hard answers.

Thankfully, Michael finally gave his mother the comfort she’d been seeking since Nate’s passing as the two resolved to stick together moving into the unknown of life off the grid. It’s no small secret that I’m a Patton Oswalt fan, and just like last week, I credit the freshness of this episode to Oswalt’s quips aplenty. He served as something of a viewer surrogate, embellishing predictable developments with punched-up lines like, “If I die today my ghost will haunt your children’s children. It will be like one of those Japanese movie ghosts too…”

Calvin Schmidt did nothing if not whine up a storm, but he was so funny doing it that he balanced out an otherwise paint-by-the-numbers excursion. Oh yeah, also the non-cliffhanger cliffhanger of Sam struggling with whether or not to sit out the journey was resolved within the first five minutes, because Elsa gave him her off-screen blessing. Seeing this scene play out would’ve been a nice character moment for Sam, but maybe Jennifer Taylor’s got pricey demands.

The mission this episode was standard Burn Notice fare, and centered on the team’s remaining need to escape the country while lacking money to purchase new identities. Luckily Calvin Schmidt had a Remote Circuit Cutter for disabling alarm systems in his warehouse, and it was worth a delivery rate of $1,000,000. So’s all the Westen crew had to do was sneak past tons of patrolling heat and snag the neat gizmo.

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Watch Burn Notice – Down & Out Online S06E14

Burn Notice - Down & Out
In this episode of Burn Notice, called “Down & Out” Michael and the rest of his trusty team busily make plans to leave town. But is one team mate not ready to leave Miami?

It’s funny that, in all this time I’ve been thinking about what shooting Card would mean to Michael’s life, that I hadn’t given too much thought of anyone else on the team. I mean maybe I thought about Fi, because she and Michael are so closely linked together, but definitely not Sam or Jesse.

Well all of that changed in this episode. Even as we watched the group get saddled with yet another case just so that they could get the I.D.’s they needed to get the heck out of Dodge, I couldn’t help but to feel for Sam. That goodbye he had with Elsa was heartbreaking and I was ashamed of myself for not giving a thought to what all this craziness would be doing to his personal life. The truth is that Sam doesn’t necessarily have to run with Michael, Fi and Jesse, but at this point I’m not sure what other options he has. There’s no way he can stay in Miami to be with Elsa and yet I don’t see him taking her on the run either.

But no matter what I think, it’s obvious that Sam is re-thinking his life and where he’s ended up. Whether or not that will mean him seriously considering going his separate way from Michael, I have no idea. Plus, he’s of course not the only one being affected by Michael’s decisions. There’s obviously Fi, but there’s also Maddie and Jesse. Maddie’s life of a relaxing retirement in Miami is pretty much over, and though he may not have a woman he loves at home, I don’t think Jesse had planned on living the city either. It makes me wonder if the team is going to start talking about splitting up, which may seem like the logical solution, but would make me very unhappy.

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Watch Burn Notice – Official Business Online S06E09

Official Business

Burn Notice - Official Business S06E09 In this episode of Burn Notice, called “Official Business” Michael gets one step closer to finding the person who killed his brother and Fi gets to play CIA agent. They’re back again, this time with an offer Fiona can’t refuse: Under the terms of her prison-release agreement, she is a CIA asset who can be called upon at any time—a revelation that Michael takes about as well as you’d expect.

Are Bailey and Manaro from the CMA? The Central Moron Agency? How can these to chuckle nuts be from the same department that brought us Tom Card and Daniel Pearce?!? Honestly, how have they not gotten themselves killed? Typically, I really enjoy the characters Matt Nix comes up with. For example, this week Durov was creepy and sleazy, while Angela had me completely fooled with her innocent act, followed by the shocking reality of her traitorous real self.

Things get pretty hairy when it turns out that the innocent girlfriend of the man they thought was selling ballistics tech is actually the one doing the selling, but Fi and Michael pull it off like they always do. Gotta say that a part of me was sad when they told the CIA to lose her contract though. I could get used to Spy Fi.

While this is going on, Sam and Jesse are following up on the slim lead obtained last week from the sniper-rifle sales rep. Knowing only that the purchaser of the gun that killed Nate works for a military-supply and training company called the Pryon Group, Sam and Jesse pose as buyers for a private military outfit in hopes of sniffing out the identity of the assailant. They zero in on a weak link in the organization—a weaselly yes man with an eye for Sam’s Rolex and the lifestyle it suggests. (Of course, all of the eye-catching accoutrements sported by Sam and Jesse were supplied by Sam’s sugar mama, Elsa.)

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Watch Burn Notice – Unchained Online S06E08

Unchained

Burn Notice - Unchained Online S06E08Separation anxiety – it’s not just for kindergartners anymore. The death of Nate Westen has proven that it’s actually possible to make Michael Westen afraid. That new-found fear of loss was on full display on this week’s episode of Burn Notice, titled “Unchained.”

Michael tries to change the way the team works and goes back to basics. Him and Fi take on the Robby and Donna cover, where Michael allows himself to be arrested by the FBI to get close to the Boston mob. Sam helps behind the scenes via the tracker embedded in Michael’s belt buckle. As for Jesse, he and Pearce play blackmailers to get info about a weapons sale.

We have yet to see Maddie since the funeral, which means we still have depressed, angry, bitter, grieving Mamma Westen to contend with. Oh, goody. I’m actually kind of terrified of Maddie at this point and what she’s going to do. I am dreading the inevitable confrontation between her and Michael. The poor woman had a crappy marriage, her boyfriend turned out to be a rat and was murdered last season and now her son is gunned down because he followed his brother into the breach and tried to do the right thing. Understandable if she throws a little blame Michael’s way. I just don’t want to see it.

Nate’s death is having its own affect on Michael. He’s over-protective of Fiona and doesn’t want her help anymore. He’s so terrified of something else happening to another of his loved ones that he’s in danger of pushing away the people he needs most. And seriously, Fiona could kill us all before her egg-white only Spanish omelet breakfast. She’s not a bumbling screw-up who shouldn’t be anywhere near an investigation in the first place; she’ll be fine.

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Watch Burn Notice – Reunion Online S06E07

Reunion

Burn Notice - Reunion Online S06E07Michael is still reeling from the death of his brother, Nate, at the beginning of Burn Notice ‘Reunion’ (Season 6, Episode 7) on Aug. 2. Michael blames himself for Nate’s murder and strives to make amends with his mother who won’t return his phone calls. He’s also in for a nasty surprise when Rebecca flees the hotel. Michael assumes the worst and believes Rebecca was behind Anson’s murder and Nate’s death.

Because Nate’s death came right at the end of the episode, it wasn’t until I was watching tonight’s that I really came to terms with the implications of what that meant to Michael and the rest of his family (those who are family by blood and those who are family by love). If that bullet hadn’t come out of nowhere, or heck even if it had but Nate hadn’t been standing right there, think how different Michael’s life would be right now. After all, Anson – the man who orchestrated the entire crapfest that has been Michael’s life for the past few years – would be dead, Fiona would be out of prison and Michael would still be back at the agency. For Michael, that’s about as close to perfect as life can get.

We finally meet Sam’s lady, Elsa! I thought she’s be one of those off-screen characters, but I guess not. The plot with Evan is comic relief (or at least a bit lighter) at a heavy time for the show, and Richard Burgi is always a fun presence, but I am wondering if the show went for a light subplot in an episode too soon. It all feels very rote for the show. I guess they wanted an excuse to get back to the formula, but we can’t take a character’s death seriously unless the show does. Couldn’t they at least break formula for an episode to show the characters dealing just with the long game of avenging Nate’s death?

The other storyline isn’t much better, as Michael and Fiona track Rebecca down through a forger making a fake passport for her. They exchange gunfire, but later Rebecca turns up at Michael’s loft, proclaiming her innocence. But did any of us really think she’d done it in the first place? Mainly, the episode just served to move the pieces into place so that Michael and company can spend the rest of the season searching for the real killers, just like O.J. Simpson.

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Watch Burn Notice – Shock Wave Online S06E06

Shock Wave

Burn Notice - Shock Wave Online S06E06When a network spends a week hyping something as a hugely important episode, expectations are naturally raised. USA has promoted “Shock Wave” quite a bit since last week, but that’s perfectly all right, because the installment is worthy of the attention.

In “Shock Wave” most of the central characters split up for various reasons. And each is put in their own brand of peril. Michael has a solid lead on Anson and takes Jesse and Nate with him on the case. Sam is nixed by the CIA for the mission and ends up looking after Maddie. In prison, Fi is threatened by a nasty MI6 agent who wants her to take the fall for the consulate bombing. And Maddie, well she’s home smoking a pack of cigarettes and being vulnerable. In the end, it’s Nate who bows out this episode. After apprehending Anson, both men are shot by an unseen gunman and die on the scene. What follows are the most heart-wrenching moments of Burn Notice ever.

Fiona meets Arthur Meyers, who is a stereotypical MI6 agent that expects her to confess to the consulate bombing or he’ll leak that she’s in British custody and bad things will happen to innocent people. This leads her to look for a way to quickly disappear, even if it means hiding in the walls like Bob from Bob’s Burgers. Once Meyers has given up, Fiona lets her prison confidante confess her whereabouts, in exchange for helping to hide her in the first place. She’s finally free at episode’s end, which means the show is back to its usual working order.

I did worry about Sam a few times, as he was probably in mortal danger for the longest amount of time. But then I realized there is no way they’d ever get rid of Sam. Still, I found this episode extremely nerve-wracking, waiting for the inevitable. And boy did they make us wait. Right until the bitter end.

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Watch Burn Notice – Mixed Messages Online S06E02

Mixed Messages

Burn Notice - Mixed Messages Online S06E02In tonight’s episode of Burn Notice, called “Mixed Messages” Michael gets a letter from Fi that makes him certain that she’s starting to lose hope and give up in prison. He wants more than anything to see her and that means calling in some favors from an old friend, aka his former training officer Card (played by the wonderful John C. McGinley).

Maybe it’s just me, but the “rescue Fiona” story line feels very similar to early seasons of Burn Notice where Michael took jobs for different power people to get little tidbits of information. Except this time he took a risky gig from his mentor Agent Tom Card in the hopes to earn a visit with Fiona.

Jesse on more than one occasion has Montero pointing a gun at his face. After Jesse convinces Montero a corrupt CIA agent sold him out, Montero casually shoots the agent in the stomach and dumps him out the window. After that scene you wonder how Jesse possibly can get out of the situation alive.

In fact, it’s almost as if Michael’s mojo has been sucked out of him and divided among his team members; while Jesse has inherited the mind-control bit, Fiona has absorbed his special MacGyver abilities. (I assume Sam got the funny voices, but he never had the chance to use them.) Indeed, Fiona’s adventures in prison pan out just as I’d hoped, as the newbie finds herself pitted against the massive D.B. and her Switchblade Sisters. With the help of a fellow convict (Taryn Manning of Sons of Anarchy), Fiona gets the upper hand, while we get some helpful tips on turning batteries into lighters and magazines soaked in salt water into billy clubs.

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Watch Burn Notice – Scorched Earth Online S06E01

Scorched Earth

Burn Notice - Scorched Earth Online S06E01Last season on Burn Notice, Fiona turned herself in to save Michael after the bomb incident at the British Consulate. Though Michael was ready to betray his country to clear her name, Fi couldn’t let him do it. She made the ultimate sacrifice — her freedom. Now, as season six begins, Michael and Sam are charged with the task of clearing her name.

The summer favorite returned with both guns blazing in “Scorched Earth.” And those 183 days waiting? Totally worth it! Now let’s break down this action-packed first outing…

After the “previously on” that reminds us we don’t get to enjoy Tim Matheson’s acting on this show anymore, we pick up almost immediately where we left off, with Fiona being searched, processed and eventually handcuffed to a table in an interview room while Michael sits in his Charger and deals with her absence. Sam finally finds him, but Michael is not exactly chummy. He grabs his old friend and demands to know how Fiona really got away from him. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe she was right?” Sam asks him, which doesn’t go over well with Michael either. “What do I do now, Sam?” he asks tearfully. This is a Michael Westen breakdown, which he is more than entitled to at this point.

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