The fourth season finale for “Burn Notice” left the audience wondering just what kind of relationship Michael would have with the CIA. Was his “burned” status revoked? Was he leaving the familiar Miami team behind? It was hard to reconcile exactly how his dismantling of the network that ruined his life could result in the same status quo.
Matt Nix takes this head-on in the premiere, and I’m still not sure what I think of the answer to those questions. In essence, Michael is still on the blacklist, but his efforts have made it possible for the CIA to use him as an outside asset. What this means, in the short term, is that Michael’s grand takedown of his greatest adversaries has done little to nothing to change his fate. There’s no magic reset button to be pressed, no going back.
Not only that, but Michael came to the same realization that I had when contemplating his potential return to the agency: he’s not the same person anymore. He can’t just leave the team and his maverick tactics and methods behind to play within the restrictive policies of the Company. Michael may still be on tap for missions in the future, but as it currently stands, that’s just another potential avenue for the writers to take, to break the format a bit more often. Michael is still based in Miami, still burned, and still leading his team of misfits.
This episode introduces Max, as played by Grant Show, also known as Michael’s “partner” during the CIA operations. I’m not sure what to think of him. All of the subtext points to Max being part of another layer of the organization that got Michael burned, considering how this particular mission went down. But as we saw in the fourth season, just because the writers seem to foreshadow something with the subtlety of a dropped anvil, there’s no assurance that they will follow through on it.
My biggest worry, coming out of this episode, is that the massive changes hinted at the end of the fourth season will simply be massaged out of the story as soon as possible, giving way to a restoration of the more familiar “case of the week” format. If the “CIA asset” status is just used as a lingering overarching subplot, barely visible except for the beginning and end of each leg of the season’s run, I’ll be annoyed. I’m not looking for “Burn Notice” to become an arc-heavy show, but that said, I find it irritating when shows promise a big story and then intentionally fail to deliver.
Final Rating: 8/10