The fifth season premiere was something of a disappointment, focused too much on the shift of the overall status quo and a too-quick resolution to the past four seasons worth of story arc to tell a solid story. This installment makes up for all of that in style, and has some of the most intense scenes I’ve seen in a long while on “Burn Notice”.
One consequence of the new status quo is that Michael can’t do the usual type of job as easily, and he needs to use his various allies to cover both ends of the spectrum. Within the context of the episode, it’s a bit convenient that Max allows Michael to use Fiona to fulfill his CIA duties, but it puts him in the middle of an interrogation without his usual backup.
And that’s when things get really interesting. Being a relatively new viewer, I have no idea if Maddy has been in the midst of many operations like this, at least on this level. But it was clear that she had never needed to play the game with Michael in this particular mode, and it made for some very uncomfortable moments. I don’t think I’ve cringed so much doing a “Burn Notice” episode. (Well, in a good way, I mean!)
Part of the darkness was the fact that Michael’s father was apparently abusive, something that I either never heard before or simply forgot. Either way, it added layers to each and every moment when Michael had to rough up Maddy to sell the con. Both Michael and Maddy spoke volumes with every regretful expression, and I honestly can’t say who felt the cost more keenly.
Since this is “Burn Notice”, there was little chance that the cost would be so high that permanent damage would be inflicted to the relationship between father and son. If anything, the experience made them closer. I’m sure it made many long-term fans very happy to see Michael and Fiona getting even closer (though I wonder how long that will realistically last).
As for the other plot thread, it wasn’t nearly as strong, but it did serve as a means of lightening up the darker moments. Michael made for a very convincing stupid drunk, and there’s never any doubt that Fi can flirt on a professional level. I dare say that she cured Huxley of any illusions that he craves an exciting woman!
This episode did help to clarify how the addition of the CIA missions can serve to shake up the usual formula, but I’m still not sure that it will be a good thing in the long run. This episode worked because of the intensity of the Michael/Maddy scenes, not the missions themselves. Not every such situation will have that benefit, so time will still tell.
Final Rating: 9/10