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Review #3001: Burn Notice 5.12: “Dead to Right”

Posted on the 12 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

All season long, the writers of “Burn Notice” have fallen into a bit of a pattern: setting up huge changes to the status quo, only to step back from the edge each and every time. Really, this is pattern that has been in place since the middle of the fourth season, so I suppose I had more than enough reason to think this episode would follow suit. And the very beginning of the episode, with Michael getting out of the mess with Agent Pierce all too easily, certainly led me to believe we were getting another example of conservative storytelling.

Review #3001: Burn Notice 5.12: “Dead to Right”

That was my impression through most of the episode. Tavian’s takedown was far too easy, and the return of Larry was a bit too conventional, even if the character himself kept things interesting. Usually Michael is the one invoking the crazy, so seeing him work with Larry does quite a bit to place Michael’s psychological state into perspective. He’s got a lot on his plate, but he’s still relatively sane.

Even when Larry’s plot was foiled and there was plenty of time left in the episode, I thought it was going to focus entirely on Fiona’s feelings of responsibility for the deaths of the security guards. Frankly, I’m glad that’s not where the story ended, because I thought that was an awfully questionable conclusion on her part. Wasn’t it clear enough that she didn’t plant any other explosives? Even if hers manage to trigger others, she couldn’t anticipate that. And people have died in the course of their missions many times in the past. Why get so hung up in this particular instance?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter, since it was all setup for an actual game-changing moment. Larry’s apparent victim turns out to be none other than the man behind Michael’s predicament from the very beginning of the series, and he has chosen this moment to reveal himself because he pretty much holds all the cards. The final act is little more than “Anson” making it abundantly clear that Michael and Fiona will be working for him in the future, or Fiona will be seeing the inside of a Supermax cell.

It’s precisely the sort of complication that the series has needed to introduce, especially since the whole “CIA asset” thing has never been used to its full potential. Now, it just feels like one piece of a much larger puzzle. This is the kind of moment that brings a lot of seemingly disconnected plot elements into context and alignment, and considering that the season felt aimless for a while, this is a great move. The only lingering doubt is that the mid-season cliffhanger for the fourth season also felt substantial, and it was all but ignored when the season resumed. Somehow, though, I don’t see that happening this time around!

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Final Rating: 9/10

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