Entertainment Magazine

Review #3195: Burn Notice 5.18: “Fail Safe”

Posted on the 20 December 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Matt Nix
Directed by Renny Harlin

There was a lot more excitement in this season finale of “Burn Notice” than I’ve seen from the show in a long time. I’m not quite sure it resolved everything on the Anson front, but at least one major character became proactive instead of passive. That character wasn’t Michael, surprisingly. It was Fiona who made the choice that may prove to be a turning point for Team Westen. Unfortunately, the show has a particular pattern it follows that indicates it may never fully embrace change. I have to wonder how long Fiona will stay in jail before Michael tries to break her out. Murder is a pretty serious charge so I would think Fiona would have the book thrown at her. This does end Anson’s leverage over Michael and it should be interesting to see where the writers go with that development.

Review #3195: Burn Notice 5.18: “Fail Safe”

If anything, I was left wondering after the first act once again whether it wouldn’t be more beneficial to Team Westen for Fiona to kill Anson. The reason he gives Michael to weasel his way out of Fiona’s sniper bullet is a bit weak. Michael should be thankful that he got burned by Anson? That’s stretching things a long way, and not towards any sense of great logic. What occurs at the end of the episode would make one think that Michael regrets keeping Fiona from shooting Anson and being done with the whole arc.

Left as such, Anson is still alive, still active in rebuilding the organization that burned Michael in the first place, and out there to create general chaos. Normally, the show would just as soon dispose of him and introduce yet another shadowy figure to change the game around. Regular viewers of the show shouldn’t have been surprised that Anson was pulling all the strings in Michael’s CIA-sanctioned mission (I wasn’t) and wanted to sabotage both the mission itself and burn Pearce in the process. Only Michael’s near-superhuman abilities to think on the fly in the field kept that from actually happening.

The case from the CIA would seem inconsequential were it not for how it nicely dovetailed with the Anson storyline. Michael has to, in Pearce’s words, “babysit” a team of CIA operatives on a snatch-and-grab mission of a notorious spy recruiter. Michael uses Jesse to infiltrate the guy’s organization after the initial attempt to grab him with the new CIA team went awry. Only, it gets more complicated than that when Fiona decides that she’s had enough of being jerked around by Anson and storms off mid-mission. Michael and Fiona have an argument about Anson once again and she ends up handcuffed inside Michael’s loft. Fiona’s argument is valid and should have been raised earlier in the season: Anson is dangerous, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before he uses that blackmail evidence against her, to the point where Michael isn’t going to be able to stop it.

So Michael has to deal with both Fiona and the CIA mission, which had its own hiccups for him to rectify. It made for a final act that worked at breakneck pace, resolving the CIA mission in good order (and possibly didn’t get Pearce burned like Anson wanted), and moving to Fiona’s choice to turn herself into the authorities. It’s a heartbreaking scene with Michael screaming for Fiona as she’s walking into the federal building, yet I felt the whole thing wasn’t entirely earned. There had to be another way to resolve this without Fiona ending up in jail.

The fact that she turned herself so easily in means that Anson has no leverage against Michael. This would indicate that the evidence probably isn’t as incriminating as Anson made it out to be. The easiest solution would be to eliminate Anson before he gets the old organization back up and running again. Perhaps the writers decided to keep that for the next season. How the series resolved this problem ended up feeling very disjointed. I guess it’s a small break from what the writers have normally been doing in the past. We’ll have to see what sticks and what doesn’t in the next season.

Grade: 8/10

(Season 5 Final Average: 7.2)

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