My wife and I started watching Burn Notice last year before it’s 5th season had concluded. We both enjoy a good spy story and a show that doesn’t take itself to seriously, without being goofy. Burn Notice fit that bill perfectly.
We burned (pun intended) through the first few seasons pretty quickly and really enjoyed it. The characters were fun, the actors suited their roles and the show was fresh while being familiar. Elite team of spies goes around helping people. It was like the A-team, Quantum Leap, MacGyver but without being 80′s camp, an overarching plot to each season and with some witty dialogue.
But this latest season, 6, I felt it really jumped the shark. Season 5 was a little iffy for me but still overall pretty good. Season 6 just crossed a line. Warning plot spoilers ahead.
The core of Burn Notice as a semblance of reality mixed with TV action. While not everything they did on the show was actually possible, see Mythbusters debunking a few things, they were at least plausible instead of unbelievable. They also stuck to the main idea for the characters, Michael trying to clear his name and having to live slightly outside the law to do so but still being a good guy.
With season 6, they pushed him over the edge into bad guy territory but straight executing his mentor Tom Kard. The idea was an interesting one, live outside the law long enough you become the bad guy. They tried to explore the concepts of loyalty with Sam being torn between loyalty to his friend and belief that what he did was wrong.
But they did it poorly and resolved it terribly. Michael outright murders a guy and gets away with it. Before this, I can recall only one instance where he directly killed someone. Many people had been injured, some people died as a result of his actions but only one time did he shoot to kill. And that was to kill a psychopath, a legitimate bad guy who was actively working to harm him and his friends.
Sure, Kard had tried to kill him and had caused his brother to be killed. But at this point his plan had been to try and bring the man to justice. That plan could have still worked. Sure, taking out a bad guy is sometimes the only solution. But this wasn’t one of those times. He could have left and continued the effort to bring the man to justice.
While I didn’t like that direction for the character, it could have been done well. It’s an interesting concept to explore. The execution was off here but it could have been worse. What really jumped the shark was the final episode.
So they’ve set up Michael has having done a terrible thing that even his friends feel crossed the line. As a result his friends are all fugitives, including his Mom, Sam has been shot and about to die. Michael has been given a choice by an old enemy; turn himself in and it might be okay for his friends.
But then how do they end it? They turn the CIA agent pursuing him into a traitor so that Michael can prove her to be a badguy, therefore everything he did was okay. Wait, what? He still killed a man. That happened before anything this lady did.
The episode ends with a real WTF? They got a confession out of the operative pursuing them. They’ve turned themselves in. And the deal he is apparently offered is to go back to work for the CIA or his friends go to jail? And we once again have Fiona and him at odds about him not willing to quit working for the CIA?
It’s like the entire last few seasons of character growth where Michael gets over his obsession with the burn notice and then working again, despite the repercussions, didn’t happen. I think this is a case where the show was prepared to end and they had to rewrite the ending to open the door for another season. Much to its detriment. Instead of having to work for the CIA again I feel sure they originally intended the ending to be him getting burned again. Then, instead of obsessing over it, he accepts it, proposes to Fiona and everyone lives happily ever after.
But despite this, I do recommend the show. The first four seasons are fun and worth watching,