REVIEW: Burn Notice's 4th Season Premiere Disappoints...Well Up Until the Last 10 Minutes, That Is

I'd like to start w/ a disclaimer, I have a love/hate thing w/ Burn Notice. There is no "it was an okay episode," "it could have been better," or "not the worst, not the best" here. By the end of an episode, I am either exhilarated or annoyed.

Photo from friskytuna via Flickr

If you're unfamiliar with Burn Notice, the catalyst of the series is Michael Weston, a burnt spy trying to get back into the spy game. He is marooned in this wasteland known as Miami. Each episode includes 3 basic plot elements. First is Michael's personal life, which involves his overly intrusive chain smoking Mom, Madelyn, his on again/off again gun toting girlfriend Fiona, & the charismatic ex-military intel operative Sam (played by Bruce "Evil Dead" Campbell). Each week, he takes on a client who has gotten themselves into some serious trouble w/ some serious people. Finally, there is the serialized story arc, which involves Michael solving the ever burning question, how to get his job as a spy back. It is a formula, but one that has proved to work really well in balancing out all the aspects of Michael's life.

In the 1st couple of seasons, the writers utilized this formula and created some amazing, entertaining, & hilarious episodes. Then, throughout most of the 3rd season, that spark (for a lack of a better word)wasn't there. The formula stagnated, as formulas can do.

That is my impression of season 4's premiere, Friends and Enemies. While watching the episode, I felt as if I was being forcibly shoved from scene to scene. The episode lacked development & process. From Michael & his new contact, Vaughn, suddenly locating & on location of the remote jungle hideout of Gregory Hart (a painfully underused gun trafficer played by Michael Ironside) to Fiona waltzing into the headquarters of a biker gang so cliche in its portrayal I can't even remember what the gang was called. She of course easily locates and steals the information the team needed from an unguarded office on the second floor. Then magically that information is conveniently ties Winston, the client, to Big Ed, the biker gang leader who's the only one who can lift the kill on sight tag off of Winston's head. Aside from a righteous chase/firefight scene, the whole biker/lawyer story was anti-climatic, & really nothing close to the mind blowing intense action & drama you'd expect from a season premiere. Even the actors themselves had this air of just going through the motions about them.

Overall, I spent most of the episode thinking it is the 3rd Season all over again. Then, probably the last 5 - 10 minutes of the episode, a sequence of events occurred. Vaughn had Micheal break into a government building in order to steal data on an investigation of Gregory Hart. The consequences of the break in resulted in a spy getting burned. It was a subtle but insane twist. Classic Burn Notice. The episode closed leaving me exhilarated & looking forward to next week's installment.

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