According to Michael Westen, the world’s greatest spy can be left out in the cold, even in Miami. He has been trying to return to his former glory days for nearly three seasons of USA’s Burn Notice. In the midseason premiere, Westen was still reeling from his latest colossal mistake to get back into the agency’s good graces. He almost lost the woman he loved and his chance of redemption vanished.
Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) had always known what he wanted to be an agent, but not at the expense of his life and his loved ones. He found out that someone else was after him and somehow can determine every move he made. The mysterious person eliminated Westen’s CIA contact in the closing moments of the previous episode. Michael was now determining what the man’s motives were and what he planned to do with Michael once they met face-to-face, which should definitely be dramatic.
In the meantime, Michael and Sam (Bruce Campbell) decide to help out an injured Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) by making a client’s problems go away. This client is a recent widow dealing the criminals her late husband got involved in an insurance scam. This con was to stage car accidents that ended up with a financial stipend. Unfortunately, Sam hit a snag in his effort to get insurance records from a charm resistant insurance department employee (guest star Tyne Daly). Michael enlisted his mother Madeline (Sharon Gless) to sweet talk the woman. What Michael didn’t account for was the fact the women would become friends. As the case heated up, Michael pressed his furious mother to press her newfound friend for records and to sever the friendship for good. Once the bad guys are destroyed, can Michael repair his already tenuous relationship with his mother?
In terms of spy thrills, Burn Notice has the style and campiness of its 80s predecessors MacGyver and Magnum PI without as many of the same clichés. Notice also has the human interest stories of people in danger and needing a real miracle to solve their problems. If only Michael Westen was a real person, the world might not be in such peril. The show’s formula can be a little too basic sometimes with the ending being occasionally a tad obvious.
As a leading man, Donovan exuded breezy charm with a hint of mischievous danger. He touched upon this portrayal in a darker format on the 2004 show Touching Evil. In Notice, Donovan has the opportunity to operate without any restrictions which has cost Michael his career and sometimes his family. Donovan doesn’t slow down, even in the show’s quieter moments. A look of sadness creeps over his face when he tells his mother that his job forces him to do things he wouldn’t normally do.
The episode’s other breakout performer was Gless because she had to decide whether she should sacrifice her new friendship to help her son. Her anger was genuine after the deed was done and Michael got exactly what he wanted. Unfortunately, Anwar and Campbell didn’t get to do as much during the episode. They pretty much did what their characters always do: torture Michael and provide comic relief. Hopefully, next week’s episode will give them more to do.
Burn Notice premiered on January 21st and airs Thursdays on the USA network at 10 p.m.
TV Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars