Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Burn Notice is a longtime favorite here at borg.com, and we thought last season got off to a great start. And then… Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns), second worst villain to hit the airwaves last year (the top honor going to that weird English nobody in Chuck). I hated the entire Anson storyline so much (Really? He killed Michael’s father? Seriously?) that I actually didn’t make it through the season finale, and I couldn’t think of a show whose premiere I was less looking forward to. But, knowing readers would be expecting our review, I choked down last season’s ender and braced myself for More Anson.
And I got it. And there will be more forthcoming, unfortunately. But despite that, our fan favorite delivered a pretty satisfying episode, all round–enough to convince me not to delete it from my DVR season pass just yet. “Scorched Earth” was fast-paced, nonstop action with plenty of classic Burn Notice moments and a respectable level of suspense. Continuing last season’s plot revolving around Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) as the chief suspect in a British consulate bombing, the show picked up where last year’s (or last night’s, depending) cliffhanger left off, as Fiona turns herself in to the FBI while a helpless Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) looks on, crying “Fiona!” a la Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. We barely have a chance to digest that storyline when the show skips on to Jesse (Coby Bell) and Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile, Grey’s Anatomy) cleaning up the mess of the CIA op gone awry (thanks, yet again, to the absurdly ubiquitous machinations of Anson!), followed swiftly by the news that Anson’s latest designs center on Michael’s mother, Maddie (Sharon Gless).
The show skips quickly through those key plotlines, which of course converge in a frenzy of lies, explosions, harrowing narrow escapes, occasional moments of brattiness by Michael, and a truly satisfying conclusion to Maddie’s solo adventure back at the Westen homestead. We leave our heroes pretty much as we found them (Fiona is still in FBI custody, Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Michael still fast friends, Agent Pearce still a capable official asset, and Maddie still smoking), and we’re left with the hope that this season might be a little more fun than last year.
There are a couple of fun additions that longtime fans will have noted. The famous show opener, “My name is Michael Westen, and I used to be a spy,” has been tweaked again–watch for a Fiona status update and the cheer-inducing addition of Jesse (Coby Bell) to the lineup, too. And it was great to see Michael’s old CIA nemesis, Agent Jason Bly (Alex Carter, Trilogy of Terror II, X-Men video games, Life, Leverage, Haven) turn up as Fiona’s FBI interregator. He was always a fun foil for Michael, and it will be interesting to see if he ends up kinda-sorta on “our” side.