'Burn Notice' - 'Guilty as Charged': We all live in a black submarine
A quick review of the "Burn Notice" summer finale coming up just as soon as I sign for your submersible...
"Burn Notice" is, as I've mentioned before, coming back in November, rather than the usual wait until January or later to wrap up the season. I'm glad for that, both because I like it when all the episodes air closer together, and also because I wasn't that crazy about "Guilty as Charged" and don't want it to be my last memory of the show for too long.
Even in seasons or half-seasons that have flaws, "Burn Notice" tends to nail its finales, so I was particularly disappointed that "Guilty as Charged" didn't do much to move me.
Matt Nix has said that the show USA wants is the one he's been giving them - which is to say, something that each week is maybe 80% standalone and 20% serialized. Clearly, he got exemptions at the ends of season two and three to have Michael deal solely with that year's big villain, but for the rest of each season, the format is the format. And given how complicated this season's arc has become - and how little time has been spent on it in any given week - I don't think sticking to the usual structure served us well in this mid-season finale. I remain as in the dark as Michael about what all these different factions are about, and whether I'm supposed to care about any endgame beyond the team getting Jesse's job back, and wasn't happy with how much time in the hour was spent on the kidnapping case. When the show has successfully balanced a standalone case with big finale developments, it's been because the standalone put someone we cared about in danger (Sam taken prisoner by the bad guys at the end of season one, or Fi being threatened by old enemies in the middle of last season), and compared to that, a random kidnap victim - even a five-year-old girl - doesn't quite rate.
I also thought the shootout on the key at the end of the episode didn't really work. I know the episode spent much of the hour talking about Jesse's desire to shoot Michael with a high-powered rifle, but things were so confused that the moment where he actually did it didn't have the necessary tension to it, nor did the aftermath make a ton of sense. If Jesse tries to give Michael a good wound to save him, then he accomplishes little because Barrett gets him in the car a moment later; if his goal was to kill Michael, it wasn't a good shot.
I liked some of the usual bits of spycraft like Michael getting the sub and Michael comparing what he does to a magician's trick, and as a "Party Down" and "Parks and Recreation" fan, I was amused that the sleazy lawyer was named Adam Scott, but this was an uneven half-season of the show, and "Guilty as Charged" was a fairly muddled capper to it.
What did everybody else think?