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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Burn Notice "Eyes Open"

     Normally, USA's Burn Notice delivers fantastic finales, but disappoints on openers.  With the two-part season format, it gets two chances at each every year.  This past Thursday, the second half of season premiered with "Eyes Open".  Coming less than three months after the first batch of episodes, half is really a misnomer, as this run will be much shorter.  That's a shame, because this episode was remarkably better than most of the show's previous premieres.

     I like Burn Notice best when it focuses on Michael's (Jeffrey Donovan) efforts to get his name cleared, rather than on the case of the week format the TV shows feel they need to follow to get viewers (sadly, this is probably true).  "Eyes Open" found a middle ground, with a case of the week that tied into past plots, and allowed a little more depth.  Plus, it was a hell of a story.

     Michael's sleazy lawyer client from August's finale (Danny Pino, Cold Case) is bent on revenge against the people who kidnapped his child.  He hires a bomb maker named Dennis (James Ransone, The Wire, Generation Kill) to take them out.  But Dennis is a little crazy, thinking that it is his duty to rid the world of bad guys, and not minding if some collatoral damage, a.k.a. innocent lives, is lost in that mission.  Michael decides that he must put a stop to Dennis.

     Poor Michael is still recovering from injuries sustained in the finale, and isn't able to get away when Dennis comes home while Michael is breaking into his house.  Pretending to be a huge fan of Dennis's work, Michael tries to get in with the bombmaker, learning that his devices are incredibly unstable, and that some have already gone out.  Michael is eventually able to figure out where the bombs are and stop the destruction, of course.

     What might be the most intersting part of the episode, though, was Jesse's (Coby Bell) growth.  Feeling betrayed by Michael and company after he discovered that they accidentally burned him, Jesse was the one who shot Michael, albiet in the way that saved his life.  Jesse agrees to help Michael recover a list of people involved in Michael's burning, but only to bring criminals to justice, not to help Michael.  The dark turn, though, comes when Dennis is trapped in a house, surrounded by police, carrying one of his unstable bombs.  Rather than risk any innocent lives as cop go in after Dennis, Jesse triggers to bomb, killing Dennis and blowing up the house, but protecting any innocent bystanders.

    The shock on Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam's (Bruce Campbell) faces as Jesse blew up the house mirrored my reaction precisely.  What has happened to Jesse that he is willing to kill, even if it is a criminal?  Michael, Fiona, and Sam would not have chosen that option, at least not lightly and without discussion.  Jesse did it so casually, it was shocking.  What will the new Jesse mean to Michael's crew as the end of the season plays out?

     Besides the current run of episodes, Burn Notice was already had two more seasons ordered, so whatever happens, Michael Weston isn't going away anytime soon.  Tune into new episodes Thursday nights at 10pm on USA.

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