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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Burn Notice Fourth Season Finale and What's Next

    USA's Burn Notice is known for big, cliff hanger finales. They do one every year, but this might have been the biggest one yet. It was presented in two, separate parts entitled "Out of the Fire" and "Last Stand", and while the first half was fun, the latter is what was most impressive. It was exciting, action-packed, and contained plenty of suspense. The final scene was of Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) being handed a coat and arriving in Washington D.C., presumably his burn notice gone, or expected to soon be. For four years, the major premise of the show is that Michael's life has been hindered by this burn, and he has done everything he can to clear his name and get his job back. While it was not explicit that he accomplished that mission, he did have a list of people who burned him. And somehow, that was supposed to clear his name. And it was put into the hands of Congressman Cowley (returning guest star John Doman), who could do something about it.

     What will the direction of the series be, then, for season five? The pessimistic part of me thinks that there will be some twist that will keep Michael on the outs. He has come so close to finishing things several times, and it has never worked out. The D.C. thing could have been a red herring, designed to make us thing he's out of the woods. Perhaps the organization that made his life a hell will go down, but there still won't be enough evidence to clear Michael. Or maybe the government just won't want him back, after all of the other 'questionable activities' he has been involved in. This is my least favorite possibility, but the most probable.

     Or, it could go the other way. Perhaps Michael will be offered his old job, but he will decide to turn it down and return to his friends and family in Miami. As much as I know he wants his life to return to what it used to be, he has developed some very strong bonds in Miami, and I could see him giving up that old dream for a new one. Without the burn hanging over his head, he could enjoy Miami and make peace with who he is.

     Either of these two options would allow the show to continue with it's case of the week format, in the city that is as much a character as Michael is, though the latter would need a new, large arc to go with the side stories. USA has shown no interest in tinkering with the elements that define its series. That's sad, in a way, because I would like nothing more than the show to pull an Alias and completely redefine what it is. I'm not knocking how good the show has been up until now, as it has been good. But how exciting would it be to have a new premise, a new setting, new supporting characters, and totally different situations thrown at the same characters we've grown to love?

     Going back to the Michael returning to Miami bit, as I find that very, very likely, and my dream set up very, very unlikely, Jesse's (Coby Bell) fate is a little more fluid than Michael's. He was the first new principal character to join the series, being a regular for just this past year. I think his inclusion was a successful experiment, and hope he sticks around. Hence, I imagine that not-cleared scenario will happen, because Jesse doesn't have those same ties to stay in Miami, and he would probably leave the show if he got his job back. Unless he was made a handler or supervisor or some type of attache from the government to Michael, an interesting possibility. In fact, I would really like to see that.

     The number one reason I see Michael staying in Miami is Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar). They have tip toed around each other for much of the series, at times closer than others. Fiona's willingness to follow Michael into a suicidal standoff in last week's finale shows just how deep their bond has become. Surely, there will be lasting consequences for that decision. No matter which way Michael's plot goes, it is definitely time for a full-fledged Michael and Fiona romance, with an official, sticking relationship.

     Michael's mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless), used to be fairly useless, but has really become an essential heart to the group. Her involvement in several missions has been a delight, and the way she stood up to Vaughn (Robert Wisdom) while being held captive in the latest episode proves she deserves to be more involved in Michael's activities, at least as much as she'd like to be, which would never be one hundred percent. A move of the series out of Miami, my unlikely wish, would most certainly see her departure, and that alone is enough of a reason for the network to not consider it. Without Mama Westen, something would feel off.

     Sam (Bruce Campbell) would be at home anywhere, and will surely be Michael's right hand man no matter where his life leads him.

     Burn Notice will return for a fifth season next summer. Only time will tell just how much the show will change, and what the full effects of this finale was. Either way, the show ended this season on a very high note.


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Article first published as TV Review: Burn Notice Fourth Season Finale and What's Next on Blogcritics.

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