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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Burn Notice now employs a "Company Man"

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe [Blu-ray]     USA's Burn Notice begins its fifth season with "Company Man," an apt description for main character Michael West (Jeffrey Donovan) as the season begins. For six months, since the previous episode, Michael has been partnered with Max (Grant Show, Melrose Place, Big Love, Private Practice), a CIA agent, as the two take down the organization that burned Michael back when the series began. Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Bruce Campbell) feel left out, so Michael convinces the CIA to let his friends tag along when they head to South America to take down the man behind it all. The CIA tries to limit the involvement of Fiona and Sam, but luckily for Michael, they go behind the agency's back and prove invaluable. Michael and Max corner their target, but the bag guy kills himself before they can question him.

     Burn Notice has a history of lame season premieres, following amazing season finales. That's because premieres usually return things to business as usual, no matter how the game changes at the end. But "Company Man" is different. For one, Michael is finally out of Miami, where he was dropped when burned four years ago. For another, he isn't helping some case of the week. He is hunting down the man that ruined his life. There's excitement and action with real stakes, not just a standard episode.     It's a little hard to believe that all of the villains that are part of the secret company are taken down in a mere six months, even with CIA help. And now Michael has nowhere to go after one man offs himself? Surely, there are further leads. Please do not return Burn Notice to procedural formula after a mere one episode! Michael may be in the good graces of the government, but his repuation has not been restored, and surely there are things he can do help that.

     Sam and Fiona will draw Michael back to the old gang soon enough. Max will never replace the two devoted confidants who Michael cares very deeply about. And that's fine. Family is important, as Michael's mother, Maddie (Sharon Gless) always insists. Michael can both be involves with his Miami existence and still look into plots and concerns much bigger than one city. Striking that balance is the challenge the series faces moving forward.

     Perhaps the most interesting development in "Comapny Man" is that Jesse (Coby Bell) soon quits his government job to return to Miami and take a gig with a private security firm. While this at first points to Jesse staying with the team, later comments in the episode between Michael and a man he captures about the pain of bueracracy instead mean Jesse may be toying with a very bad path. Should Jesse go full renegade, tossing aside the rules, he could be part of the next big group that springs up to replace the one Michael just took down. While Michael works outside of the system, he does so by a code of ethics. Jesse is a good man, but could fall into a dangerous trap if he is not careful.

     Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA.

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     Click here to purchase DVDs from Burn Notice.

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