Sunday, July 15, 2012

Burn Notice is "Under the Gun" and I like it

USA's Burn Notice continues its bold sixth season with "Under the Gun." Michael (Jeffrey Donovan), Jesse (Coby Bell), and Sam (Bruce Campbell) are following a lead when the encounter Rebecca (Kristanna Loken, Painkiller Jane, The L Word), the member of Michael's CIA team that betrayed him. Rebecca takes Sam hostage, leading Michael and Jesse on a dramatic, high stakes chase.

Applause to Burn Notice for continuing to chuck case of the week over interesting, longer story arcs! The return of Rebecca comes at the perfect time! Like Michael, Anson (Jere Burns) has some leverage over her, meaning there will have to be at least another episode where Michael and company try to help her. It's a worthy development, continuing the Anson plot, and finally raising the stakes of the series.

"Under the Gun" is pretty cool. It's not the first time we've seen Sam in danger, but he makes an entertaining hostage. His interactions with Rebecca are fun enough, but with that hint of danger that keeps the pace moving and the episode enticing.

Also, seeing Rebecca match wits with Michael and Jesse, with neither really gaining an advantage for quite awhile, is pretty neat. As the stories have gotten better on Burn Notice, so too have the villains. In this episode, not only does the bad guy get to be complex, not really being all that bad, but she's also smart, testing Michael on many levels. It's this kind of writing that will keep fans coming back to Burn Notice, and frees it of any age curse.

There might also be hints here of how Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) raises Michael's game. Without her, he has seemed a little lost. He doesn't bring the firepower she frequently supplies, and he's distracted. Donovan's acting may not be flawless when he has to dig into sorrowful emotions, but it's effective and appropriate for the character. Having Fiona in jail is doing a number on Michael, which might explain why he can't quite stop Rebecca throughout "Under the Gun."

In the subplot, Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) make a friend in prison named Ayn (Zabryna Guevara, 3 lbs.). It's clear that someone, most likely Anson, really wants Fiona dead, and the would-be assassins keep coming. To stop the latest pair, Fiona asks Ayn to orchestrate a shake down, which she does, building a little trust among the two women.

It comes not a moment too soon. Fiona is marked for death, and how long can she keep it at bay? Sure, she's stopped a couple of attempts thus far, but people are just going to keep trying to take her out. Having Ayn in her corner makes it a little more difficult to get to Fiona.

As Fiona's part of the bargain with Ayn, she must have a package delivered to the prison. This is easier said then done, which Madelaine (Sharon Gless) discovers when she attempts to retrieve it from Ayn's ex. She leaves with a black eye. Poor Maddie! She needs more good story, and when she gets some, one would prefer not to see her beat up during it.

Of course, Michael avenges his mom in a very serious fashion, letting some anger boil over. It's a testament, once more, to how much he misses Fiona. Yes, Michael will not let anyone mess with his mother and get away with it. But he's also on edge because of the situation, making him less predictable.

Going forward, surely Fiona will be freed before she is killed. But until that point is reached, how far will Michael go? How much will he break down? These are the questions driving the current batch of episode, and they are doozies, to be sure!

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

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