Rewatching Burn Notice: Fight or Flight

International conferences attract spies for the same reason hotel bars attract hookers: you can do business and drink for free.

Another awesome episode. Let’s start right off with the wonderful stuff that went on here:

Sam – finally he’s having the FBI boys act they HE wants them to. He’s found his proper role and he feels comfortable. This, obviously, also offers much more potential for him to actually be serious occasionally (very rarely, of course) – if he isn’t almost all of the time, he seems all that much more convincing when he actually is. He’s now his fun self, drinking, with a couple of irons in the fire (if you know what I mean) – that’s the Sam we want to see, that’s the same that makes this show a wonderful joyride, a very pleasurable experience.

Fiona and Michael – we’re moving in pretty big steps right now. She’s got a key and their relationship’s almost back to where it’s supposed to be. Also, none of those weaknesses we saw in the last episode. She’s her usual strong self, forcing Michael to give it his best, show his true colours. Yeah, that’s what we’re paying for.

The Mom – still pisses me off. This episode also (kinda) announced the coming of Michael’s brother, Nate. Don’t particularly much like him either and it just goes to show that his family is less fun than the rest of the people Michael hangs out with.

Finally, the story. So much cool stuff going on here, I don’t even know where to start. The fake surveillance tape – brilliant and seems pretty plausible. The fucking up of the car tyres – twice, no less! – great fun. Especially the second time.

Oleg seems like a nice guy. Well, not exactly a nice guy but a cool person to have on the show. Throw in some links to some kind of criminal organisation in his background and you’ve got a wonderful B-story over a couple episodes or a pretty great A-plot for an episode.

We get some major progress in terms of overall arc as well. Nice to see Michael finally getting somewhere – it’s not much but it is a start. Something to follow up on. And unlike that pipe bomb which lead to a pretty useless call, this contact turns out to actually be useful.

This kind of episode is great to rewatch, too. You notice stuff that you had no idea was there the first time round. Take the sparks he steals in school – didn’t notice the first time round but it’s an amusing detail.

Bottom line: just an awesome episode. Progress on the main arc, a main story that works as a stand-alone episode, major development in terms of characters. What more could you ask for?

5/5

Rewatching Burn Notice: Pilot – Welcome to Miami

There’s nothing like helping a little guy kick some bully’s ass.

Truly, welcome to Miami! It’s been quite some time since I watched this for the first time, so I wasn’t exactly sure about the narrative anymore (I thought the “suspect” might actually be an evil guy for a while – shows you just how good this show is!). As’ll become quite clear over the next few days (8 more until season two starts), I love this show. I’ll cover some basics tonight and the episode at hand (the pilot, aptly called: “Pilot”). It even got an award, according to Wikipedia.

First off, once again, characters. Michael Westen is plain brilliant. He’s hot (at least from a technical POV I think he is – still not gay but he’s what I’d consider hot), he’s terribly witty and he’s plain funny. AND he’s got a good heart. Now, I’m obviously not a terribly big fan of altruism but that’s not what I think he’s doing. He isn’t acting altruistically and I could go into that in more depth (but won’t as this isn’t about Objectivism but rather about a brilliant show). The scenes where he tells us about how the spy business supposedly works – plain brilliant, not because they’re necessarily true (they probably aren’t) but because they make sense, to some degree seem like you could actually learn something AND are told in damn entertaining way.

Fiona – well, she’s hot. All T&A AND brains. It shows and the character is very well written. She’s obviously necessary as a counter-point to Michael’s very confident self – he needs someone like her to keep him down to earth, to make him approachable. Once again, their relationship is very strong and very fun to watch. Very enjoyable and she offers plenty of opportunity. This episode doesn’t yet go all that much into depth as far as her character’s concerned (but then we’re busy setting up Michael!) but that’ll be helped over the next few episodes.

Finally, for the ones I like, Sam. He’s funny, he’s all Miami. He adds that certain something that turns a good show into a great show. Again, not really that visible just yet but the stuff that’s necessary to unfold what’s a brilliant season is already set up here. Sure, he seems like a whiny bitch in that last scene where he’s caught by Michael betraying him – not being his self-depreciating, funny self – but it’s a forgivable offence.

Michael’s mum – well, she truly did start weak. It got better towards the end of the season (IIRC) but right now she’s just annoying. Very shallow character and doesn’t yet fully live up to her purpose (being annoying) because, well, she is annoying but “being annoying” isn’t enough. There needs to be more for a character to be any good.

Finally, on to the narrative. It’s nice to see that a good story actually gets told next to the brilliant setting up of characters. Sure, it’s not overly deep or anything but the A-plot is a nice one. Not too dangerous, nothing to big – just a cute boy and his poor father and Michael saves the day. Not really anything that’s on his level but hey, what’re you gonna do on your first day on the job?

Behind all that, though, is the setting up of the real “mythology”, the background. Who’s fucking with Michael, who’s burned him and, above all, why’d they do it? Michael already offers plenty of reasons: they could want to hire him, for example. This one keeps developping throughout the episodes without hurting the storytelling going on. You can easily watch the show only every other episode or so and still get what’s going on. But, obviously, you miss out on a lot. The FBI agents are entertaining (for now) but the big, bad guy in the shadow is much more interesting. It’ll be fun to watch that unravel (again) throughout the next few days.

Finally, let me just say a few things about the setting: the choice is damn brilliant. People said this was kinda like Miami Vice and had a bit of a “The A-Team”-vibe going on. Now, I only ever saw the new Miami Vice movie (and, oddly enough, really liked it) but “The A-Team” OTOH I really loved. Sure, this is a one-man-A-Team but it’s similar in certain areas. Build stuff and beat the big guy. I guess it’s similar to Miami Vice in some ways, too. The setting, the coolness – I don’t really know, those are just things that come to mind.

The hot girls in the background obviously help but they aren’t the main reason. The show can only work in a place like Miami – where the sun is pretty much always shining, life’s going a bit more slowly and everything can be taken a little more lightly.

The bottom line: I think this show will become a classic insofar as it hasn’t already become one. It’s entertaining, it’s exciting and the characters are just plain fun to watch (and the actors are pretty damn good, too!). I’m really looking forward to rewatching the rest of season one over the next few days. Just eight more days!

5/5