Burn Notice – 209 – Good Soldier

I got seriously hampered and delayed with writing this one, it also didn’t help that the break for the US Open threw me off my rhythm with the show. That was a pretty poor choice from USA imo, when you’ve only got 2 episodes left you should just show the damn things instead of delaying them. It really dampened my enthusiasm for writing about the show. But one must power on, so here goes.

“Burn Notice comes to an exciting conclusion with the half season mini-finale “Good Soldier”. After the previous episode Michael felt he had all the pieces of the jigsaw and could solve the mystery of what Carla’s had him doing and why. But in order to do this it’s going to require surveillance, cue Sam who gets to spend his time eating and watching Carla go for long swims. In some ways this is a bit of a shame because Burn Notice often rises to it’s best performances with Sam is involved heavily in the plot, last season’s two parter for example was gut punching in comparison to this one mostly because Sam was put into a seriously dangerous position and Bruce got to pull ‘the full Campbell’ while tied to a chair. (Get back on plot.) Michael finds out that there is a sniper perch in the key card building and the target appears to involve the ferry, but there’s no way of finding out who might be on that ferry at any time so it’s time to watch the lady spy.

While undertaking the surveillance Fi comes to visit Michael with her boyfriend Campbell (sometimes I think they named the character Campbell just to cause problems for people who write about the show) and he has a favour to ask of Michael. Michael’s reactions around Fi and Campbell are always priceless and this episode is no exception, Jeffery Donovan is a seriously accomplished actor who’s shown a wide range of entertaining performances over this series and “Good Soldiers” features multiple showcase scenes for him. Campbell has a friend who’s in trouble, Michael is unwilling to take the job at first but agrees after it becomes apparent that Fi will fly solo on it if he refuses.

So Michael ends up juggling the need to keep an eye on Carla against his latest case, which involves the head of a security firm who is being pressured into allowing a client to be kidnapped. Michael inserts himself into the firm as a suitable stoolie and we get performance number two from him as he plays up being an alcoholic divorcee. His aim is to make the job look so difficult that they will call it off. To do this he brings his brother Nate and Sam in to act as support security. Which gets the kidnappers to change tack, they want Michael to perform the kidnapping himself.

The only way to get out of this now is to convince the kidnappers that Michael has no fear, and this results in performance piece number three. Where Jeffery plays a man who’s found religion and has no fear, it’s a great pair of scenes where Michael rants about salvation and confession then later turns up like some avenging crusader filled with fire and wrath to foil the entire kidnapping. Meanwhile Carla sets up Nate and has him arrested to teach Michael a lesson about using key cards he shouldn’t have.

With this done the guys turn their attention fully to Carla and spend time observing her directly at the docks. Not very subtly either if I’m honest, but it becomes clear with some solid physical acting from Tricia Helfer that Carla is aware they are there and has lured them away while the job goes down. Michael spots the other agents, twigs that something is up and the team splits. Sam is to check on the sniper while Michael makes like a tree with Fi running interference. We get an exciting car/motorbike chase with crashes and Michael sliding under a semi’s trailer before escaping from Carla back to his house. Where Sam phones him with some bad news, Bill Thompson – the sniper – is dead. His house has been blown up with explosives, Michael realises what this means for him just as he opens the door. Cue explosion and “To Be Continued…”

It’s a solid little episode that provides a little mystery and suspense. But the big issue with the cliffhanger is this: I know Michael’s OK, you know Michael’s OK and if the writers of Burn Notice wanted to really have us worried they should have put one of the other characters into Michael’s situation instead. If Fi, Sam or Madeline had been hit with a booby trap explosion we really would be left worrying that they might not make it. As it is I’m looking forward to the remaining Burn Notice episodes, but I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat waiting.”