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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Burn Notice – “Fast Friends”

It’s more efficient to use him as a resource.”

This is a step forward.

Last week I talked about how I felt Burn Notice needed to exploit its arc more often, dedicating full episodes to it, as opposed to book-ending it during an episode, with a Client of the Week (CotW) story sandwiched in between. So you can imagine how pleased I was that the show integrated its two story structures — arc and CotW — into one unified plot. I don’t think “Fast Friends” is a great episode by any means, but it is something of an improvement of over last’s weeks almost perfunctory offering.

With Jesse in the mix, the show (hopefully) provides a tension point for the CotW portions of episodes and the larger arc of whomever is looking to do horrible things to Miami. Jesse doesn’t seem like to the type of guy to help Michael and the group and stop investigating who burned him, which will keep everyone on their toes. I would say this is something they show can’t drag out too long, but they more or less dragged out who burned Michael for a few seasons, so who knows? The larger pay-off of the dynamics they’re setting up, however, would be better served if Michael as the one who caused Jesse to be burned occurred this season.

So, working through some of Jesse’s enemies with the episode helps not establish Jesse’s personality and role within the group (more on that in a moment) but only get out the “Enemies coming after Jesse” plot quickly. Khan and Lee never feel like much of a threat, since they’re clearly pretty stupid (who puts that many weapons in Buick?). Michael’s cover gives Jeffrey Donovan a chance to talk for an episode like he’s a Texan who just had his wisdom teeth removed, which is fun, but we may be hitting the end of Donovan’s chameleon abilities (which took longer than I really expected).

But let’s talk about Jesse overall. As a character, I feel fairly certain in predicting a romantic triangle forming between the new recruit, Michael, and Fiona. She and Jesse and are two peas in a pod: prone to (dangerous) improvisation, rushing in where they shouldn’t, and a love of things that go BOOM. The difference, however, is that Fiona’s significantly more skilled than Jesse, so she’s more capable of getting herself out of trouble compared to Jesse. While this triangle could be useful, it’ll be one more ball for the show to juggle, and I’m not sure how well it can keep it in the air with Management’s plans, the CotW, keeping Jesse in check, and somehow working Maddie into each episode.

But then there’s Coby Bell who plays Jesse. Perhaps it’s just that he’s a new character, but Bell’s performance was fairly stilted, and sometimes painfully uncharismatic. Indeed, Bell seems incapable of convey nonchalance (like when Michael gets the jump on him) without feeling rather forced. His scene with Bruce Campbell feel overplayed, which is an odd thing to see, since Campbell always overplays his scenes, but in a way that works. Jesse’s overly macho attitude is ramped up to 11 in those scenes, and it seems an odd fit.

I’m willing to provide a bit more leeway on Robert Wisdom’s Vaughn, but not much more. The character is amorphous, hanging out in his beach house or walking along the ocean, making phone calls. Unlike Bell’s lackluster performance, Wisdom plays Vaughn with just enough sinister kindness to make it interesting, but the writers will need to give him more to do, lest he become a male Carla.

“Fast Friends” is probably the last set-up episode the season will need. Now let’s see how they move the pieces around.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I kind of wanted to meet the would-be tenant with the cat.
  • Two Barry appearances in two episodes? I must be dreaming. Tei does nice work with Barry with every scene, so it’s always a pleasure.


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