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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Burn Notice – “Made Man”

And neither will Mr. Slicey.”

So “Made Man” essentially shows us how much of a threat Jesse is as a member of the group. He’s prone to unnecessary improvising, violence is his first reaction to any situation, and he doesn’t have much in the way of restraint. Indeed, the comparisons to Fiona I made last week seem all the more apt this week.

But Jesse has a lot more going on than just being a slightly more ax-crazy version of Fiona. He’s also a more ax-crazy version of Michael. He has Michael’s overdeveloped sense of right and wrong, but unlike Michael, he lacks the cool head and ability to think two or three moves ahead. This head-strong nature puts Jesse at odds with Michael, who is used to being in control, both as a solo agent and a team leader. Jesse challenges all of this.

But Jesse is also putting pressure on Michael’s family life, though is largely of his own doing. Over the course of the series, the line that divides Maddie from Michael’s spy operations has slowly broken down, and by installing Jesse in Maddie’s new guest suite, he more or less invited Maddie’s┬ácuriosity. For Jesse’s part, he shows an intelligence in dealing with Maddie that he doesn’t show with others, catching on fairly quickly to Maddie’s constantly invasion of his privacy as a way to find out more about him.

While I’ll return to Maddie in a moment (Sharon Gless is great in this episode), I’m glad that Jesse, as a plot device, is being followed through on. He’s providing, whether he’s aware of it or not, an antagonistic force in the series without being an actual antagonist. Unlike Carla, Gilroy, and (seemingly now) Vaughn, Jesse’s role in the show allows an on-going threat (or nuisance, depending on how you view Jesse) to not only Michael’s on-going deal with Management, but in his day-to-day activities and his friends.

This is something the show hasn’t executed well in the past, but that’s in large part because the threats have only been to Michael’s spy life, not his domestic one. And while one of the joys of Michael’s various cover IDs is watching him get beaten up with the knowledge that, if he wanted to, he could kill every person in the room, it also means that his spy life is (except in season midpoints and finales), relatively safe, episode-to-episode. He is, in fact, most vulnerable in his home life.

Indeed, if there’s one person who can destroy Michael, it’s Maddie. The last scene, as Maddie confronts Michael about what he’s done to Jesse (she quickly figured out that Michael is the one who got Jesse burned (all mothers are half spy anyway)), is a sure sign of Maddie’s ability to gut Michael, with a mix of both remorse and a desire for her son to live up to her expectations. Now, sure, I’d expect Maddie by this point in time to have a grayer sense of right and wrong, given all she’s seen, done, and experienced first hand, but her manichean view of the world is perhaps necessary to keep Michael questioning his own.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Some terrific Sam work in this episode that kept the episode moving at a brisk pace. I always enjoy when Sam deploys his cover idea of Charles/Chuck Finley, and Campbell doesn’t make it seem like a different person (the way Donovan goes for broke with Michael’s cover IDs) and instead makes Charles/Chuck seem like a psychotic version of Sam.
  • Not much on the ramp up in romance between Fiona and Jesse, but it’ll happen. Give it…2 more episodes.

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