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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

Burn Notice – “Guilty As Charged”

You do not get to lie to me anymore!

Burn Notice comes to a summer close, with new episodes back in November, including the couple of extra episodes USA tacked into the show this season. But those are in November, so we have to wait a bit, I’m afraid. However, this break will give us (or at least me) time to decide about how I should be thinking about Burn Notice. As things stand right now, I find myself where I tend to myself at the halfway point of every season: not caring a lick about the show.

I suppose, at this point, I should probably get over myself and just accept the fact that Burn Notice isn’t going to alter its formula one iota. It save me from writing the same thing over and over again and probably enjoy the show more. But “Guilty as Charged” pretty much sent me over the edge on Thursday, and I have only just now recovered.

I was pretty excited going into these last episode of Burn Notice before the hiatus, especially given that Jesse finds out the truth, thus paying off this interesting and long-simmering arc, and that there would be movement on Simon’s Bible in regards to Robert Patrick. It would be a run of episode that would juggle two different serialized demands and paying them off. And why shouldn’t they? The show normally juggles two different plots each episode, so it would make sense to expect “Guilty As Charged” to do the same. So wrong.

Over at TV Surveillance, Cory Barker has a good piece on why USA needs to give up the arc structure in its shows. If you’ve been reading these Burn Notice reviews, then you know I pretty much agree with him, at least when it comes toBurn Notice; I don’t watch White Collar, and I really don’t have an issue with Pysch‘s end of the season stuff (in fact, I find it preferable). Like Monk before it, Pysch really could give two flying flips about its overall arc, trotting out the Ying and Yang killers for proper suspense at the end of each season (creating weird tonal issues, but that’s for Nick to parse out), but Burn Notice, and I guess White Collar, make a committed effort to have a seasonal arc, and they should probably stop.

With “Guilty As Charged,” Burn Notice does the same thing it always does in the “finale” (whether they be summer or season): pay the arc just enough lip service to keep it moving, but always incorporate some trouble Miami citizen. And, honestly, I would be okay with the Client of the Week story in a finale if said story tied into the arc in some way. But they rarely do. Here, Michael saving the daughter of a rich defense attorney serves more as a distraction than anything else. Now, say the defense attorney became a recurring character, then this would mean a lot more in the long-run (other than Michael and company getting a submersible vehicle, which is pretty cool).

But I don’t see this happening and thus the time spent trying to save the little girl is ultimately wasted. Spending it working through bringing Jesse around or playing cat and mouse with John Barrett would’ve been more rewarding from both a dramatic and narrative standpoint. That Michael’s sit-down with Jesse lacks the power that Fi and Maddie’s meeting did shows just how little the show ultimately feels about paying off these arcs.

It’d be one thing if these arcs mattered, but at this point I’m not exactly sure what exactly Michael’s motivation is, and that muddies up the waters for a clear character arc, too. If it was stand-alone after stand-alone, then it really wouldn’t matter too much. I’m with Cory: ditch the arcs so I can legitimately enjoy the show.


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