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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Burn Notice – “Hard Time”

I see unstable minds think alike.”

Burn Notice, why do you keep doing this to me? Better still, why do I keep thinking you’ll change? I know that you don’t bother devoting episodes to your seasonal arcs until the end of the season (and sometimes not even then), so why do I keep expecting you to do it before that? It’s frustrating, especially when the procedural element you elect to focus on is, well, dull and relatively stakes free.

A part of the problem is that, oddly, I bought into the USA promos, which basically showed every Simon scene (really, it did), and thought that Michael and Simon dueling for information would be the episode, not the cold open and the tag. I don’t know what caused this sudden bout of naïveté, but trust me when I tell you that I don’t have high hopes for seeing a lot of Robert Patrick next week.

…Okay, so I do, but it’s only because I love Robert Patrick. I mean, who doesn’t?

The promo isn’t entirely to blame, though, and it’s unfair to lay the blame solely on the feet of the USA marketing department. The episode does hint at the fact that Simon and his buried treasure would play a large part in the episode. Easily, you could’ve done the dig up the stashed stuff bit with Sam, Fi, and/or Maddie while Michael stayed, talked to Simon or Vaughn. Indeed, a fairly suspenseful episode might’ve been crafted out of Michael being trapped on a super secured island, with lots of guards and a couple of psychos. Instead, we get Michael stuck in not-so-secured prison, with lots of guards and a couple of psychos.

The client of the week proved very boring, as the I never really thought that Michael and Juan were in any real danger. Prison gangsters don’t really scream threat to Michael Westen, especially when they use dangerous slang like, “I’m going to throw a big party, and you two are my guests of honor.” Really? Even when the guy said it, it didn’t seem threatening, just kind of angry, like he had forgotten the caterer for the party. In the end, the entire plot just felt lazy and poorly developed, shoe-horned into what could’ve been a more interesting episode.

At this point, we’re circling back to the primary complaint I lodged against the show at the start of the season: the seasonal arc should have room to stretch itself within in an episode, especially when you prime the episode for such an occasion. Putting Michael, Vaughn, and Simon all in the same location, especially when the last two have figured into the overall arc over last season and this season, would indicate a chance to see some dramatic fireworks occur.

I know that the show benefits from not overplaying its serialized elements, that it allows people to miss an episode and not have to worry about missing out on something huge (I even said it was a plus last season). And this season has actually done a fairly decent job at keeping a bead on the seasonal arc, even if I feel like it got a little lost with the body in the airplane in the Caribbean (and the non-existent kegs of Red Stripe). But I would like to see the arc matter more in individual episodes, and with hopefully 2 episodes left before the midseason break, I’ll get some of what I’m looking for.


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