So this is it. The last episode of Burn Notice for the year and will everything come to a head? In "Good Solider" Michael has to balance investigating Carla's actions while also helping out a friend of Campbell's who needs to prevent a kidnapping.
Read about yogurt, swimming and a ferry
cross the Mersey beyond the link...
With Burn Notice about to go on hiatus for about half a year or so it's very important for this episode to pack a real punch, it needs to be something that will keep you itching to find out what's next - like say the end of any Supernatural season or season six of The Shield - so the question is. Does Good Soldier leave you hanging on the hook and eager for the next episode? The short answer is "sort of", as for the long answer it's time to delve into the episode and see why...
Good Soldier in many ways is classic Burn Notice, as the show has evolved it's become about the balancing act Michael has to pull between helping others and investigating his burn notice. The first season had a little too much of the first and not enough of the latter, but the second season has looked to address this - giving the viewer a tension packed mix that involves Michael desperately juggling the two threads each episode. Sometimes with fantastic results, sometimes it just feels a little average and overloaded... This week's halfinale™ feels overloaded but that's a deliberate story decision and it's one that works well.
Michael is hot in the pursuit of Carla after last week's events and it's not how good she looks in a swimsuit that's preying on his mind. He's determined to find out exactly what she's up to and he doesn't care what the expense is, which is just as well because it seems Sam Axe is enjoying his food and drink a lot since Ronnee broke up with him, especially when someone else is footing the bill. Also, as Michael confirms in the narrative - spies comfort eat while carrying out surveillance. Cue lots of shots of Carla swimming in this episode and I'm sure Tricia Helfer fans will enjoy those scenes.
The episode is a great showcase example of Jeffery Donovan's acting talents, not only do we get multiple examples of how little Michael likes the Fi & Campbell relationship (Campbell seems fine with the whole thing, maybe someone explained what Michael does with an episode of the A Team) but we also get some cracking drunk acting followed by a seriously amusing religious conversion. Ladies and Gentlemen, the man has serious acting powers.
As for the episode, just as I noted earlier this one is a heavy balancing act between the Burn Notice story and the kidnapping episode story and this time they get it just right. The kidnapping feels urgent, the reason for Michael getting involved is solid and we get a nice, juggling act feel to the entire thing. It does feel like Michael is rushed between both jobs, but he's committed to helping Campbell's friend to avoid having Fi do it solo. Now I'm not entirely sure why Fi can't be left to do such a job alone, it can't be a case of competency - Fi is most definitely competent - so it might be concern on Michael's part about Fi's methods. She's rather... brutally inclined, whereas Michael prefers to deal with troublemakers in a non-lethal fashion and get them killed later (off screen). Speaking of which, hasn't the off screen body count been massive this season? I'm not sure I like the way so many of the criminals in each episode are shuffled off to "Fort Lauderdale" (Burn Notice speak for killed - I'm sure they don't get to go punting around the canals in a dumpster).
What else is there to like in this episode? Well Nate Western makes yet another reappearance in this episode and he's pretty good. Nate's attempting to go straight, start up a business driving limos and even helps out Michael before Carla stitches him up because of Michael's interference. It's Michael's actions at the start of this episode that drive most events later on, because he uses that key card and sniffs about in the sniper perch it seems everything else is brought down around him at the end. I'm honestly a little confused at this point as to why he feels the need to find out about the job he's been setting up - does anyone remember Michael's reasoning behind why he needs to investigate the job Carla is setting up? I'm not sure any more how it relates to him finding out why he was burned, but it does lead to some exciting television.
Michael, Fi and Sam scope out Carla down at the docks, waiting to see who the target on the ferry will be and we get some pretty good nervous/worried/concerned acting from Tricia. The woman doesn't have many lines in this episode but her physical performance in the docks scene and the following motorcycle chase are great. Michael realises that Carla knows he's watching (hardly surprising as he's wearing the same suit he always wears and has made no real attempt to hide) and he takes off with Fi running interference while Sam checks out Bill Thompson (the Sniper's house). We get a pretty exciting final chase scene with cars smashing into each other and motorbikes skidding under semis before Michael loses the tail and heads back home. While opening the door Sam calls and warns him that Bill's house has been blown up with explosives, Michael twigs just as he starts opening the door and leaps over the balcony just as the explosion hits...
"To be continued..."
As mentioned at the start, this cliffhanger ending isn't bad. While there is no worry about Michael's survival there are a lot of questions to be asked. It's clear that Michael's interference has resulted in a kill notice being dropped on the whole operation and all operatives being directly used were to be killed. But there are still serious questions, mostly revolving around Bill's involvement in the whole thing, the unknown operative from Carla's file and of course Carla's reactions down the docks. It's hard to tell if she was trying to stop Michael or attempting to drive him back home, she most likely knew about the explosives - but which side of the equation is she on? What will happen to Nate? Will Sam ever find love again?
At least some of these questions will be answered next halfseason but I'm not left sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out right now and that's why it's just a maybe. It was a good halfinale but the final cliffhanger wasn't so gripping that I just absolutely can't wait - I'm looking forward to the return of Burn Notice, but I'm not going to find waiting agonising either.
Overall the second season of Burn Notice (so far) is a nice little package, the show has evolved from the first season and has even moved to expand it's scope of characters. Providing recurring ones and even a slightly enlarged cast (with Campbell, Nate and Carla making multiple reappearances). There has also been some great guest spots, in particular Method Man (Valentine), Chris Ellis (Virgil), Michael Shanks (Victor - who grew on me and I'd like to see again) and of course Tim Matheson as Larry.
I've enjoyed watching this almost as much as I've enjoyed writing about it, but that's it from Burn Notice until next year. How did everyone else find the ride?