Saturday, June 05, 2010

In Which Things are Burning Up in Miami

As of last night, the wait for one of my most keenly anticipated pop-cultural happenings was officially over. No, I didn't get into an advance screening of The A-Team - I'm talking about the season premiere of Burn Notice (if you haven't seen it yet, the following is likely to be spoilerous and/or confusing).

When we last saw Michael Westen, he had been arrested by the FBI following the rampage across Miami after Simon, his "psycho twin", and led hooded and in shackles through a prison camp to . . . a luxurious sitting room.

The following discussion with his new handler "Vaughn" (who's either Management's co-conspirator or his boss) is familiar to fans of the show, but meatier: it seems there's some kind of shadow war going on between Management & Vaughn's organization (hereafter IWI, for Intelligence Without Initials) and . . . someone else. Michael theorizes that they're arms dealers making WarForFunAndProfit (beware the TvTropes link), but all we really know is that they're willing and able to send a UAV armed with a minigun out into the middle of some jungle just to take out one of their underlings that Michael happens to be talking to. I didn't even know you could put a minigun on a UAV.

And so, Michael agrees to look into the matter for IWI. Skipping ahead to the very end of the episode, this involves sneaking into a US military research facility with someone else's ID badge, downloading some files, and strolling out again. This he does without a hitch - except that before he can drive away, he sees a security team hustling somebody out of the building. Late, he finds out from Sam that the man is the same one whose badge he borrowed. And now, just like Michael, he's burned. Oops.

This is especially poignant because, just a few scenes before, Michael had been confessing to Madeline that he was scared of turning out like Simon. To their credit, the writers didn't hit us over the head with the comparison, but I suspect that it's going to be a major source of character development for Michael this season. It'll make a nice change from all the "lone wolf crap" he's mostly gotten over recently.

As the season premiere, I suspect most of the attention was focused on setting up this season's main arc - the B-plot with the lawyer hounded by the biker gang didn't particularly stand out to me, although I thought Sam was underused and Michael's final plan somewhat problematic - so now the lawyer guy's just supposed to go back to his life with his finances tangled up with the biker gang's?

Even so, Burn Notice is still my favorite thing going on television right now, and overall this episode was a great kickoff for the season. Also, during the episode there were some ads for a new USA show, Covert Affairs, which also appears to feature spies and intelligence work. Is a crossover - a real one, not just in commercials - imminent, maybe for the next season of both shows? One can only hope.

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