At its best, Burn Notice is a television show that deftly mixes humor and action, intimate family moments and plots for secret agent world domination, excellent spy insights and lots of alcohol. At its worst, Burn Notice is as foolishly plotted spy comedy that is never sure whether it wants to be funny or dramatic and seems ill at ease with both. Thankfully, those worst moments are few and far between – the show is far more the former than the latter, and the season four premiere, which airs June 3 at 9pm on USA is a perfect example of that.
Though the main character, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), does a great job and bringing new viewers into the fold via his voiceover at the beginning of every episode, for the uninitiated the story goes something like this – Westen was a spy, got burned (blacklisted), and ever since has been trying to figure out who burned him and why. Through the seasons he's actually progressed on this quest, learning that a shadow group known as "Management" burned him and exactly how they went about doing it. To go into greater detail would not only rob you of some pretty exciting television, but it would also spoil the opening of season four, which is not something I particularly wish to do.
One of the areas where Burn Notice routinely seems to falter is with its juggling of the long-term story and the single-episode ones. The show, all too regularly, features a few minutes of Michael doing something to progress the long-term story at the beginning and at the end of the episode with the rest of the 44 minutes devoted to the problem of the day (sometimes this formula features a couple of minutes of long-term story in the middle). It doesn't happen all the time, but it can make for a rather boring several weeks when the show falls into the rut.
In fact, season four opens with just such a dividing of the time, but as the show is going to be changing slightly again this season in Michael's quest for knowledge, access, and where he plans on finding both, the bookends are good ones. And, even better, the case of the week is good too.
The rest of the main cast – Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell, and Gabrielle Anwar – are returning for season four, and they certainly all have various bones to pick with Michael after his extended absence between the end of season three and the opening of this one. It is Gless, who plays Michael's mom, who gets to do much of the heavy emotional lifting with Donovan in this episode. Her character, Madeline, was told some awfully bad things about her son at the end of last season and never got the chance to talk to him about it. As for Anwar's Fiona, Michael's on-again off-again girlfriend, while the two of them have a couple of moments in the premiere, there are surely fireworks coming down the line.