Burn Notice, USA’s steps up its game in leaps and bounds in Season Six, elevating above the standard case-of-the-week, old-school-USA, fluff summer show. It is now available on DVD.
From the two-parter in which the central team is trapped in a foreign country to losing a major recurring character, to seeing a main player sit in jail for quite awhile, the series comes across with a new energy.
Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), the center of Burn Notice, grows as a character a lot. We see him run the gamut of emotion in Season Six, from pure, unadulterated fury, proving he is capable of scorching the earth, to deep, soul-wrenching grief, to fiery love, to being helpless. Michael is put to the test in a variety of ways, and it finally gets him out of the pattern he has been stuck in.
The most shocking and jarring development for Michael is probably when his brother, Nate (Seth Peterson), is killed. In the past, the series has avoided removing any of the important players, but despite Nate’s recurring status, he is a vital member of Michael’s family. It’s an unexpected, gutsy move, and one that provides much motivation for Michael moving forward.
We also see the evolution of Michael’s relationship with Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar). It’s a challenge to show it on screen, especially as she serves time in prison, but there is a strong, passionate bond between them that transcends that. Michael doesn’t open up much, not even to the audience, but Fiona owns his heart. Which leads to him by season’s end to one the most difficult decisions of his life.
With Michael going on revenge missions and getting involved in government work, Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse (Coby Bell) are forced to step up and pick up the slack, while making sure he stays on the proper path. Sam has known Michael a very long time, and it’s gratifying to really see that pay off when Sam sticks by him during the tough times. Jesse enters the game much later, of course, not even being an original cast member, but is now completely intertwined and invaluable to the ensemble.
As usual, Michael’s mother, Maddie (Sharon Gless), is somewhat wasted. Don’t get me wrong, she has some absolutely brilliant moments to play this year in saving lives and losing a son. However, Gless is a masterful actress who really breathes something special into this role. As such, in the episodes where Maddie barely appears fans miss her soulful presence. She is essential to Michael’s humanity, maybe even more so than Fiona, and Gless deserves some serious pay off in the end.
Among the supporting players populating the show, a handful really deserve recognition for their work in Burn Notice Season Six. Jere Burns (Justified, Bates Motel) plays Michael’s greatest foe to date, Anson Fuller, a man who is as crafty as he is ruthless. Meanwhile, Lauren Stamile (Community, Grey’s Anatomy) hits the other end of the spectrum as Agent Pearce, a member of the FBI Michael learns to like and trust. Sadly, both complete their runs during Season Six, but for awhile, they expand the world of Burn Notice in new and incredibly interesting ways, becoming much more memorable than previous guest stars. Also, Sonja Sohn’s (Body of Proof) Agent Riley, while more familiar and less fresh, is still an entertaining addition.
Now, Burn Notice is not counted among the best shows on television, nor even on USA, and Season Six has some mediocre installments. But this is the year where it becomes a show worth telling others about and viewers can actually get invested in the tale, rather than just flip it on randomly some week. If the final season is as good as this one, or even builds upon it a bit, it will be a worthwhile and satisfying pay off.
The extras on Burn Notice Season Six are a little light. We get audio commentary only on a single episode, the standard deleted scenes and gag reel, and a single featurette, “Matt Nix Gets Burned. The latter is six minutes of behind-the-scenes talk about the creator of the show as the Season Six finale is being filmed. It’s an attempt at a humorous mockumentary in the style of Burn Notice, and it somewhat succeeds, though it lacks continuity, which for a short, shouldn’t be difficult to achieve.
If you are a fan of Burn Notice, Season Six is the best one yet, and especially if you have drifted away from the show, I do recommend checking it out. It could be better, but it’s a couple of steps above what has come before it, and regular viewers should be very satisfied.