For some reason (quite possibly the tides), I am quite down on last night's Burn Notice. I still really like the characters and think the stories are interesting, but last night made the whole thing feel very formulaic, and not in a good way.
The single-episode plot last night was interesting enough – helping a guy who was determined to go straight after finishing his jail time but whose ex-boss was insisting on another job. Sure, they've done similar things before, but that's okay. And, the multi-episode, long term arc about Michael Westen trying to figure out who burned him was present, which is good. But the way it was all pieced together really made me feel as though I've been had by the series.
The episode was bookended by the long-term story, which also featured a little in the middle, which, while moderately interesting, didn't really progress stuff. That too felt kind of typical for the series.
So, there you have it, a pretty typical episode, and that's when it struck me – this was a pretty typical episode. They're all kind of like this. The overarching plot didn't move forward, there was never a reason to suspect that Michael wouldn't accomplish his single-episode task, and he was even lured into the task reluctantly, because the guy had a family.
It kind of made me feel like too many episodes of Burn Notice are done with fill-in-the-blank scripts: The week, Michael will be going up against _______ (insert name of nefarious activity, i.e., gambling, drug-running, grand theft auto ring, here). The case will be referred to him by ______ (friend, ex-friend, ex-co-worker, or family member, etc.). Michael will initially refuse the case due to ______ (date with Fiona, helping Sam with something, too busy with his own problem, etc.), but finally acquiesces when he learns that _______ (client's family is in trouble, his mom will guilt-trip him, the money is too good to pass up). Along the way, this case will jeopardize his learning more about his own problems due to the amount of time the case takes. Eventually though, Michael solves the case. In the end though He does/does not (circle one) progress on finding out who burned him.
I don't know, maybe I'm just having a bad day. Usually I really and truly enjoy the show. Maybe this one episode was just sub-par enough to make me thing about the formula behind the series. A ton of series have a basic plot outline that one can sketch out before an episode begins, but maybe this time the structure was just a wee bit too bare.
Either that, or maybe I'm just getting a little tired of the series. I hope that's not the case, though; up until last night I really liked it, episode after episode. Perhaps the mid-season doldrums are setting in for the series – they managed to get off to a great start and know where they want the season to go, but just don't have a lot to get done in the middle. Kind of like Jack Bauer thwarting mini-threats in the middle of a season of 24.
Here's hoping next week will bring something new and different.