Earlier during this season of Burn Notice, I complained that the plot was just a little too formulaic. While I'm standing by that criticism, the show can overcome the handicap by having the specific elements in the formula be truly outstanding. They had me last night right up until the cliffhanger ending.
Before we reached the ending I was invested in both the overarching plot and the one carved out for this specific episode. The fact that the single-episode plot revolved around Fiona's boyfriend asking a favor worked for me. Fiona is, if you ask me, just using the guy to get back at Michael and make him jealous, so her convincing Michael to do a job that could get him killed for her new boyfriend upped the stakes. I was a little confused about why they used a shot where Gabrielle Anwar (who plays Fiona) flashes her underwear at the camera when Fiona is trying to convince Michael to take the job (it seemed a little to overt a way to attract Michael), but eventually wrote it off as something that no one noticed during the filming and post production. Whatever the case, there were interesting motives pushing the single-episode plot forward last night.
The overarching plot, when they deal with it at all, is always interesting – I really want to know who burned Michael and why. What didn't work last night though was the “cliffhanger” ending. Carla, the evil person who is ordering Michael about (and this ventures into the spoiler arena if you haven't seen the episode yet), apparently tried to have Michael killed at the end of the episode. She, we are to believe, had her people set up a bomb at Michael's apartment which went off when he opened the door to the place. He had just been warmed about it by Sam though, so he was ready and tried to jump out of the way in time.
That's where the problem comes in – Burn Notice didn't show us that Michael was still alive at the end of the episode, thereby implying that he might not be. The cliffhanger ending is the question of whether or not Michael survived the explosion.
What kind of cliffhanger is that? Let's see, the show is all about Michael and Michael trying to find out who put the burn notice out on him. I'm betting that they don't kill him when we know that more episodes are coming in a few months. I guess they could do some silly amnesia story arc, but they're not going to kill him. Consequently, I don't understand why the show implied that he might be dead. Frustrating. I find it very frustrating.
I find it even more frustrating than last night's Kitchen Nightmares, wherein Gordon Ramsay purportedly fixed a sinking restaurant and the family that owned the place. He had initially been under the impression that all that needed fixing at the restaurant was the family, not the food. Upon eating there, he quickly realized that both areas needed work. He then proceeded to spend the entire time fixing the food and not the family. All he really did for the family was to have them write letters to each other about their real feelings. If that works, if that family is as strong and cohesive now as they need to be, not just for the restaurant, but to be happy and harmonious, I'll eat my hat. He may have pushed them on the road towards happiness a smidge, but he really didn't work any sort of magic.
Sure, sure, you could argue that there's really no magic that Gordon could work in the amount of time he was there and with the background and resources that he has at his disposal. You'd certainly be right if you argued as much, but you'd also be denying the whole point of Kitchen Nightmares which is that Gordon Ramsay can do anything.
In the end, I guess, it's all just a question of disbelief. One has to be able to accept that Michael Westen just might be dead and that Gordon Ramsay could, if he was in Miami, bring Westen back to life.
I guess it could happen, I just wouldn't put any money on it.