Burn Notice, “Made Man”

Series based around teams or staffs usually require some new blood thrown into the mix before things get overly repetitive, but in recent years, the character additions have backfired — or at least turned off a number of original fans. Sometimes, the new people just aren’t as good as the old (House) or there’s too many new people that it’s hard to care about them while those people you did care about get pushed more to the side (Grey’s Anatomy).

Burn Notice has been surprisingly successful with its trio of crime fighters and even when certain episodes have been disappointing, it’s hardly had anything to do with the chemistry between Sam, Michael and Fi. And so, it’s not a series that’s been desperate for any new blood or members to the team. However, so far, Jesse’s inclusion into the festivities is working out very well. Actually, the group is such a well-oiled machine that bringing Jesse into the fold has caused conflicts that seem completely natural. Things have gone so well for these three for so long that they’re almost blind to any problems, but with a new guy in doing things in a way that makes Michael and Sam squirm and Fi smile, there’s bound to be some additional hostility. And for the most part, it doesn’t feel fake or TV-y right now.

On a macro level, neither the case nor the development of the season’s arcs were that great in “Mad Man,” but there were a number of great individual moments that kept season four’s strong start going. Jesse continued to muck up the team’s plans, pissing off Sam and even annoying Michael just a little bit. What’s interesting is that Jesse seems to be even more morally centered than Michael, as he puts him into a case just because he sees a couple mob thugs roughing up a security guard at the location they’re scouting. Not only does this shine a light on the usually-heroic Michael and make him consider his actions, but it is forcing other people to do the same.

Throughout the episode, Maddy pries Jesse for information about his life and work until she eventually breaks him. When she finds out that Jesse has lost his job, she somehow puts the pieces together that he was burned by Michael and so it’s lecture time. And while I think it’s not necessarily a leap that Maddy would pick up on the fact that Michael did something to Jesse and is thus helping him to relieve some guilt, I’m not sure if the whole yelling speech was totally right. Yes, Michael screwed up, but he didn’t have malicious intent and now he’s trying to make things right as much as possible, so even though Maddy still has that FBI agent’s voice in her head about the dangers of Michael’s job, it felt like a little much.

As far as the season’s big plot, we didn’t get much except for a code name: Cobra. As Sam said, pretty lame.

Speaking of Sam, he’s the real star of the episode and thankfully, Chuck Finley makes his first appearance of the fourth season, which is always a treat. It was great to see Sam play the dangerous, I’ll-cut-you-into-little-pieces Chuck, but perhaps even more so to have him deal with Jesse’s prying into Sam’s real life and how Mr. Axe had to shoe-horn that into his Chuck persona. We tend not to hear a whole lot about Sam’s background, but the way he delivered that story was actually emotionally hefty. Good stuff.

Again, nice fun episode and I’m very much happy with S4 so far. Right?

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