‘Burn Notice’ Season 5 Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 24th, 2011 at 8:28 am,

burn notice season 5 premiere Burn Notice Season 5 Premiere Review & Discussion

The Burn Notice season 5 premiere removes almost all familiarity that fans of the series expect, and unfortunately takes with it the core reason for why the series exists in the first place: to find out why Michael was burned.

With a set of unfamiliar characters (Grant Show) and awkward scenery, the season 5 premiere of Burn Notice opens in a manner much different to what was expected from those who fought their way through the season 4 finale.

As the introductory scene continues, not only are we presented with Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) in a new environment, but we’re also shown why the series has worked so well with its familiar series format and Miami-locale.

While seeing Michael Westen in new environment was an interesting prospect, the lack of familiarity serves to provide an awkward setting for the fifth season of USA’s hit series to begin. To add insult to this proverbial injury, the given plotline of Michael on the hunt to capture the last remaining member of those who burned him was presented in such a way that the actual importance of this storyline was all but lost.

Besides proving that Michael’s rag-tag team of Sam and Fiona can pull of an operation better than anything the government may officially sanction, the majority of the premiere feels like we’re watching The Sam Axe Movie 2 – and not in a good way. Even though Sam and Fiona are able to become a part of the CIA’s “off-the-books” style of missionary endeavors, the overall feel of the series is noticeably different.

burn notice season 5 premiere grant show Burn Notice Season 5 Premiere Review & Discussion

Whether it’s the chaotic handheld camerawork, the awkward storytelling, or the fact that the production designers did that good of a job at playing the Miami filming locations as another country, the notion of “what has this series become” will certainly resonate for those who tune in. Following the monumental revelation in the season 4 finale that Michael has all but returned to his former occupation, the progressive attitude in storytelling that Burn Notice chose to take in its fifth season premiere does nothing but disconnect the fans with what they original loved in this series – something that one can only hope will soon be corrected.

As Michel, Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Bruce Campbell) walk their way through this technically important mission (from the standpoint of the series’ mythos), the action scenes seem similar, the supplemental episodic characters feel familiar… yet there’s something missing. Alas, after three viewings, I am still unable to confidently specify what that may be – but it’s not good.

With a simple gunshot to the head, the all but quick importance that the character of Kessler was given is gone – and so is the entire plotline that this series was created around. Like White Collar, Burn Notice has swiftly thrown aside the core reason that it was based on. For four seasons, fans watched as Michael took the lengthy trail of escalating bad guys and unknown “powers that be” to find out who burned him – and why. Unfortunately, as the premiere presents itself, Kessler was the last remaining character behind it all. Without even the slightest bit of cliffhanger, the episode ends on this fact: we will never know why Michael Westen was burned.

burn notice season 5 premiere 2 Burn Notice Season 5 Premiere Review & Discussion

While it’s likely that this is not the end of Michael’s “burned” story-arc, the information presented does nothing to combat the theory that it might very well be. If the aforementioned White Collar can quickly toss away Neil’s entire motivation for “doing what he’s doing,” why can’t Burn Notice? More importantly, why would Burn Notice do that in this manner?

Even if a complete redux of the series’ core motivation is what the producers had in mind, why would it occur in such a lack-luster fashion. If one even acknowledges that this isn’t as “over” as is appears, the motivation to present such a definitive conclusion to something that’s most likely not is nothing but poor storytelling and a disregard for those watching.

As this season of Burn Notice is just beginning, it’s hard to completely dismiss the series as a whole. For all of the faults that are present in the season 5 premiere, one cannot help but think of the wonderfully engaging storytelling that preceded it. For fans of the series, a return to form has certainly become the overall hope and expectation as this season progresses. I suppose only time will tell whether or not this will be the case.

…it would be a pity if it didn’t.


Burn Notice airs Thursdays @9pm, on USA

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. My honest opinion Burn Notice is fading because of CIA helping but White Collar is becoming the show at its prime.

  2. I just watched Burn Notice, and I am sad, it seems like it has lost it’s spark… Your article is right on the money! I hope they can fix it..

  3. I actually found that episode much more entertaining than the majority of season 4. I’m looking forward to the new start…and less Jesse.

  4. gabrielle is sooooo hot my idea of a perfect girlfriend

  5. I thought the show lost much of its appeal when Jesse entered into the picture. Hopefully they can regroup and redirect because this show was a blast the first two seasons. But, like most of the USA originals, it’s all glitz and little substance.

    • Jason I have to disagree with you on that. I feel Michael, Fi, Sam, Jesse make a good combination. you know how when somebody new is added, and they don’t fit the script so to speak, that is not the case with Jesse, just my Opinion.. have a bless evening…..


  6. Iwatched burn notice tonigt and from what i can see Max is not to be trusted, and as for Kessler I don’t believe that he killed himself. I feel that the CIA is jurking Michael around because it’s just not adding up….. but all in all I love burn notice…..

  7. wonder what happened to Jesse and Madeline?

  8. Obviously this reviewer and the other people agreeing have a hard time reading between the lines. Michael is definitely not done looking for the answers as it’s hinted at during the end when his mom and him are at the car and she tells him the story about not giving up! Read between the lines and give the show to set itself up! If they laid all the cards on the table the first episode it would not make for much of a good story! His burn notice goes way beyond those guys I believe!! Some people are too afraid of change, but you have to realize, change is good to keep the series fresh. Thank you

    • Agreed. There is a ominous and subversive element to micheal’s interaction with the agency. Not just because they are incompetent and argogant, but because they keep giving Weston easy answers.

      Max could end up becoming this season’s Victor, but it’s also quite likely that the government is going to push Mike into something. A decision or a call. Maybe he’ll be forced to sacrifice the “little guy” he’s been protecting for four years.

      It’s a stronger opening than Season 4 IMO, and it has potential to help the series deviate from (metaplot -> client -> metaplot) and repeat.

  9. Hey guys! You don’t get it, do you? This is Matt Nix’s way of saying that Michael’s return to the CIA is a BAD IDEA. This is part of Michael’s character arc. There is a reason why we had a scene in which Jesse told Michael that he decided to leave the CIA for good, after working with the gang back in Season 4.

  10. hmm… don’t know what direction the writers are going, so I can’t tell if this is a bad thing or the start of something really really great.

    me, [in short] I would have brought back Kendra’s character [Navi Rawat] to bring chaos into Michael’s life and axed Jesse’s part by getting his job back.

  11. I could not possibly disagree with you more. Burn Notice has to evolve, albeit intelligently of course, or die the all too familiar fate of so many other TV series that over time became stale and boring.

    This episode has the solid potential of refreshing this fine series and keep it from simply rehashing what has come before. Clearly there is going to be a big conflict between the Company and Michael at some point. The end of this episode already indicates Michael is not all comfortable with rejoining the CIA. Moreover I seriously doubt that Kessler’s death (his alleged suicide seems rather suspicious) is the termination of the burned storyline. If Burn Notice has one consistent plot item, that is that things are rarely as they seem.

  12. Yep, his alleged suicide seems suspicious. Not him, maybe. And the rest of the season is Michael finding out, and trying to figure out who else was in on the ruse?

    One more thing … a Seal Six type of group could not take the compound, but two guys in a van could? Give me a break! Jack Bludis

  13. I simply can’t agree. I really enjoyed the episode. I think jesse has added a lot to the show and while his absence was felt everything else was good IMO.

    Also I thought it was pretty obvious there is far more than meets the eye with the burn story. Kessler was the last man that Mike knew about doesn’t mean he is the last man. The CIA could be hiding things from him, or there could be someone who was running it all that even the CIA doesn’t know about. It’s still very clear there is more to it. Especially with the Kes dead having shot him self. The guy had information to protect and more than likely someone to protect as well.

    What’s up with the shots at White collar? IMO that’s a show that has gotten even better than it was when it started. After this weeks episode I found my self thinking that it just might be my new fave USA show. It’s fantastic and I’m not sure what your problems with it are.

    • I enjoyed the show too Daniel, but I will respectfully disagree with you about Jessie adding to it, he is just astale character IMO. I dunno, maybe the fact that I am not a huge Coby Bell fan has got me a bit biased.

      White Collar….BRILLIANT show! More Moz please!

      • I actually like the Jesse character a lot I think he’s interesting and has a complex personality.

        I don’t like or dislike Coby Bell but I did love him in third Watch but his other work has sucked until burn notice

      • Also on White Collar I agree it’s brilliant. Hate the new opening theme though it’s terrible.

        As far as Moz goes I liked him before, but much less lately. He’s had less to do and become slightly less likable. Also him surviving the gun shot was very unrealistic. He seriously should of been dead after that it was strange. The acting and writing though are brilliant and aside from teh few minor complaints I’ve loved it consistently. Very happy that Neil didn’t get the list this week.

        Back to Burn Notice I’m happy to see that it’s pretty much only Screen rant bashing this episode the vast majority of other sites are praising the new episode including IGN. I think it’s hilarious the way some people complain that the nature of TV gets so dull, repetitive and predictable and the moment a show changes things even if it’s just for one episode people start crying about it. I respect the heck out of shows like Burn Notice or House when they have the nerve to change up the weekly formula if only for one or two episodes. I some times get sick of the same ole same ole week in and week out.

        That’s why the shows i respect the most will always be the less formulaic ones like Mad men or breaking bad.

  14. I love this show — much better written than White Collar. It was great to see them back in action last night. Even if the hunt for who burned Michael seems to have come to an end, so what? It’s exciting to wonder what comes next. The only thing that irked me was Michael’s HAIR. Since when does my man need a Ben Affleck/John Travolta/Berlusconi weave? Please bring back the scruffy Michael we know and love! Also I hope we get to see more of Jessie, now that he and Michael are friends again. Fiona and Maddie are fabulous as ever — and great role models for us all!

  15. i doubt the cia will keep helping cause in the show the guy said micheal is technically burned and now that all the guy are caught they cant help micheal anymore

  16. and also micheal still doesnt have the full picture on why he was burned so theres still a story line to finish

  17. It’s like working through a Chinese puzzle box for four years and then, all of a sudden the last panel slides out and the chamber has nothing in it but an old, dried out, piece of popcorn.

  18. The best word for this episode is ‘awkward’. The writing wasn’t up to what i expect from BN and the cast looked uncomfortable the entire episode. It did remind me of the Sam Axe movie.
    It seemed as though the writers started and said here is where Michael is and by the end of the episode here is where we want him to be. Then, they threw in some dialogue and explosions to get from point A to Point B. No chemistry between Donavan and Snow.The scenes with Sam and Fi seemed forced. They have been a great ensemble cast, so I’m wondering why they all seemed so awkward?

  19. I think one episode in is a bit early to claim the show has completely turned on it’s ear. What was missing last night was the lack of “the client”. The beauty of the show has been that the investigation into who burned Michael always seemed to be the “B” storyline while the primary focus was helping someone with some thugs or evil lawyers, etc. I think the small part Jessie had last night was foreshadowing Michael and how rejoinig the CIA won’t be as fulfilling as he thought and it will return to form, and as a few others have stated, if Kessler really was the finish line in getting answers he wouldn’t have killed himself. He was protecting the next person in the chain and in the next episode or two he’ll find some more info.

    • Nods.
      Vaughn is still out there as well as Management

  20. I am never disappointed in any of the characters performance. I think what everyone thinks is different is Michael is kind of “unburned”. It diminishes the action packed performance of Fiona, Sam, Jesse and Mom. Be patient it won’t last. You know the CIA is going to turn on him again.

  21. Disappointed by season 5 premiere, but I am counting on the producers to get back to business on why Burn Notice has so many fans–because of the chemistry between the main characters are fantastic and pulling together as a team to help the downtrodden.

  22. what i dont get doesnt Michael already know the head of the organization that got him burned (the old white guy) if he is looking for answers.. wat answers is he looking for.. the reason he got burned was so that they could use his services instead… i dont get what he is searching for anymore?

    • He’s searching for the man behind the man he really thought burned him.

      I thought i’d try watching it again to see why it seemed so bad.
      everything seemed really cheesy as well before it cut to a commercial, like you we’re supposed to laugh at him saying he eats a lot of yogurt

      Hopefully it gets better but this was an odd way to start a season

  23. I maybe be wrong since I didn’t watch most of Season 4, but I thought the reason Michael was burned was so Management could recruit him to do work for them. Since they already found out the “why” of his burn notice, that’s when Michael wanted to know the people that burned him so he could take them down. I didn’t think the series was about “Why” he was burned anymore, I thought it became about getting even.

  24. I think this show might be running out of steam. The premiere was plodding, incoherent and downright dull. A must miss.

  25. The thing about this show that bothered me the most (in addition to agreeing with Lady J’s comment about Michael’s awful hair) was the whole introduction where they used his voice-over to explain Michael’s working his way up the chain to get to the main villain. Seems to me like there could have been a whole season’s worth of episodes in there. But it never occurred to me that the death of one guy is going to end the whole “burn” plot line, no matter how important they make him out to be. That would be too simple. I also agree with the opinions that his going back to the CIA is not going to be smooth sailing.

    While I think that the “burn” thread needs to always be there, I wouldn’t mind if they backed off of it a bit. I’ve watched the show from the beginning, but it’s already way too convoluted to follow. That was the mistake that I think ultimately strangled “The X-Files”. You needed to take notes every week if you wanted to make any kind of sense out of the conspiracy thread. I spend a lot of time during “Burn Notice” asking myself “Now, who was this guy again?” I don’t want to feel like I need to spend the week reviewing past episodes so I can keep up with the next.

    As far as Jessie, I was annoyed when they first announced that they were going to squeeze in a fourth character. Somebody else to cut into my Bruce time! But now, when he’s not there, I feel like he’s missing. I think they’ve done a good job with him. I don’t see this show losing any steam yet.

  26. What is missing from this show is complex and interesting villains like it used to have. This guy could have been a cardboard cutout and done just as well.

  27. I agree with everyone who thinks that this show has lost its spark – I’m still hopeful that it will get better as the season goes on, but I did not like premiere at all and I’m not too impressed with the second episode so far.
    And I feel like Jesse does not add ANYTHING to the show – I want them to go back to just Michael, Fi, and Sam!

  28. After watching episode 1 and 2 I have to say that I’d disappointed and confused at to where they are trying to go with this. The “burn” theme and the villains seem to be gone. Those two things were what kept me watching, waiting to see how Michael would handle those trying to use/abuse him and waiting to see where the next piece to the “burn” puzzle was going to lead. Next, the relationships between the characters also seem to have changed somewhat. I hope the writers/producers/and actors get things turned around or they will find people turning off. And what’s with Micheal’s longer hair – now that he is working you’d think he could afford a haircut.

  29. Seriously it was so BORING !
    Micheal in FBI now doesnt sound good at all !
    i hope the spark in the series returns ! :(